A couple months ago, near the beginning of our study on the family, I presented a message titled, “Man in God’s Image.” In that study, we looked at the creation of human beings in God’s image. We noted the likenesses of our Creator that we humans, both male and female, exhibit. They are – the eternal likeness; the moral likeness; and the physical likeness.
I explained my choice of words for being made in the physical likeness of God like this. God makes it clear to us in His Word that He is a spirit and does not inhabit a corporeal body. But is our physical body not part of our being made in His image? Even though God doesn’t have a physical body, He designed our bodies to do the things He can do. God can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste without having eyes, ears, nose, hands, or mouth. Whenever God or angels appear visibly to mankind it is the form of a human body! So, we conclude there is something uniquely appropriate in God manifesting Himself to us in this way.
In that study of man in God’s image, we didn’t look specifically at the unique ways in which male and female express the image of God. However, we have spent the past several weeks examining the Scriptures with a specific focus on men; their responsibilities, their roles, and relationships.
Today, we begin a series of teaching that will focus on what the Bible has to say about the responsibilities, roles, and relationships of women. I’m fully aware that this can be a touchy subject in our culture and even in the church. But since God’s Word gives us clear teaching in these areas, faithful teachers of the Word cannot ignore it! As is always my goal, I want to stay as close to the Scriptures as I possibly can.
For those of you who have been with me for this entire series of teaching on the family, you know we have spent considerable time in the opening chapters of Genesis. In placing our focus on the female members of human race, we must return to those foundational texts. It is here, in the original creation, both before and after sin entered the human family, that we learn so much of what God intended concerning roles, responsibilities, and relationships for women.
In light of this I will be reading Genesis 1:26-28 and 2:15-25. Please listen carefully as I read these words from God. That’s Genesis 1:26-28 and 2:15-25.
Heavenly Father, we are privileged to come to you through Jesus our Mediator. I ask your precious Holy Spirit to open our hearts to the truth revealed in these portions of Scripture. Help us to understand the unique and wonderful place you have for women in the home, the church, and society. And for this we will give you glory and praise through Jesus, Amen.
In the Genesis account of creation of we observe several ROLES of biblical womanhood.
The First ROLE is,
A Divinely Designed Helper
In Genesis 2:18 God says, “It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make him a helper comparable to him.” As God surveyed his creation, He revealed to us his thoughts and intentions; it was neither desirable nor profitable for Adam to remain alone. The creation of woman was not an afterthought for God! Exactly why God chose to create woman in the way He did and His timing in the matter were surely part of his divine plan.
In this statement we see again the desire God has for relationship. I said in an earlier message that one of the reasons God created humans in the first place was for fellowship. God is perfectly sufficient in all things in Himself. He needs nothing! Yet the fact that He created mankind reveals His desire to share Himself and His love with those who are capable of entering into a relationship with Him where that love can be returned. As God enjoyed the unity and fellowship of the Trinity, He created man to enjoy fellowship too.
The phrase we want to focus on is “…I will make a helper comparable for him.” First, God said He would make a helper for Adam. According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, the Hebrew word ezer “designates the assistant (rather than the assistance) and is generally used to designate divine aid; including both material and spiritual.” So, Eve was specifically designed by God to be Adam’s assistant in every area of life.
And, God said she would be a suitable, or comparable, helper. The Hebrew word neged means “the part opposite; or specifically, a counterpart.” The root of this Hebrew word means “to place a matter high, conspicuously, before a person. What I gather from this is that God was making woman opposite in gender but a complementary companion. She would embody what Adam lacked. And because of her conspicuous position, her prominent position in Adam’s world, whenever he looked at her he would be reminded of God’s gracious provision of a helper.
To make this comparable helper, God didn’t use the same materials he used for Adam. No dust of the earth here! Instead, God put Adam into a “deep sleep,” a divine anesthesia or coma. While Adam slept, God took a portion of Adam’s side and used the flesh and bone to create Eve. Perhaps this is why we sometimes refer to our wives as “our better half.”
It is interesting to note that with the exception of Adam, all men are born of women. But Eve was created out of Adam’s side. Adam literally gave life to Eve, his bride. This was an illustration of the second Adam, Jesus Christ, whose side would be opened for His bride, the Church. His willingness to sleep (that is, to die on the cross) and to be awakened in God’s divine timing (the resurrection), gave life to each of us who are part of His bride.
Eve was constructed of material taken from Adam’s side. It was not material from his head or his feet. Eve was not designed to be superior or inferior to Adam; she was equal in worth. Remember, we said she was Adam’s counterpart, his assistant. She was created out of his side to be at his side and to assist him in carrying out the divine commission to fill the earth with more human beings and bring it into subjection. She was a divinely designed helper.
The Second ROLE is,
A Personally Identified Companion
After God was finished building Eve, He brought her to Adam. With a little sanctified imagination, we can visualize Adam coming out of his divine anesthesia. As his vision clears he sees before him a creature more beautiful and lovely than anything he observed in the animal kingdom. He intuitively understands that she is both from him and for him, and he breathlessly exclaims; “Wow, man!”
Notice what Adam said. “This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called, Woman because she was taken out of man.” Evidently, after viewing all the animals in pairs and naming them, Adam had been longing for a suitable helper. Now, at last, here she is standing before him in all the exquisite charm and beauty of a godly woman. A perfect match: and she belongs to him! Not in the sense of property to be controlled, but in the sense of personhood to be cherished.
I cherish my relationship with my wife, Joyce. I sometimes think about how I’d respond if she would be taken from me by death. I think all men should consider this occasionally because it helps us to appreciate more deeply what we already have. Recently, I heard the testimony of a man who unexpectedly lost his wife. He said, “The things I thought I would miss the most, now that she’s gone, aren’t important. What I miss the most is her companionship; just having her here with me.” As I reflect on this possibility in my own relationship, I’ve come to a similar conclusion. My wife is such a part of who I am, that losing her would be losing part of myself.
Men, Adam had no choice in the one he received as his bride. Yet God made the perfect choice for him. Those of us who are married most likely initiated the relationship, and rightly so. We chose the one we believed God would have us to marry; the one who could complement us and make both our lives more effective in the service of the Lord. While your wife was not created in the same way that Eve was, she is still the helper God designed for you. Do you cherish her as God’s gift to you personally? Are you finding her personal companionship to be divinely designed for your needs? If not, I suggest you take a closer look at yourself and how you are relating to her.
The Final ROLE (in biblical womanhood) is,
A Uniquely Appointed Procreator
Because woman is a divinely designed helper, and because she is a personally identified companion, therefore (verse 24) “…a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” This important passage establishes the nature of marriage, right here at the beginning of the human family! A new family unit is created, and the marriage bond is to be permanent until death. Jesus reaffirmed this truth in the opening verses of Matthew chapter 19.
In his book, “The Genesis Record,” Henry Morris writes, “It is significant that ethnologists and anthropologists find evidence that monogamous, permanent marriage has everywhere been considered as the ideal and preferred form of family life. True happiness, true fulfillment, true accomplishment of God’s purposes necessarily involves obedience to God’s primal command. The believing Christian who seeks to do His Lord’s will in all things, will certainly desire to follow His will in this most basic and important of all earthly relationships.”
You may recall that in our opening Scripture I read Genesis 1:26 to 28. The command God gave to “…be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion…” was given to both Adam and Eve. As a result of Adam and Eve cleaving to each other and becoming “one flesh,” this command to “fill the earth” could now be carried out. It is true that becoming “one flesh” has greater implications and applications than the sexual union alone. However, the most visible result of the conjugal act is the procreation of children. And that is, I believe, just what God intended.
As we have noted repeatedly in this study on family relationships, mankind is the only part of creation made in God’s image and likeness. Therefore, the purpose of procreation among human beings is more than simply the propagation of the species. It gives human beings the opportunity and privilege of partnering with God in the creation of other human beings made in His likeness! God’s goal is that the earth would eventually be filled with those who will worship and praise Him. In God’s plan, children are not incidental to marriage; they are an essential part of it.
Sadly, many professing Christ-followers are rejecting both this blessing and command. An increasing number marry with a commitment to childlessness. This is contrary to God’s design and intention for both marriage and family. From my observation, it is usually embraced for selfish purposes. What many do not understand is that you cannot violate God’s principles with impunity! When people choose to ignore or violate the principles of Scripture, their choices set in motion a series of consequences that will bear undesirable fruit in their lives.
Some may argue that these commands were given in a perfect environment. That’s true. But it is also true that the commands were never rescinded! The entrance of sin into the human family, which we will look at more closely at another time, only made the commands much more difficult to keep. In fact, they can only be kept by the grace of God and the enabling of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
The last verse of Genesis chapter two informs us that Adam and Eve “…were both naked…and were not ashamed.” Because there was no sin, there was no shame. There was no need to hide God’s glorious design that was so well suited to procreation. We must realize that sexual desire is not evil – it is a beautiful gift from God! But, like everything else touched by sin, fallen humans tend to corrupt God’s beautiful gifts.
Now, in relation to this role of being a uniquely appointed procreator, some may ask, “Are single women or married women who are unable to conceive somehow deficient?” Absolutely and emphatically, NO! While God’s normative standard for the human family is marriage and procreation, the fact that not all women are able to bear children is not their choice. These women are not intentionally doing things to prevent their participation in this unique role as procreators. They are open to the possibility, but somehow, God in His divine will has chosen to withhold that from them; either by keeping them single or closing their womb. Knowing some of these women personally allows me to see their struggle to accept God’s plan. I have been greatly blessed to see some of them, both single and married, pour their lives into other people’s children.
Modern feminism has ridiculed and tried desperately to defame those who exercise the God-given gift of procreation. Feminists have tried to convince women that choosing to have children makes them second-class. They encourage women to climb the corporate ladder, be financially independent; don’t be attached to one man for life. But interestingly, even after decades of this drum beat of negativity regarding marriage and children, many women who have successfully climbed the career ladder still want to have a family. This drives feminist leaders batty, but it is not at all surprising. God has programmed motherhood into the female psyche. To remove it takes either an active struggle against God’s design, or a willing submission to his choice to withhold that privilege.
Women, God has made each one of you very special. You are the crowning work of His creation. And God has designed and equipped you to be a life-bearer, a co-creator with Him. Your uniqueness as a woman is unparalleled in creation. Your ability as a godly woman to inspire and encourage your husband is unmatched. Your companionship is a prized possession. And your godly counsel and feminine intuition give great assistance to your husband as he seeks to lead you and your family into a deeper understanding of God’s plan for your lives. As you seek to fulfill the roles for which God has designed you, may He bless and reward your faithfulness as only He can!