Contact Us

  • Phone: 250-828-8222
  • Email:
  • Mailing Address: 454 Columbia Street, Kamloops, BC V2C 2T5



Complementarianism: Introduction to Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

06.24.20 | Family Life, Family, Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, Men, Women, Marriage, Church Life

Complementarianism: Introduction to Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

    What does it mean to be a man or a woman? What is a man? What is a woman? In one sense, the answers to these questions are simple. In another sense, the answers are difficult. Listen... Here's what God says.

    Introduction to Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

    What does it mean to be a man?  What does it mean to be a woman?  In one sense, the answers to these questions are simple.  We could all probably give a very basic, biology-driven answer and be done with it.  In fact, once upon a time, almost everyone in most societies could have rattled off not only the biological answer, but also a host of “typical” characteristics, roles, expectations and norms that were commonly associated with each particular sex. 

    Today in our culture it is not so easy to distinguish what it means to be a man or women. Our culture is confused in many ways and this confusion is impacting our children, marriages, families and churches. We have “transgender,” where men and women dress or change their bodies to appear as the opposite sex. We have “gender self-worship,” where men desire to be partnered with men and women with women. We have “gender obliteration”, where people don’t identify as “he” or “she’s” but as its, androgynous, undifferentiated people. Then we have “gender wars,” where men and women see each other as antagonists, tear each other apart, cutting each other down, trying to one-up each other. All this confusion trickles down into our education system, children’s books, work place environments, propagated by liberal media in every television show and magazine.

    Yet the bible gives us direction, it says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path,” (Psalm 119:105). The confusion of this world is rooted in a failure to understand the balance and beauty of unity and diversity of our triune God. Further, the confusion flows from this misunderstanding of God to a misunderstanding of the self, the individual, the one created to reflect the image of God. This is something that only the gospel can restore for us.  

    In this series, we will look at questions about masculinity and femininity through a Biblical lens.  To do that, there must be reliance upon an important doctrine that may require no explanation here at First Baptist Church of Kamloops, but one which must be mentioned as a clear ground rule for accomplishing the goal of this article.  That doctrine is called the Sufficiency of Scripture.  Almost all professing orthodox evangelical Christians are familiar with and vigorously defend the doctrine of the Inerrancy of Scripture (that the Bible is the authoritative word of God, that it’s true, and that it contains no falsity or error).  The elders at First Baptist Church of Kamloops certainly uphold that doctrine, but that’s not the focus here.  The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture assumes the Scripture’s inerrancy… but then goes another step further.  This Doctrine of the Sufficiency of Scripture teaches that the Bible contains all that Christians need to be guided and instructed authoritatively in all areas of their faith and life.  Sometimes, the Bible will do so through explicit commands or prohibitions, sometimes through broad principles from which implications can be drawn.  In either case, all that is needed to make Biblical and reasonable decisions in any area of life can be found here.  The Sufficiency of Scripture is taught explicitly and implicitly in many passages, but perhaps the most obvious is 2 Tim. 3:16.

    “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16, ESV)

    All ideas about Biblical Masculinity and Femininity – and the implications and applications to be drawn from those ideas – must be anchored to and drawn from Scripture.  The point is to be clear where Scripture is clear, to be more circumspect where Scripture is not as clear, and to engage charitably at all times, recognizing that there is disagreement among believers about some of the particular ways in which Biblical manhood and womanhood play out and affect their daily lives and roles.  As is always the case when digging into teaching that has the potential to hit very close to home, it is incumbent upon everyone to approach God’s word not with an eye toward affirming or vindicating what has already been done or thought (though that vindication may well happen), but rather to approach Scripture with an eye toward learning what God’s Word actually says, and where necessary, toward being shaped and refined by that Holy Word as single men and women, husbands and wives, parents, and church members. 

    Series Outline

    It’s good to know where the Biblical road is heading. The first five articles will be devoted to presenting working definitions of Biblical masculinity and femininity.

    1. Part 1: Introduction to Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
    2. Part 2: Biblical Masculinity
    3. Part 3: Biblical Femininity, Part 1
    4. Part 4: Biblical Femininity, Part 2
    5. Part 5: Biblical Femininity, Part 3

    There are so many practical issues that tend to come up with respect to this topic – and so many Scriptures to consider – that the reader is most helped by laying an overarching (if somewhat abstract) foundation for the entire pursuit. 

    Parts Six through Ten, then, are the practical core of this series.

    1. Part 6: Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in the Home, Part 1
    2. Part 7: Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in the Home, Part 2
    3. Part 8: Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in the Church, Part 1
    4. Part 9: Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in the Church, Part 2
    5. Part 10: Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in the World
    6. Part 11: Answering Questions and Objections

    The Creation: What does God in His Creation Teach us about Biblical Manhood and Womanhood?

    Genesis 1:26-28: 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

    27 So God created man in his own image,

    in the image of God he created him;

    male and female he created them.

    28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

    From this passage there are five bedrock truths to be observed regarding God's desire for men and women:

    1. Men and women are equally in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1).[1] Men are no more in the image of God then women, and women are no more in the image of God then men. Each are made to be representatives of God, and stand unique in this privilege compared to any other created being.
    2. Both are equal in essence. There are only two types of people mentioned, one male and the other female, each being fully human in essence, each being fully loved by God. Both are equal in representing Gods holiness, both given the faculty of rationality, each with a soul designed to worship him.
    3. Both are equal in value. Though they are each different they are equal in their worth. Since worth is measure by God not by what we do but by who we are (male or female) we should never be discouraged or ashamed of our sex (like Adam and Eve) or allow culture, customs or society to devalue who we are. Though men and women are biologically different they are an equal jewel of worth in the crown of God. The are both called to be relational people, neither to be superior or domineering over each other.
    4. Both are equal in dignity. Not only does a coin have worth, but the image stamped upon it dictates the dignity of that coin. Similarly, men and women not only have worth but carry a dignity about them that should be respected. There is an honor that we owe to each other, regardless of sex, age or ability.
    5. Both are given authority to have dominion over creation. They are both to be fruitful and multiply, a reference to reproduction and childbearing. And they are to subdue the sea, sky and land and have dominion over the creatures in each arena. Both men and women share this responsibility.

     A Fork in the Road: Complementarianism and Egalitarianism

    At this point there is a theological fork in the road. All Evangelical Christians share the same view as presented in Genesis 1, but in Genesis 2, Christians (regardless of denominations) tend to favor one of the two following theological positions, or something in-between.  

    1. Egalitarianism: Egalitarianism holds that God created male and female as equal in all respects, full stop. The egalitarian asserts that Gen. 1:26-27 makes no distinction between woman and man (or any innate roles) insofar as both are equally made in God’s image (i.e., ontological equality), and both are given equal and undifferentiated responsibility to rule over His creation (i.e., functional equality).

    In their own words... “The essential message of biblical equality is simple and straightforward: Gender, in and of itself, neither privileges nor curtails one’s ability to be used to advance the kingdom or to glorify God in any dimension of ministry, mission, society or family. The differences between men and women do not justify granting men unique and perpetual prerogatives of leadership and authority not shared by women. Biblical equality, therefore, denies that there is any created or otherwise God-ordained hierarchy based solely on gender.”[2]

    1. Complementarianism: A complementarian believes that male and female were created by God as equal in dignity, value, essence and human nature, but also distinct in role whereby the male was given the responsibility of loving authority over the female, and the female was to offer willing, glad-hearted and submissive assistance to the man. Gen. 1:26-27 makes clear that male and female are equally created as God's image, and so are, by God's created design, equally and fully human. But, as Gen. 2 bears out (as seen in its own context and as understood by Paul in 1 Cor. 11 and 1 Tim. 2), their humanity would find expression differently, in a relationship of complementarity, with the female functioning in a submissive role under the leadership and authority of the male.
    2. Inbetweeners. This is a general description of people who do not prescribe to either Egalitarianism or Complementarianism. These are people of different types. 1. Mixture: those who either have a mixture of both teachings, (eg believe men have a leadership role in the home to protect and lead the family but does not believe the church needs to be led by male eldership). 2. Confused: people who are simply confused about what the bible teaches and are content with being aloof or theologically ambiguous about their positions. 3. Un-informed: people who are absolutely unaware that there are such issues under debate in the church.

    Men and Women are created with different roles (Genesis 2). The Bible clearly teaches that male and female were created by God as equal in dignity, value, essence and human nature, but also distinct in role whereby the male was given the responsibility of loving authority (sometimes designated as Male Headship), and the female was to offer willing, glad-hearted assistance to the man.

    Arguments Establishing Male Headship Before the Fall

    1. The Order that Adam and Eve were Created. Scripture tells us that Adam was created first then Eve (Gen 2:18-23). Paul used this as part of his argument that women and men have different roles in the church. Paul says “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man….For Adam was formed first, then Eve,” (1 Tim 2:12-13). “According to Scripture itself, then, the fact that Adam was created first and then Eve, has implications not just for Adam and Eve, but for the relationships between men and women throughout the church age.”[3]
    2. The Representation that was placed on Adam. Scripture depicts Adam representing the human race. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive,” (1 Corinthians 15:22 ESV). “It is unmistakable then that Adam had a leadership role in representing the entire human race, a leadership role that Eve did not have. Nor did Adam and Eve together represent human race. Adam alone represented the human race, because he had a particular leadership role that God had given him, a role Eve did not share.”[4]
    3. That Adam named the Woman. After making the woman, God presented her before Adam to be named. It was well known that the right to name something or someone demonstrated authority over what was named. We see this in God naming the day, night, heaven, earth, sea (Genesis1:5, 8, 10) and Adam naming the animals (Genesis 2:19-20). We likewise name our own children because we have authority over them.

                  Then the man said,

                  “This at last is bone of my bones

                               and flesh of my flesh;

                  she shall be called Woman,

                               because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:23 ESV, Italics added)

    1. The Naming of the Human Race. God chose to use Adams name, not Eve’s, as the generic name for all humanity. “When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created,” (Genesis 5:1-2 ESV, emphasis added).

    “In the early chapters of Genesis, the connection with the man in distinction form the woman is a very clear pattern. God gave the human race a name which, like the English word man, can either mean a male human being or can refer to the human race in general………. [which] does give a hint of male leadership, which God suggested in choosing this name.”[5]

    1. Adam was primarily accountable. Though Eve sinned first God held Adam primarily accountable, calling to him to give an account. “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:8-9 ESV, emphasis added). “Why does Genesis 3:7 say that it was only after Adam joined in the rebellion that the eyes of both of them were opened to their condition?”[6]
    2. Eve’s Purpose. Scripture indicates that Eve’s purpose by virtue of creation or design was to be a helper for Adam. “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him,” (Genesis 2:18 ESV). The apostle Paul later emphasized this stating, “neither was man created for woman, but woman for man,” (1 Corinthians 11:9 ESV).
    3. The Image of God Through Man. Though both men and women are made in the image of God, God purposely established his image in women through man.

                  Then the man said,

                  “This at last is bone of my bones

                               and flesh of my flesh;

                  she shall be called Woman,

                               because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:23 ESV, Italics added)

    “Just as Seth becomes the image of God through his origination from his father, being born in the likeness and image of Adam (Gen. 5:3), so too does the woman become the image of God that she surely is (Gen. 1:27) through (and, by God’s intentional design, only through) her origination from the man and as the glory of the man (Gen. 2:21-23; 1 Cor. 11:7-9). This suggests, then, that not only is the concept of male headship relevant to the question of how men and women are to relate and work together, but it seems also true that male headship is a part of the very constitution of the women being created in the image of God.”[7]

    The Fall: What Does the Fall’s conflict Teach us about Biblical Manhood and Womanhood?

    Adam and Eve’s Sin:

    In the first sin Eve usurped the headship of Adam and Adam forfeit his responsibility as the head. “What actually happened is full of meaning. Eve usurped Adam’s headship and led the way into sin. And Adam, who (it seems) had stood by passively, allowing the deception to progress without decisive intervention – Adam, for his part, abandoned his post as head. Eve was deceived; Adam forsook his responsibility. Both were wrong and together they pulled the human race down into sin and death.”[8]

    Adam and Eve’s Sentence (Genesis 3:16-19)

    “… Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you,” (Genesis 3:16).

    Conflict with Spouse (vs.16): The fall of Adam and Eve caused conflict in an already established relationship, bringing distortion to their preexisting roles. The fall did not introduce role distinctions but simply distorted them. The women’s desire would be characterized by aggressive desires against her husband, and his would be one of unruly dominance. Biblical ideals are now distorted, men are either wimps or tyrants and women are either doormats or usurpers.

    Genesis 4:7 helps us understand the nature of their conflict.  “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” “This parallel statement illuminate the interpretation of 3:16? Most importantly, it clarifies the meaning of the women’s “desire.” Just as sin’s desire is to have its way with Cain, God gives the woman up the desire to have her way with her husband. Because she usurped his headship in the temptation, God hands her over to the misery of competition with her rightful head. This is justice, a measure-for-measure response to her sin.”[9]  

    “God may be saying, ‘You will have a desire, Eve. You will want to control your husband, but he will not allow you to have your way with him. He will rule over you.’ If this is the true sense, then, in giving the woman up to her insubordinate desire, God is penalizing her with domination by her husband. Accordingly, 3:16b should be rendered: ’Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’ The word “rule would now be construed as the exercise of ungodly domination. As the woman competes with the man, the man, for his part, always holds the trump card of male domination to “put her in her place.”[10]

    Conflict with Land (vs. 17-19): Adams curse was particular in bringing pain to the area of his role / responsibility.

     “And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18  thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return..”

    Conflict with Birth (vs. 16): Eve’s curse was particular in bringing pain to the area of here role / responsibility.

    “To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”

     Four Things to Note in their Sentence.[11]

    1. Work is not Adam’s punishment, just as childbearing was not Eve’s punishment.
    2. God’s rational for this punishment in [Genesis 3:17]. God does not say, “Because you have eaten of the tree which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it’…..God does say, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree..” Adam sinned at two levels. At one level, he defied the plan and simple commanded of 2:17. That is obvious. But God goes deeper. At another level, Adam sinned by “listening to his wife.” He abandoned his headship. According to God’s assessment, this moral failure in Adam led to his ruination.
    3. The very fact that God addresses Adam with this introductory statement, “Because you have listened…” God does not address Eve in this way, but God does issue a formal indictment to Adam before his sentencing. Why? Because Adam was the head, the final responsible member of the partnership.
    4. God told Adam alone [in Genesis 2:17] that he would die. But Eve died, too. Why then did God pronounce the death sentence on Adam alone? Because, as the head goes, so goes the member.

    Redemption: What Does Redemption Teach us about Biblical Manhood and Womanhood?

    1. The Restoration. Scriptures points to a reversal of the relationship conflict indicated in Genesis 3:16. We see this reversal when Paul says, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them,” (Colossians 3:18-19 ESV).
    2. The Mystery. “When the apostle Paul discusses marriage and wishes to speak of the relationship between husband and wife, he does not look back to any sections of the Old testament telling about the situation after sin came into the world. Rather, he looks all the way back to Genesis 2, prior to the fall, and uses the creation order to speak of marriage. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church,” (Ephesians 5:31-32 ESV).[12]
    3. Christ and His Church. “Although Adam and Eve did not know it, their relationship represented the relationship between Christ and the church. They were created to represent that relationship, and that is what all marriages are supposed to do. In that relationship, Adam represents Christ and Eve represents the church, because Paul says, “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church…,” (Ephesians 5:23 ESV).[13]
    4. Marriage and the Gospel. Marriages are beautiful places to see the gospel at work. There is no better environment then a Marriage where people find themselves vulnerable, easily exposed, often offended, where bitterness and resentment might dwell, where sins are more obvious. It is here where the gospel brings forgiveness, covering, acceptance, love, sacrifice, and hope. A place where children can see the gospel at work.
    5. The parallel with the Trinity. “The equality, differences, and unity between men and women reflect the equality, differences, and unity in the Trinity.”[14] Headship does not have a beginning but has been eternal within the Trinity.


    [1] I consider image and likeness as synonyms. The image of God should be considered in a holistic way, taking the best of  each of the Structional, Relational, and Functional aspects.

    [2] Pierce, Discovering Biblical Equality, Complementarity without Hierarchy, 13.

    [3] Grudem, Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth, 30.

    [4] Ibid., 31

    [5] Ibid., 35

    [6] Piper and Grudem, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 107.

    [7] Grudem, Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood, 87.

    [8] Ibid, 107.

    [9] Ibid, 109.

    [10] Ibid, 109.

    [11] Ibid, 110. Each four points are verbatim.

    [12] Grudem, Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth, 41

    [13] Ibid., 41

    [14] Ibid., 42