Gender Roles Part I Old Testament Backgrownd

In a culture of confusion on the issue of gender and gender roles, it is important for us to come to a strong biblical understanding of manhood and womanhood.  For the past few years especially, Christians have generally been divided into two camps on the issues of gender roles and what it means to be man and woman.  Starting with Genesis 1, we see that God created man and woman in his image after his likeness (v. 27) and commissioned both of them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion”.  Both egalitarians and complementarians (The two conflicting understandings of gender) agree that men and woman from this text are clearly equal and value and worth being made in God’s image different than the rest of the animal kingdom.  Between these two positions though, the controversy arises on whether men and woman are called by God to carry out their commission in the same way.  In other words, some Christians disagree on if God calls men to subdue the earth and fulfill his will in a different way than women do.   Complementarians say yes and egalitarians say no and the deciding point comes largely in Genesis 2 and 3.  There we have an up close look at the creation of man and woman as well the curses to each.  In Genesis 2, God creates the woman as a helper to the man (v. 20) and as a sign of leadership, the man names the woman (v. 23).  Then in chapter three, God brings the curses to mankind for his sin, focusing on the man and the woman separately.  God curses man by cursing the ground and making work difficult and painful.  God curses the woman by bring a curse on child bearing.  Then, most importantly we see in v. 16 God says to the woman, “Your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you”.  With all of these passages, Egalitarians argue that gender distinctions when it comes to gender roles are a result of the fall.  I personal see these texts, as well as several in the NT, point to clear distinctions between male and female gender roles that was given before the fall, and a distortion that came about after the fall.  In other words, gender roles were not introduces at the fall and therefore need to be abolished, but rather they were distorted and need to be restored.  Looking at Genesis 3:16, which I quoted above, the word desire in the text is clearly referring to a controlling destructive desire (cf. Gen. 4:7), not a respectful submissive desire as egalitarians suggest.  Furthermore, the ruling over that the man will perform due to the fall is not referring to sacrificial leading headship, but in context is referring to an abusing ruling over that is the complete opposite of biblical leadership (Eph. 5:25-28).  In next week’s note from the pastor, I will address NT passages about gender roles.