At the foundation of reality is a God who is neither male nor female (John 4:24). Thus gender is not ultimate; God is. My supreme thought and concern every day should be how to know, love and please this God (Deuteronomy 6:5; 10:12; Psalm 31:23; Matthew 22:37). A society which displaces this God from modern life would necessarily put other concepts, including gender, in his place.
When God created humanity, he made them male and female (Genesis 1:27). Thus God introduced gender into the fabric of creation. It is thus an aspect of God’s creation which should be understood in light of what God has revealed. The Bible therefore becomes our ultimate guide to understanding gender.
That God created humanity in his image as both male and female indicates that both genders are equal, despite the physical and non-physical differences between them. What makes humanity special relative to other creatures is their creation in God’s likeness (Genesis 1:26). Humans share many physical features with other animals, yet we are superior to them. Why? Only because of the image of God which we possess, which also ascribes to us a responsibility to exercise stewardship over them.
The differences between male and female, whether in their features or in their roles, does not make them unequal, just as the similarities between humans and monkeys does not make them equal. What counts is the image of God that they bear or do not bear.
Sin sadly distorts our respect for this equality. Societies dispense with the notion of equality, and we sadly judge value on the basis of differences. A man is physically stronger and naturally exercises a leadership role in the home. Therefore he is thought to be superior to the woman. This distortion has taken many complicated forms throughout human history, and it is a picture of what can happen when humanity is not guided by God’s revelation.
Redemption reinforces this equality between man and woman, without negating the differences between them (Galatians 3:26-29). Jews remain Jews, slaves do not automatically gain their freedom, neither does a woman become changed into a man. Through faith in Christ, everyone becomes a child of God, co-equal with every other believer.
In light of this, wherever a low view of women is held, we should oppose it. Where practices and traditions have developed which restrict the flourishing of women, they should be annulled. At the same time, a woman does not need to ‘prove’ her value. She is valuable by virtue of creation. She is made in the image of God, and is co-equal with any other man (or woman), however successful, gifted, or privileged they might be.
A distinction in roles and differences in nature do not imply a difference in value. Men and women are both different and equal. God’s word affirms both, and so should we.