man twirling woman and dancing

Are Men and Women Equal?

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!

Share

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?

RESOURCES

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

The Essence of Femininity – Receiving

God’s Design Increases Attraction and Real Romance in Marriage

21 thoughts to “Are Men and Women Equal?”

  1. “God gives men and women different roles in the family and in the church.”

    That statement you wrote could lead one to think that 1 tim 5-14 is a direct, thus saith the Lord irrefutable unchangeable command from God. In fact, the writers of “The Transfromed Wife” and “Biblical Gender Roles” say that women are sinning if they do anything other than what is prescribed in that verse. That includes both those blogs actually saying that going to college could be sinning because it is taking away from woman’s “only purpose” given by God per the words of that scripture.

    The truth is that Christianity promotes that it is up to the individual to find out what God’s plan for their lives. The advice in the scripture that says there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors can help prevent a person from following just one other fallible person’s take on the scriptures. I can guarantee those writers who espouse that certain things about the Christian life are unchangeable will not take responsibility if a person follows what they say and things start to go wrong.

    You yourself have said you thought it out and came to a personal conclusion why you only wear skirts and dresses—it would be sad if women blindly followed that without thinking, saying to themselves, I will be more holy and womanly before God and my husband if I do the same thing.

    I have read stories of so many lives messed up because people believed and followed the teachings of patriarchal and legalist teachers, some sadly becoming atheist. . Even though those teachings were based on bible verses, it still became a trap because those teachers (and their followers) fail to realize that christianity includes that personal relationship with Christ where no two life events will be exactly the same. How one dresses, where they live, how they make their money, how many children they have, if any, are all fluid in the will of God.

    To say that women working outside the home is a sin is due in part to our culture based on American homelife in the 50’s. (“ honey, I’m home”) That is a very short span of time in our culture. During the 40’s with men away at war, women had to work outside the home in factories. It is either a sin to work outside the home or not and if sin is sin, then there can be no exceptions to sin, regardless of the situation.

    All over the world and through time, woman have worked outside the home and still do. Growing fruits and veggies in a field and taking them to market is “outside and away from the home.” In fact, when homes are little more than thatched shacks, most time is spent out and away from the home…this is a way of life for numbers of women in third world countries. Are they sinning?

    Thanks to your blog and yes even the blogs of those in error, and especially the blogs of former Christians become atheists and with the freedom I have in Christ, I have been free to read and come to my own conclusions about Christianity that it is more than ok and not a sin to question, read, compare, research, etc and find out it is not a sin for women to think, decide, choose, be an actual independent individual, whether married or not, children or not, working outside the home or not.

    After all, grace- which is largely ignored by those bordering on cultic, patriarchal and legalist versions of Christianity— is a really big part of the Christian life which was accomplished and finished by Jesus and that God does NOT make cookie cutter Christians. .

    1. Susan’s Saddle Strands,

      The topics of a woman’s/wife’s role or man’s/husband’s role according to Scripture are weighty and often misunderstood. These topics could fill multiple books, as well!

      We humans have a tendency to err toward the extremes rather than the healthy balance God prescribes, sadly.

      1. We want to be licentious and ignore what God’s Word does say and just do whatever we want to do. That is dangerous.
      2. We want to add tons of manmade rules and our own personal convictions and try to make everyone follow our check lists. That is oppressive.

      Both of those extremes are hurtful to men, women, marriage, children, family, and society.

      Perhaps I may write some posts on these issues.

      They are so important. God does give us some parameters. But there is wide space there in which we can breathe and have plenty of room to live, love, and enjoy fellowship with Him and with others.

      Thanks for sharing!

      Much love,
      April

      1. and the way you write is exactly why I keep coming back to read your blog because the underlying current of your writings is to please the Lord and do his will. Even though we are probably polar opposites on how to live a married life (my hubby does not want to lead nor make decisions so by default, I have to, even though he does all the finances.) He also has lots of medical issues that keep him in constant pain and almost an invalid. Not having children was a blessing so we have 16 cats, (which is probably not so much of a blessing! )

        But what exactly do you mean by your #1 point,”to be licentious and ignore what God’s Word does say and just do whatever we want to do” — if that means immorality, stealing, telling lies or breaking other commandments I agree. But those statements could be mistaken by the reader as to “my life does not look like the writer’s life. I really prefer to go to college to have a career in medicine or scientific research or dolphin trainer so perhaps I am sinning because I want to do these things? ”

        It is easy to say god’s perfect plan for women is to marry, keep house and have children, love, honor obey because it is obvious she is female and has the reproductive tract and those things are part of human culture and history for thousands of years. Men were stronger and needed to defend the home, town, country and were able to hunt, farm, etc. and of course women staying home with the children made sense because they were nursing babies and doing home stuff because autos, Walmarts and birth control did not exist. And of course those pesky scriptures that lead us to think that in all this time nothing has changed for women, especially Christian women, in fact, those same scriptures are often used to keep women basically as unthinking slaves to their husbands, which if you have read anything Bill Gothard and others who endorse patriarchal and legalism, many women have suffered mental and physical abuse under the rigid interpretation of 1 Tim 5:14. .

        1. Susan’s Saddle Strands,

          My greatest goals in my writing are to:
          – Love God.
          – Love people.
          – Exalt Christ, His Word, and His ways.
          – See women transformed by the power of Jesus.
          – See women, men, children, and marriages healed.
          – Cling to God’s wisdom and not endorse human wisdom, my own, or any other.

          You and I actually agree on many, many things. I’m always glad to hear from you. <3 And we don't have to agree on absolutely everything. We can still have unity, love, and oneness in Christ as sisters.

          I went to college, myself, on a full scholarship. I finished pharmacy school a year early and worked as a pharmacist for 24 years, until this past April. I went part time when my children were born, although, I really wanted to be home full-time. I continued to work out of respect for my husband's leading and request. Since April, I have been working full-time for my family's business.

          I don't ever say that going to college is a sin for women. Or that working outside of the home is a sin. I know many godly women who stay home as wives and moms. I know many godly women who work.
          These are things that each woman—and if she is married, each couple—will have to decide for herself/themselves. When it comes to matters of personal convictions, I purposely don't do a lot of talking about my own personal convictions, out of respect for Romans 14. I want to allow women to have freedom in Christ to make their own choices within the parameters of God's Word.

          I stand firmly against teaching that adds to the Bible and that oppresses women with a bunch of legalistic, manmade rules.

          But I also stand firmly in support of Scripture, itself, and a right understanding of it. My goal is to encourage women to obey God’s Word, not a twisted version of it—not legalism—but I want to see women honor the heart and spirit of Scripture.

          If there are passages I don’t understand or with which I do not agree, I don’t want to just toss them out. I want to seek to understand them rightly and I want to obey the Lord out of love and gratitude and reverence for Jesus. I want to yield my will to His and my wisdom to His.

          Many women who read my blog don’t come from a background like yours and are not dealing with the extenuating circumstances you are. I want to try to consider how different women might hear a message and then seek to respond in a way that will point women to love and honor Jesus and the Bible in whatever situation they may find themselves. I want to encourage healthy spiritual balance in the Christian walk because there is always a temptation to veer to the right or to the left and either of those options are destructive.

          There are times when women don’t have children and that situation is different from a woman who does have children, especially young children.

          There are times when a husband is incapacitated or almost incapacitated, and there will have to be adjustments because of that. Sometimes huge adjustments. Even so, I still believe that a wife, even with a husband who has a chronic illness or incapacitating disease, can continue to honor Scripture as much as possible, and can continue to seek to honor her husband’s God-given position as leader. Yes, even if he doesn’t think of himself as the leader, and even if he can’t do a lot of the actual leading. In her attitude, demeanor, and in the way she approaches him and decision making, she can still show honor for Christ and for God’s Word and for her husband.

          There is a book called “Dancing with the One You’re With” that talks about submission in a variety of real world, difficult circumstances. And one of the chapters is about a real life wife whose husband was severely injured. She had to take over leading and providing in so many ways, and yet, she tried to defer to her husband and honor his position as leader as much as possible, in spite of the difficult circumstances. I think that is beautiful!

          I ignored the passages of Scripture that related to women for many years, myself, to my detriment, so I don’t want to encourage women to do that. And I believe that there are life-giving ways to approach the passages that some people twist and use to try to oppress and abuse women.

          I don’t consider any passages of Scripture to be “pesky.” My understanding may be limited or faulty. That is frustrating. But I want to understand God’s wisdom behind them and see how I need to apply them to my life in ways that most bring joy and glory to Him.

          So instead of throwing out 1 Tim. 5:14 completely, perhaps we can look at all that the Bible has to say about wives, women, and Christians, in general, and have a godly, biblical understanding that affirms the dignity, worth, and value of women, the dignity and value of home-making, and the possibilities of many ways of living this out and expressing it. And perhaps we can look at the entire passage in context and it will help us have a better understanding.

          Many women in Scripture worked and God did not call it sin. Deborah. Lydia. Priscilla.The Proverbs 31 wife. Several women who followed Jesus and the disciples went with Him everywhere He went and helped to support His ministry financially out of their own means. (I have been working on a post about this very issue, actually. There is so much to say, it is difficult to fit it all in a comment thread. And my time is a lot more limited since I am now working full-time, myself.)

          The home is a place of honor for Christian wives and moms. It is a place where we do have a primary responsibility, in my understnding of Scripture, to be sure that we are looking after the needs of our household and that we are meeting the needs of our husbands and children, if we have them. And we certainly should not be going about as busybodies or gossips, interferring with other people’s families, and neglecting our own families—which is what that passage was actually trying to prevent, if we read the entire thing.

          But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry 12 and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. 13 Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. 14 So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. 15 For some have already strayed after Satan. 16 If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows. 1 Tim. 5:11-16

          Perhaps this passage is there to teach us that we are to be taking care of our own spiritual, family, and home responsibilities. We are to make sure we are providing well for our own families, including older relatives, and homes. We are not to just wander about aimlessly creating havoc or being lazy or idle. I don’t believe this passage necessarily prohibits women from working outside of the home, or in the home. But we are to take good care of our husbands, children, and homes. We are to be busy doing productive things to build up our own families, not tearing other people down.

          I also believe that if we do choose to work outside of the home, as women (and especially when we have young children) we need seek God’s wisdom and our husband’s wisdom for proper balance at various stages of life so that our work doesn’t interfere with our responsibilities at home.

          Whatever we (and our husbands) decide, we can certainly watch our own motives. It is possible for a woman to have wrong motives for going to work. It is also possible for a woman to have wrong motives to stay home. May our motives honor the Lord. May He give us the ability to see Scripture rightly and in a healthy way that honors His wisdom. May we yield ourselves fully to His Lordship and may He use us for His will and His good purposes and His glory.

          When we do face a difficult trial, like a husband who is physically unable to work, may God give us the wisdom, grace, and strength we need to step up and do the leading we need to do in a way that brings joy to His heart.

          My husband didn’t want to lead when I began this journey, either. I didn’t think he could lead. Or that he would lead. I used to believe that meant I should just automatically take over, which is what I did for over 14 years. But God showed me that, in my particular situation, if I gave Greg some time and space, he was a lot more capable of leading than I had ever imagined.

          I don’t know exactly what each wife should do specifically in each trial and difficult scenario. But I do know that as we seek God with all our hearts and we desire to honor His leading, He is able to show us the best path for each of us.

          May God bless you and your husband, my dear sister! May He fill you with His love, peace, and joy. And may He heal the wounds that have been caused by legalism. <3

          Much love!

  2. Hi there, I see a lot of women climbing the ladder in a corporate environment and my heart aches for their pride that they portray. They walk around like we all owe them something which then in return turns into disrespect from others and to others. It’s become out of control it seems. I keep praying for the day that I can quit and be a stay home wife just as God has planned for me.

    Thanks, April. Well done! I pray for the women that read this that their hearts will be softened to His word, ears will hear, and eyes will be opened. We need this to happen in order for God to move.

    1. angbam,

      My prayer is that we might all allow the Lord to completely transform our hearts, minds, and thinking. That He might open our eyes to His beautiful, gracious, glorious design for us as believers and as men/women, husbands/wives. I pray for healing for all of us, in the areas where we have believed hurtful lies about our worth or identity in Christ or as women.

      Thanks for sharing! I pray God will open the doors He has for you and that He might be greatly glorified in your life and in each of our lives.

  3. Wonderful and thoughtful post, as usual. I love reading your blog as I can always hear your gentle voice. I was just praying about this subject yesterday. I believe we are equal as well. But there are passages in the Old Testament , (I’m reading Leviticus) where God does seem to value men higher than women (and children). Men are valued at 50 shekels. Women only 30. In prime of life and then figures change depending on age but always men have more value. Do you know why that is? Thank you 😊

    1. Nicole,

      What you are talking about in the Old Testament is the value placed on a man slave or woman slave. That monetary value was based on the amount of work the person was able to do. Men are generally much stronger than women. They can lift more weight.

      My husband can certainly do much more physical work than I can! So if we were both being hired to move furniture or hoe a field, he could get done much more than I could.

      I hope that makes sense.

      The monetary value of a slave was about their capacity to do work, not about how much God loves them as people or about how much God values their souls.

      <3

  4. I can’t speak on marriage roles personally yet but something in society I observed in adulthood is upper management favoritism in the workplace & being the pastors pet in church. I could not escape either of these illusionary standards in either environments, much like the “crabs in the bucket” analogy. Made me terrified of adulthood, however things improved when I recognized, by Gods grace, that I have my own set of certain rights to boundaries, privacy, being handled with dignity, etc.

    1. Jaimie,

      I’m so glad you realized you are a legitimate person with dignity and appropriate boundaries and privacy. Those are important things. People in leadership positions don’t have the right to mistreat or abuse you. ❤️

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