Genesis 1:26-28, 2:15, 18 – “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth…’ The Lord God took man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it… Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’”
In a day and age where gender identity is confused, we also find a wide variety of opinions regarding the roles of men and women in marriage relationships. Genesis 1-2 is written before the Fall and happens to reveal a lot about what our roles should be as men and women living together as one.
Humanity in general is to have dominion over the created things on the earth. Humans are the only created beings that have been made in God’s image. So as a result, while there may be gender differences, the clear teaching from Scripture is that both man and woman are equal in dignity, worth, and value. A world in which only men lived would be dysfunctional, as would a world with only women. This first idea is one of the greatest mistakes that many people make.
The Bible tells Adam that two of his most important roles are to work and keep the garden. Working is laboring in order to cause things to grow, while keeping is labor that is meant to protect and sustain that which is already growing. Being created in the image of THE Creator helps us to see why men have an innate desire to create out of inanimate objects (i.e. wood, plastic, Styrofoam, etc). While we are not creating ex nihilo like God is, building and creating is hard-wired into us. One of the distortions of the Fall is the way in which work becomes much harder. Sometimes work is tedious and frustrating and maybe even boring. But we are living as we have been created when we faithfully work with our hands, our minds, and our abilities. Yet don’t think this working and keeping is merely for our careers. We are also called to work and keep our relationships with our spouses, our children, and one another.
One of the key reasons that God made Eve was because he saw that it was not good for man to be alone. He needed a partner that could come and be his “helper.” As a result of the Fall, many men look at women as being their slave companion. This is a great misunderstanding and gross distortion of the concept of “helper” in Scripture. The word for helper is the same word used for God when he is said to be keeping his covenant faithfulness to His people. Man is incomplete without woman. The woman brings strength to the man by coming alongside him to help him lead as a worker and a keeper. This term helper should not be understood in such a way that causes the woman to be seen as a servant or slave, but instead one who is valued, loved, cherished, and needed. Men, do you view your wives in this way? Women, are you coming alongside your husband in such a way that seeks to strengthen and encourage him as God faithfully comes to the side of His bride?