Ever heard the statement Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus? It doesn’t take a genius to realise that men are very different from women. Sure, some of these characteristics can be personality, other characteristics can be family-traits, but from the moment a boy or girl enters the world, differences are evident. We still remember when our son was born, his 2 year old sister was observing me changing a nappy one day and asked in her unique way, “Mummy, why does he have an extra finger in his nappy?” She, in all her 2 year old wisdom, had noticed that her little brother had a part that looked a bit like a finger, that she didn’t. After a quick parental discussion (thankfully Dave was still on paternity leave), we explained to our 2 year old daughter that it wasn’t an extra finger.
Gender is under attack. Perhaps a little bit of an emotional hyperbole, yet there is still truth to it. Over the past few months, it is something that we have been growing more convinced of. Sadly, this is both inside and outside the church. Gender fluidity in secular culture is gaining momentum at great rates, but within the church, debates are also swirling often resulting in comments and points-of-view that attack one another, instead of encouraging and admonishing one another, taking all our eyes off the grace-filled gospel. For a moment, may we all lift our eyes off our cultural indoctrination and our preconceived views, and may we look to God and this topic with fresh gospel-centred eyes, seeking God’s truth as we navigate this emotionally-charged topic. My husband Dave and I sat down to write this in order to fairly combine both a male and female perspective on this topic.
In the beautiful account of Creation, we first come to read of males and females. After God created the world- the waters, the plants, the animals (Genesis 1:3-25)- God created man in his image (Genesis 1:26). Whenever we talk of gender, we need to recognize that both genders are image-bearers of our Creator God. Together, we were to be God’s workers, having dominion over all the God had created. Together, we were also given the instruction to fruitfully fill the earth with little image-bearers, blessing the earth through offspring.
God Gave the Commandment to Adam
In Genesis 2, God then zooms in on his creation of man and woman, giving us more detail as to how this actually happened. In Genesis 2:7, we read God actually made the man first: “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” After God puts man in the Garden of Eden, God commands the man (notice the woman has not yet been made), “You may eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16). God could have simply waited until he had made Eve and then given this command to them together- surely that would have been simpler? But no, God gives this instruction to Adam, which means he bore responsibility in the obedience to this command. So, let’s look at how Adam did.
How did Adam fare?
God gave Adam the commandment to not eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16). So how does Adam go overseeing the obedience to this commandment? We want you to read Genesis 3:1-6 and think about where Adam is and what Adam is doing.
3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:1-6).
Really think about verse 6. Adam was with his wife and didn’t say anything. Nothing. Nada. He knew. He knew what she was about to do was wrong. We wonder if he thought, “I really want this too, but I’m too much of a coward to do it first”. He was selfishly passive. It makes us question what the original sin was. Was it the act of eating the fruit or Adam throwing his wife under the bus? Either way, Adam shirked his responsibility, lacking any form of moral decency.
We know this is hard. Any secularist reading the first three chapters of Genesis would place the blame for mankind’s fall into sin, squarely at the feet of Eve. God sees things differently. In Romans 5:12, we read that “…sin came into the world through one man…Adam…” God blames Adam.
Now let’s take a look at one of the more controversial verses in scripture, which is directly linked to this passage:
“ I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” (1 Timothy 2:12-14).
We guess you could read this passage as Paul instituting a law that women aren’t allowed to teach in church, or you could read it for what we believe it is. This verse is less about what women can’t do, and more about what men can’t do. Paul reminds us that Eve was deceived and Adam wasn’t. Adam wasn’t deceived and ate the fruit anyway. He passively stood by and spat on the role and responsibility ordained to him by God. What Paul is saying to Timothy in this passage is that men aren’t allowed to be like Adam. It is crazy, yet understandable, that there is such outcry about what women can’t do, when the real outcry should be about what men aren’t doing.
Get ready for a Dave rant: “How many selfishly passive men are in your church? Are you one? How are you doing as a husband? Are you washing your wife, purifying her with the washing of the Word? Do you love her more than your own body? Is every part of you sold out to nourishing and cherishing her? (Ephesians 5:25-33). Is she bone of your bones and flesh of your flesh? (Genesis 2:23). How is this reflected by the Elders of your church? Are they more interested in not letting women preach, or helping them to flourish? This most typically looks like Elders who are more concerned with their own opportunities than making opportunities for women to use their spiritual gifts to edify the church. Are they prepared to wash their feet?”
We believe this is the disaster of the current generation. The higher percentage of women to men in church today attests to this. The fact debate swirls around what women aren’t allowed to do gets our eyes off this greater tragedy. Men, we need to be stepping up to the plate instead of passively sitting by. We need to step up in our marriages and in our churches, for this is what allows women to really flourish. Together, under the grace-filled gospel, we can lovingly help one another appreciate the beauty of male and female. But if we want to recapture true gender identity, then men, it starts with us. This isn’t because women are powerless to bring about change; it is because men are most commonly the ones doing the oppressing.
First posted on Thinking of God.