The Biblical Role Of Men And Women


"What does The Shepherd's Church believe about the roles and equality of men and women?


This is a sensitive issue and must be handled with sobriety, humility, and a heart to honor the Word of God. Even with that motivation, I ask that you show me grace as I attempt to communicate what the Bible says.


Both male and female are equal in the sight of God as image-bearing humans. We have equal value, status, worth, and personhood. We are equal in our desire to sin and in falling short of the glory of God. And we are incapable of saving ourselves and must turn to Jesus for salvation. And that’s not an exhaustive list.

There are also distinct differences: body shapes, hormones, and organs. No matter what the world says about the fluidity of genders, there is something inescapable about the way God designed the two that the adding or removing body parts, hormones, or modified wardrobes cannot replace. We are distinctly and unavoidably gendered. And this is to the glory and praise of God.

In the beginning, a part of God’s wonderful plan for humanity was not only to create equality among the sexes, but to differentiate them and assign them unique roles as equals. With that came distinct Biblical commands that would lead to the flourishing of both genders. Below, I will attempt to summarize what this looks like in the Bible, beginning and spending the majority of this sketch in Genesis 1-3 - the established foundation for human life and gender. Then I will attempt to highlight the total Biblical picture after that foundation is laid.


The Lord God formed the man out of the dust (Gn. 2:7) and put him into the garden to work (Gn. 2:15). The Lord gave His law and commands to the man (Gn. 2:16-17), but determined that it was not good for the man to be alone (Gn. 2:18). So He made a suitable female helper for him and made her out of his own body (Gn. 2:21-22).

God fashioned the woman from man, which is not to state a hierarchy or importance, but an essential equality. He made them equal. This is why Adam immediately acknowledges this fact when he says: "She is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh" (Gn. 2:23). What Adam is essentially saying is this, “she is like me, we come from the same stuff, and there is a sameness about us”.

She was not taken from the man’s foot (which would suggest inferiority), or from his head (which would suggest superiority); she was taken from his rib. The symbolism within that is striking. She would be his side by side equal, his helpmate and friend. Not his subordinate.

Notice this beautiful equality first manifests itself in marriage. Nowhere is this more clear than in the context of a Christian marriage, where two distinct and dissimilar individuals become one-flesh equals. The male is not superior in quality, the family is not inferior in status.

In their equality, they are distinct in their body shape, organs, and in how those organs are used. Only a woman is given the blessing of carrying, delivering, and feeding a unique human life from her body - a beautiful and royal blessing endowed upon a woman.

They are also both equal and distinct in the way God gives them commands.


The very first command listed in Scripture is the blessing command (Gn. 1:28-31). It is given to both male and female together, treated as pure equals.

They were equally blessed, commanded to be fruitful, responsible for sexual multiplication, invested in raising those children, and committed to leveraging their resources to fill the earth with human life. They were called to cultivate what was made and to extend the borders of Eden out into the world by subduing the untamed portions of the earth and making it habitable. These two, in unity and equality, were to install leadership and structure to rule over the animals and earth’s geography so that all the world would be filled with image-bearing humans worshipping God for all eternity. What we see all throughout the blessing command is male and female working together as equals.  

THE LEGAL COMMAND (In Regard To The Law)

It is important to note that the chronology of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 is not linear - the scriptural order is not first in chronological order. The legal command God gave to Adam in Genesis 2 happened chronologically before the blessing command He gave them both in Genesis 1.

Why is this important?

Before Eve was created, God gave His first legal command to the man, “Do not eat from this tree of the knowledge of good and evil or you will die” (Gen 2:17). When Eve is created, God does not repeat the command to her. God entrusted to Adam aspecial role within the marriage. He installed the man as the spiritual head of the home, gave Him the command, and called upon him to teach it to his wife and eventual family. God made a familial distinction between two equal persons.

This was not to denigrate the woman. It does not argue that the man is smarter, better, or more able. It does not place the man as God’s favorite gender. It highlights that while both male and female are equal, they are also distinct in the role and purpose God gives them in marriage.


Everything seemed to be going great until Satan attacked. In typical Satanic fashion, he took what God ordered and reversed it.

While humans were made above the animals and commissioned to rule over them, Satan came as a wild beast - one that slithers the lowest to the ground. He did not come to submit to Adam’s God-given rule. He came to overthrow it. He reversed the Biblical order of leadership between animals and man.

He also usurped the Biblical order of marriage between the man and his wife. Instead of the serpent coming to Adam to challenge the legal command of God, he came to Eve, the one who was not given the command by God. Again, Satan attempted to overturn God’s established order.

The man, who was supposed to nourish his wife with the words of God, was instead fed by his wife the poisoned lies of Satan. The order was being reversed at every step. The couple was being attacked in their distinct roles. The same is true today. He has no need to employ another strategy,  because we keep falling for this one. He first undermines God’s ordering of things and then challenges God’s word. The result is the same for us as it was for them: sin, shame, division, confusion, and death.

When human beings overturn human equality or erase our gender distinctions, we are following the evil one into sin and moral confusion. Is it any wonder that our society, which has totally redefined sex, marriage, human life, and gender distinctions is so confused about what it means to be male and female? When we walk away from God’s design, we lose His blessing and what makes a person truly male or female. We lose Biblical manhood and womanhood.

THE JUDGMENT (Equal and Distinct)

The shared sin had damaging effects on them both. They both knew at once that they were naked, fell under shame, and ran away from God and hid (Gn. 3:7-8). In many ways, their punishment affected them equally as people.  

Their sin also had unique consequences. God did not speak to the sinful lot (Adam, Eve, and the serpent) all at the same time. He addressed them individually, in the exact order the He created them - man first, then the woman, then the beast.

Since God gave the legal command first to Adam, God upheld His divine order by directing His first remarks to the man (Gn. 3:9-11). He challenged the man, and said, “Have YOU [the creature that I distinctly gave my legal command to] eaten from the tree of which I commanded YOU not to eat?” (Gen 3:11). God did not treat the man and woman exactly the same, even though they are both guilty.

Notice in his sin, he did not take responsibility; he shifted blame.

God also confronted the woman, and just like Adam, she passed blame upon the serpent (Gn. 3:13). Both humans, who were given the authority to reign over the animal kingdom, are complaining about a little garden snake that bested them. If the scene were not so tragic, it really would be humorous.

God then judged the creatures in the disordered positions they desired. Since the serpent wanted to be first in rank and defy God’s order, he was judged individually and first. Since the woman broke God’s ordering of the family, assuming leadership, she was judged second. Adam, a weak and spineless leader, allowed all of this to happen, and his judgment came last.




THE EFFECT (Equal and Distinct)

Note that both male and female were cursed equally: both of them lost the blessing and ability to know Him. In this they are equals. Their individual punishments uniquely impacted how they were originally blessed (Gen. 1:28) and what role they played in God’s legal ordering of the home (Gen. 2).

The woman will have increased pain, inability, and complications in her pregnancies, affecting her fruitfulness, conception, and delivery of children. She will also desire to rule over her husband and usurp the original familial order God established. Her curse will impact her relationship to the blessing in Genesis 1:28 and her relationship to her husband, who was designated by God as spiritual head.

The man’s curse also affects his relationship with the commands God gave. He will have increased pain and frustration in work,, toiling, ruling,, and providing for his family (Genesis 3:18-24). The text says that the earth will fight against him all his life and nothing will come easy for him. In a similar way, his position as spiritual leader in his home will also be frustrated. From this moment on, he and all his ancestors following him will experience perverted and sinful postures toward leadership. Some men will have diminished leadership desire, and capacity to lead their wives, while others will attempt to dominate, and mistreat the women in their life. Both are thoroughly perverted, and both originate here in the fall.

In their sin, both their equality and distinctiveness are now deeply frustrated and impaired.


Both were deserving of death, but God did not kill them that day;e showed them grace -the greatest example of which came to the woman. Right in the middle of her curse, she is the one given the Gospel (v. 3:15). It is through her womb alone, not in conjunction with sperm, that a male child would one day overturn this curse: on the earth itself, on the woman, and on the man. Her cursed womb was going to bring about the greatest blessing: man, like Adam - though infinitely better than Adam - who would restore the man and woman equally and distinctly.

Before continuing to the New Testament, here is what we have learned.

1) God treats the male and female as equals in their image-bearing personhood. He blesses and commissions them both and unites them as equals.

2) He treats them as distinct and interacts with them distinctly throughout the narrative. This teaches us that there are such things as gender distinctions that God designed and upholds, and so should we.

3) In the unique institution of marriage, it was Adam who was given the legal command of God and was required to lead his family and teach them God’s commands, which of course he failed to do.

Our present aim is to turn to the pages of the New Testament and simply ask the following question: Does Christ overturn or restore male and female equality, their gender distinctions, and the leadership order within the home and marriage?


Jesus does not overturn equality and distinction between the sexes, but restores it. if we lose the framework we have learned in Genesis, the original 3-fold design, then the New Testament message will lack sense and seem contradictory at best. Remember:

  1. Male and female are equal in person.
  2. Male and female have gender distinctions. 
  3. In the context of marriage, the male is appointed as spiritual head, and the female is appointed as helpmate


Jesus did not come to establish a toxic patriarchy. It is true that men, post-Genesis 3, have sinned in how they treat females. The Lord did not come to empower that kind of sinful and disgusting masculinity. Jesus neither came to make weak and tepid men, or to elevate women over men, as Satan did in the garden. Jesus came to put them back in their rightful places as creaturely equals.

The New Testament speaks directly to this. Paul says 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.

Paul’s argument is that at the foot of the cross we are all equal as persons. There is no hierarchy of quality; all are equal in Christ.

This equality also applies to the way we individually relate to God. Notice how Paul talks to Timothy, a male pastor in the church of Ephesus, in 2 Timothy 1:5.

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

Faith and the ability to know God are not hierarchical. Men are not uniquely capable of faith or genetically predisposed to understanding spiritual realities more than women. Faith in Christ (a gift of the Spirit) can be equally expressed in both male and female, and that faith that can be equally personal and effective in the life of both sexes.

In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul communicates how sexuality is restored back to the original design of God in Christ:

1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 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. 5 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.

This is astounding! In a world where we are constantly barraged with “my body, my rights” identity politics, Paul puts men and women on equal footing. As men and women who all equally belong to Christ, a husband and wife equally belong to one another. In marriage, a man’s body is not his own; it is his wife’s, and a woman’s body is not her own; she likewise belongs to her husband. They have been restored to the one-flesh union of Adam and Eve. And in this beautiful submissive equality Christian marriages thrive and flourish.

All of this is important! Jesus Christ has come to restore the equality between male and female so that Satan may never drive a wedge between the sexes again! This is also why the Christian Gospel is uniquely capable of healing the divisions between the sexes.

For instance, a patriarchal society that abuses women is thoroughly flawed and Satanically motivated. But, In the same way, a feminist society that elevates women societally over men is not any better. Both approaches come right out of the Serpent’s playbook, and only Jesus provides the cure. At the foot of the cross, both male and female are equal in person, equal in their ability to have faith, and equal in their submission to Christ. In marriage, male and female are both equal in their bodily union and are called to submit one to another.

And yet, they are still beautifully distinct by God’s original design.


See Titus 2. Paul, the same man who upholds our creaturely equality, does not affirm gender sameness. He says to Titus, himself a male, that he must teach the older men, who will teach the younger men (Titus 2:1-2). He also tells Titus to instruct the older women to teach the younger women (Titus 2:3), which means he has a distinctly gendered approach to teaching.

Notice what he says to the men: they are to be sensible, good examples in public, pure in Biblical doctrine, examples of Christ-like dignity, and using their speech in such a magnanimous way that no one can accuse them (vs. 6-8). In Christ, this is what a Christian man must be. Like Adam who was given the law first, the Christian man is to live under the law of Christ sensibly, with good conduct, accurate doctrine, and to use speech in a way that builds up and is above reproach. This is a distinctive approach to the Christ-centered recovery of Biblical manhood.

In this same passage, Paul gives a different approach for women. Older women should be reverent in their behavior and committed to teaching younger women how to live the Biblical life (v. 2:3). He mentions a few examples when he tells them to, 1) love and submit to their husbands, 2) love and lead their children, 3) be workers within the home, all so that God’s Word will not be blasphemed.

(NOTE: Most modern translations of this passage soften the word “blasphemed” that is used by the KJV in favor of words like shame, maligned, etc. This is unfortunate and dishonest because Paul uses the Greek word “blas-fem-eh-tai”, which always means “to blaspheme.”)

He can say this statement so strongly, because God has established distinctions in the way they relate to one another and serve each other within the home. This mirrors when Adam was given the commands of God to share with his wife, and Satan blasphemed God by twisting that Word and approaching Eve first. Men blaspheme God’s Word when they do not take their role as spiritual head seriously and when Christian women do not aspire to submit to the spiritual leadership of their husbands.


Some make a cultural argument here and say that Paul was giving this command against the backdrop of a patriarchal society. He was making the best of the circumstances and trying to suggest ways each sex could relate to one another in a flawed society, that we must not apply today. But this fails on three levels.


If we believe we can reduce this argument into something cultural, what prevents any Biblical command from being reduced to this level? If we "culturalize” the text here with no Biblical warrant (and at other places where we do not agree such as 1 Timothy 2:11-15, 1 Corinthians 11:3, or Ephesians 5:22-23), then we are saying we are the arbiter of truth, that we get to change the text when it makes us uncomfortable, and we can avoid the rules of Biblical interpretation, tomake the Bible say whatever we want it to. But, when we begin to go down that slippery slope, what will stop us from eventually making all of it cultural? Was it cultural that Jesus rose from the dead? Is it cultural that we repent from sexual immorality? Is it cultural that we live godly lives? I know this seems ridiculous, but this approach has been taken with a few texts, and it historically leads to the entire Word of God being completely tossed aside. This is American liberalism today.


There is no hermeneutical warrant (allowance within the science of interpretation) for making this a cultural argument. There are other places where the speaker or writer makes a command to specific people in specific situations that are not universally applied to the entire church. But when they do this, they give some clue in the context as to what they are doing.

An example of this can be found in Matt. 10:1, where the disciples are told by Jesus to share the Gospel only with Jews. Jesus initially had a Jewish-first focused ministry, but we do not take that passage to mean we, as followers of Christ, may only share the message of hope with ethnically Jewish people. We know that because Jesus expands that ministry focus later to the larger world (Acts 1:8). So in the NT context, we have a warrant for believing the command in Matthew 10:1 was a culturally-bound command that we do not live by today.

But, in Titus 2, there is no such contextual evidence

(NOTE: If you want more info on what I am speaking about here, check out this article on "Arguments from Culture")


While it is clear that Paul is not speaking culturally, there is a positive Biblical warrant for taking this at face value. This text does not undermine the equality between the sexes that Jesus restored; it fits perfectly within the threefold framework God originally designed before the fall, and it highlights how living as a Christian will bring healing and restoration, not JUST to our gender equality, but also to the distinct areas of our gender, which fell in the curse as well.

Therefore, far from being a cultural command, we may overlook, we see Titus 2 as the beautiful restoration of our gender distinctiveness.


Paul makes a Biblical argument in 1 Timothy 2 that speaks both about equality of persons and the restoration of the Biblical order within the church. He introduces his idea first through the example of a secular government. He says that kings and those in leadership on one level are no different from anyone else (as people) and that God desires ALL people to be saved (1 Tim. 2:1-4) regardless of their position.

And while it is clear that not all people are kings and queens, leaders, CEO’s, senators, or celebrities, all are equal at the foot of the cross. A person’s role in the church does not give them more status with Jesus or more prominence among others. We are all equal in Christ.

Paul says it is desirable for men in every place to pray, lift up holy hands, and to do so with Christ-like dignity. He deliberately assigns a more public role to the male. He also says that the woman is to learn quietly and respectfully in church

(The context for public gatherings is provided in Chapter 1) and submit herself under the preaching of faithful doctrine. And while this is certainly true for both male and female, Paul is making an argument based on the order of Genesis 2. The woman is not called upon to teach, much like Eve was not called upon to give the commands to Adam, but Adam to Eve. We know Paul means it this way, because of what he says in verses 12-14:

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.  

Some twist these scriptures to say Paul has a low view of women, that he thinks they are unintelligent, incapable, and the only thing they are good for is to sit silently and not contribute. That is not what Paul is saying at all. It’s important to put down our cultural baggage and political ideas we bring to the text and see in simplicity what Paul is saying.

This entire chapter is all about the fundamental equality between people who have distinct roles. And while these verses jostle us in the modern world, they are rooted in God’s original creative design from Genesis 2 that He said was very good. A design that predates sin. A design God was pleased to institute and where coequal humans perform different roles in a way that God, the designer, gains tremendous glory. A design Jesus did not overturn but upholds and restores.

At The Shepherd’s Church, we do not have female pastors or elders. Not because we believe a woman has nothing of value to say, and not because we believe that a woman is inferior. But because Scripture outlines an established order for spiritual leadership, that Christ has redeemed and restored that order, and we will humbly submit ourselves to what God says.

This is also true in how we consider the male-female equality and distinctiveness in the home and in marriage.


The quintessential verse on God’s created order within the home comes from Paul’s treatment of marriage in Ephesians 5:22-33. There he says:

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

Notice again how Paul roots his marriage argument in Genesis 2. “The two will become one flesh.” He also roots this argument in the Gospel, in that Christ not only came to restore that one-flesh union, but to restore their original roles. Like Adam, husbands are to love and lead their wives spiritually with humility and gentleness. Now in Christ, this can finally become a reality for men.

The same is true for the woman. Like Eve, she will be called to be a suitable helper for her husband, to submit to his spiritual leadership, and to walk alongside him as Christians who are raising their kids to follow Jesus. And now, in Christ, this is thoroughly possible. In Christ, these two human beings, are thoroughly and wonderfully equal, while also thriving in the unique roles that God has given them.

In fact, when we do this, we are not only being obedient to the Biblical vision, we are reenacting and showcasing the Gospel. When a wife joyfully submits to her husband’s leadership, she is an illumination of the church that was redeemed from rebellion and elevated as a co-equal helpmate of Christ, our true bridegroom. And when the man sacrificially loves his wife and gives himself up for her, he is reenacting what Christ came and did for us.

Jesus, the true and better Adam, came and crushed the serpent's head. He came and restored the things the serpent twisted. He came and restored Biblical manhood, Biblical womanhood, equality among the sexes. He came and redeemed and restored our gender distinctions and roles.

I want to end this discussion by sharing a few qualifications.



A husband is never allowed to abuse his distinct role of leadership. He is not allowed to dominate his wife (1 Peter 3:7) and must not overburden or abuse his children (Ephesians. 6:4). He must treat his role as sacred and increasingly learn how to love and lead like Jesus. e will be held accountable on the day of judgment.


Neither sex communicates a superior or inferior position. In the same way, Christ elevates the church to co-equal bride, so the husband’s role is to celebrate his wife’s equality and elevate her. In the same way, the church submits to Jesus, the wife submits to a man who is working for her good, loving her well, and creating an environment for her to flourish. We know in our life and walk with Jesus that submitting to Him is good and that He does not rule over us with an iron fist. Well in the same way, a woman who submits to a godly man, should experience the tender, affectionate, and sacrificial love of Christ through her husband, although imperfectly. I also know of many godly women who are submitting to less than godly men. They are not doing so on the basis of his worth, but on the basis of Jesus’ worth who said that this kind of submission showcases the Gospel.

Let me say it again, a wife submitting to a husband’s spiritual leadership does not diminish her or elevate him. Their roles do not undermine equality, but announce it in light of the Gospel.


Society has made leadership and authority an idol god. Leaders have this supposed higher status, higher aptitude, higher ability, etc. The majority of leaders (both historically and presently, though less so now) have been men. But leaders do not have more value than everyone else. The Biblical argument is not one of ability but function. Both male and female are equal and distinct and both are true.


As Christians, we must understand that we live in a world that has adopted Critical Race Theory and intersectionality as a worldview. In this ideology, based on supposed societal power structures, men inherently have more social power than women; white people have more social power than other races; heterosexuals have more social power than homosexuals and gender-confused individuals, and Christians have more supposed societal power than seculars.

For example, in this theory a Christian woman is a victim and must rise above the sinful tyranny of men. This is godless and does not reflect the Bible at all. 

Christians do not adopt these godless ideological views. God has made all people equal and distinct that do not undermine our equality. All of us are weak; all of us need Jesus. Where this worldview dictates everyone must be pushed down into equality, Jesus comes down and raises His children you up to the superior equality in Him. Only Christ can offer this! Therefore we must reject these sinful patterns of thinking (Rom. 12:1)


Many women have been discriminated against by men, and I am so sorry for that. Even many churches have it wrong. Some fundamentalist churches are just as wrong as the liberal ones. Instead of throwing away the gender distinctions, like many have done in liberal Christianity, fundamentalist churches have sinfully made those distinctions oppressive, harsh; they have weaponized what God meant for good, and used it for evil.

No female needs any man other than Jesus Christ to know God. He is the only Man that all of us need - regardless of sex! The New Testament says Jesus alone is our true mediator (Reference). The teaching that women cannot know God apart from their husbands requires an invented new mediator. There will be great judgment for men who adopt this.


The kind of submission discussed in this article applies only in the context of Christian marriage. It is not true that every woman is required to submit to every man. Secular women cannot be held to this standard. Without the Spirit, no one can truly accept God’s design. Once a Christian, this would be an area of eventual discipleship, as it was for the newly converted younger women in Titus chapter 2.

In the same way, every man on earth is not given exclusive rights to lead all women. The Bible does not give men a universal right to lead or dominate. It is only within a God-centered, Christ-exalting, loving, Gospel-believing home that a Christian married man should lead his Christian wife, and he must do so with the same love and care for her as Jesus has for her. Again, this cannot be required for people outside of the church, because they do not have Christ or His Spirit. But, if a married man were to convert to Christ, a significant portion of his discipleship would be aimed at helping him step into that Biblical role.


Everything above has massive implications on how Christians raise children. We must raise our boys to be tender and loving - not buffoons with over-inflated egos, but men who mirror Christ by giving themselves up for their brides. We must raise our girls with confidence, to be intelligent, diligent, and tenderhearted to serve should the Lord call them to marriage. The best example of this kind of woman is given in Proverbs 31.


In the context of a Christian marriage we see all three strands of God’s beautiful original design for male and female coming perfectly together.

  • Husband and wife are totally equal in their person. They are one flesh.
  • Husband and wife have gender distinctions that equip them to work, multiply, and raise children together as equals.
  • In the context of Christian marriage, the husband is appointed as spiritual head over his family, and his wife is appointed to him as helpmate.