Male and Female in a Gender-Confused Age

How we are more alike than different

Jenn Kintner

Josh Wester

A 12-year-old daughter approaches her dad in tears. Before she can speak, he says, “I don’t do feelings. Wait until your mom gets home for help.” A stray dog rushes a mom and her toddler on a walk. The mom quickly jumps behind her toddler. Later, as the doctor treats her son’s bites, the mother says, “It really is a shame his dad wasn’t there to protect him.”

These scenarios are absurd for good reason. While, in general, women can be more gentle and compassionate, those are not uniquely female traits giving a man a “get-out-of-caring-for-people” card. And though men are typically built with a greater capacity for physical strength, it does not mean a mother could not protect her children. There are reasons we have phrases in English like “mama bear” or “daddy’s little girl.”

 Much work has been done among conservatives to point out the distinctions between men and women. In a gender-confused age, understanding these differences is essential, but equally important is the recognition of our common traits as those made in God’s image. Perpetuating false stereotypes about each sex only leads to greater gender confusion. Such fictions must be dispelled. To truly be the men and women God intended us to be, we must reflect his image comprehensively in our common traits, characteristics, and virtues.1Men and women largely share the same capacities and characteristics, though we always embody those things as either men or women. A very obvious example of this is that only women can be mothers; only men can be fathers, but both can be parents.

 As we interact with the opposite sex, it’s easy to feel there couldn’t possibly be anything more different, but that is not true. In all of creation, there is nothing more like a man than a woman. This is clearly seen in three commonalities revealed in Scripture.

Commonalities in Creation

The creation account begins with commonality before addressing distinction. Genesis 1 starts with an overview of creation and briefly tells how God made humanity as men and women. The focus of this chapter is correspondence. The real contrast is between humanity and the rest of creation, not between man and woman. Chapter 2 then zooms in to tell more about the creation of man and woman, demonstrating some of the complementary nature of humanity being created as male and female.2These differences are seen in the timing of their creation, the method of their creation, and the materials of their creation (2:5-7, 2:21-23). So, if Scripture starts with man and woman’s commonality before moving to distinction, shouldn’t we follow that pattern?

Genesis 2 also demonstrates God is creating someone like Adam. After declaring creation good seven times, suddenly God declares one thing “not good”: Adam being alone.3Gen. 1:4; 9, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31 God states his intention to create a “helper fit for” Adam (2:18). Before he creates Eve, God has Adam name every animal, so Adam sees the problem—there’s not someone like him. Every animal has a corresponding partner; Adam does not. Only then does God put Adam to sleep and fashion Eve out of his rib. Adam awakes to say, “At last, bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” He declares Eve is like him. Even the term for woman points to her alikeness; she is named woman because she is taken out of man.4We see the word woman is derived from man in the English, but this is the point of the Hebrew as well. In Hebrew, the word for woman (ishah) is related to the word for man (ish).

Additionally, we see this emphasis on correspondence displayed each time Scripture states humanity is made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-28; 5:1-2). Both times the imago Dei is mentioned, this emphasis on male and female is present, highlighting that we are created alike, in God’s likeness.

Commonalities in Scripture

I (Jenn) recently told someone I teach women the Bible. He assumed I taught Esther and Ruth. But the canon is greatly diminished if we limit ourselves in this way. All of Scripture is written for our edification as both males and females, even the parts addressing or named for women, and we cannot ignore those parts that do not seem to specifically relate to one sex or the other.

When considering maleness and femaleness, many Christians go to passages that emphasize one sex (e.g., Prov. 31), the distinction between the sexes (e.g., 1 Cor. 11:7-9), or that look at male or female characters (e.g., Phil. 4:2-3). These passages aren’t irrelevant to the discussion, but when they are taken out of the context, they can result in stereotypes such as the belief that women are catty and contentious because Euodia and Syntyche disagreed (Phil. 4). That is not the point of Paul’s writing about women, and over-reading passages like this can diminish women’s understanding of godliness. For example, women, married and single alike, are called to so many more things throughout Scripture (as humans who follow Christ) than the subset of the principles articulated in Proverbs 31.5We hold that God has ordained male headship in the church and in marriage, but as followers of Christ, both men and women were created for good works that God prepared beforehand (Eph. 2:10). Men and women are called to put off their old self, be renewed in their minds, and to put on their new self created after the likeness of God (Eph. 4:22-24). For a fuller discussion on men and women embodying all the human traits, see “Sameness and Distinction: Rethinking Assumptions about God’s Design of Men and Women,” https://cbmw.org/2020/11/20/sameness-and-distinction-rethinking-assumptions-about-gods-design-of-men-and-women/

Because our common characteristics, virtues, affections, and actions will be different as we embody them as men or women, we have an opportunity to learn from one another and grow more in Christlikeness, not to exempt ourselves from certain things or to otherize half of the human race.6Paul, in explaining his tender and self-sacrificing care for the church in Thessalonica, could best express that kind of care as mothering, because it was a human trait but one that typically women excel at (1 Thess. 2:7). Paul instructs those in Christ Jesus in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:1-2), “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:13-14). He isn’t just calling the men to stand firm or to act in love, but “act like men” refers to the manner in which he is calling all the believers to live as he closes his instructions to the church. As we seek to understand what the Bible teaches about the distinctions between men and women, we do not want to create two different Bibles by classifying each verse as applying to either males or females.

Commonality in Charge

We also see this commonality in the charge God gives humanity after declaring males and females created in God’s image. Humanity is blessed and then given a cultural mandate: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). Adam and Eve were to work in conjunction toward this goal. Only together could they carry out what God called them to do. Adam had a variety of creatures that could have helped him in this task, but God made a corresponding human, a woman, that was both like him and different from him because that is what was needed.

This vision of men and women working together to fulfill the cultural mandate cannot be reduced to simply dividing the mandate into his and hers: he leaves the home to subdue and “have dominion” and she stays home to tend to the results of “be fruitful and multiply.” For example, in biblical times, industry would have been out of the home, and husband and wife would have been laboring side by side in work and child rearing. 

We see the hard-working woman in Proverbs 31 fulfilling the cultural mandate alongside her husband in several ways. She contributes to her family’s financial well-being (v. 11). She buys supplies, creates products, and is a savvy business woman (vs. 13, 16, 18, 19, 24). She knows a good investment (v. 16). She works hard to cultivate a crop (v. 16). She works diligently for her household and others (v. 15), and her household is well prepared for whatever may come (vs. 21, 27). She speaks with wisdom and teaches with kindness (v. 26). She’s praised by her children and husband (v. 28).

In normal circumstances, a man working and providing for his family is necessary and honors the Lord (1 Tim. 5:8), but this is not all that a man is or does. Husbands are called to love, nourish, and cherish their wives (Eph. 5:25-29). Fathers are called to discipline and instruct their children, but not provoke them. (Eph. 6:4). Deuteronomy 6 calls for a father to be deeply invested in his children’s lives, training their hearts day to day as he sits with them in the house or walks along the way (vs. 6, 20-25). Men called to lead the church must be gentle and hospitable (1 Tim. 3:2-3; Titus 1:8).7The title pastor is a shepherding term that not only shows protection and leadership (John 10) but also pictures care. We see this in God’s poetic description of His care for his people in Psalm 23. God provides food and water (vs. 2) and he leads (vs. 3), but he also restores souls (vs. 3) and comforts (vs. 4). Paul demonstrated kind and thoughtful care, compassion, and knowledge of those he led throughout his letters (1 Thess. 2:7-8; Rom. 1:11; 9:3; Gal. 4:19; Phil. 1:8; 2:19-30).

The cultural mandate was given to men and women as those made in God’s image, but Jesus gave another charge to his disciples: The Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). This unfinished task is one that followers of Christ should joyfully and tirelessly labor toward. It will not be accomplished without men and women laboring together, especially in certain parts of the world where only women interact with other women. Yet, this is not just a matter of access or pragmatism. God designed men and women as co-laborers in the cultural mandate and commissioned them both to take the good news of Jesus Christ to all nations.

While we cannot shrink away from understanding the good and intentional differences between men and women as God created them, we must equally recognize and celebrate the correspondence between men and women as humans created in the image of God, recipients of his Word, and participants in his plan. It is important not to cause more confusion in a gender-confused age by overprescribing or stereotyping masculinity and femininity in ways Scripture does not. God’s design for our discipleship and purpose is essential for us to grasp as we seek to display and take part in his redemptive plan as co-laborers in Christ.

Jenn Kintner is the associate dean of academic affairs at Gulf Theological Seminary.

Joshua B. Wester is the lead pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24