People have a lot of different definitions of equality today.
This makes it really confusing. So many times, we are “comparing apples to oranges” because we use the same phrase but we don’t mean the same thing.
What does equal mean?
Examples of different popular current definitions of “equality”:
- Men and women should have equal opportunities for education and careers.
- Both should get paid the same for equal work.
- Both should both be able to vote.
- Both can be equally intelligent.
- Men and women should mutually respect each other.
- Both are equally valuable as human beings.
- Men and women have to be the exact same to be truly equal.
- Their roles must be interchangeable or identical.
- Their bodies should be interchangeable.
- Biology is not fact, whatever you feel at the moment is what you really are.
- Gender should be fluid.
- Women must be superior to men, that is the only way things can be equal.
- Women are perfect goddesses who never do anything wrong.
- All men are evil just for being men. Masculinity, in and of itself, is toxic.
- Women should always be in charge at home and at work.
- Men should have no voice, no personhood, and no power. They should even quit their jobs so women can take their place.
Obviously, this is a very wide spectrum of the definition of”equality” today. If you go back in history, or even go to other cultures today, there are plenty of examples where women were truly mistreated, abused, and denied basic human rights. There was not equal treatment for men and women in society or under the law.
This led to a huge push for change and for equality.
But we have to agree on what we mean by equality if we are going to discuss whether we are or are not equal.
This topic could be a series of books, there is so much to discuss.
What does the Bible say?
I believe the Bible sheds a lot of light on the topic. My greatest concern—in this post—is about where we stand with God spiritually as men and women as believers in Christ. Then we can have a starting place to know how to rightly relate to one another:
1. Women and men are equally created in the image of God.
- Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over (the animals). Gen. 1:26
2. Women and men were both equally good and perfect when God created them.
- God saw all that he had made (including man and woman on day 6), and it was very good. Gen. 1:31
3. After the Fall of Adam and Eve, apart from the salvation available to us through Jesus Christ, women and men are equally sinful.
- For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Rom. 3:23
- All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isa. 53:6
4. Women and men have equal access to salvation through Jesus.
- For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
- God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Rom. 5:8
5. Women and men are equally loved by God and followers of Jesus are equally adopted as children of God.
- So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16
- See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. 1 John 3:1
6. Women and men are equally valuable in the Kingdom of God, as are all people.
- There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal. 3:28
7. Women and men both have full access to right standing with God and holiness through Jesus.
- There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Rom. 8:1
8. Believing women and men have equal access to the holy God of the universe through prayer 24/7. We are all seated in the heavenly places in Christ.
- But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Eph. 2:4-6
- But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matt. 6:6
11. Men and women are equally joint heirs together in Christ.
- 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. 1 Pet. 3:7
- And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Rom. 8:17
There are more points I could cover, if I had time. We have equal access to God’s Word. We have equal access to the promises of God. We have equal access to most spiritual gifts. This was all revolutionary.
Women in the Old Testament, and even most men, did not have such free and direct access to God. They had to go through priests, especially the high priest. And even he only had direct access to the Holy of Holies one day per year. Jesus has opened the Holy of Holies up to us all! To all who love and trust Him.
In so many ways we are equal in Christ and have equal access to countless blessings as believers. And yet, in the church and in the family, men and women have different roles.
Some people get very upset about this, especially those who define equality as sameness. But God is not about sameness for men and women.
Does “equal” mean identical or interchangeable?
We are equal in value as people, but we are not the same. We shouldn’t want to be the same. It would ruin God’s beautiful design!
Women and men are not identical physically, mentally, or emotionally. We are not interchangeable.
We are all human. We have many similarities because we are the same species. We all have eternal souls. We all have similar bodies. But men and women have profound differences. Thank God for those differences! We should celebrate them!
God created men and women to be different and the differences are good!
The masculine and feminine roles in marriage are necessary to portray the gospel with the husband portraying the way Christ relates to His beloved church and the wife portraying the way the church relates to her precious Messiah (Eph. 5:22-33).
I’m going to let you check out this post because I don’t have room to describe the roles here. And I am hoping to do some more posts soon about roles specifically.
In God’s economy, the stronger protect the weaker— spiritually, financially, physically, etc… Those who have positions of God-given authority are to provide for, nurture, and humbly, selflessly shepherd those in their care. Those who lead are accountable to God, and other authorities on earth, for their stewardship.
This is not to punish women. Or men. And it is not to turn men into selfish, egotistical tyrants. It is not to make women into voiceless, purposeless, wimpy slaves or children. Our roles do not define our value. And, in Christ, our roles are not oppressive, in the least! They are freeing!
We have value because God loves us, because we are made in His image, and because Jesus died for us.
We have different roles to display the Gospel!
God gives us different roles to accomplish His divine purposes and His holy symbolism.
In marriage, we are to be a living parable where both spouses are needed to show the whole story accurately.
To say that one is more important than the other defeats the whole point.
If we both have the same roles in marriage, it would be like an Olympic figure skating couple (a man and woman) trying to both lift each other at the same time or both jump in the air and spin and expect the other to catch the other simultaneously. It would be a disaster!
One role is not “better than” the other. But when they work together in unity, it is beautiful. There is harmony. Both are elevated and honored. And more than that, Christ is honored!
Some people try to turn God’s design into a strict list of oppressive rules. That is not the point, either! There is a lot of room and freedom within the beautiful roles God has given us.
We can only experience real fulfillment when we receive God’s will for us and the roles He has for us as we live them out in the power of the Holy Spirit. That is the best place to be in the world!
We have moved far from Scripture and God’s design for masculinity, femininity, marriage, family, and the church in our culture, even in Christian circles today. No wonder we are in such a mess.
We are arguably one of the most confused and deceived generations in the history of the planet, in spite of our vast knowledge and technology.
How I pray for God to help us wake up and turn from our confusion, lies, and chaos to His beautiful life-giving truth and love!
What definitions of equality do you see most often in our society?
Are those definitions helpful or harmful to men, women, children, marriage, and family?
What do you love about the differences between men and women and God’s beautiful design for marriage?
What Does It Mean That Humanity Is Made in the Image of God? by www.gotquestions.org
Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood edited by Wayne Grudem and John Piper