You are either a man or a woman, and this God-given reality informs who you are and what calling(s) you ought to pursue.
The goal of our class this week was to get the wheels turning by grounding ourselves in what Scripture teaches us about male and female from the very beginning.
Here are some of the things we gleaned…
Genesis 2 gives us a more detailed account of how God brought man into the world. Before the creation of woman, God calls the man to "cultivate the ground," specifically the garden of Eden (Genesis 2:5, 15–16). God then provides man with a woman who is a "helper suitable" for Adam fulfilling his mission.
We asked the question, What does it mean for the woman to be a "helper suitable" to the man?
First of all, what does it mean for the woman to be a helper to the man? God determined that it was not good for the man to be alone. He needed someone different—someone besides himself—to do the work God had called him to do. For the woman to be a helper means that she was in some way different from the man. She provided things he didn't have.
So we might ask, how was the woman different from the man?
For one, she had a different body and was therefore given a different calling. The man's body was designed for one kind of labor, the woman's for a different kind of labor. In particular, the woman was designed for the bearing and raising of children. Adam was not. Eve was called by God to be the mother of all the living, a calling which Adam was incapable of fulfilling.
We also see in Genesis 2 an asymmetry of relationship between the man and the woman. It is a relationship between one who names and one who is named. It is a relationship between one who is called and one who is to help in that calling. The rest of Scripture teaches us that it was also a relationship between one who represents and one who is represented, as well as between one who loves and protects and one who submits.
Eve was essentially different from Adam, and it's precisely because of her differences that she proved to be such an excellent helper to him.
But the woman was more than just a helper. We read that she was a helper suitable to the man.
It wasn't enough for her just to be different from the man. After all, the animals were different from him. But, unlike the animals, there were essential ways that Eve was like Adam and intimately connected to him.
How was she like Adam?
First of all, she was made of the same stuff. Even though her body was different from his, it still was intimately related to and compatible with his own body. Because of this, he saw her body as worthy of special honor and protection.
Along with that bodily reality, Eve was also like Adam in that she was a spiritual creature. She had an eternal soul and related to God as a person made in His image, just as Adam did. This was not true of the animals. In the beginning, "God created man in His own image;…male and female He created them."
Lastly, Eve was an indispensable helper in the work of fruitfulness. Because Eve was of Adam's own flesh, it was only with her that he could truly fulfill his primary God-given mandate: "Be fruitful and multiply." His calling became her calling in a way that was not possible for the animals.
Genesis 3 bears out some of the distinctions between male and female in their distinct curses from God. The woman was cursed in the two defining features of her existence: the bearing of children and her relationship to the man. The man was cursed in the defining feature of his existence: his calling to cultivate the earth.
Next week we plan to dive in to some of the practical outworkings of this theology of male & female. How should men and women relate to each other in the family? In the church? In the workplace?