Does the Bible say that men and women are equal?

The Bible makes it clear, right from the beginning, that God sees men and women as spiritually equal. Both are made in His image (Genesis 1:27), both are separated from Him by sin and need a Savior (Romans 3:23), both may be redeemed through Christ and receive the Holy Spirit making them heirs of God (Galatians 3:27–29).

After God created Adam, He said that it was "not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him" (Genesis 2:18). God made Eve from Adam's rib (Genesis 2:21–23). It is for this reason that marriage, in which the two become one, exists (Genesis 2:24). Man and woman complement each other. They are different, but one is not superior to the other. Both are unique creations of God; He views both as equally valuable.

Spiritually, men and women are equal. Physically, of course, men and women are different. They have different anatomy, different hormones, different muscle mass, and more. Even so, God has ordained many of the same roles for men and women, and many different.

In the New Testament, husbands and wives are both given instruction to submit themselves to the other (Ephesians 5:21–33). Some get tripped up by the semantics of words. Wives are specifically told to "submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22), and it seems inferior. Yet, a husband is instructed to treat his wife as Christ treated the church—that is, to die for her. Which is the higher calling? The lesser role?

In 1 Peter 3:7, women are described as "the weaker vessel": "Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered."

Focus on two things here. First, husbands and wives are both "heirs." Husbands don't come before or supersede wives. The second is that "weaker vessel" most likely describes physical ability. Men are naturally stronger, in general, than women. This is why men and women compete separately, for example, in the Olympics.

Some of the distinction between the genders comes from the original curse as a result of the fall. The harmonious relationship between a man and woman was broken when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. God told Eve in Genesis 3:16 that childbearing would be more painful and that "… Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you." As for Adam, the ground was cursed and work became toilsome. The fall broke humanity's relationship with God, with one another, and with creation. It is the source of the so-called battle of the sexes.

As far as roles, 1 Timothy 2:11–12 offers Paul's instructions about the role of women in the church. He writes, "Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet." Paul goes on to say that it is because man was created first that men are to lead in the church. This does not imply that men are somehow superior in God's view, but that He assigns a role to men that women are not granted. However, in the same passage, verse 15, women are given a role that men are not granted: childbirth. These are differences, not ranks. It might help to consider this like a sport's team. A goalie is not inferior to a forward, they simply have different roles and responsibilities.

It is true that men and women are different and they are entrusted with different work. In this way, they are not "equal." But men and women are equally loved by God and equally His children and His heirs when they belong to Christ. Galatians 3:28 makes that clear: "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."

Men and women are equally valuable and necessary. We should all seek to fulfill the unique purpose God has in store for us, and do so in a way that communicates love and respect to others and brings glory to God (Ephesians 2:10; 5:21; John 13:34–35; Colossians 3:17, 23).

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