are From God and Women Too
Turn with me in your Bibles to the Book of Genesis, Chapter 1, beginning at verse 24, and then we’ll read five or six verses from Chapter 2. First of all from Genesis 1:24. This is the Word of God.
Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind"; and it was so.
25God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.
26Then 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."
27God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
28God 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."
29Then 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;
30and 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.
31God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
And now in Chapter 2--this is the second creation account beginning at verse 20 reading through to the end of the chapter.
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.
21So 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.
22The LORD God  fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.
23The 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."
24For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
25And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Let's pray together:
Our Father, now as we turn to Your words in this part of our service of worship, we ask You to be our teacher. Instruct us, we pray, and make us into Your obedient disciples, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Now tonight, as you already know, we begin a new series of sermons about marriage and about family issues. Some of the titles are fairly specific--and I don't apologize for that. In the day and age in which we live, we need to address some of those issues. You can rest assured that this evening, however, we are going to cover some more general principles with regard to these issues. I'm going to call this series “Men and Women After God's Own Heart: The Fellowship of the Ring.”
Part of the reason I want to do it is because of a felt need within our congregation. I remember following the visit of Dr. Dan Doriani, some months ago now, how well that was received and how it seemed to touch on some very genuine needs within the congregation, and after some conversation with Ligon, we thought it might be a good idea for this summer--in the three months from now until August--that we would cover this theme. I've been married for over 25 years and I'm still in need of a great need of help as Rosemary will tell you. And she's going to be here before my nose and before my eyes as I preach these sermons. I said to her during the course of the week, “Throughout this series, it's as if on that back wall there's a flashing neon light that says ‘hypocrite.’” So bear with me as I try to preach on some of these issues in the coming weeks.
I know for some of you this will not meet your particular need. You may be single, you may be widowed, you may be in circumstances that make this particular series perhaps a little difficult and a little awkward for you. Some of you may be going through the trauma of divorce, and I realize some of the sensitivities about preaching a series like this. I want to ask from you one particular thing over these next few weeks: don't stay away, but will you covenant to pray that even though this series might not directly affect you? It may well be that even if it doesn't, it may touch upon the hearts of the people of God in this place because what we need desperately in this day and in this hour are families and homes where Christ is honored and glorified. That in itself would grow this church. We are living in dangerous times. Only this past week a Reformed minister fell in a very decisive way. You will no doubt hear about it in the weeks to come, and it grieves us no end to hear of this. And it's only further evidence that Satan is at work; and he's at work in the area of home, and he's at work in the area of marriages, and he's at work in the area of sexuality, and Satan is often gaining ground that we need to win back for Christ and for his glory.
Tonight I want to establish some groundwork. We’re not going to get very far tonight, but I just want to lay down some basic parameters and basic principles. I want to ask the question–the basic question about manhood and womanhood. I want to ask the question–What does it mean to be a biblical man and a biblical woman of God? Dr. John Gray, practicing psychologist, has written a book called Men Are from Mars: Women Are From Venus. No, I've never read the book. I have no great desire to read it, to be honest. It's a best seller. You’ll find it in the self-help section of bookstores–not, I hasten to add--in The Presbyterian Bookstore of First Presbyterian Church–not unless something has happened to Douglas that I don't know about. It says a lot, I think, that that particular book should be so popular because it says a great deal about the needs that exist in our society even for help in marriage. And what the book is saying, more or less, is that a man behaves in a certain way because he is a man, and a woman behaves in a certain way because she is a woman. Well, that's not rocket science, is it? But there are so many books just like that, and since the Enlightenment, the foundations of human relationships have been destroyed and the capital of the Judeo-Christian tradition has all but been spent, and we need to go back and ask ourselves the question once again–Teach me what is means to be a biblical man and a biblical woman of God. Now let's see three principles from the two chapters of Genesis.
I. The principle of co-regency.
The first is the principle of co-regency. By co-regency I mean that Adam and Eve were created to be rulers–to be vice-gerents–to be rulers over the creation. Come with me to Genesis, Chapter 1 and verses 26 and 27. These are two of the most important verses in the Bible because they establish for us the kind of creature man is. And when I say man here at this point, I mean man generically–man as considered male and female. And man considered as male and female, as we are told in Genesis 1:26-27, were created in the image of God and after the likeness of God. Man is made in God's image. In our image and after our likeness, it says. And for the one and only time during the creation process, we are given a glimpse into the divine mind by what immediately follows. And what immediately follows is “And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the heaven, and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Whatever it meant by image, whatever it meant by likeness, a part of what it means is to exercise lordship and kingship and dominion over the earth. Now later of course, after the fall, exercising that dominion over the earth will face a great deal of opposition. Work and labor must be exercised in the face of thorns and thistles and painful toil. Man is to bring the world to his feet exercising authority over the world, mastering its behavior, understanding its laws that govern all of life's existence, and halting the spread of evil and disease in as much as that is possible to him. But even here in Genesis one, before the fall, before the instance of sin, man is to exercise authority over the creation. Man considered as male and female is to exercise that authority over creation. Man is called to bring the world in tribute to God.
Now we need to understand that in ancient time, the only ones who ever had images built of themselves were kings. An image was invariably set up as an image of a king. The only ones described as bearing the image of god were kings. So you see what Moses is saying. You see what God is saying here through Moses. My image belongs not to royalty, but it belongs to all of My children, and it belongs to both male and female. Now let's pause there for a minute and reflect that as believers in Christ–for those who have trusted in Jesus as Lord and Savior–we are kings. We are royalty. I want to ask Tim and Sarah afterwards just how royal they've become since living in England, especially in this year of Jubilee, the fiftieth reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It may not mean a whole lot to you, but it means a whole lot to people in England this very day. But you know, we are all kings; every Christian, every believer, every man and woman in Christ is royal. You know that wonderful hymn by Harriet Buell? Apparently she wrote it on the way home from church. “I'm a child of the King; I'm a child of the King, with Jesus my Savior, I'm a child of the King.” That's what it means to bear the image of God. And this has direct implications for the relationship that will exist between a man and a woman in marriage. For what Genesis 1: 26 and 27 is saying, among other things, is that man and woman equally bear the image of God.
Now we are so quick to want to ask about the differences between men and women–men are from Mars and women are from Venus–but the first thing we need to appreciate is the equality–the absolute, unqualified equality or divine image bearing by both men and women. Men and women are considered as royalty. Now do you see the implication of that for marriage? It means, my friend, whether you are a man or a woman, that you are to treat your spouse as royalty. You know that's where all the trouble comes in, isn't it? Think of all the problems, think of all the disagreements, think of all the rows–you don't have rows in your marriage.
Think of all the problems that come into a biblical marriage. I’ll guarantee, it stems because you don't treat your spouse like royalty. Ask him afterwards what he would do if Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth were to knock on the door and say, “Can I come to church next Sunday?” Ask him what the correct response is. You know, even if you were introduced to the President. Suppose you were given an invitation to come to the White House to meet President Bush. I guarantee you would be asking a thousand questions. What am I going to wear? I can't possibly go in this dress. What do I say? What will I call him? What's the decorum? What's the proper gesture? What are the rules? And we are to treat each other–you treat your wife as royalty–you treat your husband as royalty–something extraordinarily precious! That's where the trouble starts, isn't it? That's where the trouble often starts, but that's where the solution begins too. Don't think about yourself. Don't think about your needs. You treat your spouse like royalty. We’ll have to work that out over the course of the next few weeks and months as to what exactly that means, but the first principle is the principle of co-regency.
II. The principle of
The second principle is the principle of companionship. We’re going to move from the first account of creation to the second account of creation, and the two of them are slightly different and they complement each other. The second account gives us little details that the first account doesn't give. Turn to chapter 2 and especially to verses 19 and the first half of verse 20. You remember the wonderful account that's given of the naming of the animals. It's a bit like Dr. Doolittle giving all of the animals their names. What does it mean to give the animals–the birds, the fish, the creeping things, the cattle–all of these things–to give them names? It means, in part, to exercise authority over them. But there's something else.
It's telling us something about man in distinction from the animals. Man is to rule over the rest of creation. Man has dominion over the creatures. Now there's a link between man and creation. Of course there is. Man was created on the same day as some part of creation. It's not a surprise to learn that man genetically has very similar genetic constitution to a chimpanzee or an ape. That shouldn't surprise us. They were created on the same day. But there's a distinction. A man is to exercise that co-regency, he is to exercise that lordship over the rest of creation.
But it's not only telling us something about the authority, the kinship that man is to exercise. It's also saying that man is to be a prophet. And by man here, I don't mean man as we meant earlier–man in the generic–man as male and female. Here we mean man as man. Man in distinction from woman. Now you remember how it goes. The naming of the animals. He is to find some word that expresses the essence of this creature's being. I don't know how long it took and I don't know how the process was. It's amusing to try and imagine it–chicken, bear, octopus–it's amusing to try and even imagine. Of course it wasn't in English.
Well, what's the point of the story? Look at verse 18 of chapter 2. “Then the Lord said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.’” Now you have to understand the shock of that negative. It is not good. All through chapter one, in the first creation story at verses 4,12, 18, 21, 25, we read that repeating phrase, “and it was good.” Then by the climax of verse 31, “it was very good.” And now in chapter two, verse 18, “it was not good.” It was good, it was good, it was good, it was very good; it was not good. And what is it that was not good? It is the sense that Adam is alone. You know, when Adam named all these creatures something would have come to him. You wouldn't need to have had super intelligence–they all came in pairs–two chickens and two bears, two cows and two sheep and whatever. But he was alone. It was his “aloneness” that was not good. And what the second creation account seems to be bringing out is the principle that the creation of woman was in order to meet the need of companionship–to meet the problem of his aloneness.
You know what a terrible thing it is to be lonely? I've only really experienced it a couple of times in my life in an intense way. When you feel displaced, when you’re away from your family, you’re away from the circumstances that you know, and you’re in a strange environment and perhaps in a different job with different responsibilities and you've not been there very long and you just feel terribly alone. Ask a widow. I remember after a prayer meeting probably fifteen years ago, at the door of the church on a Thursday evening, saying to an elder of mine, Mr. Sampson, who lost his wife. A godly, godly, saint of a man, saying to him at the door, “You’ll be going home now, Mr. Sampson?” And he said to me, “No, it's not home anymore; it's just the place where I live.” And the pain of that sentence has stayed with me for fifteen years. He didn't mean it to sound that painful, I don't think. It was just a reflex of his loneliness that he’d lost the companion of his lifetime. And Genesis two is bringing out in this Dr. Doolittle story of naming the animals, that there was something about man–about Adam–that was incomplete without the creation of Eve.
There's a very particular word that was used about the creation of Eve, and that is that she will be a helper. In verse 18, “I will make him a helper suitable for him.” What does the word helper mean? Some will say, “You see this proves that women exist to help men.” And feminists will reply, “No, it means that men need help.” And we are to understand that helper is actually a word that God uses about Himself. God is Israel's helper. On at least four occasions in the Old Testament, God says about Himself that He is Israel's helper. One must be strong in order to help. Have you ever tried to help your son or daughter with their math homework? You need to know more than they do in order to help them. You need a certain amount of ability and you need a certain amount of strength in order to be a helper.
Two extremes need to be avoided. To correct one we need to say that women are able to help because they are strong. And to correct the other, we need to say women must be willing to help. You know, in God's world the Almighty is a helper and the Lord is a servant. Subordination does not mean inferiority. In the gender wars so much would be gained if we remembered that. And while the notions of authority and subordination are undoubtedly present, it's not the chief thing. When we read that Eve will be Adam's helper, she enables Adam to enjoy a relationship together. Together they will enjoy intimacy and deep companionship and here, in this woman, is someone to whom Adam can relate and open up to, in whose life he will discover things about himself that he would never have known apart from her.
The purpose for the creation of Eve was in one sense to enable Adam to grow, and without her there would always be something missing. You know that's the greatest test we can apply in contemplating marriage. Let me speak to you younger folks–or maybe you’re not younger–but you’re just contemplating marriage. Is this someone whose companionship and presence in my life will enable me to grow–will enable me to flourish as a Christian in a way that I could never do on my own? That's a great test, isn't it, when you’re thinking about someone to marry. Not how handsome they are; not how pretty they look; not about how much money they've got in the bank; not simply about work and vocation and stability–all of those things may well be important in their own place–but will this person and my companionship with this person and his or her companionship with me–will it enable me to grow? Will it enable me to blossom as a Christian in a way that perhaps I could never do by myself?
III. The principle of
If the first principle is the principle of co-regency and the second principle is the principle of companionship, the third is the principle of complementarity. Ligon had an alliterative sermon this morning, so I'm doing my best to have three c's: co-regency, companionship, and complimentarity. Now what do I mean? And you need to turn now to 1 Corinthians 11. It's a difficult chapter, but it's a chapter in which Paul picks up on the reference that Moses makes in Genesis, chapter 1, to man and woman being created in the image of God and after the likeness of God.
Now you need to divorce, for a minute or two, the background of 1 Corinthians 11–it's about hairstyles and veils or whatever--but we’ll put all of that aside for a minute, because Paul is trying to say that though man and woman were created in different ways, they were created for mutual dependence upon each other. Now look at verse 3. “I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.” Now jump down to verse 7. Ignore the context for a minute, and see what Paul goes on to say in this principle. “A man ought not to have his head covered “(ignore that)”since–here's the principle–he is the image and glory of God and the woman is the glory of man.” Paul is making an argument, but he's basing it on this fundamental truth: that Adam was created first and that Eve was created out of Adam. And Adam is the image and glory of God and the woman is the glory of man.
Now, is Paul saying that the woman is not the image of God? No, of course not! That's not what he's saying. What is he saying? He's saying that a woman enables a man to shine in a way that, without her, he could never do so. You know, we have this expression–speaking sometimes of our wives and sometimes we say it in jest–but there's a sense in which it is absolutely true. And it is, I think, the principle that Paul is working on in 1 Corinthians 11. “She is my better half.” She makes me out to be better than I really am. Adam is the image and glory of God, and Eve is the glory of Adam. A woman makes a man appear better than he otherwise would be.
We see three things: 1. Treat your spouse like royalty. Ask yourself tonight as you go home, “How am I going to do that?” 2. Husbands, treat your wives as your best friend–as your companion, as your very best friend. 3. Men, think of your wives as your better half. And you know, if you apply those three biblical principles to your marriage, I'm absolutely convinced that you will grow–grow to image Christ more and more.
Let's pray together.
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