Men and Women: Equal yet Different

scales-gender-male-femaleGender is important because God created male and female (). Yet throughout the centuries Satan has attacked God’s design of manhood and womanhood. Furthermore, because of sin, there will be struggles in terms of the roles in marriage (cf. ). Some men have either become domineering or passive, whereas some women have become usurping and bought into the lie of a false sense of liberation. The truth is, only the Word of God provides a right understanding of gender. Such an understanding will provide true liberation as men and women function as God designed.

The Equality of Male and Female
When God created male and female – He created them with equal value and dignity. Both were created in His image () and therefore both reflect the handiwork of their Maker. In addition to being equal in value and dignity, both male and female share equality in the following: (1) Equally Sinners. After Adam and Eve rebelled against their Creator, male and female share an equal plight, namely sin (). Both are equally deserving of judgment and both are equally in need of forgiveness. (2) Equally Saved. When it comes to salvation, male and female are again on equal standing. Salvation is not limited to a single gender. In God’s grace and design He saves both male and female and they have an equal status in their spiritual standing (). (3) Equally Servants. Both male and female have equal opportunity to serve the Lord in a life of obedience. The call to be holy is equally binding upon male and female. God grants both male and female spiritual giftedness () and usefulness in His service.

The Difference of Male and Female
Though male and female are both of equal value and dignity, the Scriptures make it clear that there are differences between the two of them. The most obvious of these differences is that Adam was a male and Eve was a female. When Adam saw Eve for the first time he was captivated by her appearance. Unlike the animals, he noted the similarity and connection she had to him as he stated that she is “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (a). However, there was a clear distinction in her person. Adam says, “she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (b) She is similar but different – Eve was a woman. In creating Eve, the Lord made her “a helper fit for” Adam (; cf. ). Though equal in value and dignity, Eve’s role was to be a helper for her husband Adam. Wayne Grudem notes, “She was created as one who differed from him, but who differed from him in ways that would exactly complement who Adam was.”[1]

It is clear that the differences between male and female go beyond physiology. There are also differences in their functions. This difference in design does not for a moment indicate superiority and inferiority for the male or female. God’s design of different roles goes beyond what could be classed as a cultural custom. The reason is because it is a description based on God’s created order (; ). To ignore this is to go against God’s design and desire. Recognising that God makes male and female different, what defines manhood and womanhood?

Going beyond stereotypes, Biblical manhood is defined by the following characteristics: man is created to lovingly lead (; ), provide (; ), and protect (). The form of these characteristics will vary depending on the relationship or context he is in. There will be times a male is under the leadership of a woman in the appropriate context, however this must not negate his true masculinity and design. A godly man is marked by his courage and conviction to fulfill God’s word according to his masculinity. John Piper notes, “At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships.”[2]

Womanhood has also undergone many stereotypes and at times has been defined by a reaction to various harsh practices throughout the years. Nonetheless, biblical womanhood is defined by the following characteristics: woman is created to help (; ), nurture () and be managers of the home (; ). A godly woman is marked by virtuous qualities (; ) that display her femininity. Again, Piper notes, “At the heart of mature femininity is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive, and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships.”[3]

It is important to note the place and importance of singleness in the kingdom of God and how it can be used for influence (cf. ). Though singles will not fulfill their roles to the same extent as a married individual, they are by design to display the characteristics of their manhood or womanhood within the given context.

Male and female – this is the way that God has designed it. By means of Satan’s strategies many movements in history have distorted and redefined gender. Nonetheless, the word of God remains clear, and as the people of God it is our duty and delight to affirm and obey our Lord. Enjoy the blessing of biblical manhood and womanhood.


[1] Grudem, Wayne. Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood. Crossway Books, 2002, p. 32

[2] John Piper and Wayne Grudem, editors, Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1991), 29

[3] Ibid. 36.

 

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

16 To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

14:1 The wisest of women builds her house,
but folly with her own hands tears it down.

to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

10  An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands,

7:1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

17 Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 21 Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.

25 Now concerning the betrothed, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. 29 This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. 37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. 38 So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.

39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

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Andrew Courtis

Andrew Courtis

ANDREW - Serves as Pastor of Hills Bible Church. I am married to Dianne and we have three children (Kate, Emma and Jack). I was born and raised in Melbourne, moved to Adelaide to undertake theological studies (BMin.), and have completed additional studies with the Australian College of Theology (MATh.). I have served in pastoral ministry in both Melbourne and Sydney and am a qualified school teacher. I am committed to expository preaching and making the word of God known and understood.