by Shelley Poston
At creation, God assigned differing roles to man and woman. Man was created to work and keep the garden (Genesis 2:15). Woman was designed to help man in his tasks (Genesis 2:18). They each had two very distinct and differing roles. However, they were both created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), and therefore, their roles were equal in value, but differing in function.
At creation, everything was good. These roles were assigned before the fall. After the fall, Adam continued to provide for his family (Genesis 3:17), and Eve would be the bearer and nurturer of the children (Genesis 3:16, 20). The punishments because of the fall did not dictate their roles; it simply complicated the already existing roles. When Adam and Eve hid in the garden, Adam was called upon first by God, even though Eve had committed the sin first (Genesis 3:9). Clearly, God placed Adam as the leader, but Adam chose to be passive. Eve had the role of helper, but had violated it, taking leadership (Genesis 3:6). The roles were reversed during the fall.
The pattern of biblical roles within marriage continued throughout the Old Testament. In the New Testament, the roles did not change but were given a special emphasis that male and female were still equal in the eyes of God (Galatians 3:28), although they function differently within the home and church.
In the New Testament, the roles of husband and wife are symbolic of Christ and His church. Christian men are to lovingly lay down their lives for their wives (Ephesians 5:25). They still maintain leadership, but this must be servant leadership. Husbands are not to demand obedience, but by their humility, guide. They are to honor their wives (1 Peter 3:7). It is clear that biblically, women are not seen as second class citizens, but equal with their husbands and as “heirs with [men] in the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7). The biblical roles for men continue through the Old Testament and into the New Testament: man is meant to lead and lovingly serve his wife.
The bible exalts womanhood in the home, and places great value on it (Titus 2, Proverbs 31). Woman’s role from creation has not changed. In Titus 2, Paul commends women to love their husbands and children (Titus 2:4). The older women were to teach the younger women in the church how to better take care of their families, including taking care of the home (v.5). Women are to follow their husband’s leadership with respect, choosing to submit to that leadership (Titus 2:5, 1 Pet. 3:1-4). 1 Peter states that when wives submit to their husband’s leadership, they are doing it as service to God (1 Pet. 3:1-4). A woman can be a great blessing and help to her husband, just as Eve was to Adam at the beginning of creation. Scripture does not forbid a woman working outside of the home. Some women did appear to have businesses (Proverbs 31), but a woman’s first priority is to her husband, family, and home life.
Men and women were created with distinct abilities to fulfill these biblical roles, and when husbands and wives follow the biblical pattern within the home, they bring glory to God as a picture of Christ and His church.