What does a pronoun tell us about the role of men and women?

One of the changes in our society over the last several decades has been the role of men and women in our society. These changes have affected roles in the home, at work, in government, and in church. As followers of the one and only true God, our beliefs and actions regarding the role of men and women need to be based on the Bible. The Biblical teaching on gender roles begins in Genesis 1, in the same verses where we read about God creating man and woman. Before we look at what Genesis 1 teaches us, let’s look at a biblical principle on how to interpret the Bible, and let me make a comment on the mindset we should have as we approach this topic.

Read Gal 3:16 where Paul is quoting Genesis. What does his argument teach us about how to interpret individual words in the Bible?

Gal. 3:16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.

Paul based an argument on the fact that the word “seed” is singular and not plural. This means that when we read and interpret the Bible, we need to pay attention to the form of each word. The number, gender, and person of a word is important. Now let me make a comment about our mindset regarding this topic.

1John 2:15 ¶ Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.Over the past several decades, feminism has inundated us with the notion that women need equality with men in order to be fulfilled. The Biblical concepts discussed in the rest of this post do not treat men and women equally. I would like you to read the rest of this post with the mindset that perhaps equality is not the path to fulfillment; instead, the path to fulfillment is total obedience to God. Now let’s take a look at what we learn from Genesis 1.

Genesis 1 tells us that God created the earth on day one, He created dry land and plants on day three, then on day five He created animals. Finally, on day six God created people. Read the account of God creating people in Genesis 1:26-27 and pay attention to each pronoun. Notice whether each pronoun is singular or plural.

Gen. 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Gen. 1:27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Look again at the last two phrases:

in the image of God He created him;
male and female He created them.

When the next to last phrase refers to the person created in God’s image, a masculine singular pronoun is used. The last phrase changes to a plural pronoun. In other words, the phrase that mentions being created in God’s image only refers to the male. Does this tell us that only males were created in God’s image? If not, what does it tell us? We will come back to this later.

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Genesis 2 also tells the account of creation, only from a different perspective. Gen 2:7 tells us about God creating the man.

Gen. 2:7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Gen 2:18 tells us that God recognized a problem.

Gen. 2:18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”

Then Gen 2:22 tells us about the solution.

Gen. 2:22 The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.

The point is that the woman was created in order to fill the man’s need for companionship.

Now let’s go to Gen 5:1-2. This repeats what we saw in Genesis 1:26-27. Notice the form of each pronoun.

Gen. 5:1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.

Gen. 5:2 He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created.

Again, the phrase that mentions being made in God’s image uses a singular masculine pronoun which only refers to the male; while the next phrase uses a plural pronoun.

Now let’s look at 1 Cor 11. This chapter builds on the verses from Genesis and provides a foundation for thinking about the role of men and women. What fundamental facts about men and women do we see in these verses?

1Cor. 11:7 For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.

1Cor. 11:8 For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man;

1Cor. 11:9 for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.

Notice that the man is the image and glory of God while the woman is the glory of man. Notice also that the woman was created for man’s sake, not the other way around.

As followers of the one true God, our beliefs and actions need to be based on the Bible. The role of men and women is one of many topics where we need to be vigilant that our beliefs and actions are based on the Bible and not based on what our culture wants us to believe. Genesis makes it clear that the man was created first and then the woman. 1 Corinthians 11 makes it clear that man is the glory of God while woman is the glory of man. 1 Corinthians also makes it clear that woman was created for man. This is not everything the Bible has to say on this topic, but it is the foundation upon which Godly men and women should form their beliefs regarding the role of men and women in society. And again, please consider the possibility that the true path to fulfillment is not to view gender roles as our society views them, but instead the path to fulfillment is to view gender roles as God views them.


“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”


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