Men and Women: Similarities and Differences

Key Issue #1:

Men and women are equal in value and dignity.

Key Issue #2:

Men and women have different roles in marriage as part of the created order. 

Ten reasons showing male headship before the Fall:

The order: Adam was created first, then Eve. (Genesis 2:7; 18-23)

The representation: Adam, not Eve, had a special role in representing the human race. (1 Corinthians 15:22)

The naming of woman: Adam named Eve. (Genesis 2:23)

The naming of the human race: God named the human race “Man.” (Genesis 5:1-2)

The primary accountability: God spoke to Adam first after the Fall. (Genesis 3:9)

The purpose: Eve was created as a helpful for Adam, not Adam as a helper for Eve. (Genesis 2:18)

The conflict: The curse brought a distortion of previous roles, not the introduction of new roles. (Genesis 3:16; Genesis 4:7)

The restoration: Salvation in Christ reaffirms the creation order. (Colossians 3:18-19)

The mystery: Marriage from the beginning of creation was a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31)

The parallel with the Trinity: The equality, differences, and unity between men and women reflect the equality, differences and unity in the Trinity. (1 Corinthians 11:3)

Some egalitarian objections to male headship in marriage:

  1. Galatians 3:28 abolishes role distinctions in marriage.
  2. “Mutual submission” in Ephesians 5:21 nullifies male authority in marriage.
  3. In “the husband is the head of the wife” (Eph. 5:23) “head” means “source,” not “person in authority.”

Summary of Key Issue #2: Men and women have different roles in marriage as a part of the created order.  

Key Issue #3:

The equality and differences between men and women reflect the equality and differences in the Trinity. (1 Corinthians 11:3) 

Other Scripture passages on the Father’s role of leadership and authority with respect to the Son:  

Ephesians 1:4
Romans 8:29
John 3:16
John 1:3
Hebrews 1:2
1 Corinthians 8:6
Romans 8:34
1 Corinthians 15:28

The idea of headship and submission never began, it has existed eternally in the very being of God.  

Key Issue #4:

Egalitarianism does not advance on the strength of exegetical arguments.  

How does egalitarianism advance?

  1. Through incorrect interpretation of Scripture
  2. Through reading into Scripture things that aren’t there
  3. Through incorrect assumptions about meanings of words in the Bible
  4. Through incorrect assumptions about the history of the ancient world
  5. Through methods of interpretation that reject the authority of Scripture and lead toward liberalism
  6. Through rejecting Scripture as our authority and deciding on the basis of personal experience or inclination
  7. Through suppression of information

Egalitarianism has two significant allies:

  1. Much of the secular culture
  2. Christian leaders who are complementarian but who lack courage to teach on it or take a stand

Note Acts 20:26-27: “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.”  


The egalitarian position will continue to harm many people, but it will not win.

Matthew 16:18: “I will build my church”

Ephesians 5:27: “so that he might present the church to himself I splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

© Crossway Books. Taken from Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood by Wayne Grudem and John Piper. Used with permission. 

About the Author

Wayne Grudem

Wayne A. Grudem is an evangelical theologian, seminary professor and author. He co-founded the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and served as the general editor of the ESV Study Bible.