Complementarity Sharon James


While recognizing that women are human beings, modern society refuses to see that they are also women. If the refusal to grant a woman the chance to realize her human potential demeans and oppresses her, she suffers just as much if she is deprived of the distinctive and unique aspects of her life as a woman.

Man and woman complement each other

God created man and woman differently, in a certain order, so that they complement each other:

“The LORD God said, It is not good for man to be alone; I will help him like him. The LORD God formed out of the earth every beast of the field and every fowl of the air, and brought them to man, to see what he would call them, and that every living creature should bear the name that the Lord would give it. ‘man. And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to all the beasts of the field; but for man he found no help like him. Then the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on the man, and he slept; he took one of his ribs, and closed the flesh in its place. The LORD God formed a woman from the rib that he had taken from the man, and he brought her to the man. And the man said: This time she is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh! she will be called woman, because she was taken from man. Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Both the man and his wife were naked, and they were not ashamed” ( Genesis 2:18-25 ).

Adam noticed with unrestrained joy and pleasure the difference between himself and Eve. He had been created from the dust of the earth; it was taken from his body. There was a perfect complementarity which is admirably expressed by the expression “one flesh”, which designates physical union and many other things besides.

They have different vocations

The different way in which God created them announces their fundamental vocations. Adam, taken from the dust, will take the initiative in subduing the soil (in Genesis 2:15, God commands him to cultivate the garden and take care of it). Later he was cursed in his dealings with this area ( Genesis 3:1819 ). Eve, created from Adam’s body, will find her primary fulfillment in her relational task of helping her husband, giving birth, and caring for children. God gave him everything he needed for this, physically and emotionally. Later, the curse struck her in her relationship with her husband and in her task of bearing children ( Genesis 3:16 ).

Neither spouse could carry out their vocation alone. Genesis 1:28 indicates that they were to act together to fulfill the mandate to fill the earth and subdue it that God had given them at creation. Adam therefore needed help, a counterpart, to support him in accomplishing what he could not do by himself.

The man is the leader

God did not first create Adam by chance. This order indicates that he was to be the leader in the relationship. The human race, including man and woman, was called “man” or “human being.” God prohibited Adam from eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ( Genesis 2:1617 ). After Adam and Eve transgressed this command, God began by calling Adam to account ( Genesis 3:9 ). He was primarily responsible for the sin that he and his wife had committed. The New Testament emphasizes this: all die “in Adam” ( Romans 5:12-211 Corinthians 15:22 ). He is the leader or representative of the old humanity, just as Christ is of the new.
Paul teaches that “man is the head of woman,” that she was created from and for man ( 1 Corinthians 11: 3, 89 ). In recent years, many have tried to deny the fact that the term translated as “leader” also expresses authority. Not all of these explanations are convincing. Ephesians 5:22 exhorts the wife to submit to her husband (an application of the principle of submission stated in verse 21) because the husband is the head of the wife. The consequences of husband leadership are clear. Later in the chapter, Paul indicates that the purpose of the institution of marriage is to provide a visual aid to Christ’s love for His bride, the Church ( Ephesians 5:32 ). The relationship between Christ and the Church is not reversible: he commands, she obeys. The relationship between husband and wife is not reversible either. Furthermore, the apostle relies on the fact that Adam was created before Eve to indicate the nature of relationships between men and women in the Church.

The woman must be a helper

If Adam was to take on the role of leader, Eve was to fill the role of helper. This term does not designate a servant, someone who would obey the finger and eye, but rather indicates that Adam alone was not capable of coping with the tasks that God had entrusted to human beings. , and that on a deeper level, he needed to be in a relationship with someone who was of the same species as him. God was above him, the animals below. He needed the company of another human being. But although the woman is of the same species and perfectly equal in dignity, she is wonderfully different. The two match each other admirably. Each person’s body is anatomically designed to satisfy and delight the other, but this aspect is only the reflection of a deeper psychological and emotional complementarity.


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