Let me begin by clarifying what is meant by “gender.” Cambridge Dictionary’s first listing says, “the male or female sex, or the state of being male or female” (dictionary.cambridge.org). One certainly can find other definitions. However, this is how I am using the term. I mean male and female. I do not mean the one hundred or more genders, which some now imagine to exist (consider: BBC teaches kids there are ‘over 100’ gender identities by Jessica Chasmar – The Washington Times – Friday, September 13, 2019, washingtontimes.com). “Male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).
God created the home (Genesis 2:18, 24). He assigned different roles to the man and the woman. Man is to be the leader in the home (Genesis 3:16; Ephesians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:3-5). Woman is to be the helper of man (Genesis 2:18; 1 Corinthians 11:8-9). God spoke to Eve about childbirth (Genesis 3:16), and to Adam about farming (Genesis 3:17-19). This seems to indicate a different focus. While a woman may help bring in income (cf. Proverbs 31:16, 24), and a man can help with domestic work (cf. Genesis 18:1-8), there are differences in focus or emphasis (cf. Titus 2:5).
The role of the man and the woman is to be respected. Children are to honor their fathers and mothers (Ephesians 6:1-2). They are not to be despised, even in old age (Proverbs 23:22). A virtuous wife should be greatly valued (Proverbs 31:10, 28).
There is equality in spiritual value. “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them… as being heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7). The Christian man should regard his Christian wife’s spiritual value. They are heirs together of the grace of life. They have different roles. However, there is equality in spiritual value.
God created the church (Matthew 16:18 cf. Acts 20:28). He assigned different roles to men and women. Men are to be leaders in the church (1 Timothy 2:8, 11, 12). They are to lead the worship (1 Timothy 2:8, 11, 12). It is qualified men who are to be appointed as elders and deacons (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9). God gave to woman a role that only a woman can fulfill (i.e. childbearing); even so, God gave to man a role that only a man should fulfill in a mixed assembly consisting of male and female Christians. However, there are many things that a woman may, and even should do. A woman may teach children and women (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-15; Titus 2:3-4). She may help explain the Bible to a man in a very private setting (Acts 18:24-27). She may teach by way of example (1 Peter 3:1-6). She may do good deeds for others (Acts 9:36, 39). We should respect God’s sovereignty to make distinctions in the role of men and women in His church. These distinctions are not merely culturally based (1 Timothy 2:12-14).
The role of both men and women should be respected. Where would we be without the great things done by godly women? I suspect that many church building doors would have been shut long ago, if it were not for these godly women. Remember that women supported the ministry of our Lord (Luke 8:1-3).
Both genders should be treated with respect. Paul told Timothy to treat older members as fathers and mothers, and to treat younger members as brothers and sisters (1 Timothy 5:1-2). May we do so.
There is equality in spiritual value. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29). Both men and women are eligible to become sons of God. It is possible through faith (lit. the faith) in Christ Jesus one gets into Christ by baptism. Thereby, one becomes an heir of the promise made to Abraham (Genesis 12:3b cf. Acts 3:25-26). Both men and women may be baptized (cf. Acts 8:12). There is equality in salvation’s availability.
Both genders should be treated with respect. Jesus taught, “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12). The word “men” is generic. The NASB reads “people.” The ESV reads “others.” Jesus had compassion on a widow at Nain (Luke 7:13). He spoke to a woman at Samaria (John 4:27). He healed a woman who had a spirit of infirmity (Luke 13:12). He allowed Mary to sit and learn at his feet (Luke 10:38-42). The resurrected Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene and then to other women (John 20:16 cf. Mark 16;9; Matthew 28:9). We are taught to “Honor all people” (1 Peter 2:17). It literally reads, “Honor all.”
We should understand that there are differences between men and women. Peter describes the woman as the “weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7). The term “vessel” refers to the body (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:7; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4). Generally speaking this is true. Woman, not man, bears children (Genesis 4:1-2; Job 14:1; Matthew 11:11; 1 Corinthians 11:11-12; Galatians 4:4).
There is confusion when differences are not recognized. Females are now having their sports taken over by “transgender” men. Nicole Russell writes, “There are… physiological differences men enjoy that enable them to achieve physical feats that women can’t. For example, men have a slimmer pelvis… larger hearts, larger lungs and a larger skeletal mass – all differences than can aid in a sport like cycling. Biological males even have more muscle mass… Science supports what most people intuitively understand: that men and women are physiologically different” (A Man Won Gold in Women’s Cycling (Again) by Nicole Russel, October 23, 2019, dailysignal.com). Selina Soule, a Connecticut high school student said this after losing a track event to a “transgender” male, “We all know the outcome of the race before it even starts; it’s demoralizing” (High School Athletes File Complaint over Transgender policy by AP, June 19, 2019, nbc.com).
Many complain about the gender wage gap. It is often cited that women make only .79 cents for every dollar men make (The State of The Gender Pay Gap in 2019, payscale.com). Who can argue but that it is only fair to pay equal wages for equal work? However, the above figure is misleading. It is the median salary for all men and all women. Women earn .98 cents for every dollar men make, when the median salaries for men and women are calculated based on the same jobs and the same qualifications (ibid). Perhaps much of the gender pay gap can be attributed to different choices based on different roles. Dean Kalahar writes, “What causes the variation in pay? Personal and workplace choices account for much of the gap… Maybe the biggest reason is biology. Women make up 50% of the workforce but give birth to 100% of the babies. And if women choose to have children, their incentives change and this affects their choice of jobs, careers, continual service and hours spent on the job (The Gap is a Major Economic Myth by Dean Kalahar, November 05, 2012, realclearmarkets.com). Thomas Sowell points out, “Women who have never married have higher average incomes than women who have, and women with no children have higher average incomes than women with children. Another way of looking at this is that the traditional division of family responsibilities has meant that wives have sacrificed their own income-earning potential possibilities and enhanced that of their husbands, with the resulting family income then being spent jointly” (Thomas Sowell, Economic Facts and Fallacies, p. 72).
Summary: God created both men and women. Men and women are different, and have been given different roles. These differences should not be denied, they are good. Both men and women have important roles. Both are to be respected. Both can be heirs of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7). The ESV Study Bible comments, “Women and men share an equal destiny as heirs… of the grace of life.”