Uncovering the Biblical Foundations of Complementarianism: Insights from Genesis 3:16 and 4:7

Discover the compelling biblical case for Complementarianism as we explore the profound truths revealed in Genesis 3:16 and 4:7, shedding light on God's design for marital roles and the ongoing battle against sin.


Justin Hoke

5/3/20243 min read

a painting of Adam and Eve in the midst of a forest on the Left is life on the left is death
a painting of Adam and Eve in the midst of a forest on the Left is life on the left is death

As believers, we often find ourselves grappling with questions about God's intended design for relationships, especially within the context of marriage. While contemporary culture may advocate for an Egalitarian perspective, a careful examination of the Scriptures reveals a compelling case for Complementarianism. In this blog post, we will delve into the foundational narratives of Genesis, specifically Genesis 3:16 and Genesis 4:7, to uncover essential truths about human nature, divine justice, and God's plan for marital roles.

The Fall and Its Consequences (Genesis 3:16): In Genesis 3:16, we encounter a pivotal moment in the history of creation—the Fall and its aftermath. The verse states, "Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." This passage, emerging from the somber narrative of the Fall, highlights a critical disruption in the created order. Prior to the Fall, human relationships were designed to exist in harmony, with man and woman complementing each other in their God-given roles. However, the introduction of sin brought about a struggle characterized by a drive to usurp or dominate.

The Hebrew word תשוקה (teshuqah), translated as "desire" in this verse, suggests a deep yearning to control or overpower. This desire, corrupted by sin, now permeates human relationships, extending beyond marital dynamics to encompass the broader cosmic conflict between humanity and sin.

The Battle Against Sin (Genesis 4:7): As we move to Genesis 4:7, we find a striking parallel that further illuminates the nature of this struggle. The text reads, "Sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it." The reappearance of the term תשוקה (teshuqah) establishes a thematic and linguistic connection with Genesis 3:16. Just as the woman's desire is to control her husband, sin's desire is to dominate and control humanity.

This passage reveals that the battle against sin is not a passive endeavor. God's command to "rule over" sin underscores the active role we must take in resisting its influence. It is a divine injunction to maintain authority over the corrupt impulses that seek to lead us astray.

Complementarianism: God's Design for Marital Roles: These verses shed light on the profound impact of sin on human relationships and the ongoing struggle we face in our fallen world. However, they also point us back to God's original design for marriage—a design rooted in Complementarianism.

In a complementarian understanding, men and women are created equal in value and dignity but are assigned distinct roles within marriage. The husband is called to loving, sacrificial leadership, while the wife is called to respectful submission. These roles are not a result of cultural norms or personal preferences but are ordained by God Himself.

When we embrace God's design for marital roles, we experience the beauty and harmony that He intended. The husband's leadership is not a license for domination but a responsibility to love, protect, and guide his wife. The wife's submission is not a sign of inferiority but a reflection of trust, respect, and support for her husband's leadership.

Conclusion: As we reflect on the profound truths found in Genesis 3:16 and Genesis 4:7, we gain a deeper understanding of the struggles we face in our relationships and the importance of adhering to God's design for marriage. Complementarianism, far from being oppressive or outdated, is a beautiful expression of God's wisdom and love.

By embracing our God-given roles within marriage, we can experience the joy, unity, and fulfillment that God intends for us. Let us strive to live out these truths, resisting the corrupting influence of sin and pursuing the divine standards of relational integrity. As we do so, we will be a testament to the watching world of the transformative power of God's design for marriage.

For Further Study

Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood by John Piper & Wayne Grudem
The Grand Design: Male and Female He Made Them by Owen Strachan
Solving Marriage Problems by Jay Adams