Men And Women In Biblical Perspective
"Whatever is untrue will disappear like smoke in this world of illusion. Everything is what it is. You don't need to justify what is true; you don't need to explain it. What is true doesn't need anyone's support".
So what is truth?
Truth is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - The Almighty God - And it is His word that is true.
What does it mean to be a woman?
Is there such a thing as "maleness" and "femaleness" that is not simply cultural or biological? Is there some-thing innate in being a man that could actually be called masculinity? Is there something innate in being a woman that could actually be called femininity? If the answer is yes, what are the essential qualities of "maleness" and "femaleness?"
To state the question another way, did God intend for men and women to function differently on the basis of their maleness and femaleness? Or should those differences (which are obvious to everyone) be discounted or downplayed or simply ignored as irrelevant?
Is there such a thing as biblical manhood and biblical womanhood? If there is, how should that reality be reflected in the home and in the church?
Obviously those are explosive questions. Scientists answer one way, sociologists another, anthropologists another, and theologians another. The feminist movement as a whole tends to downplay the differences between men and women. In the great "culture war" at the end of the 20th century, that view has slowly gained enormous popularity.
In this writing I am going to suggest that the answer lies entirely in the other direction. Specifically, I am going to argue that the Bible stresses the God-created differences between men and women. Within the framework of basic equality, God has ordained that men and women are very different in their basic makeup. Those God-created differences must be recognized, respected and celebrated in the home and in the church.
In order to substantiate that claim, I direct your attention to the first pages of the first book of the Bible. You don't have to read very far before God begins to deal with the question of male-female relationships. In fact, I think Genesis 1-3 gives us the basic framework for answering our two crucial questions.
I. Observations From Genesis
When we examine the first three chapters of Genesis, we find that they reveal three different facets of the male-female relationship. Genesis 1 speaks of equality; Genesis 2 speaks of differentiation; Genesis 3 speaks of responsibility to God. When these three chapters are taken as a unified whole, we can begin to form a biblical view of what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman.
A. On Equality:
Genesis 1:26-27 states the matter plainly: "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our own image - and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.' So God created man in his own image, in the likeness of God he created him; male and female he created them."
Note the following facts: Man is made in the image of God. Man is given the authority to "rule" over the rest of creation. Man is created as male and female. As the human race comes from the hand of the Creator, it comes divided into male and female. Both are made in the image of God. One is not superior and the other inferior. One is not greater and the other lesser. In terms of bearing God's image, men and women stand before God; equal in value, worth and dignity.
As a sidelight, we should here include Galatians 3:28-which is the New Testament counterpart of Genesis 1:26-27. In that verse Paul says, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." What is the implication of those words? The meaning is simple: When it comes to salvation, men and women are admitted on an equal basis to the body of Christ. No one has an advantage over anyone else. Everyone is saved the same way-by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We can now add two other items to our list: Men and women are equally redeemed and are equally heirs of the grace of God. Putting it all together, we can say that as the human race comes from the hand of the Creator, men and women are - Equal in value - Equal in dignity - Equal in worth. And as men and women are added to the body of Christ, they are: Equally redeemed - Equally heirs of the grace of God.
Are men and women equal in God's eyes? Yes! Does God favor men over women? No! By virtue of the image of God, there is a fundamental equality that spans the "gender gap." By virtue of redemption in Christ, there is a spiritual equality that enables men and women to stand on the same plane in the eyes of God.
That answers a great question. Does the Bible teach equality? Yes it does! But Genesis 1 is not the whole story. What we don't know is that equality will work out in the interplay between man and woman. In order to discover that, we have to turn to Genesis 2.
B. On Differentiation:
What do we discover when we read Genesis 2? If I could answer that question in one word, it would be the word differentiation. Genesis 2 is all about the differentiation of man and woman. Note the following facts:
Adam is created first. 2:7
Adam is given the mandate to care for the garden. 2:15
Adam is given the warning concerning the forbidden tree. 2:16-17
Adam names all the animals. 2:19-20
Eve is taken from Adam's side. 2:21-22
Adam names her "woman." 2:23
The man is the one who leaves his father and mother. 2:24
What is the implication of all these facts? Adam is in a leadership role in the garden before the Fall. He is created first because God intends that he will be the leader in the relationship (the exact point Paul makes in I Timothy 2:13-14). He is given the mandate to care for the garden because the primary role of subduing the world is his. He is given the warning because God will hold him personally responsible as the head of the family. He names the animals because he is the "King of Creation." Eve is taken from his side-not he from her side (the exact point Paul makes in I Corinthians 11:8-9). Adam names her "woman" (and later "Eve") because he is the leader of the relationship. The man leaves his parents because as the leader of his home the man is to take the initiatory step in the marriage relationship.
Genesis 2 clearly shows us the man as the leader of the relationship from the very beginning. And remember this is how man and woman were to relate in paradise - before the Fall!
Genesis 1 teaches equality.
Genesis 2 teaches differentiation.
Both are true. Both must be held together. Neither one can be jettisoned at the expense of the other. The Bible teaches that men and women share a basic equality before God but within that equality - and growing out of it - is a fundamental and far-reaching differentiation.
C. On Responsibility to God:
Genesis 3 shows us how sin entered the world. Note the following points:
The serpent approaches Eve-not Adam (thus reversing God's order). 3:1
Eve sins first (a point made by Paul in I Timothy 2:13-14). 3:6
Adam sins deliberately (a point made by Paul in I Timothy 2:13-14). 3:6
God speaks first to Adam (as the head of the home). 3:9
God punishes Adam and Eve differently. 3:16-19
What's going on here? Both Adam and Eve sin - that much is clear. But their sins are not the same. Why did the serpent approach Eve first? Not because he thought she was more gullible, but because he was tempting her to overthrow the created order which made Adam the head of the home.
Whose sin is greater? Adam's. Why? Because he received the direct command from God concerning the forbidden fruit. He knew what he was doing, he knew it was wrong, and he did it anyway. He wasn't deceived in any sense of the word.
Who is held responsible? Adam! Why? Because he is the head of his wife, the leader of his home, and the representative head of the entire human race. Nowhere in all the Bible is the entrance of sin laid at Eve's feet - even though she clearly sinned first. Why? Because as the head of his home Adam is held personally responsible by God for his actions. That's why; Romans 5:12 says "sin entered the world through one man."
Not through one couple
Not through two people
Not through one woman
But "through one man." God holds Adam totally responsible for what happened in the garden.
And this explains what it means to be "head" of your home. To be "head" means that the man bears personal responsibility and accountability for what happens in his family. It is not a statement about "who makes all the decisions" or "who keeps the checkbook" or "who works outside the home and who doesn't." Those issues are best settled on the basis of giftedness. Whoever is better with details should keep the checkbook. End of discussion. "Headship" means that God has called the man to lead his home and will therefore hold him personally responsible for what goes on in his home. The emphasis is on "responsibility" and "accountability", not on authority and power.
We may find useful an illustration from the military using this principle. When an enlisted man makes a mistake that harms other people, who is held ultimately responsible? Answer: His commanding officer. For instance, if a 3rd mate at the helm runs a ship aground, the captain of the ship will be stripped of his rank and probably retired - even though he was not personally at the helm. It doesn't matter who was at the helm. The captain is personally accountable for all that happens on his ship regardless of his personal involvement.
The same was true in the garden. Adam was held personally responsible by God for the entrance of sin.
Genesis 1-3 reveals a fundamental equality between men and women. It also reveals a clearly-defined differentiation in purpose and mission growing out of that basic equality. Before the Fall Adam was in a leadership role with Eve as an equal partner helping and supporting him. Although Eve sinned first, God holds Adam (as the head of the home) personally responsible for the entrance of sin into the world. Which means; God holds you, as the husband, responsible for your leadership in your home..... Gentlemen - did you get that? You cannot, under any circumstances, blame your wife for your failures. Even though your wife may have sinned first.
My final comments are very brief. We will never go wrong by following the Bible. When we read the Bible we find a pattern which affirms both equality and unique differentiation for men and women. Based on those God created differences, we can confidently say that there is such a thing as biblical manhood and biblical womanhood. We can further say that those differences are not merely cultural or a result of the Fall but they are at the very heart of what it means to be a man, and what it means to be a woman.
It is man that will answer to God for his role as leadership within his home. So men - give it a lot of thought concerning your responsibility towards your wife and your children. If you make the wrong choice - then you will answer for it ..... AND THAT IS GOD'S PERSPECTIVE.