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God's Design for Manhood and Womanhood - Part 1

March 20, 2022 Speaker: Brian Wilbur Series: The Book of Genesis

Topic: Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Biblical Theology Passage: Genesis 1:27– 3:24


The Foundation

By Pastor Brian Wilbur

Date: March 20, 2022

Series: The Book of Genesis

Note: Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Good morning. I invite you to turn to the Book of Genesis, Chapter 1. I'd like to go ahead and open in prayer:

Father, we come before your Word and we need your instruction, your illumination, your conviction, your transforming power. Father, I pray that you would help us to understand what you are saying, that we might grasp and do your will. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

In the last several sermons, as we've worked our way through Genesis 1-3, I've made some occasional comments about manhood and womanhood. But now the time has come for sustained focus on God's design for men and God's design for women. So, I've got three sermons planned. This is the first one, which is about laying the foundation. Lord-willing, next week will be the second sermon, which will be an exhortation to men. And then, the Sunday after that, the third sermon will be an exhortation to women.

By the way, if you have any questions on this topic, feel free to get them to me. Maybe I can work your questions into one of the next two messages.

The Bible does not just tell us that “male and female he [God] created them” (Genesis 1:27), and then leave it up to us to figure it out. Instead, God was deliberate to reveal his will for manhood and womanhood in the Scriptures, especially in Genesis 1-3. Since every human being exists as male or female and that maleness or femaleness shapes the whole course of life, and since the joining together of male and female in marriage is the basic building block of human society, and since God has a distinct plan for the man-husband-father and a related but distinct plan for the woman-wife-mother – for these reasons, we ought to understand what the Lord's will is and bring our lives into conformity to it.

We are living in a spiritual and moral war zone

Now as we consider this very important subject, I remind you that we are living in a spiritual and moral war zone, some of which has been testified about earlier in this service. In the rebellion, which is one way I refer to what happened in Genesis 3:1-8, in the rebellion that ancient serpent, the devil, attempted to overturn God's creation order. And in the New Testament, the apostle John tells us that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). In other words, this sinful world system in rebellion against God is under the sway of the serpent, and unrepentant sinners are in the devil's grip. “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:18) And when you are in rebellion against God, you are also in rebellion against his design, his order, his will. And so, it is no surprise that the world’s system and its devotees hate what the Bible teaches about manhood and womanhood. Sinful man and sinful woman want to be gods unto themselves. They want to decide for themselves what is good and what is evil. And they want to live by the mottos ‘be true to yourself’ and ‘don't let anything stand in your way’. They despise biblical authority, hate God's authority, reject God's will, and don't like people who represent God’s will. They want to pressure you and shame you into silence, cowardice, and compromise. They may charge you with being intolerant, bigoted, unloving, and complicit in long ages of oppression. If they cannot succeed at changing your views, then at the very least, they want you to back down and be on your heels. They want you to learn to be apologetic and vague. They want you to water everything down. They want you to follow ‘the rules’: whatever you do don't offend the cultural progressives; don't offend modern sensibilities; don't risk offending anyone who has been hurt or victimized or oppressed; make sure you employ heavy doses of political correctness; be careful to offer dozens of qualifications for everything that you say; be more like a therapist who connects emotionally with people where they are at, and not a preacher who would dare to say what God has said. If you don't play by these rules, they will cancel you and they will see to it that you lose your platforms and sponsorships. Blessed are those who have no sponsorship to lose!

Now, their entire purpose is to suppress the truth, silence the Scriptures, silence God. They want the world to be a safe place. In their mind, that means safe from objective moral truth. They want you to soften everything and nuance everything and qualify everything and apologize for everything and politically-correct-check everything until you really haven't said anything, until you really don't have anything worth saying. One by one, church organizations and denominational organizations fall prey to the serpent’s agenda. And after doing this delicate dance with the cultural monster for a while, it becomes obvious that that church or denominational organization has nothing distinctive to say anymore. When a church ceases to have a humble and unwavering commitment to Jesus and to His word and to His righteousness and to His priorities, it is a case of salt losing its saltiness. As Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.” (Matthew 5:13)

The question is: will we succumb to the pressure? Will we be pressured into silence? Will we hide our light under a basket? Or will we fix our eyes on Jesus, keep our head, hold our nerve, and stay on the line? Will we speak the truth and obey the words of God? And remember, as Deuteronomy 29:29 teaches us, the Lord has revealed His instructions to us so that we might actually put his words into practice.


Now there's one other preliminary matter that I want to address before getting into Genesis 1-3. Sinners have gotten skilled at twisting the Scriptures, muting the Scriptures, nullifying the Scriptures. And they go about this in very crafty and subtle ways. They suggest plausible arguments to throw you off track. And I want to give you an example which is directly related to the sermon.

Someone might say: ‘the Bible exhibits a consistent pattern of male leadership because it was produced in patriarchal times. The Bible's teachings simply reflect the practices, assumptions, and values that were common to the wider culture at the time it was written.’ Now if you can be beguiled into believing that, then you have already swallowed one lie, and you are well on your way to swallowing another.

What is wrong with the suggestion that the Bible is a book of its time in the same way that we might describe a slaveholder in 19th-century South Carolina as a man of his time? When we speak like that, we are saying that the slave holder may have had some good qualities, but his moral blindness with respect to slaveholding is the result of his being alive at a time when such blindness affected everyone. He was a man of his time, so maybe cut him a little slack. And likewise, some people will say that the Bible is a book of its time, that the Bible also exhibits moral deficiencies and it shares in the general moral deficiencies of the historical time periods in which it was written. You have to be on your guard because people will reason like that.

Do you see any problems with that line of reasoning? There are at least three problems with it. So, let me walk through three important areas of thinking.

The Bible is the Word of God

We need to be reminded that the Bible is indeed the Word of God. If you think that the Bible is the result of men making their best attempt to describe their religious experiences and make sense of their moral world without any assistance or direction from God, then by all means you would sensibly conclude that the Bible is an imperfect book of its time because it was written by imperfect men. But the calculus changes if the Bible is breathed out by God and is therefore free of any moral deficiency. I want you to understand that I'm not here today to persuade you that the Bible is the Word of God. I am here today to persuade you that if you believe that the Bible is the Word of God, which it is, then think and act and speak consistently – that's what I'm getting at. Second Peter 1:21 tells us, “For no prophecy [of Scripture, see v. 20] was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Proverbs 30:5 says, “Every word of God proves true”. God is faithful and trustworthy, and therefore that which he says is faithful and true and reliable. The Bible is the Word of God, not the word of man.

In Genesis 1-3, there was no wider culture

The second problem with the suggestion that the Bible just reflects the moral deficiencies of the time period in which it was written is that in Genesis 1-3, the Bible is describing events at a time when there was no wider culture. There were no larger developments on the stage of human history. In Genesis 1-3, God has given us a reliable record of what happened when there were only two human beings on the planet. There was no wider human culture. In Genesis 1-2, everything was very good. In Genesis 3, God responds directly to Adam and Eve after their fall into sin. But there was no larger historical-cultural-social-moral developments happening out there in the world. Genesis 1-3 relates to everything that then was, and at that time God was laying the foundations.

God has no interest in accommodating the pagan world

The third thing I’d like to say is this: if you are familiar with the Bible, then you know that once you get past Genesis 3, God shows no interest in accommodating his instructions to the practices, assumptions, and values of the pagan world. Suppose someone reasons like this: ‘The ancient pagan world was a patriarchal: men ruled. God would have liked to overturn the patriarchy, but it would have rocked the boat too much to do it at that particular time in history. So, when he gave instructions to Israel, he left the patriarchy largely intact and regulated it a little bit, but now we 20th and 21st century morally advanced westerners (who have slaughtered tens of millions of fetuses) have discovered that God was just accommodating himself to the moral deficiencies of the 1500 BC world. And since we've come upon that discovery, now we are free to leave the patriarchy behind and just have equality and love for all.’ Now that's really bad reasoning and frankly I find it absolutely ridiculous, because God's moral instruction in the Old Testament is radically out of step with the wider culture. God has no interest in accommodating to the things that are going on in the pagan world. Let me just give you two examples from Scripture:

“And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, I am the LORD your God. You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes. You shall follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them. I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the LORD.”” (Leviticus 18:1-5)

“When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell on their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?–that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.” (Deuteronomy 12:29-32)

God's instruction to his people is always to not do as the unbelieving pagans do, but instead to be attuned and obedient to his words.


So, with these things in mind, I want you to get a thorough understanding of God's design for Manhood and Womanhood from Genesis 1-3. This sermon has two big points.

First Big Point: Both men and women are God’s image-bearers

Here's there's the first big point: God's design is that both man and woman share together in the dignity and responsibilities of being God's handcrafted image bearers. This is where you have to start.

If you have your Bible open, let me read Genesis 1:27, which says,

“So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

Both male and female have the dignity of bearing God's image. Now look at the next verse:

“And God blessed them. And God said to them [the man and the woman], “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”” (Genesis 1:28)

Both the man and the woman share responsibility before God to exercise dominion over the earth.

Turning to Chapter 2, look at the two verses that describe God’s creation of man and woman:

“[The] LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground” (Genesis 2:7).

“And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman” (Genesis 2:22).

So, both the man and the woman are God's handcrafted image-bearers with great dignity and responsibilities before him.

Looking ahead to Genesis 3, God calls both the man and the woman to account (Genesis 3:9-13, 16-19). Both man and woman are both accountable to God.

In Genesis 3:21, God clothed both the man and the woman with garments of grace. Both man and woman are able to be recipients of God’s grace.

And so, both man and woman bear responsibility before God to walk in obedience. Both man and woman have access to God in prayer. Both man and woman are called to a life of productivity. They share together in the work of parenting, teaching, and discipling their children. We are a church family of old and young, men and women, boys and girls – everyone is precious. Everyone has dignity and worth. Everyone is a gift and has gifts to contribute. Everyone is to be taken seriously, to be esteemed and honored. This has to be the starting point. If we don't get this starting point right – if we don’t have this genuine honor and love one for another – then there's no sense in going to the next step.

Equal in dignity, unequal in function

Now let me transition to my second big point by saying this: some people really struggle with the idea that men and women are equal in dignity and worth, but not equal in role and function. It's really important that you think biblically about this matter. If you make your dignity and worth dependent on the perceived social or economic or political value of your role and function, then you are bound to get into trouble and to be discontent. But if you understand that your dignity and worth is rooted in the fact that you are an image-bearer of God and you are in fellowship with God, then you can understand that your glory is to be and do what he created you to be and do. You stand as a beloved creature before your sovereign and benevolent Creator. You don't have to justify or prove yourself in the sight of people. There is security and safety in knowing God and his care for you, and this frees you to be true to God's design for you. The glory of the sun is that it shines forth to rule the day. The glory of the moon is that it reflects light to rule the night. The glory of the eagle is that it soars in flight. The glory of the dolphin is that it jumps out of the water. The glory of the cheetah is that it runs and runs fast.

God has a design for men. Men, your glory is to express your dignity and worth by shining forth in the qualities and duties of manhood.

God has a design for women. Women, your glory is to express your dignity and worth by shining forth in the qualities and duties of womanhood.

If you seek after a glory that is not properly yours, then you are not trusting God. If you seek after a glory that is outside of God's design and will for you, then you are coveting someone else's gift and not worshipping the Giver. The glory of a creature is to be and do what the Creator designed it to be and do. And listen, we are in a glory war and a shaming war in our culture. It is not glorious for a biological male to be celebrated as the champion of the collegiate women's swimming event. That is not glorious. Someone will say, ‘You're a hater!’ Of course, people will say that about this entire message – they will say, ‘Preacher, you're a hateful man!’ But here's what you have to realize. First of all, you have to keep your head: don't get caught up in the emotion and the passion of people's personal feelings, offenses, and slights. Then you always have to ask yourself: what is the standard of love? The standard of love is the Word of God. If there is no clear and objective word from God, then frankly nothing matters – we're just making it up as we go along. It's just a matter of who can wield the most power over somebody else. But if God has spoken clearly and revealed the principles of righteousness, justice, mercy, and love, then we are obligated to understand what the Lord's will is and to be conformed to it. And it must be God's Word that shapes our understanding of true glory and true shame. When a creature rebels against God's design, when a creature refuses to trust and obey, when a creature resists God's will, that creature fails to display its creaturely glory. It is shameful when we attempt to walk in disobedience to God's plan. It is honorable when we say, ‘Let God be God’, and when we pray, ‘Let your will be done.’

So, we have to learn that men and women are equal in the dignity and worth of their humanness, but they are not equal in role and function. If you are insecure in your relationship with God and are seeking to establish an identity of your own, then what I just said will not sit well with you. But if you're learning to trust him, then you will not resent the Potter's right to do with the clay as he wills.

Remember Jesus, who prayed: “not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42) Jesus, the Son of God, is equal to the Father in the dignity and worth of the divine nature. But Jesus is not equal to the Father in role and function. The Father sent, Jesus obeyed. The Father spoke, Jesus listened – and out of that listening, he taught us. The Father revealed the plan, Jesus carried it out. The Father is the Father, Jesus is the Son – equal in divine personhood, but unequal in role. Likewise with the Holy Spirit: Jesus said the Holy Spirit “will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak” (John 16:13). And the Holy Spirit did not come to draw attention to himself, but rather to shine the spotlight on the glory of God shining forth in the face of Jesus Christ. Inequality in role does not mean inferiority in personhood. Having a subordinate role does not mean being inferior in personhood. You must understand these things.

Second Big Point: Men are designed to take the lead

So, my first big point was that both man and woman share together in the dignity and responsibilities of being God's handcrafted image-bearers. Now here's the second big point: God's design is that the man bears primary responsibility for leadership. The man is designed and called to take the lead. The woman is designed and called to follow his lead.

The evidence for this in Genesis 1-3 is overwhelming. I want to walk through it with you. As we walk through it, I want you to remember that God is deliberate about everything that he does. He took great care to create the world in a very orderly way – the sun to rule the daytime, the moon to rule the nighttime, the waters to be fit for sea creatures, the sky to be fit for winged creatures, vegetation to sustain the birds and the animals and human beings, and human beings were assigned dominion over the whole lot. And when it comes to human beings, God goes out of his way to tell us about the fact that humanity exists as male and female. And then Chapter 2 unpacks it. And then Chapter 3 reinforces it. All this was done carefully and in order. It's not as if God thoughtlessly created male and female for the mere purpose of reproduction and then as an afterthought decided that in the event that a man and his wife find themselves in a deadlock, the man gets to cast the tie-breaking vote. That is not what is going on in Genesis 1-3. Genesis 1-3 is not ‘afterthought pragmatism’. Instead, Genesis 1-3 reveals deliberate forethought – intentional planning – and I want you to see and celebrate and embody this good and wise plan.

Twelve observations from Genesis 1-3

I'm going to show you twelve observations from Genesis 1-3, with a few references to the New Testament that show the abiding authority of these Old Testament passages.

Observation #1: The same Hebrew word is used for mankind the group and for the male.You see, the category mankind includes man and woman, male and female. There is Adam the man, and there is the Adamic race – and yet the same word that is used to describe the whole group (mankind=Adamic race) is also used to describe one of the two parties, namely the man (Adam). This is a strong indication that the man has a headship and leadership role. If you tell me about a company named Smith & Sons, full of many partners and staff and employees, and then I finally meet Smith and his two boys, I'm going to assume in the context of that organization that Smith and his boys are the leaders of the company. Smith the man is the head of Smith the company. That's how it works. We lose this important aspect of biblical theology when we opt for humanity and humankind. It is truer to the text to speak in terms of mankind and man, thus showing that Adam is the head of the Adamic race.

Observation #2: God created the man first. In Genesis 2, God created the man in verse 7 and the woman in verse 22. Now this is not just a raw fact. I don't come to the text with some kind of instinctive understanding of the significance of being created first. What rules over the day? The sun. But the day was created first, and the sun was created second. The fact that the man was created first is significant only insofar as God intends it to have significance. And in the context of all that we see in Genesis 1-3, it becomes clear that the man being created first is an indication of his leadership role. And this is what the apostle Paul, an authoritative spokesman of the Lord Jesus Christ writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, taught us in 1 Timothy 2: “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. [And then he gives as his first reason:] For Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:11-13).

Observation #3: God established the man in his home and homestead (the garden), in his workplace and vocational calling (to keep the garden), and in sound doctrine (the instruction to eat freely from all the trees except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) before he created the woman and brought her to him. So, by the time that God does create the woman, the woman is very obviously being brought into the man's world.

Observation #4: God created the woman out of the man. It says in Genesis 2, “So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.” (Genesis 2:21-22) Again, that act has the significance that God intends it to have. In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul is talking about the relationship between man and woman and the fact that man has authority over his wife. Paul says,

“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman from woman, but woman from man.” (1 Corinthians 11:3-8)

My purpose is not to get into the particular discussion of head coverings. But the deeper principle in 1 Corinthians 11 has to do with the fact that the husband has authority over his wife. And Paul sees the fact that the woman was created out of the man, and this is part of his reasoning process as to why the man has authority.

Observation #5: God created the woman for the man. A moment ago I read 1 Corinthians 11:3-8. In the very next verse from that chapter, Paul says, “Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.” (1 Corinthians 11:9) Now where in Genesis 2 did Paul get that idea? Well, I assume it has to do with the fact that the woman is identified as the man's helper. As I said before, the calling to be a helper in no way implies inferiority. But what it does imply is that your tasking to help is directed to the person that you're called to help. And in that sense, the woman was created for the man. You have to see this in its original context. Don't get thinking that God created the woman for the man's selfish ambition or selfish pleasure. The woman is not a slave to do the heavy lifting, while the man is drinking cocktails in the parlor. That's not what's going on in Genesis 2. This is an utterly serious matter: God has a calling upon the man to keep and tend the garden, and to make Eden the base of operations that's going to carry out missions to the whole world as children go forth to all the world – and the man needs help. The man needs a competent, intelligent, and gifted helper who is like him and yet who is different from him, and who will work with him to carry out God's will upon his life. Don't cheapen this.

Observation #6: the man named the woman. After the Lord brought the woman to the man, this is how the man received the woman:

“Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones

and flesh of my flesh;

she shall be called Woman,

because she was taken out of Man.”” (Genesis 2:23)

Naming is an exercise of authority. “God called the light Day” (Genesis 1:5). “God called the dry land Earth” (Genesis 1:10). Adam named the animals (Genesis 2:19). And now Adam names the woman. The authority is really there, but don't miss the obvious: Adam did not name his wife as some cold and calculating power play; instead he was overflowing with delight – she is like me, “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh”. And yet he intuitively and instinctively understands that she must be defined in relation to him: “she shall be called Woman [Isha], because she was taken out of Man [Ish].”

Observation #7: future men should take the lead to marry a woman. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Clearly what is envisioned there is that the man is taking initiative. The text doesn't say, Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother, and a woman shall leave her father and mother, and the two shall find each other and cleave to each other. That's not what it says. It's not that kind of mutuality. The man is to take the lead to leave and cleave. And as I mentioned a few weeks ago, the apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:31-32 says that Genesis 2:24 is really about the relationship between Christ and the church. Christ is the one who left the Father and came to create a covenant with his bride, the church, and cleave unto her, so that the two become one flesh. And Paul goes on to talk about how a Christian husband and a Christian wife should be taking their cues from the Christ-church relationship. Husbands must imitate Jesus, and wives must imitate the church.

A brief word before we proceed to Genesis 3

Before I get to observation number eight, which takes us into Genesis 3, let me just pause for a moment. We can see from the first seven observations in Genesis 1-2 that, under God’s authority, the man is the head of his wife. The man takes the lead, the woman follows his lead, and together they exercise dominion over the earth. People who claim that there is no hierarchy of authority in the man-woman relationship before the fall are wrong. It is true that because of sin, now the hierarchy is infused with bitterness and frustration and pain. That is true. But Genesis 1-2 establishes the foundation of the man-woman relationship, and Genesis 3 actually reinforces it. So, let's go to the eighth observation – many of you will be familiar with this observation because I made it in an earlier sermon.

Observation #8: in Genesis 2, God gave instruction to the man, and the woman was created to come alongside of him and join him in exercising authority over the earth; but in Genesis 3, the serpent turns the whole thing upside down. The serpent co-opts a beast, one of the beasts that the man and the woman ought to have ruled over. The serpent co-opts the beast, the beast deceives the woman, the woman takes the lead, the man obeys his wife and throws God's instruction out the window. The whole created order is upended – turned upside down – in the fall.

Observation #9: in God's judgments upon the rebels, God reasserts his created order in Genesis 3:14-19. God will not be sidelined. God's design will not be ignored. God reasserts proper relationships. The only difference is that now these proper relationships will be afflicted by the bitterness of a sinful and fallen world, but nevertheless God reasserts proper relationships. Where does the serpent belong? At the foot of the man and the woman. They ought to rule over him. And in due course the seed of the woman – a male descendant – will crush the head of the serpent (see Genesis 3:15). Where does the woman belong? Under the authority of her husband (see Genesis 3:16). Where does a man belong? Out in the field working (see Genesis 3:17-19). And there he will be, though it will be very frustrating, as there are thorns and thistles. But I want you to understand something. In terms of proper relationships and proper spheres of activity, there's nothing new in Genesis 3, except for Adam and Eve being kicked out of the garden. But the basic relationships and responsibilities are the same. What's new is that God basically says to the man and the woman: you're going to be frustrated because you've rebelled against me.

Observation #10: God's interaction with the man illustrates the man's leadership role.God calls out to the man first. The description of God's initial conversation with Adam in Genesis 3:9-12 and his judgment upon Adam in Genesis 3:17-19 – that description is about three times longer than God's conversation with and judgment upon the woman in verses 13 and 16. And that emphasis upon the responsibility of the man is instructive.

Observation #11: the man names the woman a second time: “The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” (Genesis 3:20)

Observation #12: finally, at the very end of Genesis 3, God kicks the man out of the garden. Did you notice that? I didn't make much of that last week. Obviously, the woman left the garden too when Adam left, but the emphasis in Genesis 3:22-24 is that God is expelling the man, the responsible head, from the garden.

The overall picture

Therefore, on the basis of this overall picture – keep in mind that my conviction does not depend on any single point, it’s the overall composite picture confirmed by explicit New Testament passages that show that we're on the right track – I conclude that God's design is that the man bears primary responsibility for leadership in the home, in the church, and in the world. God has put the mantle of authority on men, and they ought to bear it with humility, integrity, courage and grace.


Before I leave you with a few concluding exhortations, I just want to make a few additional comments about what we see in the Scriptures. Looking ahead to God's design for Israel, the system of male leadership that God instituted in Israel was not a reflection of the surrounding pagan culture. Instead, it was a reflection of his own design as taught in Genesis 1-3. Israel's priests were always men. Israel's prophets were almost always men. Israel's ruling monarchs were men – the only exception was the wicked usurper, Queen Athaliah. Israel's commanders and soldiers were men. Israel's men were summoned to attend the three great feasts in Jerusalem every year. The pattern of male leadership in the Old Testament is clear and the New Testament reaffirms it. If you have read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), then you know that Jesus was not afraid to rock the boat. Jesus was not afraid to break social conventions. Jesus was not afraid to put man-made traditions in their place. But the calling upon men to lead is not a social convention and is not a man-made tradition. It is God's design from the beginning. Therefore, it is no surprise that Jesus chose twelve male apostles. And as the New Testament unfolds, there is clear instruction that a married Christian woman is called to submit to her own husband, and that men are called to exercise leadership in the church family. Thus, the principle of male headship is grounded in creation (Genesis 1-2), reinforced in Genesis 3, expressed throughout the Old Testament, and reaffirmed in the New Testament. To neglect a principle with this much biblical warrant that runs through the whole Bible is rebellious and injurious to your soul.


Now let me conclude with three brief exhortations.

Exhortation #1: You need to get solid and settled convictions about these things. I have settled convictions about these things, but that is no substitute for you having settled convictions about these things. Don't take my word for it. You must see for yourself and be convinced that this is what God has said in the Scriptures. And remember: our authority is not our personal experiences or our subjective feelings. Our authority is the Word of God. And blessed are those who hear the Word of God and do what it says.

Exhortation #2: Lament the long track record of sinful men using their position of authority to bring devastation on families, communities, and nations. Men hold power, and the mess that our world is in has happened on their watch. Broken families, moral confusion, rampant drug use, poverty, widespread mental illness, and exhausted women are the bitter fruits of foolish men misusing their authority. Men are responsible for all the wars in Europe, and for all the carnage. Men were responsible for the transatlantic slave trade. Men, seven of them, were responsible for Roe v. Wade – tens of millions of aborted babies and the emotional mess unfolding from that, is the fault of men. Men authorized the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The problem with the world is not God's design that men lead. The problem with the world is that most men are unrepentant sinners and therefore they have either abandoned their post or they abuse it.

Exhortation #3: remember what the gospel does. Jesus did not come into the world because men are good at being humble and sacrificial leaders. God did not come into the world because women are good at being humble and fruitful helpers. We are sinful and shot through with corruption. But when God redeems sinners, he restores them to their proper design. In Christ, a man humbly learns to assume responsibility and exercise leadership for the good of those under his care. In Christ, a woman learns to affirm the leadership entrusted to men and utilize her own gifts to bless her family and wider community.

In Titus 2, Paul gives instruction for Titus to instruct the older men (Titus 2:2) and the younger men (Titus 2:6), and for Titus to instruct the older women (Titus 2:3a), and for the older women to instruct the young women (Titus 2:3b-5). He also gives instruction to bondservants (Titus 2:9-10). After all that specific instruction to men and women, old and young, Paul then says:

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:11-14)

Do you know what we need to do? And do you know what the world needs to see? We need to fulfill God's design – God's good design for manhood and womanhood – we need to fulfill it with zeal for good works, with purity and holiness and uprightness and self-control and devotion, devoting ourselves to good works. That is what we need to do. That is the way we adorn the teaching of our God and Savior, and present a compelling witness to the world, showing the world that life works when you do it God's way.

Let's pray.

Father, I pray that this would not be a passing moment, but that each and every single person in this room would get solid convictions about your will concerning these things. Father, we pray that your Word would dwell richly in our hearts. I pray that each and every one of us would have a freeing and humble disposition to embrace your design, to discern what it means practically to live this way, to demonstrate holiness and faithfulness and love in accordance with your will. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

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