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God’s Purpose and Plan for Gender

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
May 20, 2022 9:00 am

God’s Purpose and Plan for Gender

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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May 20, 2022 9:00 am

Today we’re jumping into the delicate and controversial subject of the biblical roles of husbands and wives. Whether you’re single, married, divorced, or widowed, you’ll wanna listen!

Summit Life
J.D. Greear
Focus on the Family
Jim Daly
Delight in Grace
Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston

Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. I can assure you, God is not a gopher who doesn't have the ability to help us. So when we say God is our help, we mean that there are things that God has that we lack. We are insufficient. God makes up the gap.

If anything, calling woman the helper implies a superiority in her, not him. Welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D. Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Today we're continuing our study of Ephesians chapter five called First Love.

And if you've missed any of the previous messages, you can find them at But right now we're jumping into a delicate and controversial subject. It's the biblical roles of husbands and wives.

And I'm sure you've heard talking points from all sides of this discussion. So whether you're single, married, divorced, or widowed, you'll want to keep listening. Pastor J.D. titled this message God's Purpose and Plan for Gender. You'll know what God's design is for the home and his purpose is for marriage. You see, the ancient view of marriage was that marriage was primarily functional. It gave you economic stability. It was a way that you would have children so that they would take care of you in your old age and perpetuate your name after you were gone. If you're a man, you're gonna prioritize a woman whose family was wealthy and a woman who had good birthing hips.

That would make sense if that was your purpose. The modern view of marriage is that marriage is about romantic fulfillment. So what you look for is the person who completes you. The person who just makes your heart flutter and makes all your dreams come true.

And you're just like, I want to wake up every day with this person because it's just endless, infatuated bliss. What Paul tells us in Ephesians five that neither of those things is the primary purpose God has for marriage. The primary purpose God had for marriage is preparing us for heaven.

And that leads me to perhaps the biggest point for our non-married community in this series. Whether you are married or not, God's goal for what he's doing in your life is the same. That goal is Christ's likeness.

Now he uses different means to get us there, but his goal is the same for us. I told you that marriage and biological family are not ultimate. Christ and the church are ultimate. Earthly marriage is just a shadow of our most ultimate union, which is our union to Christ. And our biological family, as important as it is, points us to our ultimate eternal family, which is the church. Paul says, Ephesians five, this is the mystery of marriage and the family. So whether or not you are in a nuclear family right now or in a marriage, what God is doing in our lives is the same. He is preparing us for our eternal marriage to Christ and our eternal family, the church.

He's just using different means to get us there. Ephesians 5 verse 21, I hope you found it by now. Ephesians 5 21, we've been in this passage every week, I hope it's good and scarred up in your Bible, but let me read the first few verses again. Wives, verse 22, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church's body and is himself its savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Now I pointed out to you in the very first week that when somebody wants to diss the Bible, this is always one of their go-to verses. I see it on TV all the time, like, oh, you can't possibly believe the Bible? It actually says, and then they'll quote some version of this verse. Well first, I want you to understand, God's word is given to us for our good and for his glory, and inevitably, you're going to find things in the word of God that you're not going to agree with, and when you do, you're going to have to make a decision. And that is, are you going to revise what you believe based on what God's word says, or are you going to revise God's word based on your preconceived notions of what you think is right and wrong? Don't be ignorant and think that we're the first people in the world to ever be offended by the Bible. The Bible offends our culture in some very unique ways, but the Bible is an equal opportunity offender, offending all generations and all cultures just in different places and different ways.

And you've got to make a fundamental decision. I'm not claiming that my interpretation is 100% correct all the time by any means, but I am saying there's got to be a general approach to the word of God that says, this is your word, it is for our good, it is for your glory. And where it says one thing and I think another, you're right and I'm wrong. The other thing I told you is you have to really pay attention to the context of this verse, and most people don't. The context of this verse is this verse, verse 22, comes right after verse 21. Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. The word submit that is used in verse 22, when he tells the wife to submit, is the same one that's used in verse 21.

In fact, in Greek, the sentence in verse 22 reaches back to verse 21 to borrow the verb through a very complex Greek structure that I do not have time to explain to you this weekend. But the point is that the command that is given to the woman to submit is a specific application of a principle that is given to all believers in verse 21. Submit is a military term, which means to submit your agenda to the greater whole. In the military, you don't ever respond to an order by saying, ugh, that didn't really work for me. That's not going to be good for my agenda and the purposes that I have.

No, you submit your agenda to the purposes of the army and you follow that agenda, even if it means it costs you your life. So when Paul tells the husband to lay down his life for his wife, he's taking this concept of submission and saying it's not about you, it's about the purposes of the whole. So Paul is making a specific application to the wives of a principle given to both husband and wife. Both husband and wife are submitting to each other just in different ways.

Which brings me to a second point. It is equally wrong to deny, however, in this passage that men and women are not given specific, differing commands to follow here. The woman is told in this passage to submit twice.

The man is told to submit once. The wife is told to submit to her husband, verse 21, by submitting herself, verse 22, and her agenda to the man and following his lead. The man is told to submit to his wife, verse 21, by functioning as her head, verse 25, like Christ is of the church, and laying down his life for his wife, like Christ laid down his life for the church.

Now, let's unpack those more. Ephesians 5, 23. Man is called the head. Scholars point out that the word head can imply one of two things. The word kephale in Greek can either mean source or it can imply authority.

In actuality, head, kephale, means both because one implies the other. The source of something is typically its authority. For example, if I were an English teacher and we were in English class and we were looking at a poem and we were talking about the poem and what a particular phrase meant, you're like, well, I think it means this.

And I'm like, well, I think it means this over here. And you and I are going through why we think that if the author of that poem walks in, then our interpretation ceases because the author is there and they are the authority on what they wrote. In fact, author and authority share the same root word because the author of something is the authority. If you read the account of man's creation, you see that when God created the woman, he made her from the man. He didn't just make her independently.

He made her from the man, then gave him the responsibility to name her, both of which give him a clear leadership responsibility in the relationship. God had put man in charge of naming the entire creation. You ever wonder why God did that? I mean, why did God put man in charge of naming the creation? Is it because God was tired and out of creativity? He was like, oh, after building the subatomic particle, I'm just out of ideas. And so, Adam, you need to name some things because I think you're a threat.

No, of course not. God gave man the responsibility to name the creation because naming yields a shaping power. Naming is an authority. Naming implies a headship. So Adam names all the animals, and when God made the woman, verse 18, verse 23 says he brings her to the man so that he can name her.

That's important. Let me give you five leadership roles the man was given to lead in right out of Genesis 2. Five things you'll see in there that man was supposed to lead in.

Number one, provision. The man already had a job that the woman was brought into. Man in verse 16 is already keeping the garden. Verse 18 is when she's created. God brought the woman into a place where the man was already providing.

Number two, spiritual leadership. When the woman was brought into the world, the man already had a relationship with God. Verse 16, chapter 2 says that God had given the command not to eat of the forbidden tree to the man before he created the woman in verse 18. Which means that after the woman was created, man had to relay the command to her. The first man was given the privilege and the responsibility of leading his wife into a relationship with God and explaining God's ways to her. Number three, he was to lead in romance. Verse 24, after the woman is created, God says to Adam, for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. The man is the one taking the initiative. The man is the one leaving and cleaving.

He is the one inviting her into a stable home where she will be safe and protected. In fact, the first recorded words of mankind in the Bible is verse 24, a love poem that the man composed of the woman. This is now a bone in my bone and flesh in my flesh.

By the way, there is no possible way. That's all he said. We're talking a perfectly made woman built by the hand of God.

First time man's ever laid eyes on her, she's completely naked and you're telling me that's what he said? There's a lot more in that that God just did not choose to record for us because the Bible's written for everybody. But he composed a love poem.

He's taking the initiative in romance. We'll get right back to today's teaching in just a moment, but first let me tell you about our latest resource created exclusively for our Summit Life listeners. It's a 15-day devotional for all of us who live distracted lives, and it covers the topics of relationships, faith, rest, and even parenting. You know, daily devotions offer a chance to dig deeper into Scripture and can help you get in the habit of regular Bible reading. Maybe this resource is a group study, something you can share with those closest to you. In fact, the conversation cards that come with it are a perfect addition for any group study setting.

Whatever it looks like for you, we'd like to encourage you to reserve your copy today by calling 866-335-5220 or visit us online at Thanks for being with us today. Now let's get back to the final moments of today's message. Number four, he was to lead in protection. When God says he should cleave to his wife, he's becoming one body with her. Paul picks up on that in Ephesians 5 and says he should love his wife like she's part of his own body and like you take care of your own body.

That's protection. In fact, Paul's going to go on in Ephesians 5 to say that he should lay down his life for her to protect her, which leads me to number five, he is to lead in self-sacrifice. The model for all of this, Paul says, is Christ who laid down his life for his bride and leveraged all his power to serve and to protect and to exalt and to bless her.

Men, if you want a job description and you want a way to evaluate how well you are doing, you should map these five things out and just see how well you're doing and leading in them. I was talking to one of our church leaders the other day, a lay leader, who was explaining to me that his life and he were having trouble getting pregnant. They believe that God wanted them to have children, but it's just not happening. He said, here's what we're doing and how we're praying about this. Then he says, we have determined that if God doesn't give it to us this way, I've heard about the sex slave trade and how many girls from a particular region of the world, how many of them end up in this slave trade. He said, we're going to adopt from that region of the world. He says, I realize that that's maybe what God is doing. He's giving us an opportunity.

What better way to leverage our family than to rescue people from the slave trade by adopting them? As I'm listening to him, I thought, that's a man because he is doing exactly what God put him here on earth to do. He is what we call a servant leader. A servant leader is someone who takes initiative for the benefit of others. What you see is that this is where mankind, men, males, have failed mostly over the years.

We've either not taken initiative, period, or we've taken initiative for the benefit of ourselves. We were to be servant leaders, which means that we were there giving leadership to take responsibility and initiative for the benefit of others. The woman in Genesis 2 is called the helper. The helper. Now, the word helper in Hebrew is a very difficult word to translate. It's not a good translation in English to say helper because helper in English has a very diminutive term. Some people read that word helper and they think, well, that's got to mean that men do the real work in the world and women make the coffee. But that is not at all the implication of the Hebrew word etzer, which we translate as helper.

Here's how I know that. Etzer is a word that occurs frequently in the Bible and almost every other time it refers not to the woman but to God. Like a lot of the verses that you and I love from the Psalms, God is our helper and our help and our strength and our deliverance.

Help and deliverance are etzer. I can assure you God is not a gopher who doesn't have the ability to help us. So when we say God is our help, we mean that there are things that God has that we lack. We are insufficient.

God makes up the gap. If anything, calling woman the etzer, the helper, implies a superiority in her, not him. Because it means that he is incomplete and he is insufficient without her. Back in Genesis 1 26, it says, in the image of God, he created them. Male and female, he created them. God took the two genders and he divided up his attributes into the two genders so that the two of them together would be a better reflection of the image of God than would one gender be by itself. God put part of himself that the man needs, that he's incomplete without, into the woman. So the two are necessary and they are interdependent. The two of you are not exactly the same.

If you were exactly the same, then one of you would be unnecessary. In fact, in Genesis 2, there's a very interesting disruption in the flow of the narrative after God creates the man. After God creates everything in Genesis 1 and 2, he gives the phrase, and it was good.

It was good, it was good, it was good, it was good. But all of a sudden, he creates the man and he's like, oh, not good. So then what God does, he puts the man to sleep, he makes the woman, and then he brings her to the man.

If he had made another exactly like the man, then that would have been, oh, not good, oh, not good, not good. But he made the woman differently so that when the two were together, the two of them together would be good. God made the two genders to be a more complete presentation of the image of God than one of them alone. And he did so by making them complementary. For a while, it became very popular that gender was merely a sociological construct, that male and female are exactly the same, just with a different plumbing system.

But almost nobody believes that anymore. Biologists have demonstrated that every cell in our body is stamped either XX or XY. God did not take one generic body, screw in two different set of pipes to them, and just call that two different genders, as if we could just change the piping, pump in a few hormones, and change our gender.

Genesis 1.26 says that from the beginning, God made them male and female. I read an article recently about how boys and girls, from their infancy, approach problems differently. For example, one of the examples they used, you put an obstacle in the path of an infant boy, the boy will knock it down. You put the same obstacle in the path of an infant girl, and she will go around it. Girls like complexity. Infant boys do not. When jazz music is played, the heartbeat of a six-month-old girl speeds up.

There is virtually no effect on the heart of the boy at six months old. From these differences comes some of the greatest blessings and some of the greatest challenges in marriage. You know that. One of the greatest pieces of advice I got when I got married was one of my mentors sat down my future wife and I, Veronica and I, and she said, you've got to understand that in this marriage, he's like a dog and you're like a cat. And I was like, well, you know, what does that mean? He said, well, he looked at my wife, he said, how do you make a dog happy? And she said, I don't know, he said, you do three things. You feed it, you praise it, and you play with it. If you do those three things, this is going to be a happy man. They looked at me and said, how do you make a cat happy?

Nobody really knows. And whatever works one time probably ain't going to work a second time. And he said, so you're just going to have to go into it with that understanding. Now, listen, I know that's a stereotype, and I know plenty of marriages where that doesn't apply, but the stereotype comes from somewhere because God made us differently. Feminist Carol Gilligan, who is not an evangelical by any means, said in the book in a different voice, she said, listen to this, men see themselves as maturing as they separate. Women see themselves as maturing as they attach. Men feel they achieve maturity when they become independent. Women feel like they are becoming mature when they become interdependent.

Now, here's a question. Which one of those is better? Is it better to feel mature as you're becoming interdependent, or is it better to feel mature as you're becoming independent? Which one's better? Neither.

Because both of them are good. The two genders are a more complete view of the image of God than would one gender be by itself. If the two of you were exactly the same, one of you would have been unnecessary. Ancient Jewish rabbis used to point out that God did not take woman from man's head to rule over him, like the feminists say, but he also didn't take woman from man's foot so that he could rule over her, like the chauvinists say. He didn't create woman from man's front to lead him, nor from his back to follow him.

He took woman from the man's side to complete him. Not only were men and women created differently, we find they were cursed differently. Tim Keller points out that in Genesis 3, when God cursed the man for his rebellion, what was the curse given to man? His headship over the world was cursed. The world, God said, would now rebel against his rule.

The ground would frustrate him. God's curse of the woman was different. God said to the woman, Genesis 3, that desire you have to complete your husband, that's going to become a desire for your husband, and he will rule over you.

With the fall, listen to this, our gifts became idols. Masculine independence became autonomy and then tyranny. Feminine interdependence became absolute dependence, or codependence, or even masochism.

And that ranges all the way from a girl who just wants a guy to take care of her, she wants a father figure who's just going to take care of her because she doesn't feel like she can take care of herself, to a girl who puts up with abuse because she is so desperate for the attention and the presence of a man. Both conservatives and feminists forget something important about the Genesis 2 and 3 story. The feminists forget that our differences can be helpful, but the traditionalists forget that these tendencies have been cursed. Saying that the biblical view of the family is this macho, ruling guy and this quiet little coffee-getting wife is probably more in line with the curse than it is with the biblical ideal. In fact, here's a very important observation that you do not hear made very often about Genesis 2 or Ephesians 5. Very few details are given in Ephesians 5, or Genesis 2 for that matter, about what headship and submission actually look like. Paul says God created man as the head of the marriage and the woman submits to him. But Paul does not go into any detail about what that actually means. Genesis 2 doesn't either.

That's intentional, because it looks different in different relationships based on the personality of the two people involved. You see, when a lot of conservatives start to apply this passage, you'll hear them start going out of the text. They'll start to say things like, well, what this means is that the woman's got to stay at home and not work. Well, what about in Proverbs 31, where the woman is very proficient at her job and makes thousands of dollars? Oh, what this passage means is that women should raise the kids while the man just focuses on making money. All right, well, why don't you read into the next chapter, Ephesians 6, where it talks about the discipline of children and look at the first word that's used when it comes to discipline of children.

Fathers are the one who were to lead in the discipline of their children. What this means, listen, headship and submission are gonna look different in every marriage. And I can't tell you exactly what it's gonna look like in your marriage. I'm just gonna let you figure that out, all right? But I can tell you a few things submission does not mean.

And then I'll give you one that it does. Submission does not mean the inferiority of the woman. It does not mean the inferiority of the woman because everything in Genesis 2 screams equality. Jesus was fully God, yet he voluntarily submitted himself to the Father who was also God. Did the fact that he submitted to God imply an inferiority in his part?

No, because God could not be inferior to God because that would make him not God anymore and God cannot cease to be God and still be God. So the fact that he voluntarily submitted himself to the Father was not an assault on his dignity. The fact that the woman is told in Ephesians 5 to submit to the man is not an assault on her dignity either. On the contrary, it makes you more like Jesus when you do it.

I encourage you to take these principles and wrestle with them, working out what this looks like in your marriage. You're listening to Pastor J.D. Greer on Summit Life. When you give to Summit Life, you're not giving to us.

You're actually giving to people across the country and even around the world. Help us continue reaching your fellow listeners by joining the team of gospel partners who make this ministry possible. As a token of our thanks, we'll send you monthly resources, including The Current Resource, an exclusive new Summit Life devotional. It's a 15-day study for all of us who live distracted lives, and it covers the topics of relationships, faith, rest, and even parenting. It also comes with a set of 20 conversation cards to help facilitate deep conversations on topics that matter to us, but more importantly, that matter to God.

Call us right away at 866-335-5220, or give and request your set online at While you're on the website, you can also sign up for our email list to get ministry updates, information about new resources, and Pastor J.D. 's latest blog post delivered straight to your inbox.

Sign up when you go to I'm Molly Benovitch. Glad you joined us this week on the program, and we'll see you next week as we wrap up this teaching series on relationships here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-16 03:49:20 / 2023-04-16 03:59:51 / 11

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