With the current misunderstanding of Biblical masculinity and femininity, and with one daughter headed off from home, I have penned the following summary overview for what I believe Scripture teaches. It is not complete but touches on points I want her to understand. –
1. You are made in God’s image and extremely valuable to him (Gen 1:26-27).
2. Both men and women are on equal footing when it comes to salvation and access to the Father (Galatians 3:28). Both men and women are equally beloved by Jesus. Both men and women are equal recipients of the Holy Spirit.
3. Scripture says that God created us male and female (Genesis 1:27). There are certain qualities that are involved in being masculine and feminine. We are not the same with a few different body parts. Science and common sense have proven that over and over again. We do not socially construct our masculinity or femininity although there are obviously cultural expressions. Generally, men are more task-oriented and less relational. At the heart of true masculinity is initiative.
4. Genesis 1:26-30 shows that men and women are partners – given the dominion mandate to reflect God, reproduce, and reign over creation.
5. Genesis 2:20-25 adds further detail, showing that woman was created as a helper to Adam. Adam and Eve were not made separately like the other animals; Eve was taken from Adam. She was brought to him as a helper fit (corresponding) to him. He named her. (A sign of authority). Thus while they are to coreign together, there is a prefall hierarchy in marriage. Adam is head and Eve is his helper. There are different primary spheres of responsibility.
6. Genesis 3:1-7 records the sinful reversing of this prefall hierarchy. Eve takes the lead. Adam is silent and passive.
7. Genesis 3:9-20 records the cursing of each person’s primary sphere of influence. Eve as the relational one, will have problems with children (and her body related to children) and will have a desire to rule her husband. Adam, “because you listened to your wife,” will suffer thorns at work (his primary calling). As head of the human race, he receives the judgment that he will experience death even though men and women die.
8. However, a primary sphere of influence does not equal an exclusive one. For example, fathers are addressed as called to bring up their chilldren before the Lord, even if much of this is delegated to the mom. Running a household well is a requirement for being an elder (1 Tim 3:4). On the other hand, while a wife’s primary call is to run the home, godly women obviously also provided income as well (see Proverbs 31, Romans 16:1 and others). Each family needs to determine how they will express the overlapping of their spheres.
9. Paul makes clear that subordination of function does not mean subordination of value (1 Corinthians 11:3). Jesus is submissive to the Father in function but equally God. Complementary in roles does not mean inferior in worth.
10. The NT redeems singleness, but our masculinity or femininity will still be expressed in our singleness. Thus, single men are still men and single women are still women.
11. It is important to note that Jesus displayed exceptional closeness to many women and accords them special status of first witnesses of the resurrection, while only calling men to be his apostles.
12. If a part of masculinity is leadership and initiative, then a young women, while still exercising her gifts, should seek to encourage the men around her to take the lead. There are many ways women can strongly influence a man while still yielding to his leadership.
13. Young women must also realize that they have a sinful bent to dominate men just as men have a sinful desire to passively withdraw from responsibility.
14. It is not wrong for a woman to have individual points of initiative with men helping her as long as the general pattern is one of encouraging leadership in the men around her.
15. In marriage, the most intimate of male – female relationships – the husband is the head of his wife. (1 Cor 11:3, Eph 5:23). As a result he is to lead the family and his wife is to yield to his leadership. This suggests that the primary question a young woman ought to ask herself is, “Can I respect and yield to this man? Can I follow this man? Are we a good fit?”
16. Applying #12, 13 and 14 to marriage, a wife should seek to develop the initiating gifts in her husband as much as he is possible.
17. Until God blesses you with marriage or if God calls you to singleness, continue exercising your gifts, talents, and image of God, as develop into the godliest person you can be.