Two themes run in parallel through scripture with regard to men and women: equal dignity and significant difference.

God deliberately created men and women to complement each other (Genesis 2:18-25). We see something of the beauty of that complementarity in the human body and its wondrous capacity for reproduction.

Even before the fall into sin, we see that Adam had a leadership role (Genesis 1:27; 2:18-23). He was called to account by God, even though both he and his wife had sinned (Genesis 3:18-19; cf Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 11:3).

God’s good design was spoiled by sin (Genesis 3:16) but it is beautifully restored in Christ (Ephesians 5:31-32). God designed human marriage as an earthly illustration of the eternal love of Christ for his bride, the Church. Christ is the model of loving servant leadership.

The roles of Christ and the Church are not reversible; neither are the roles of husband and wife (Ephesians 5:21-23; Colossians 3:18-19; Titus 2:3-5; 1 Peter 3:1-7).

In a sinful world, the differences between men and women can be overemphasised. Men have, all too often, used their greater physical strength to abuse women. But many others have used their strength to serve and protect.

God’s good design is for men to exercise leadership for the benefit of those they serve. Godly leadership protects from abuse.

Within the Church, which is the household of God (1 Timothy 3:14-15), suitably gifted men take the authoritative eldership role (Titus 1:5-9). Elders are to equip all God’s people, male and female, for “works of service”, both in the Church and the world (Ephesians 4:12).

The Bible is full of examples of women who are active in a whole variety of ministries.