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The story in Genesis 17 and 18 of the Lord’s telling first Abraham and then Sarah that they would have a son in their old age is one of the places in Scripture where a “sin of omission” is often committed.

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The complementarian conviction that women are under male authority and therefore must be excluded from (some) positions of leadership, rests in no small measure on their interpretation of God’s eternal, created order as established in Genesis 1-2. 

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Men and women struggle to understand each other and to thrive together as God intended. God’s design of an Edenic relationship where the male and the female together nurture and steward the earth rarely seems to happen. 

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Only as individuals, cultures, groups, and generations grasp the equality of females and males intended by God at creation can the legacy of pain inherited by all women from the fall continue to be reversed.

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The creation accounts in Genesis 1–2 are beautiful accounts of the interdependence of man and woman and the unity and partnership that they share.

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As I reflect on Genesis 3:16, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe,” I realize that barrenness, miscarriage, and stillbirths are part of that curse; the ability to be “fruitful and multiply” would be hindered for both genders and on many levels.

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Gen 1–3 speaks of the substantial and essential equality of the two sexes, the subordination of women being entirely a consequence of the Fall. The evidence is compelling and the support far reaching. This is a devastating finding for contemporary complementarians who ground their entire case for the permanent subordination of women on the premise that before the Fall woman was subordinated to man.

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Manhood is under siege and not because there are women in the board room and men in the laundry room. The crisis that threatens men has ancient roots according to James, and the only real solution is to recapture the even more ancient imago dei we find revealed in those first two chapters of Genesis.

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Like many other biblical texts, Gen 17:15–16 invades our worldview and reminds us that God sought out covenant partners—both male and female—to bring blessings to all the nations.

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