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Thursday Thoughts: Obligations of Women (and Men) in Genesis 1-3

on November 7, 2013

ImageMany men and women have argued about the equality of and distinctions between the genders. Some have oppressed women with the idea that man is superior to woman in every way. On the other extreme are feminists who claim that there are virtually no distinctions between male and female.

An article I read in a parenting magazine reported a mother who wanted her children to have more genderless thinking. She refused to push her children towards gender-specific toys, but rather offered dolls to her son and trains to her daughter. Interestingly, her son still went for the train, and her daughter for the dolls. In a more extreme case, a couple in Canada are trying to raise a genderless baby (see article here).

The above stories, in reality, illustrate rebellion against God’s created order and the gender-specific roles that He has ordained. The Bible clearly claims that men and women are equal yet distinct at the same time. Men and women share equal worth but maintain distinct roles.

This post will focus on the similarities between men and women, as taught in Genesis 1-3. Genesis 1:26-28 makes it clear that men and women are similar in their obligations:

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.”

 1. Imitation

  • Men and women were created equally in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 states that God made mankind in His image; verse 28 follows it up by specifying that both man and woman were made in God’s image. Man and woman were made from the mold of their Maker.
  • They were created to resemble their Creator, unlike any other created being. Thus, they also share in the same goal—to be like their Creator. Both men and women are to reflect their Sculptor, who sculpted them in his likeness.

2.  Procreation

  • In Genesis 1:28, God commands man and woman to be fruitful and multiply. Men and women are responsible to fill the earth with children, also made in the image of God. Malachi 2:15 tells us that one purpose of marriage is to have children who will fear God. Our own children are some of the people that we can most influence by our words and example. (Interestingly, feminists who maintain that their own careers, lifestyles, etc are more important than having children/more children are actually reducing the number of those they could most easily and effectively influence for their own ideology!)
  • Women are especially associated with this command, since they physically bear children. Genesis  3:20 states that “the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (italics added).

3.  Domination

  • Subdue = Hebrew kabash, which basically means “to bring something into bondage, to make it serve you by force, to dominate it” (similar word to kebesh, translated “footstool” in 2 Chron 9:18 & Psa 110:1).
  • We are to be good stewards of the resources and responsibilities God has given us. While dominating all the animals and plants may seem like a manly task, God gives this command to “them,” man and woman. As God called all of creation into existence, we who are made in God’s image are to rule over that creation.
  • As women, we are to rule over the responsibilities in life that we have: gardening, cooking, shopping, child-raising, organizing, housekeeping, etc. Unfortunately, due to sin and the curse of Genesis 3:16-19, these duties are more tedious and painful.
  • Mark Chanski, in his book Womanly Dominion, says, “A woman is to dominate aggressively her environment, rather than allow her environment to dominate her. . . . God has not assigned her to sit on her porch swing with a pink parasol daydreaming what she might do ‘if only’ the obstacles weren’t so complicated” (p 31).

What obstacles prevent us from the obligations God outlines for us in Genesis 1-3?


  • We can’t imitate a God we don’t know.
  • We can be so focused on imitating the world or another person that we lose our focus of imitating God.
  • We care more about our independence than our imitation.


  • We buy in to the world’s concerns that we are becoming over-populated (see this article to read that the contrary is the truth).
  • We determine the sizes of our family based off our fears, selfishness, own reason.
  • We accept the sins of abortion, infanticide, and/or homosexuality.
  • We feel like children would make us victims (e.g., We have too much education to waste on children; We have a really good job; We feel overwhelmed with the responsibilities of a family and claim we can’t do it, etc).


  • We claim that we are genetic victims, absolved of our responsibilities (e.g., We are not wired to multi-task; We don’t have the right personality to perform our God-given responsibilities; PMS/menopause makes it too hard to. . . ).
  • We claim that we are circumstantial victims (We had bad moms as examples; We were abused; We didn’t have families that properly dealt with issues; We don’t have the right-sized houses; We have churches that are too cliquey for us to serve/fellowship, etc.).

Both men and women are similar in their responsibilities to imitate God, to procreate, and to dominate. We often find excuses to not perform our tasks. May God give us grace to overcome the obstacles–real or imagined–so we may imitate our God, dominate our environment to the glory of God, and have children who also become disciples of God!

**The above is part of our Ladies Bible Fellowship study on Biblical Womanhood.**

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}


2 responses to “Thursday Thoughts: Obligations of Women (and Men) in Genesis 1-3

  1. […] discussed here the obligations that men and women share in Genesis 1-3. Today, I will move on to the distinctions […]

  2. […] this verse clearly indicates that the woman exercises her God-given dominion mandate by exercising authority over her household.  Dave explained that the Greek word for “manage […]

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