Genesis really stresses the importance of men and women being created in God’s likeness and image. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (1:27 ESV). Both sexes were made equally in God’s image.
Men and women are made equal in spirituality and importance, but they have different roles in function and relationships. The equality is highlighted in Galatians 3:28, “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.” We are all equal in God’s eyes and loved all the same. There is no room for men to overpower women or vice versa, as the world has made it repeatedly clear in history and today.
Women are held to a high standard in the Bible and in the Church playing unique roles in the world. Jesus had several women disciples which was radical at the time (Luke 8:1-3). Jesus treated women with respect and trust (John 4:25-6, Matthew 9:20-2). He also defended women (John 8:4-11). Jesus lifted up women who were thought of as slaves in that time, he walked alongside them, and he led them to be virtuous. We have a unique role in the command to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) because women are able to bear and nurture children and are called to raise godly children (Proverbs 31:27-8). Women are a vital part in church ministry alongside men as it references to in Acts 5:14, “And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.”
Men are able to protect and lead their family in a way reflecting Christ. Paul directly addresses this relationship saying, “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” (Ephesians 5:23). That is a hard model to live up to; men are called to love their wife even if that means giving up their life for her. They are to honor and serve their wife in a godly way (1 Peter 3:7). A husband must provide protection, provision and strength to his wife. Men have a distinct role to reflect God’s authority and Christ’s sacrifice.
We are mutually dependent on each other, as a body of Christ, for the building up of the church and the furthering of the Kingdom.
Since we are sinful, these roles can be over stepped and consequences come about because of that. The original sin in the Fall was the result of Eve being too independent and Adam’s lack of leadership, disobeying God. This was the first example of the sin that can happen in a relationship between a man and woman when not dependent on each other.
“God is telling us from the very beginning that the first thing that sin does is to destroy this marital covenant that God established when He first made us. In His own image and likeness He made us to be… Fruitful and multiply… So the Book of Genesis just plays out like a tragic horror story” (Scott Hahn).
I have often looked at the book of Genesis as a tale to tell us how sin came into the world and a lesson on the necessity of obeying God. Hahn brought up how the original sin destroyed the authority in Adam and Eve’s relationship and evolved into this awful horror story of our sin. Sin is ugly. Sin is ever present in the world. Sin is a destroyer of men and women who need to depend on each other for the furthering of the kingdom. The results of the Fall have direct effects on marriage today. In addition to painful childbirth, women have a desire to rule over their husband (Genesis 3:16). This makes sense to my independent tended self. I know that in marriage I will really have to work on not being dominant over my husband.
Knowing that I am equally made in God’s image to be man’s helper, submitting to him will help me to further the Kingdom. I need to independently believe in God as my Husband and Redeemer (Isaiah 54:5). I need to find my worth in Him before looking to any man. I need to remember when I am married one day to depend on man as my protector, leader and provider. I need to remember to submit to His authority and to remind him of his authority from God. Together we’ll need to acknowledge our Spirit-given gifts that we can use in the Church and in the world. We will be able to fulfill the roles that are uniquely ours to complete each other, becoming one in Christ Through these things we will be able to independently depend on each other to furthering the kingdom.