There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. NASUThe first question that arises is, if this scripture is not saying that gender roles are erased, then what is it saying? To keep this post as short as possible let me simply say "lots", then point to the context. One thought is that it's found at the end of the third chapter, which is addressing the purpose of "the law". It actually seems to appear out of nowhere as a stand alone statement having nothing to do with the previous sentences when the context is Chapter 3. We must remember however that the chapter markers were inserted later. So, although it doesn't appear to have a thoughtful flow with Chapter 3, it makes a wonderful introductory statement to Chapter 4. Just a thought. To be sure I tend to give the scholars who inserted the verses and chapter delineations extensive credit.
My point however is not to make a case for what it does mean, but to make a case for what it can't mean. If we are going to approach scripture, we must approach it with consistent methods of interpretation, or hermeneutics. We can't, for example, look at one passage written in the first century and dismiss it as pertaining only to first century culture, then use another scripture that can be applied to the same subject, and written in the same century, to make our case that the former ought to be dismissed. Here is a case in point:
The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. (1 Cor 14:34-36 NASU)
On the one hand this passage is dismissed in our present day as a cultural issue of the first century. OK, all well and good. But we can't then look at another passage and interpret that passage as if it was written outside of that same age. We must, it seems to me that logic would dictate, interpret these two passages in light of one another. Either Paul was not making the case in Galatians 3:28, that he was wrong in 1st Corinthians, or, he was teaching two different and opposing truths in the same age.
There is a third choice that I can think of. Paul could have been teaching one truth to one culture, Galatia, and another truth to another culture, Corinth. But this choice is worse for this would imply that culture dictates the interpretation of scripture. Western Culture, for example, has embraced homosexuality as righteous and good, and deems those who oppose it as wicked and evil. If we were to buy into this method of interpreting scripture, I must say, they would actually have a valid point.