by Joshua Harris, Boy Meets Girl, 110.
So what does God say it means to be man or woman? The Christian's first stop for the answer is the Genesis account of when God created the first man and woman. That is act 1 of God's story.
Jesus showed us that the Genesis account should be the foundation of our perspective of true manhood and womanhood. When He was questioned about marriage, He pointed his questioners back to God's design: "Haven't you read...that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female'?" (Matthew 19:4). Paul did the same. When he wrote to the Ephesian church about how husbands and wives were to relate to each other, he referred his readers to God's original intention, which He revealed before sin entered the world (Ephesians 5:31).
From the first two chapters of the Bible we learn that Adam and Eve were created equal in God's sight. In our chauvinistic culture, in which women are often belittled and abused, this fact needs to be clearly stated. God made women totally equal to men in personhood, dignity, and worth. They are no less important or valuable to God.
Within the context of their equality, God assigned men and women different roles. He made Adam first, signifying his unique role as leader and initiator. He created Eve from Adam and brought her to Adam to be his helper in the tasks God had assigned him. She was made to complement, nourish, and help her husband. God's greatest gift to man was "a helper suitable for him" (Genesis 2:18). This doesn't minimize a woman's role but it does define it.
Men and women were created equal, yet different. And the fact that we're different is wonderful. What a boring world it would be if the opposite sex weren't so mysterious, so puzzling, and at times so infuriatingly unlike us!
God didn't make us to duplicate each other, but to complement each other. The point here is not that Adam was better than Eve, just as God the Father is not "better" than God the Son. Father and Son are equal in essence, power, glory, and worth, but they have different roles; and the Son joyfully submits to the Father's will (1 Corinthians 15:28). So in marriage a husband and wife are equal, even though Scripture tells the wife to joyfully submit to her husband's leadership.
In his commentary on Genesis, Matthew Henry explained it beautifully: "Eve was not taken out of Adams' head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him." In Ephesians 5:21-33, Paul says that the husband's leadership isn't to be tyrannical or cruel, but kind and loving. Men are called to love their wives sacrificially and selflessly just like Jesus loves the church. Wives are instructed to follow their husbands just as the church obeys Christ. This is not mindless, joyless, submission, but active participation and response to loving leadership.