Male and Female Complementarity, Part 10

– See prior posts for context –

In stark contrast to the top-down male hierarchy suggested by Bruce Ware in Male and Female Complementarity and the Image of God, consider this from Allison Young on Genesis 1-3. She argues in part:

“God created Adam first:

Genesis 1-3 contains nothing that suggests that man, because he was created first, was designated by God to function as the authority, or leader of woman. If we argued on the basis of this claim, then we would have to say that the plants and animals were to have authority over human beings because they came before humankind. Rather, the creation story is ordered so that the more complex beings come last; the climax of creation was human beings. On this basis, it could be concluded that Eve was more complex than Adam. In fact, Eve was the climax of creation, for humankind was not complete until Eve was created. (Emphasis added.)

Those who point to God’s special place for the first-born neglect the many examples in Scripture in which preference is given to the second child over the first: Isaac over Ishmael (Gen. 21), Jacob over Esau (Gen. 27), Rachel over Leah (Gen. 29), Ephraim over Manasseh (Gen. 48), Joseph over his brothers (Gen. 37), David over his brothers (1 Sam. 17). Would we say that John the Baptist was called to have authority over Jesus because he came first?

The purpose of the sequential creation of Adam and then Eve in Genesis 2 is to show the need they have for each other and the unity (“one-flesh”) of their relationship.[1] Adam alone was “not good,” and he was in need of a partner. It was not until Eve was created that the creation of humankind was complete and good.  (Emphasis added.)

Adam calling Eve “woman” does not indicate Adam’s authority over her; rather, it is an expression of the similarities that they share, as Adam exclaims “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called woman, for out of man this one was taken” (Gen. 2:23). In the Hebrew, the man is called ish and the woman ishsha, the similarity in the names being intentional. This is a word play, for just as the man (adam) was formed from the ground (adamah), so the woman (ishsha) was formed from the man (ish). These designations refer to the unity of the relationship to one another. To suggest that when Adam called Eve “woman” implies his authority over her is superimposed on the text. Scripture gives no indication that God gave Adam authority over Eve. Rather, by exclaiming “this one shall be called woman, for out of man this one was taken” Adam was expressing joy at the similarity and unity he shared with Eve, a joy he did not exhibit when encountering the other animals.  (Emphasis added)”

For further reading:

Richard S. Hess, “Equality With and Without Innocence: Genesis 1-3,”

Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Hierarchy, (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 2005), 84.

For Further Study:

Beyond Sex Roles, by Gilbert Bilezikian

Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Hierarchy, ed. Ronald W. Pierce, Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, with Gordon Fee

Good News for Women: a Biblical Picture of Gender Equality, by Rebecca Merrill Groothuis

“Man and Woman at Creation: A Critique of Complementarian Interpretations,” by Christiane Carlson-Thies


Join us next time for Ware’s response to the question, How is the headship of the male who is created first in the image of God to be honored by single women and men?”


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