Thinking and Living Biblically in a Gender-neutral Society
Biblical Manhood and Womanhood series
First Presbyterian Church
Dr. J. Ligon Duncan
Male Authority and Female Equality: In the beginning
Our task tonight is to look at the issue of male authority and female equality in these opening three chapters of Genesis. I want to remind you of some of the things that we said last time we were together.
First of all, I said that the view that I would be proponing all summer long is a view that is often called complementarianism. That's just a fancy new name for the historic Christian position on manhood and womanhood, but let me describe it for you. This is what complementarianism means. God has created men and women equal in their essential dignity and human personhood, but different and complementary in function with male headship in the home and believing community, that is, the Church being understood as part of God's created design. Let me define it again. Let me do this two or three ways to make myself perfectly clear (someone once said). Complementarianism is concerned not merely with behavioral roles of men and women, but also with the underlying nature of manhood and womanhood themselves. Biblical truth and clarity in this matter are important because error and confusion over sexual identity leads to, for instance, the following things. (1) Marriage patterns that don't portray the relationship between Christ and the Church. (2) Parenting practices that do not train boys to be masculine or girls to be feminine–or train children at all. Did you know that in the country of Sweden, it is now official social policy that parents do not have the right or responsibility to discipline their children? Now, I'm not talking about spanking their children; that was long ago outlawed in Sweden. I'm talking about disciplining their children in any way. That is the direction that this whole tendency in social relations is ultimately going. (3) A distortion of the biblical teaching on this matter leads to, of course, the increasing homosexualization of our society. The increasing attempts to justify these alliances and lifestyles. (4) Patterns of unbiblical female leadership in the Church that reflect and promote confusion over the true meaning of manhood and womanhood. God's gift of complementary manhood and womanhood was exhilarating in the beginning. We’ll see that tonight. And it is precious beyond estimation, but today, it is esteemed lightly and it's vanishing. We believe that what is at stake in human sexuality is the very fabric of life as God wills it to be for the holiness of His people and for their saving mission to the world.
Let me define complementarianism again to you in another way. Complementarianism believes that men and women are equal in the sense that they bear God's image equally. But it is further believed that this male/female equality as image bearers is not incompatible with male/female distinctions in design and roles. Thus, male headship in family and church is not a contradiction to that fundamental equality. And by male headship, I simply mean that in the partnership of two spiritually equal human beings, man and woman; the man, the husband, bears the primary responsibility to lead the partnership in a God-glorifying direction. The model of that headship is, of course, the Lord Jesus Himself, the head of the Church who gave Himself for us. The antitheses of that kind of godly, spiritual male headship actually go in two directions. On the one hand, it would be a self-centered domination by the husband of the wife. On the other hand, it might be a self-centered passivity on the part of the husband refusing to take responsibility for those things that God has entrusted to him spiritually. Male domination, by male domination I mean the bold assertion of man's will over woman's will heedless of her spiritual equality, her best interests, and her values.
Now, I want to say very quickly that you will not understand complementarianism; in fact, you will completely misunderstand complementarianism if the distinction between male headship and male domination is not kept in mind. Our evangelical feminist friends do not believe that you can make a distinction between those. They say that if you believe in male headship, therefore you believe in male domination; and in all of their literature they will speak of the evils of male domination and equate it with male headship.
So, what are the alternatives to complementarianism that are on the market? Well, just to name a couple, the major alternative to complementarianism on the market in our own day and time is feminism. By feminism, I mean secular feminism that basically views that the Bible is incorrect on this issue and that Christianity and the Judeo-Christian tradition is as a whole is inherently oppressive of women. That's the dominant cultural view; that Christianity is oppressive and wrong and that the Bible is wrong about this. The Bible is outmoded and incorrect on this and the Bible needs to be rejected. In fact, it is claimed generally that every ill in regards to man and woman in our society today is the result of Christianity or the Bible. People will say, for instance, that pornography is the result of a Christian worldview. Now, it's hard to understand how that could be argued, but believe me, there are intelligent people that argue that very thing. But in our circles, in evangelical Christian circles, far more frequent is what we might call evangelical feminism or evangelical egalitarianism. It basically says, “No, no, no, the Bible is true, though sometimes the Bible is culture-bound, or culture-relative, but if you really understand the Bible,” evangelical feminism or egalitarianism says, “ If you really rightly interpret the Bible, you will see that the Bible is egalitarian.” That is, that it makes no role distinctions between men and women in the home and in the Church.
What is the egalitarianism that is being taught by evangelicals today? Well, here's the formula. Men and women are equal in such a way that excludes male headship. That is the essence of egalitarianism. Men and women are equal in such a way that excludes male headship; men and women are equal in essence and roles and there is no biblical basis for male headship or female submission in the home or in the Church. And this means two things practically for the evangelical egalitarian.
(1) It means that in the church, spiritual gifts of men and women are to be recognized, developed and used in serving and teaching ministries at all levels of involvement. Women are to serve as small-group leaders, counselors, facilitators, administrators, ushers, communion servers, board members, deacons, elders, pastoral care, teaching, preaching, and worship leaders. And that is the fundamental contention of evangelical egalitarianism in the Church. Women are to be able to serve in any office that a male can serve in in the church. This is a very strong emphasis in their teaching.
(2) Secondly, in the home, they argue, there is to be no hierarchy or male headship. Husband and wife are always to make decisions jointly and the husband is never to exercise a final authority in decisions. Everything is to be done consensually through compromise, etc. Now, complementarians recognize that most of the decisions of life actually work out that way. But, you know, it's always the ones that really matter where you run into difficulties if that is your only avenue of resolution.
Now, for review, we said last time we were together that we wanted to foster biblical manhood and womanhood in the family and in the Church. We said that we were going to do this along the lines of complementarianism and we said that this was vital for at least four reasons. (1) It was vital because it is never safe for Christians to act unbiblically or to ignore the Bible's teaching. (2) It's vital because when biblical manhood and womanhood are denied or altered or unpracticed, it results in disasters for families and marriages. (3) We said it was important because the nature of biblical manhood and womanhood is very much at heart of the cultural transitions, the culture wars that we are going through right now. (4) The denial or twisting of the Bible's clear teaching on manhood and womanhood is one of the central ways that the authority of the Bible is being undercut today. So, this issue is important because of all those contemporary developments in our own time.
Let me elaborate one more time and then we’ll jump into Genesis. Let me elaborate on some of the distinctive emphases of complementarianism as we affirm the Bible's teaching. I'm going to affirm ten things very quickly.
(1) Complemenatians believe that both Adam and Eve were created in God's image, equal before God as persons and distinct in their manhood and womanhood.
(2) We believe that distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart.
(3) That Adam's headship in marriage was established by God before the Fall, and was not the result of sin.
(4) We believe that the Fall introduced distortions between the relationships between men and women.
· In the home, the husband's loving, humble headship tends to be replaced by either domination or passivity because of sin; and the wife's intelligent; willing submission and respect tends to be replaced by usurpation or servility.
· In the church, sin inclines men towards a worldly love of power or an abdication of spiritual responsibility, and inclines women to resist limitations on their roles or to neglect the use of their gifts in appropriate ministries. So the Fall introduces those kinds of distortions in to male/female role relationships in the home and in the church.
(5) The Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, manifests the equally high value and dignity that God attaches to the roles of both men and women. Both Old and New Testament also affirm the principle of male headship in the family and in the Church.
(6) Redemption in Christ aims at removing the distortions introduced by the curse.
· In the family, for instance, the believing husband should forsake harsh and selfish leadership and grow in love and care for his wife. And wives should forsake resistance to their husband's spiritual authority and grow in willing, joyful submission to that spiritual leadership.
· In the Church, redemption in Christ, gives men and women an equal share in the blessings of salvation; nevertheless, restricting some governing and teaching roles within the church to qualified men.
(7) In all of life, Christ is the supreme authority and guide for men and women, so that no earthly submission–domestic, religious, or civil–ever implies that a believer has to follow a human authority into sin.
(8) In both men and women, a heartfelt sense of call to ministry should never be used to set aside biblical criteria for a particular ministry. Often times you’ll hear someone say, “But God has called me to do so and so.” Well, there may be seven verses in the Bible that specifically say that you can't do that, and so, “God has called me to do so and so” doesn't trump the Bible.
(9) With half the world's population outside the reach of indigenous evangelism; with countless other lost people in those societies that have never heard the gospel; with the stresses and miseries of sickness, malnutrition, homelessness, illiteracy, ignorance, aging, addiction, crime, incarceration, neuroses, and loneliness, no man or woman who has a passion for serving the Lord Jesus Christ ought to ever need live without a fulfilling ministry for the glory of God in this fallen world in which we live. There's more to do than we can shake a stick at. So, this is not talking about putting anybody on the sidelines.
(10)We are convinced that a denial or neglect of these principles will lead to increasingly destructive consequences in our families, our churches and cultures.
Now, I ran through that quickly. If you want to see that more closely and be able to think about it a little bit, actually, in the 50 Questions pamphlet, that is a ten-point statement from the Danvers Statement on Manhood and Womanhood that is found there.
Now, having said that, let's turn to God's Word and hear, first of all, Genesis 1:26.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so.
God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
Amen. This is God's word, may he add His blessing to it.
I. God created man in His own image and designed Him as vice-regent over His creation.
I would like to look at several key passages in the first chapter of Genesis, highlight what they teach about biblical manhood and womanhood, and then draw some conclusions. First, notice that the Bible stress that God made mankind, human beings, in His image and likeness, and that image and likeness is expressed in those human beings’ rule and dominion over the creation that God has given to them to cultivate as stewards.
Secondly, we learn that God made mankind in His image as male and female; both are image bearers, both are rulers, both exercise dominion over the created order, but He makes them as male and female. Male and female is not a result of the fall. Male and female is part of God's original plan. That's why we say it's a good thing there are distinctions between men and women. In the fallen world, we poke fun at and laugh about those distinctions when they come into conflict. However, those distinctions had no conflict in the created order. There was perfect harmony in those distinctions in the original creation. There will eventually be perfect harmony again. In the fallen world those distinctions are exploited and cause tension in male-female relationships, whether in the home, church or society, but those distinctions of male and female are not the source of those tensions. Sin is the source of those tensions on for both the man and woman.
Thirdly, male and female are both necessary to fulfill the ordinance of creation. We see this in verse 28. If Adam and Eve are going to be fruitful and multiply, you have to have Adam and Eve. Adam can't be fruitful and multiply apart from Eve. Eve can't be fruitful and multiply apart from Adam; they need each other. Paul will stress this in I Corinthians 11.
Fourth, and this is very unpolitically correct, man is the designation for the race of men. In other words, the designation in Genesis 1:26-27 and elsewhere for man, entails both male and female, both man and woman. It's God's designation for the whole race.
Fifth, there is something here that is not seen. In the first statement about male and female, there is nothing about equality and there is nothing about rights. Nothing. Rights are not addressed in modern sense of the term, and equality is not addressed in any modern sense of the term. Complementarians tend to talk about man and woman in being “equal as image bearers.” Egalitarians focus upon the necessity of a necessary, collective, male-female, joint expression of the divine image. Modern political “rights” theory entails a whole host of presuppositions inimical to biblical Christianity. The only legitimate rights of which we may speak derive from the transcendent Creator and are entailed in the promise of God to keep His divine self-initiated obligations toward His people.
II. God in His good providence recognized the social need of man, even in paradise.
In Genesis 2, we have the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heaven. We see evidence of God's special love, goodness and provision for man. God shares with Adam His divine capacity of appreciation; He made trees that were not only functional, but also “pleasing to the eye.” Thus, the foundation of human aesthetics is divine. Second, He gave man significant labor and responsibility as He placed him in the garden to “work it and take care of it.” Third, He provided an opportunity for Adam to exercise his responsibility of dominion in such a way that his impressive companionship with a peer, and so He created woman. Thus, marriage is viewed as the crowning blessing of God's good ness to man in the original creation. It should not, thus, surprise us that Satan chooses this as his first arena of attack and continues this pattern to this day.
“This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven. Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
In this passage we see that man is created out of the earth and given life by God. Life is breathed into him by God Himself. God is the one who makes him to be a living being. Man is not part of an evolved race of apes or anything else; he is specially created by God.
Secondly, man is placed in the garden of the Lord by the Lord to cultivate it. This is emphasized in verses 8 and 15.
Thirdly, notice in verses 15-17 that the man is given blessings and obligations by God. He is placed in the garden, he's granted a relationship with God, and yet at the same time, God gives him commands and obligations to fulfill; positively, he is not only to cultivate the garden, but he is also to refrain from eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, negatively.
Fourth, it is clear that the man Adam is thus the representative for our race. He is the federal head. He is the one who is given the commandment, “Don't eat of the fruit of the tree.” We will discover that later in the Genesis, Eve doesn't get the blame for the fall; Adam does. Now that is interesting in light of Moses’ record of the order of that defection, because Eve defected first. Why, then, does she not get the blame? Because she was not the federal representative that God had appointed; Adam was. Eve wasn't even in existence when God gave this command to Adam. Eve heard this command from the lips of Adam; Adam heard this command, if I can speak in this way, from the lips of God. Adam is the representative. As Harry Truman would say, “The buck stopped with him.” He would be responsible, one way or another, for covenant keeping.
God Himself in His good providence recognized the social need of man, even in paradise.
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and (brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.”
Notice that God declares that it is not good for the man, Adam, to be alone. This is the only thing in Genesis chapters 1 and 2 that is called not good. Remember the refrain in Genesis chapter 1, at the end of the creation of each of the days, what did God say? “And it was good.” And at the end of the final day of creation, “And it was very good.” The only thing called not good in the original created order is that Adam is alone and does not have a companion who corresponds to him in being with whom to fellowship. This is the one thing, it's sui generis, it's the only thing like it in Genesis chapters 1 and 2, and it's the only time that God calls something not good. The aloneness of Adam. Now, keep that thought in mind, for it definitely relates to what God says next.
In verse 18, God declares that He will provide man, Adam, a helper corresponding to him. Now, remember, what did God declare was not good? That Adam was alone. Now, He is going to give him a helper. This is a very strong word in the Old Testament. We sing a song about God as our helper. It's from Psalm 90, Isaac Watts’ rendition, “Oh God our help in ages past.” That is not a denigration of God, as if He's our “junior assistant flunky.” What then does it mean? It means that God is the one who's riding to our rescue and aid, our help in time of need. In just the same way, the woman is to be a help to the man. In what way? In completing him and in saving him from his aloneness. She is to be one who corresponds to him in being. She is the helper.
Thirdly, this helper will assuage his aloneness and in that way be his help. This is the point of verse 19-23.
Fourthly, before providing this perfect match, God assigns the man, Adam, the job of naming the animals, and that very exercise shows to Adam even more so why he needs one who corresponds to him, because as he calls each of the animals by the name which is appropriate to its kind, he realizes having surveyed the whole of the animal created order, that there is no being on the planet that suits him as a companion. And it is in that context, and only in that context, that God then creates woman.
Since no being corresponding to a helper is found, God then intervenes in this circumstance and the woman, as yet unnamed, is made out of Adam and not made out of the earth.
Finally, God Himself brings the woman to the man Adam. This emphasizes that Adam has not provided for himself, but God has provided for Adam in the gift of this woman.
God Himself made provision for this need and man gratefully acknowledged the perfection of God's gift. God, in this special creative and providential act, establishes the foundation of marriage.
“The man said,
'This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.'
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
Here we have in verse 23 the first recorded words of a human speaking, and it's poetry. And what is the man singing about? A woman. Things never change do they. God brings this woman to Adam, and he goes bananas and starts singing, rhyming, as he delights in her. Man expresses an undiluted delight in woman, and he acknowledges that she corresponds to every thing that he is, and she complements him in every area of his need.
Adam calls this female human being woman. Now, there's a nice little Hebrew thing going on here. Man, in Hebrew is ish. Woman is isha. Why does man calls her isha? Because he says she was made out of me. It's another acknowledgement that she corresponds to him. She's not like any of the other animals. She corresponds to him; she's been made out of him; therefore she's called woman.
Chapter 3 verse 20 will go on to tell us that he will later give her a proper name, Eve. Remember, naming is in and of itself an exercise of headship. Adam names the animals. Eve is not on the level of the animals. Adam acknowledges that, but he is still given the privilege and responsibility of naming her. This, again, is one of those things that points to the role distinction in Genesis chapters 1 and 2.
Moses bases his whole theology of marriage on the reality of the divine provision of a woman to complement the man, and the unique correspondence between man and woman.
The Adam-Eve relation has consequences for all human husband-wife relations. Note verse 24, “For this cause.” That refers to Adam's statement about Eve. You could have said, “Well, you can't draw any deduction about the relationship between Adam and Eve or any other husband and wife.” And Moses says, “Oh yes I can.” Why? Because Adam's the federal head. Therefore, Moses draws this deduction because Adam acknowledged that Eve was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, and was the helper suitable and corresponding to him, therefore in verse 24, “A man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife.” Adam acknowledged that Eve was everything that he needed, and therefore every man that ever gets married from now on, will make his wife the prime relationship and the relationship of the son to mother and father, as close and glorious and beautiful as that relationship is, will take second place to that relationship with wife. And Moses bases that right out of Genesis chapter 2. The ultimate design of this union is to create oneness, and the sexual expression of this oneness is but one phase of the total oneness envisaged by God. And marriage is but an illustration of the oneness between God and His people. This oneness does not eradicate distinction between the partners, in fact, this oneness requires distinctions between the partners. You can't be one unless there are differences and distinctions that are being melded together in the relationship.
III. Sin is lawlessness. Satan versus the Covenant keepers.
When we turn to Genesis 3:1-24, we see several other important factors relating to biblical manhood and womanhood. In verses 1-5, in which the serpent approaches Eve with the temptation of taking the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil that God had expressly forbidden to Adam, you will note that role reversal plays a significant part in the whole fall scenario. Eve is placed in the position of defending God's words to the mocking serpent while Adam is silent, though he is apparently present. Adam is the one who has been given the command not to take of the fruit of the tree, and he is apparently right there. And when Eve finally decides, she looks, she sees, she sees that the fruit is good and it's desirable; she takes of it herself and then we're told simply that she took and gave to Adam. And the idea of the passage is not that she had to go out and find him, but that he was right there. She could turn to him and say, “Here, you take this too.” And this is further confirmed by the fact that when God comes later to meet with Adam, he doesn't come looking for Eve; He comes looking for Adam. It's not as if God is tracking down Even who has done this while poor Adam is totally clued out, doesn't know anything that is going on. God immediately is looking for Adam, because Adam knew everything that was going on and failed to defend God's word while his wife stood there having this conversation with the serpent. So, the whole picture is a picture of role reversal where Adam failed his spiritual responsibility. He should have stepped up and said, “Serpent, you have no business questioning my wife about the commands God has given to her. God gave those commands directly to me, and it's my responsibility to give an account and to be faithful to Him, and I'm here to give you the answers to your questions.” Adam simply abdicates that spiritual responsibility, and Paul will highlight this in I Timothy 2, in fact, as he interprets Genesis 3, and indicate that role reversal is part of that whole scenario of the fall of Adam and Eve into sin.
The second thing to note in this passage is in verses 1-6 and 10-13, where you’ll see Adam and Eve display different kinds of defection in the narrative. Their failures are distinct because their created purposes are distinct. Eve, for instance, in the narrative is deceived by the serpent. She's hooked into the serpent's arguments. Adam, however, clearly does what he knows expressly is against God's command. He's heard the command from God Himself, and when he takes of the fruit, he is doing it in deliberate contradiction of what God has said to him expressly. Eve struggles a bit to represent accurately precisely what God had said to Adam, because she wasn't around when God had given that command to Adam and she modifies some of the words, language and content of what God had commanded to Adam. Paul picks up again on this in I Timothy and emphasizes that whereas Eve was deceived and Adam took deliberately, that doesn't mean that Paul is arguing that Eve was more gullible. What he's highlighting is the culpability of Adam's deliberate defection and therefore the kinds of sins that went along with Adam and Eve are slightly different and those differences relate in part to their created purposes. Eve's job was not to be the covenant defender of God's words in the garden, and therefore her sin was not one of deliberate rebellion as much as it was being deceived about the truthfulness of God's words by the serpent and then being deceived into believing the serpent's words over God's words. Whereas, Adam knew exactly what he was doing, he knew exactly what the taking of the fruit entailed, that it was a deliberate rejection of God's authority, a deliberate rejection of God's goodness, a deliberate power grab on his part to be like God. So, their failures are distinct because of their creational purposes.
Thirdly, if you look at verses 16-19 we find that God's punishments correspond to Adam and Eve's respective created purposes and roles, as well as their respective defections. The punishments are therefore gender specific and gender related. They relate to their ontic, their status of being, and to their ethical status. For instance, if you note in verses 16-19, what are two of Eve's punishments? They relate to her area of child bearing and her being a wife. She's now going to bear children in pain and furthermore, there's going to be tension interjected into her relationship with her husband, where she desires him and yet he rules over her. So the language indicates a tension introduced into the husband-wife relationship.
It's ironic that in these two areas that are so much a part of her being as God made her, she's the only being in the world that can bear children. Adam in not capable of bearing children. And what's the punishment going to result in? The result is pain in bearing children. She's the only being in the world that can be a wife to a husband, and yet now there is going to be tension. On the other hand, the man who has been given the job of providing and spiritual leadership, what will happen to him? In precisely the areas in which is to provide, the ground itself, the earth itself, is going to fight him. So the punishments relate to Adam and eve's respective created purposes and roles, as well as to the way they defected from those roles, and therefore they are gender specific and gender related. So we see even in God's punishment a distinction between the being and the roles of man and woman.
Fourthly, in verses 8 and 24, and then verses 10-12, Adam and Eve's defection leads to both an estrangement from God and an estrangement from one another. They immediately sense their nakedness after they have defected from God in the fall into sin, in verse 8, and this is reiterated in verse 24. In verses 10-12, when God comes and questions Adam as to what has happened, notice how many times he says “I, I, I.” You’d never know that Eve was there. A moment before they had been the most close knit married couple that had ever lived, and the next moment Adam is distancing himself from Eve, he's blaming Eve, he's speaking only in the first person singular, he's not speaking in the first person plural, he's saying I not we, and you see the self centeredness of Adam's response. That is a picture of the estrangement that results in sin between man and man. Sin introduces this kind of tension into the husband-wife relationship and the male-female relationship.
Finally, the fall introduces a strain into the male-female relationship at its deepest point. For instance, the woman's unique role as a child bearer and a helper are now burdened with the effects of sin; pain and domination. And that's one of the themes of verse 16.
Now, from this there are certain conclusions that we can derive about biblical manhood and womanhood. As we take Genesis chapters 1-3 as a whole, having looked at these distinctive parts, there are at least four conclusions that we can derive about biblical manhood and womanhood from this passage.
First of all, Adam and Eve were created in God's image; as persons they were distinct in their manhood and womanhood. That's clear from Genesis 1 and Genesis 2.
Secondly, distinctions in male and female roles are part of the created order and should find an echo in every human heart. (Genesis 2:18, 21-24; I Cor 11:7-9; I Tim 2:12-14)
Thirdly, Adam's headship in marriage is established by God before the fall; it's not a result of sin. (Genesis 2:16-18, 21-24, 3:1-13; I Cor 11:7-9)
Fourthly, the fall introduced distortions into those relationships. Yes, in both the home and the church relationships, but those distortions do not over rule the fundamental creational principles that have already been set forth in chapter 1 and 2.
In the home, the husband's loving, humble headship tends to be replaced by domination or passivity; the wife's intelligent, willing submission tends to be replaced by usurpation or servility.
In the church, sin inclines men toward a worldly love of power or an abdication of spiritual responsibility, and inclines women to resist limitations on their roles or to neglect the use of their gifts in appropriate ministries.
We have to work hard to make sure that we don't use the biblical principles as an excuse to allow the distortions to go on. We must address those distortions, but we must also promote the biblical principles being lived out as best as we can possibly live them in the life of the home and church. Amen.