GENESIS AND MANHOOD (Part 1)
Dave Brown, Pastor, Men’s Ministry
McLean Bible Church
November 21, 2001
As we continue to on our journey toward authentic manhood, we want to talk about what God intended men to be. To do that we’re going to the book of Genesis and look at the first man – Adam - and see what God had in mind before things went wrong.
The writers of Scripture constantly are appealing back to the ideals and reality of the Genesis for it sets forth the social structures of life and importantly Genesis explains what it means to be human, especially what it means to be human as male and female. In its opening chapters we see the way things were supposed to be, before we gummed it all up.
What does Genesis Says About Manhood? Let’s look at Gen. 1:26-27:
“Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them
rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, anover all the creatures that move along the ground." 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
Notice it says “let us make man in our image. The phrase “our image” signifies both the plurality of God in personality and oneness in essence. Being made in the image of God is what gives every human being significance and dignity. Human dignity and worth are not given to us by government, society or by personal preference or convenience. God bestows them upon each of us. We are his image bearers, even though sin has marred and corrupted that image. Created in the image of God male and female means equality of personhood, equality of dignity and mutual respect for our complimentary roles and unified destiny in heaven.
We honor people simply because they bear God’s imprint. And that honor belongs to male and female equally. Mutual respect means that men and women should be equally zealous to respect and honor each other, including respecting, valuing and affirming the different functions and unique qualities of male and female.
In Genesis 1:28 God gave them joint rulership as twin partners of creation. He blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
Notice the command was to both of them. Not just to the man. While co-equal, there are male and female distinctives:
- Women have a greater need of belonging; men have a greater need of achieving.
- Women are more sensitive than men; the expressing of feelings is more important to them.
- Men tend to see their work as extensions of themselves; women are more apt to see their husband and family that way.
- Men are more goal-oriented; women more need-oriented.
- Men are more focused in their thinking; women are more intuitive in their thinking.
- Women tend to require more frequent reassurance.
- Men are more physical; women are relational.
In Gen 2:7 we see Adam was created first.
"the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils
the breath of life, and the man became a living being."
This is significant because in Scripture first always means something special and weighty to God. For example, the first-born son received the blessing of his father. This is why Jacob and Esau struggled so much. Jacob, through deception and trickery, steals the birthright.
Why was Adam created first? God was declaring a special significance with regard to the social structure between a man and woman. By Adam being created first, God was stating that there was a special and unique responsibility that went along with being a man. Throughout Scripture the shaping of a man is foundational to anything God sets out to do. For example:
- The human race began with a man - Adam
- The covenant of the testaments was given to a man - Abraham
- The twelve tribes of the nation of Israel began with a man - Jacob
- The redemption of Israel was delivered through a man - Moses
- The occupation of the Promised Land was led by a man - Joshua
- The royal prototype of Messiah was a man - David
- The Savior of the world came as a man - Jesus
- Jesus began His ministry and founded His Church with a gathering a men - the Twelve.
Because Genesis and all of Scripture are very clear that men and women are equal in value, worth and dignity, we know God has not perpetuated this order or sequence because men are wiser, or more intelligent, or more gifted than women." It is simply His pattern.
Now in Genesis 2:15 we see that Adam is given an occupation.
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
He’s given a WORK TO DO. But notice Adam is given this responsibility before Eve was created.
In Gen 2:16-17, Adam is instructed by God with the responsibility to lead by relying on and using God’s word. He’s given a WILL TO OBEY by being commanded not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Adam gets this instruction, not Eve. It was his responsibility to instruct Eve. In chapter 3 when the Serpent is tempting Eve with the fruit from the forbidden tree, Eve responds with partial truth, not the whole truth. What is striking about this account is that it was Adam’s responsibility to correctly instruct Eve and he doesn’t do it, even though he was right there with her. He is supposed to lead with God’s word and yet he is passive in light of the responsibility given him.
In Gen 2:19-20, Adam names the animals signifying his leadership over creation. Throughout the Bible naming someone or something was always significant. In the Old Testament, only God changed names. Abram became Abraham, Sarai became Sarah, Jacob became Israel. Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter. In Scripture, changing names was something only God could do, for your name was not just a human, arbitrary label, but your real identity, which was given to you by God alone.
After Adam names all the animals, in Gen 21 we see Adam names woman. God causes Adam to fall asleep and fashions a new creature out of his rib and God brings her before Adam and after just one look at her and he blurts our WHOOOO – MANNN!!!!!
Back in Genesis 2:18 notice it was not good for Adam to be alone so God gave him a "helper suitable for him", a momentous phrase that defines the very core identity for both the man and the woman.
The title of "helper" given to a woman in Genesis 2 means help as a counterpart in the sense of providing what is lacking in the other. It’s also a title God gives himself several places in the Bible (Isa 41:13; Jn 14:26; Deut 33:29). So it’s not a role that is lesser or secondary.
When God places man and woman in the garden, they’re probably wondering, "So how do we relate to one another?" They’re asking themselves the most profound question, "WHO IS GOING TO LEAD?"
Remember those Junior High dances. You ask a girl to dance. You put your arm around her. She puts her arm on your shoulder, and…you start to lead. What would happen if you just stood there? What if both lead?
In a sense life is a dance – dynamic and pulsating –each of us entering into its pattern and rhythm. It’s like in a grand ballroom when two partners are moving harmoniously together, complementing each other’s moves, and enjoying one another. When it’s executed well it’s a thing of beauty to behold and they will share together the applause of an admiring audience. But the dance requires them to know the movements. They have to know their different positions and their distinct roles. They have to know who will fall and who will catch. Who will run and who will stand. It is the very essence of dance and drama that the players know the distinct movements they must make. If they don't know their different assignments on the dance floor or on the stage there will be no dance, no drama. And CS Lewis has noted, “As long as you notice, and have to count the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance.
And so the really important question we have to ask is this: in the drama of life between man and woman before the Fall did God mean for some responsibilities to fall heavier on the one than the other? Both were to show equal respect; but are they supposed to show it in just the same way? Both are to seek peace and harmony by mutually serving each other; but is the form of this service to look just the same for the man and the woman?
The smallest organizational relationship on the face of the earth is marriage. In that close, intimate two-person organization, you’ve got to define yourselves socially and spiritually. Someone is going to have to lead. Someone has to assume the responsibility for what goes on. Someone has to feel the weight if things don’t go right.
You may walk by the information wall in the front lobby and see the men’s ministry brochures and pamphlets in total disarray. You may say to yourself, "someone ought to clean that up." If I walked by the wall, what would I do? Yeah, I’D CLEAN IT UP! Why? Because I feel responsible for it. I have authority over what information gets displayed and how.
This works the same way in the Garden. God chose His terms carefully when He said, "I will make a helper…" If the woman is a helper, what does that make a man? If the woman is "suitable" for him, then who is custom fit for whom? She is fit for him. My wife Susan is fit to assist me to fulfill my God given responsibilities. Does this have anything to do with equality or value? Absolutely not! But, it has everything to do with roles and how Susan and I are to fulfill them in our dance together.
What does Adam discover in the Garden? First, he has A WORK TO DO (cultivate the garden). Second, he has A WILL TO OBEY (don’t eat the fruit from "that" tree). Finally, he has received a social compliment to himself and it is his responsibility to lead her in such a way that will be best for both and best for the purposes of God in the world.
Adam has received a "suitable helper" who is looking to him to lead in this ideal moment prior to the Fall. She is looking for him to lead in such a way so that together they can fulfill the purposes of God. Now, as he leads, he can’t do without her. He can’t multiply and fulfill the earth and subdue it without her. He must have her help, but she is looking to him to lead. Men, isn’t that exactly what is missing today!
I'm convinced that the Bible does teach that men have unique God-given responsibilities toward women and women have unique God-given responsibilities toward men. These responsibilities are not identical, and they are not dependent on our gifts. They are based on our manhood and womanhood as God designed us to be. And they are not limited to mere biological functions in the process of reproduction.
These different responsibilities go right to the heart of the meaning of manhood. But they are under tremendous attack today as never before. And the result in our culture is mass confusion – men are confused today. That’s why we need to capture the Bible’s positive vision of what is means to be man.
I would guess that probably two generations of men and women have been raised in this country without a positive vision of what it means to be male or female. We have been told many negative things — things we ought not to be, things we are to be liberated from.