The doctrine of man as created male and female teaches that man was created for personal relationship, and that both male and female are created with equal value and importance in God’s sight, but male and female have also been created with distinct roles and responsibilities. This is the final characteristic of the doctrine of man as created male and female. Because this is the most expanded teaching of this doctrine in both the Old and New Testaments, it will take longer to explain it fully. We must both acknowledge that these differences were established by God prior to the Fall, and understand that there are differences in roles in marriage and the family because of this.
The difference in roles and responsibilities were established by God before the Fall, and they are not a result of sin. The Scripture offers a substantial account for these differences in roles and responsibilities. Scripture’s testimony conveys that man has been created with a role of headship and authority, distinct from woman, who has been created with a role of submission and nurturing. This does not mean that man is superior to woman, or woman superior to man, as we shall see below. But it does mean that while God created men and women of equal value and importance, they have also been created with different roles so that they will complement each other, and reflect the same complementary fellowship among the members of the Trinity.
For example, it may first be seen in that God created Adam first, then Eve. It is clear that God saw him as having a leadership role in his family, for Adam was already about doing work because God had “put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15). Second, Eve was created as a helper for Adam. Since it was not good for Adam to be alone, it is clear that God made Eve for Adam, not Adam for Eve. Even Paul states in 1 Cor. 11:8-9, “For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.” This does not mean that man is superior to woman, for in the same passage Paul says that man is just as dependent on woman as she is on man, for “man is now born of woman” (v. 12). Third, these distinctions in role can be seen in that Adam named Eve. He was given that authority by God over the animal kingdom (Gen. 2:19-20), and in a similar way he named Eve “Woman” because she was taken “out of Man” (Gen. 2:23). Fourth, God named the human race “Man,” and not “Woman.” This suggests, again, that a leadership role belongs to man within God’s created order. Fifth, it is interesting to notice in the account of the Fall that the serpent came to Eve first. Grudem rightly says regarding this, “It is likely that Satan (in the form of a serpent), in approaching Eve first, was attempting to institute a role reversal by tempting Eve to take the leadership in disobeying God.” Since Satan’s desire and object is to thwart the created order of God, it is obvious that this was his intent, thus revealing that Adam was created with a leadership role. Sixth, God spoke to Adam first after the Fall. Even though Eve had sinned first, God came to Adam first and called him to account for what had taken place (Gen. 3:9). It is evident that God saw him as the one to be responsible and accountable for what had happened in the family. Seventh, Adam represented the human race instead of Eve. The Bible teaches, especially in Romans 5:12-21, that Adam sinned as our representative. This indicates that God had given Adam headship over the human race, and this was a role that was not given to Eve though she was also responsible for sinning. Eighth, the curse as a result of sin brought distortion of previous roles, not new ones. When sin was introduced into God’s good creation, so introduced was both a mutilation and abuse of the distinct roles given to men and women. Adam would still be the leader of his family, working the ground and harvesting crops, but the land would not bring forth “thorns and thistles” (Gen. 3:18). Eve would still give birth to children, but now it will take place in great pain (Gen. 3:16). Though Adam and Eve still complemented each other in every way, they will now have conflict and Adam’s authority over his wife Eve would be abused (Gen. 3:16). Finally, we see in the New Testament that God is redeeming those distinct roles through Christ. This must mean that they are part of God’s original created order, if God seeks to redeem these roles in the life of the church through Christ. The New Testament is replete with the imperative to be subject to husbands, and for husbands to love and care for their wives (Col. 3:18-19; Eph. 5:22-23; Titus 2:5; 1 Pet. 3:1-7).
It is clear from the substantial evidence in Scripture that these differences in role were established by God Himself, and are not a result of the Fall. Any view that says men and women are absolutely equal in their roles and responsibilities simply fails to consult and nuance all the biblical data on the subject. Some argue that the differences in roles between male and female are actually a distortion of God’s creation, and are actually a result of the Fall. Professor and writer Gilbert Bilezikian says,
“The ruler-subject relationship between Adam and Eve began after the fall. It was for Eve the application of the same death principle that made Adam slave to the soil. Because it resulted from the fall, the rule of Adam over Eve is satanic in origin, no less than is death itself.”
While the relationship between male and female is not “ruler-subject,” Bilezikian (and many others in the theological camp of egalitarianism) views the differences in roles as a consequence of the Fall. The implications of this view are drastic. First of all, it fails to take into account the enormous biblical evidence for difference in roles before the Fall (as noted above). Second, it causes a hermeneutical problem by interpreting the Bible (especially the New Testament) through an unbiblical lens. If men and women have equal roles, then there is no need to emphasize submission and leadership in marriage, which the New Testament does so frequently (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:21-24; 1 Tim. 3:5; 5:8). Third, this view does injustice to the heart of this doctrine—having been created in the image of God. We have already seen that being created in the image of God means that we reflect Him, and in many ways His attributes are seen in us because we have been formed and fashioned in His image, after His likeness. Clearly, the Father is seen as having a distinct authoritative role as the Father. So the Son is seen as being submissive (though equal) to the Father. So if men and women have equal roles, then in what way do they reflect the Godhead where there are clear distinctions in roles? Indeed, they do not.
But it is clear that the difference in roles and authority were indeed established before the Fall, but through the entrance of sin there will be a distortion and misuse of those roles. Michael Horton aptly states, “As male and female humanity was the image of God (Gen. 1:27), but now they are at enmity not only with God but with each other.”
Implication(s) for Church Life Today
Theology should always lead to doxology, that is, doctrine should move us to obedience in our Christian lives. Having discussed the doctrine of man as created male and female, there are several implications it bears upon our lives. Too much is at stake for us to carelessly leave this doctrine on a bookshelf. This doctrine carries several connotations concerning the difference in roles and responsibilities. In our American culture, more than ever before, the doctrine of man created male and female is being both neglected and distorted. It is now acceptable in our culture for a biological woman to identify as a man, and be considered just as much a “man” as a biological man, and vice versa. And what’s worse is that this is viewed as equality by its proponents. This movement of transgenderism in our culture should be combatted apologetically, firmly, and gracefully with the biblical doctrine of man as created male and female. The clear differences in biological makeup and roles and responsibilities must be recognized, and they should be encouraged.
Also, in the church those different roles should be acknowledged and encouraged. There are differing roles between men and women so that the church acts as a body, with all the parts “working properly” (Eph. 4:16). Women are called to certain ministerial duties that men are not called to, and men are called to certain ministerial duties that are exclusive to only men. This is God’s design for humanity, the family, and the church. So it should be encouraged and taught in our local churches. There should be opportunities to serve the church for both men and women, and there should be ministries to both men and women. As our churches seek to redeem the family, we should teach men how to be the leaders of their homes, and likewise we should teach the women to be the nurturers of their homes.
Like the most expensive and rare treasure in the world, we are God’s most valuable creation because we have been created in His image. No higher honor could have been given to man than the privilege of being an image of the God who created him. What is truly breathtaking about this is that we have been created in God’s likeness, not as one uniform human race, but as male and female. We have been created as male and female for personal relationships, we have been created with equal value and importance, and we have been created with different roles and responsibilities. This is God’s plan and created order, and we can surely say with David, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:14).
 Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994) , 463.
 Bilezikian, Gilbert G. Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says About a Woman’s Place in Church and Family (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 41-42.
 Horton, Michael. Pilgrim Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 145.
In the last post, we dealt with the first facet of the doctrine of man as created male and female. Namely, that we have been created for personal relationship. We saw that we have not been created as isolated persons, but because we have been made in the image of God we can attain interpersonal unity. That is, just as there is eternally perfect fellowship among the members of the Trinity, we have been created to reflect the plurality of persons within the Godhead.
Created Equal in Personhood and Importance
Just from this, we can easily see how crucial this doctrine is, but there is also another significant aspect of the doctrine of man as created male and female. And that is understanding that both male and female are equal in their importance and value, though they are distinct persons. Both sexes have equal worth before God for all eternity. While there are clear distinctions between male and female, including their different roles and responsibilities, it is obvious that both are equally important and equally valuable to God for He created them both.
It is bizarre to imagine any other kind of society, where God’s created order is only men or only women, or where men rule over women as kings or where women rule over men as kings. Grudem comments concerning this, “If we lived in a society consisting of only Christian men or a society consisting of only Christian women, we would not gain as full a picture of the character of God as when we see both godly men and godly women in their complementary differences together reflecting the beauty of God’s character.” The Bible is very clear that both women and men can serve the Lord and reflect His glory and character together as one equal in value and importance in God’s sight.
Accordingly, Paul rightly states, “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” (Gal. 3:28). The Spirit of God was poured out at Pentecost on both “sons and daughters” (Acts 2:17). Not to mention the abundance of characters in the Bible who were both men and women that were in God’s covenant family, followed Christ, and served the church. Take Sarah for example, or Rahab, Ruth, Hannah, Esther, Mary, Martha, or Aquila and Priscilla. Anyone who claims that the Bible is demeaning to women has never read it! So just as the members of the Trinity are equal in their importance, so men and women have been created in the image of God to be equal in personhood and importance.
Men and women should be treated with equality both in society, the church, and the family. While men and women have clearly distinct roles, there should always be equal rights among men and women, so long as those rights do not contradict the clear differences in responsibilities held by men and women. Many societies, particularly in the Middle Eastern world, are culturally demeaning to women, and it should be recognized that this is unbiblical. Additionally, in the church and family men and women should be viewed as equally valuable, though they have clearly different roles. The church should always recognize this and minister to both men and women, having ministry emphases on both sexes, and even ministry emphases on those two sexes together.
 Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), p. 456.
Developing friends in grade school. Falling in love with our high school sweet heart. Marrying our spouse and having children. These are all things that we’ve experienced, and things we cherish. It’s because of the way God fashioned and created us. God created us for personal relationships and fellowship with one another, it’s in the very fabric of our existence. And the reason for this is chiefly because we have been created in the image of God. That is, we have been created in His likeness—we are in many ways like God, and we represent Him in various means. But having been created in the image of God reaches a high peak in that we have been created in God’s image as both male and female. Genesis 1:27 reads, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” According to this verse, man was created in the image of God as male and female. But what does it mean to be male and female? What does this mean for our relationships, our marriages, our church ministries, and the way we raise children? Discovering these answers will come from an analysis of the doctrine of man as created male and female.
An examination of this doctrine should include a study of three essential components that are derived from Scripture concerning our having been created as male and female. First, we have been created for personal relationship. That is, we image God by existing in fellowship with other human beings, just as God eternally exists in fellowship within the Godhead. And this reaches its climax in the marriage of a man and woman. Second, we have been created with equality in personhood and importance. Expressly, both male and female are equal in value and importance in God’s sight and as God created them. We image God in this way because all the members of the Trinity are also equally important in personhood and existence. Third and finally, we have been created with differences in role and responsibilities. Namely, we have been created by God as male and female to complement each other by our difference in roles—they are by no means equal roles, but different roles that complete the other. Some of these will overlap, but each of these aspects of the doctrine have their foundation in having been created in the image of God. We image and reflect God in all of these three ways. The first of these we will expound on is how we were created for relationship.
Created for Personal Relationship
God did not create us to be alone. It is truly praiseworthy that God also did not create us in total uniformity, but that He created us in such a way that we can reach unity together in all forms of human community. He formed Adam and Eve together and also commanded them to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28a). Since the beginning, there has been community and the command to multiply human persons by procreation. We have not been created as isolated persons, but because we have been made in the image of God we can attain interpersonal unity. Just as there is eternally perfect fellowship among the members of the Trinity, we have been created to reflect the plurality of persons within the Godhead. In Genesis 1, we see this clearly revealed: “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (v. 26a). Grudem rightly observes that in this passage “Just as there was fellowship and communication and sharing of glory among the members of the Trinity before the world was made, so God made Adam and Eve in such a way that they would share love and communication and mutual giving of honor to one another in their interpersonal relationship.” We have been created for community and personal relationship with one another, just as God exists in fellowship and community in the Triune Godhead.
Unity and personal relationship can be attained through the human family, through societal means, and also through the church, but this interpersonal unity is most fully and brilliantly expressed in the ordinance of marriage. There is no greater exemplification of human unity and personal relationship than in marriage, where “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). The reason for this is that, at the heart of having been created in the image of God, we have been created as male and female. When the two beings, which are biological opposites, come together in the God-ordained ordinance of marriage, they reflect the oneness of the Trinity because God is able to exist in three persons but also in complete oneness and harmony. The persons of the Trinity are distinct but never divided. So when two people join together in holy matrimony, they reflect to some degree the perfect oneness of the Godhead—and this is fundamental to the reality of having been created in the image of God. David Horton rightly observes, “Human beings were created by God as male and female (Gen. 1:27), meaning that what is said generally of humanity must be said of both the male and the female, and that the truest picture of what it means to be human is to be found in the context of man and woman together” (emphasis mine).
Man was created to reflect and image God, and this is evidently seen in that man was created for unity and personal relationship—most completely expressed in the coming together of man and woman in marriage. But this facet of the doctrine of man as created male and female has suffered much rejection and distortion as in our day today. According to David Myers, the human biological structure has been created by God with the capacity to sexually desire either men or women, regardless of your gender. He notes, “The persistence of one’s sexual attraction to either men or women suggests that sexual orientation is, for most if not for all, an enduring disposition.” Some, like Myers, believe that this unity can be attained through the joining of the same gender (ex. Male and male, or female and female). However, from the overwhelming biblical evidence, since man was created male and female instead of completely male or completely female, personal unity can be attained because the two complement each other in every way and make possible the multiplication of the human race by procreation. Hence the words of God after created Adam; “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18). In summary, it is imperative to recognize this feature of the biblical doctrine of man as created male and female.
 All italicized emphases in Scripture references are my own.
 Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 455.
 Horton, David. The Portable Seminary (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2006), 162.
 Myers, David. What God Has Joined Together? A Christian Case for Gay Marriage (Kindle Edition. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2005), Location 1057.