“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).
“The the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him’” (Genesis 2:18).
So it was in the beginning of creation that God made mankind. God made two genders or types of mankind, both in His image. Male (Man) and Female (Woman). The first man and woman did not get to pick or choose their gender, either, by the way. The woman was said to be a “helper” to the man, and one that was “suitable” or “fit” for him. The Hebrew is literally something like “I will make for him a helper that is like different than him.” Like. Different. That says it all.
Then, cosmic tragedy struck this first couple. Adam and Eve decided to grasp at autonomy, to make their own rules, to determine their own right and wrong, to be beholden to no one. It did not work out as they planned. Notice what happened when God approached this now fallen sinful couple:
Have you eaten of the tree that I commanded you not to eat? The man said, “The woman who You gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:11-12).
Passing the buck and blameshifting are sure signs that all is not well with our souls! This gorgeous woman God made for Adam has now become the enemy it would seem. Rather than joyfully assume the responsibility of headship (leadership) given to him, Adam finger-points. Sin has made him a weasel.
But, sin has also made Eve a power-hungry matriarch. God pronounces judgment on her and tells her “Your desire will be for your husband” (Gen 3:16). The word “desire” is used again in Genesis 4:6 where sin is said to “desire” Cain, but God tells him he must “rule over it.” The context makes it clear what God means. Sin will cause Eve to resist Adam’s God-ordained headship. She will weasel and conive now to try and wrest leadership and control from him. But, in the end, “He shall rule over you” (Gen 3:16).
Clearly, this is now War. Sin causes men and women to be at war! Do you see it, dear Christian? The whole thrust of Genesis 3 is that sin brought war into the world. The man fights the woman. The woman fights back. And the ground even fights against the man. War.
But, our God is the Ultimate Warrior! In His goodness and power and love He emphatically declares that He and He alone will have the last word in this great cosmic struggle. God will win, and He will do so through the promised “seed” of Eve who will crush evil beneath His feet (Gen 3:15). If there is any doubt in your minds who this “seed” is, read 1 Corinthaisn 15 and Galatians 3. Jesus is the Victorious Seed of Eve!
Rather than make this post an overly complex analysis of all the gender confusion and spats about who washes the dishes, let’s just remember a few critical things that will greatly impact our mariage for good or ill. Namely . . .
- Because of sin, our natural tendency is to go to war with our spouses. The secondary causes (household chores, finances, decision-making) are not what matters most. Rather, what we must grasp is that we go to war with one another because of our inborn sin, our resident evil (James 4:1-4).
- Knowing the above, then, we can remind ourselves that Jesus came “to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). The salvation of Christ gives us a new life and a new power to fight back against the sin making war in us (Rom 6; Col 3). So, rather than seek “gender therapy” or receive counseling on who should vacuum the floor, we really need to learn to preach the gospel to ourselves! Jesus is our peace, dear husbands and wives (John 14:27; 16:33).
So, rather than fuss and fight about the finer points in daily living, what we must recover is a Christ-entranced vision of marriage, to borrow a phrase from John Piper. God ordained men as heads of wives and children. God ordained women to be helpers to rule and subdue the creation alongside men. God did all this not to make a statement about male or female superiority. No, those arguments are products of our sin! Rather, God did it this way to mirror Himself in His Triune Nature.
God the Father sends God the Son to redeem a sinful people by dying on the cross and bearing the Divine wrath they justly earned. The Father sends. The Son goes willingly and never does anything other than submit fully to the Father’s plan, even though it kills Him (Phil 2:1-11). The Son dies for His people, and rises again to prove once for all He is the promised Seed-Warrior-Savior-King of the Bible! Then, the Son ascends back to the Father, and the Holy Spirit is sent on behalf of the Father and Son. And the Spirit is no rogue! No, He too submits fully to the Divine plan to glorify the Son who is the Redeemer, even going so far as to “not speak of Himself” and to do the “dirty work,” if you please, of ripping out our crusty sinful hearts and giving us a new heart of repentance and faith (John 3; 14-16).
No war at all between Father, Son and Spirit. No bickering about who does what. No whining about Son being inferior to Father, and Spirit being the least important. Only perfect union. Only perfect headship. Only perfect submission.
This is why God created marriage! This is exactly what Paul says God is up to in male headship and female submission (Ephesians 5:22-33). In Christian marriage, God is putting Himself on display, especially as He is seen through the love relationship of Jesus and His church.
Men, our headship is only good in so far as it looks like Jesus’ headship! If you are making every decision autonomously and not seeking your wife’s input, or are treating her like a child (sit down and shut up and I’ll rattle your cage if I want your opinion), then you are not being a true head at all. Rather, your are dishonoring your Head, the Lord Christ, and your prayer life is sure to stink, too (see 1 Peter 3:7). If you are not celebrating your wife’s gifts and exhorting her to use them to better your home/family and marriage, then you are not mirroring Christ. A practical example may be a wife who excels at financial management. In that case, it would actually be poor headship for a husband to insist on balancing the checkbook even though he stinks at it!
Women, if you are calling mama behind your husband’s back every time he does something that does not suit you, then you are not reflecting the submission of Christ. If you share all your husband’s weaknesses with your best friend, or secretly “do your own thing” while he’s away at work, rather than joyfully giving yourself to the goals and direction He has set for your home (assuming they are biblical), then you mirror not Christ or the Spirit. You submit in word only, but not in deed or from the heart.
Changing diapers is not a “feminine” task, nor is taking out the garbage a “masculine” task. This kind of thinking originates in our warlike sinful selves. Household chores and bread-winning is not primarily the point. The point is the glory of God! The nuances of gender roles in Christian marriages may take on various forms. Each couple must work these things out within the context of their own marriages and life situations, and do it in a way that images God and obeys His Word. This is not to blur the clear lines between the female and male, but rather to encourage freedom in Christ for couples to celebrate both their similarities and differences. Remember, God made us “like different.” This brings Him glory and pleasure, so why does it not do the same for us?!
Male headship and female submission must both image Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world. I know of nothing that has more potential to picture the gospel on a daily basis than a husband and wife just embracing their God-given roles with the joy of Jesus in their hearts. So, cling to Jesus today and make peace, not war.