One needs to go no further than Facebook’s 58 options for gender to recognize our world is rapidly moving towards a gender-neutral world. Based on my last post, we see that God did indeed create two distinctive genders with different form and roles (and pronounced His creation as “Very Good.”) As we embark on this discussion please be mindful we are looking at God’s intention for the good gift of gender roles before sin entered the world. Sadly, sin has distorted how men and women view themselves and relate to each other. We live in a world filled with sexual and relational brokenness. Please note I will draw heavily from John Piper’s book “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism and from Living Hope’s Executive Director Ricky Chelette’s lectures on “Understanding the Roots of Lesbianism” and “Same Sex Bonding.”
Before we begin, consider the following questions:
What do you believe is God’s revealed role for women?
What do you believe is God’s intended role for men?
I have come to understand that men and women are created with different forms and functions, but are of equal value in essence. Furthermore, it is important to understand that God created both men and women in His image. As a result each gender reflects the image of God in their design. With our gender come gifts and responsibilities we each must own if we are to truly reflect the image of God to one another. These gifts and responsibilities are known as gender roles. Take some time to read Genesis 2:7-23. Now let’s take a closer look at some of the verses in this passage.
Verses 15, 18-20
15 The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.
18 Then the LORD God said,”it is not good for man to be alone, I will make a helper who is just right for him.” 19 So the LORD God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. 20 He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.
God gave Adam the duty of working in the Garden of Eden and protecting it. Ricky Chelette says that, “when God created man (Adam) in His image; man reflected both the masculine and feminine aspects. Not as androgynous, but the fullness of the man and the fullness of the woman that existed together within Adam. Man is created to reflect the image of God and the glory of God to the world. Adam is given the responsibility of naming all the animals. To me this job of naming all the animals is really what masculinity is all about; real masculinity is the ability of man to speak truth into chaos and to give that chaos an identity and direction. This reflects the creative nature of God in Genesis 1.”
John Piper defines the heart of Biblical masculinity as “when a man has the sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships.” By “differing relationships” I believe Piper is indicating men have a responsibility to act respectfully towards all women, and serve in their role as leader, provider, and protector to the women they are in closest relationship with. Men who act as gentlemen by opening doors or allowing a woman to go ahead of them in line are demonstrating respect for women. Men who take their daughters’ hands and protect them in parking lots or busy areas have a more meaningful relationship with their daughters than they do with the woman they opened the door for at Starbucks.
God recognized that Adam was a relational being, yet the animals were different in nature than Adam and relationally unsatisfying. As we read in verses 21-23 God resolves the problem.
21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the LORD God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man. 23 “At last!” the man exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.’”
Do you read the delight that Adam had upon meeting Eve? Eve was like Adam but different from him in her form and function. Adam in turn celebrated Eve for her distinction from him. Eve was the suitable help mate, the counterpart to Adam. They each had the image of God within them and reflected it to each other.
Ricky Chelette’s description of the creation of woman affirms that womanhood is God’s good gift: “Then when God recognized that it was not good for man to be alone, God took out from man’s side what we believe to be a rib. God then places the rib next to man while he is asleep and forms woman. God created woman out of something which already existed—He didn’t create her out of dirt, which is where guys come from. We guys were made out of dirt, God breathes into us the breath of life, and we become a living creature, whereas woman He took from the side of man. Man was something that was already living, and He made something even more complex out of it a woman. Eve is the perfect helpmate; she is not less than or other than but the perfect and complete mate. God created women to be nurturing and connect deeply and intimately with multiple people. If you understand Hebrew literature, you know that, that which is created last is best, and so the last thing on the list is the woman. So, she is—as far as I’m concerned—God’s crowning creation.”
John Piper defines Biblical femininity as a “freeing disposition to affirm, receive, and nurture the strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships.” By this I believe Piper is saying that women are to be respectful to all men. Women are to offer their greatest support and encouragement to men they have the closest relationship with. For example, a woman can thank a male stranger for opening and holding the door open for her and never see him again. Another woman may have a nephew in her life who she engages in relationship with; she can build her nephew up by encouraging him to grow in his skills and strengths and be his number one fan and supporter.
In the past year or so I have taken the time to write out my core value statements and the following is my value statement on gender: I affirm that God created both male and female in His image and as a result, each gender reflects the image of God in their design. I accept that God intentionally assigns one’s gender at conception. I embrace that both genders are equally valued and that their roles are complementary to each other. I accept my gender as a woman as God’s good gift to me. I commit to honor the belief that men and women have separate and valuable roles in our world. I will uphold the belief that because God is both good and intentional and does not make mistakes, that a person’s gender assigned at birth is to remain as it is throughout their lifetime.
How can masculinity be God’s gift to women?
How can femininity be God’s gift to men?
What are the different strengths of men and of women?
What is your current view of gender? Does it match Gods intended design for gender?
Do you think it is possible for God to restore a person to a healthy and Biblical view of gender, sexuality, and marriage?
Thanks for following my journey. Your thoughts and comments are welcome.