“Male And Female Created He Them”
by Allan Turner
The first three chapters of Genesis provide the foundation on which we are to develop a Biblical view of the sexes. These chapters deal with the creation of man; they reveal that man is male and female, they explain man’s role, and they provide us with an understanding of the nature of man’s fall into sin and its consequences. Anyone interested in God’s purposes for the male and female will be very interested in carefully studying these three chapters.
Man Created In The Image Of God
In Genesis 1:26-28, we learn that mankind is the crown of God’s creation. There are three points of emphasis in these three verses: (1) man is created in the image of God; (2) man is expected to procreate; and (3) man is to be a steward over all of God’s other creatures on earth. Verse 26 can be seen as God’s proposal (viz., man is to be created in the image of God, and is to be given domination over all the earth). Verse 27 can be seen as the definition of who man really is (viz., man, who is both male and female, is created in the image of God). Verse 28, then, can be seen as man’s commission (viz., man is blessed by God and is told to procreate and rule the earth). It has been suggested by others, and we totally agree, that verses 26 and 28 ought to be seen as the base of a pyramid that supports and is topped off by verse 27. In other words, verse 27 defines the nature of this man who has been given the commission by God in verse 28, which was, in turn, based upon God’s proposal as stated in verse 26. Verse 27, then, serves as the pinnacle of the argument as to who man really is. Consequently, this verse deserves closer study.
We are told that the various emphases of verse 27 are seen in the Hebrew by taking note of the words that appear at the beginning of the clauses. In the following clauses found in verse 27, we have taken the liberty of showing the emphasized words in italics: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” These three clauses give us a comprehensive understanding of man. First of all, man is God’s creation and must not be seen as a chance collocation of atoms (i.e., evolution). Man is the result of a deliberate and willful act of the Almighty God. Second, man is created in the image of God and therefore bears some of the characteristics of the divine Being. These characteristics make man the only one of God’s earthly creatures suitable for the work of overseeing the rest of His creation. Third, and this is of primary importance to us in this study, man is created male and female.
Man is male and female. To many, this is a shocking revelation. But, it ought not to be. The physical nature of mankind (i.e., “man”) is male and female. We do not need special revelation to know this. All we have to do is look at God’s revelation in nature. When we look at man (i.e., “mankind”) we see both male and female. Furthermore, and more importantly, mankind, both male and female, bears the image of the Divine.
According to God’s Word, both the male and female are jointly charged to be involved in procreation. The female is not simply the vessel for the male’s child, and neither is the child the sole responsibility of the woman. Together, and only together, are they able to fulfill the responsibility God gave man to fill the earth with his offspring.
According to God’s Word, both the male and female are given the responsibility of subduing and exercising dominion over God’s earthly creation. It is exactly at this point that confusion, ignorance and sinful pride lift their ugly heads. Shamefully, men have too often viewed women not just as second class citizens, but as second class image bearers of the Divine, as well. Consequently, women have often been relegated to only a small portion of God’s creation; namely, dirty diapers, dirty dishes, dirty floors, dirty commodes, etc.
Please do not misunderstand! We are well aware that woman’s primary duties are domestic (cf. Titus 2:5), but these duties in no way exhaust her total responsibilities. The idea that men alone are to occupy the world outside the house is an idea foreign to the teaching of God’s Word.
The Ideal Wife Of Proverbs 31
In this connection, the woman of Proverbs 31 deserves special consideration. Here was a woma n who had her priorities straight. First, she was involved in caring for her family, but she also demonstrated her ability to function in a non-domestic environment as well. In providing for the needs of her family, she was still able to engage (i.e., work) in business and charity outside the home with God’s approval. She was a capable and industrious woman who had the full confidence and love of her husband and her children. Therefore, if a woman can meet the needs of her family properly, then it would certainly be appropriate for her to engage in business and other interests outside the home.
We can imagine what some might be thinking at this juncture, so let us ask and then answer the following questions: Does any thing we have said up to this point encourage a woman to shirk her domestic duties? No, it most certainly does not! Does any thing we have said up to this point justify the millions of “latchkey” children being created by mothers working outside the home? Absolutely not! The “Virtuous Woman” or “Ideal Wife,” who worked outside the home in Proverbs 31, must not be divorced from the context. Although “She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants” (verse 24), her husband came first (verse 11). She was the first to rise in the morning so she could take care of the needs of her family (verse 15). She engaged in charity in the community (verse 20), and then when all these responsibilities were met, she engaged in outside employment. Does any of this give credence to the feminist movement or solace to modern women who think they cannot be “fulfilled” unless they are working outside the home? It does not! But, neither does it serve as ammunition for those who insist it is sinful for a woman to work outside the home. If the wife is able to fulfill her prior obligations, and they are many, then working outside the home cannot be considered a sin.
Equality Of Essence Not Roles
The equality of essence shared by the male and female must not be overlooked or misunderstood, but at the same time it must be understood that Genesis 2 represents the man as having a functional headship over the woman. In Ephesians 5:22-24, the apostle Paul makes it clear that such an understanding is consistent with Biblical truth. In further emphasizing this point, Paul, in I Timothy 2:13, appeals to the “Beginning” as a place to understand the headship of man. His argument for the woman being “under obedience” (I Corinthians 14: 36b) and not “teach[ing], nor usurp[ing] authority over the man” (I Timothy 2:12) is based on two fundamental truths; namely, “For Adam was first formed, then Eve, and Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (I Timothy 2:13-14).
Adam was created first and existed for some time before Eve was formed. Therefore, one must conclude that God did not create Eve to be Adam’s leader. We think God’s declaration before creating Eve makes this very clear: “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18). The Lord then took Eve from the body of Adam (i.e., formed her from a rib of his side) and presented her to him. It was then that Adam declared her to be “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:22-24). Then Adam, the “Man” (Ish), called her “Woman” (Isha) because she was taken “out of Man.” Using this truth as the foundation of his argument, Paul, in I Corinthians 11:8-9, wrote: “For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.” In other words, both her origin and name are derived from man and are thus second and secondary and not first and primary. But, and this is extremely important, man’s role in fulfilling the mandate of Genesis 1:26-28 cannot be fulfilled apart from the female’s role. Consequently, her chronological order of creation makes her a vice-regent with him. She is not a lesser or a slave. She is to be respected as an equal, created in God’s image, who at his side and under his loving direction (cf. Ephesians 5:25) fulfills the God-given task of subduing the earth.
Something Happened That Changed Things
As things were originally planned by God, man and woman as a family, a unit, a team, were to explore (not exploit) and control (not destroy) the earth; but this plan was marred by the sins of Adam and Eve (cf. Genesis 3). Before sin entered into the world, Adam and Eve, respecting each other, worked together in harmony to fulfill the divine mandate, and no doubt would have eventually begun to populate the earth. Both operated within the authority of God. Unfortunately, though, acting independently of her husband, Eve surrendered to the temptation of Satan and ate the forbidden fruit. Although this is certainly no compliment to Eve, what happened next is no compliment to Adam either. He was not deceived, the scriptures tell us, and therefore willingly disobeyed God by following his wife’s lead. Consequently, as a result of their spiritual death, both the man and woman received a curse from God for their sin. The curse on the woman is found in Genesis 3:16, and reads: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” We are convinced that there are two effects of this curse on the woman. First, the pain the woman would experience in child-birth would be greatly increased. Second, there would be tension between husband and wife. It is to this second effect that we now turn our attention.
When Adam and Eve sinned, their relationship was distorted. The foretelling of this is to be found in the statement, “your desire shall be for your husband.” This desire has been considered by some to be the woman’s sexual desire for her husband; but such a desire would have been part of her makeup as a sexual being before sin entered into the picture, therefore, such a position does not seem tenable. The original intention of God was that Adam and Eve would bear children and fill the earth. God made the two sexes, therefore, sexual desire is not perverted nor distorted, as some have suggested, and within the marriage relationship is “honorable” and “undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4).
Well, then, if her desire was not sexual attraction, what was it? This, we think, can best be understood in connection with the rest of the verse, which says, “And he shall rule over you.” Many, thinking the desire of the woman is coordinate with man’s rule, believe this desire is an instinctive desire to be ruled by man. In conjunction with this, certain so-called “Christian feminists” understand this passage to be the description of how man “degenerated by sin, would take advantage of his headship as a husband to dominate, lord it over, his wife” (Letha Scanzoni and Nancy Hardesty, All We’re Meant To Be, page 35). Actually, we think both these views are a misunderstanding of the passage. This misunderstanding is caused by what we believe is a mistranslation of the Hebrew conjunction in this passage as “and” (a coordinating idea), rather than “but” (an antithetical concept). We are convinced the correct translation should read: “And your desire shall be for your husband, but he shall rule over you.” The conjunction “but” indicates there would be friction between the husband and wife. This can be understood in connection with an identical Hebrew construction in Genesis 4:7b. Both passages use the word “desire” and a comparison of these two passages ought to give us an understanding of what the woman’s desire really is.
In Genesis 4:7b, sin personified is depicted as one who crouches at the door waiting to take hold of or capture his victim, who in this case is Cain. Notice the parallels between this verse and Genesis 3:16b: “And unto thee shall be his [sin’s] desire, and thou shalt rule over him” (KJV). The NKJ version reads, “And its desire shall be for you, but you should rule over it.” It seems clear that the idea God was conveying to Cain was that sin was a power that desired to rule over him, but that he must resist and subdue it. When compared with this verse, Genesis 3:16b can be understood to be teaching that as a result of her sin, which was a rejection of her husband’s rule as well as the rule of God, a battle of the sexes began. Contrary to the harmony that once existed between Eve and her husband, she would now have a predisposition to exercise control over him, and if he was going to exercise control over her, as his headship demanded, it would not be without a struggle.
In other words, in becoming sin-sick, the willing submission of the wife and the loving headship of the husband were corrupted. The woman’s inordinate desire to usurp her husband’s authority would have to be mastered by her husband, if he could. Consequently, the rule of love established in paradise was replaced by a struggle between the sexes that has produced an endless stream of usurpation, strife, tyranny, and ungodly domination.
The Problem Exacerbated
Furthermore, the curse upon Adam would further exacerbate the friction that existed between him and his wife. The difficulty of toiling out a living would cause physical and psychological stress that would ultimately be carried over into the marriage. The time necessary to produce a product from the cursed earth would force the husband to spend much more time away from home. As a result, his wife might very well feel like she was being neglected. In addition, the jealousy many husbands feel concerning their hard-earned paychecks, even though marriage is to be a joint effort, has served to intensify the battle of the sexes down through the ages. In many marriages today, the husband has his money and the wife has her money and “never the twain shall meet.” Obviously, then, the negative effects of the husband trying to make ends meet in a world that resists him on every hand are very much with us today.
The Battle Has Turned Into a Full-Fledged War
The history of man and woman, as well as our own experiences, demonstrate the real problems c reated by the consequences of our first parents’ sins. The unity God intended for His creation was destroyed by those sins. As a result, the woman would desire to usurp man’s rule, and the man, if he was to rule, would do so with great difficulty. Add to these consequences our own sins, and the battle between the sexes has actually grown into a full-fledged war. The family, the very fabric of our society, is being destroyed today. Divorce is rampant. The so-called “traditional family structure” is being redefined to include unmarried couples and homosexual liaisons (they call each other “housemates” and “significant others”).
In addition, the feminist goal, which is nothing short of social, political, and cultural revolution, has had a dramatic impact in our day. Whether we like to admit it or not, feminism has converted our culture to the feminist mind-set. In fact, the feminization of America is in full-swing. As a so-called “Biblical feminist” has noted: “Feminism since the early 1960s has begun to color interpersonal relations, the language we speak, family life, the educational system, child-rearing practices, politics, business, the mass media, religion, law, the judicial system, the cultural value system, and intellectual life” (quoted in Mary Pride, The Way Home, page 12).
As originally created, the male and female were to complete each other as they enabled one another to fulfill the God-ordained purpose of procreating and subduing the earth. Neither was to seek the other’s position, but as half of a whole they were to complement each other. When sin entered into the world, their distinctive roles were blurred and their harmonious relationship distorted. Instead of working together in unity, they began to compete with each other. Instead of reflecting the glory of God, they began to mirror the corruption of sin. Their original “oneness” was replaced by a power struggle that has continued in society ever since. This struggle, although it does not always manifest itself overtly, does, nevertheless, lie just below the surface in even the best of marriages.
Unfortunately, many men, even Christians, “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13), have engaged in the practice of “lording it over” their wives. While on the other hand, many women, even Christians, have become “silly women laden with sins” (II Timothy 3:6) and have not willingly submitted to the headship of their husbands. It is sad but true that many Christians, both male and female, instead of “prov[ing] what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1), are actually being guided by current secular values. Of course, we, of all people, ought to know that the answer to this problem is not to be found in current secular thought or even in so-called traditional thinking. Instead, the answer is to be found in God’s Word, the Bible. It is in this book that we will find the answer to our problem.
A part of the “good news” of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that what was lost in the Garden of Eden can be restored in Christ. As faithful followers of the humble Galilean, the husband and wife can once again become the unit God intended them to be from the very beginning: the husband, the lov-ing leader who “nourishes and cherishes” his wife as if she were his own body (Ephesians 5:28,29) and the wife, the suitable helper who willingly submits to her husband’s guidance, “as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). Such a relationship must be characterized by selflessness, yet it is only in Christ that one learns to crucify Self. It is only in Christ that one exchanges the egotistical “I am” of sinful pride for the loving guidance of the Great I Am. It is only in Christ that two people will live in the estate of matrimony as God truly intended. Does this mean that people who are not Christians are not married? No, of course not. Does it mean that a Christian cannot marry a non-Christian? Again, no. Well, then, what does it mean? What it means is that without the restoration that comes in Christ, marriage will never be, nor can it ever be, what the Lord created it to be; namely, a relationship of unity that supersedes every other earthly relationship and in a very wonderful way reflects the unity that exists between Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:22-33). This Bible truth is a part of that light that illuminates a lost and dying world (Matthew 5:14). And it is this truth that functions as some of the salt that preserves our decaying society (Matthew 5:13). If Christians are not living this truth out in their lives on a regular basis, then they are no good to themselves or anyone else.
In Titus 2:2, the Word of God informs us that the younger women are to be taught to be “keepers at home” (KJV) or “home-makers” (NKJV). As we have already learned, the Bible does not prohibit the wife from working outside the home, but it does teach that the home is to be her primary concern. It is unfortunate that the idea of homemaker is being much maligned in our present day society. It is tragic that you ng women and men are being taught that a female cannot really be happy as a homemaker. It is sad that young girls are being told they cannot be fulfilled unless they have a career that takes them away from their homemaking and child-rearing responsibilities. What is even more tragic is that many Christians have begun to incorporate these secular values into their own life-styles.
Churches of Christ cannot be negligent in their responsibility to edify themselves concerning this important subject. We must realize that young Christians will not be taught their God-ordained roles, and the duties associated with them, by a secular system inundated by humanism. Churches owe it to their young people to pass on to them the richness of the husband and wife relationship as taught in God’s Word. Furthermore, as husbands and wives, we have the responsibility to live out our God-ordained roles before our children. But this is not enough! These roles must be reinforced by Bible classes that teach the duties and responsibilities, as well as the benefits, of the husband and wife relationship. In truth, we have not done a very good job with this subject, and it has definitely begun to show. The divorce rate among Christians, although much lower than that reflected in the world, is still much higher than anyone would have predicted just thirty years ago. Are we going to wait until the divorce rate among us begins to match the world’s before we do something about it? If not, then we had better get busy and lovingly teach on this extremely critical subject before we find ourselves overshadowed by the horror of darkness that is engulfing our society. Fellow Christians, we must let our lights shine.
The Wife And The Home
The place where God put the wife is the husband’s home (notice that I did not say house). The home is a unique kingdom all its own in the midst of a hostile world. It’s a stronghold amid life’s storms and stresses, a refuge, even a sanctuary! The home is unique in that it is not built on the shifting sands of public life or cultural changes. The home is an institution (relationship might be a better word) that has special meaning and value because it has been especially ordained by God. It’s a place where peace, quietness, joy, love, purity, discipline, respect, obedience, and happiness is to dwell. It is the wife’s calling and her pleasure to build up for her husband a “world within the world,” and do her life’s work there. How happy and blessed is the woman who realizes just how great and rich a task and position God has given her! In this special relationship, the wife occupies a position of permanence, not novelty; constancy, not flux or change; peace, not antagonism or adversariness. In this relationship there are actual deeds, not just empty words; gentle persuasion, not arrogant commands; and, of course, love, not lust. All these are inspired and sustained by her love for her husband—this is the wife’s kingdom. “A virtuous woman [an excellent wife] is the crown of her husband” (Proverbs 12:4).
The traditional family, as defined by secular society, has assumed the husband to be the superior ruler and the wife to be the inferior servant. This is far to the right of what God has ordained in His Word. On the other hand, the feminist movement has swung the pendulum far to the left in denying the family structure and roles God has given. Let us, therefore, as Christians, strive for that golden mean set forth in God’s Word and let us “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind[s], that [we] may prove [to a lost and dying world] what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).