This article summarizes a few truths from our sermon series, Building Blocks of the Family [Link to sermon] and lays a foundation of how we can process and think through the issues of manhood and womanhood.
There was a time in our culture when biblical teaching on gender identity wasn’t a flash point. A boy was a boy; a girl was a girl, and both the Bible and culture agreed. Those days have passed. In spite of the clear biological distinctions, popular culture has thrown the once obvious marker of gender into the tumultuous waters of self-identification.
Though many cultural voices have sought to normalize these behaviors and define gender according to self-discovery, we as a church family are guided by the Word of God. We believe that the Bible is the only divinely inspired, inerrant, written revelation of who God is, who we are, and how we are to live in His world. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
So, as we approach the important distinctions between manhood and womanhood, let’s consider four foundational truths about our Creator, God…
1. God has dominion over all he created (Genesis 1:1-2, 24-27).
God existed before anything or anyone else was on the scene. This fact is mystifying. We want to know a thing’s starting point so we can measure, predict, and control it. God is eternal and He can’t be controlled. God created everything out of nothing. Today, we create things like iPhones, meals, amicus briefs, and design–one of the many differences between us and God is that God created everything out of nothing and we create things out of the things that God has made. He has dominion. God has creator rights over male and female; authority over male and female.
2. God has intentionally created us male and female (Genesis 1:24-27).
God created all things, but not all things are equal in design and function. The trees and animals were created according to their kind, but we were created according to His kind! God created us in His own image and likeness. God created two image bearers, stamped with His likeness to point to Him: male and female. He created two image bearers because one alone couldn’t tell the most complete story. Each serves as a picture frame through which we learn things about God! Each was created differently: weight, body shape, muscle mass, hormones, nurturing, focus, communication, risk. God designed us differently to complement each other in showcasing His glory.
3. Sin has destroyed the harmony of our created differences (Genesis 3:16; 4:7).
For a time, this man and woman lived in perfect harmony (unified diversity). Then Satan presented Eve with a question that led her to doubt the certainty of God’s word. “Did God actually say?” He enticed them not to be content as image bearers, but instead to desire to be like God, capable of redesigning things. This was appealing, so they sinned against God and things unraveled. Shame replaced trust. Isolation replaced affection. Blaming replaced responsibility. Then came the curse. Our sin comes with a penalty. Our affections become misdirected meaning that we love the wrong things in the wrong ways. In our sin, we reinterpret reality according to our own preferences and recreate God in our own image. When sin reigns we exploit one another’s weaknesses with our God-given strengths. This destroys harmony.
4. God rescues our created differences in Christ (Genesis 3:15).
As sin unraveled the harmony of creation, God promised a Rescuer. After living without sin, Jesus gave His life for us. Three days later He rose from the dead. He did this to secure forgiveness for us. He did this to give us the strength to forgive. He did this to rescue every part of His design that was ravaged by sin, including being male and female. If you will admit, believe, and confess Him as Lord, He will forgive you and change your life, starting with your heart’s affections.
This brief summary of what God has done is the gospel: God created us, God desires a good relationship with us as we live according to His Word, we have made a mess of things in our sin, and God is gracious to send Jesus to be our Savior. The only way we know this story is through the Bible.
We are called to continue declaring the whole counsel of God, including truth about God’s design for us as male and female persons created in His image and for His glory (Acts 20:27).
So, how do we navigate discussions of manhood and womanhood in the turbulent waters of our culture?
Like sailors trying to find their way through the dark night, we look to the bright north star of God’s Word and navigate according to the light it provides. This gives us a sure anchor outside of ourselves with which to trust and depend, an unchanging guide that is not subject to our whims and fantasies. The Bible is the true story of the whole world. It tells the story of who we are, what has gone wrong, what life is all about, and what happens in the end. Said another way, the truths of the Bible form our north star–they help us navigate dark and complex situations, like understanding gender in the turbulent waters of our popular culture.
How do we love people who are lost in the turbulent waters of our culture?
First, we love people who struggle with gender identity. We love them because we all have a condition that sets us at odds with the One who made us. We welcome them to our church, as they respond to the gospel with faith and repentance, and receive them into the family. Second, we protect people from any physical or digital act of abuse or ridicule. Third, we show compassion for anyone experiencing distress regarding gender identity. Only those humble enough to see their own struggles will be capable of walking with people through struggles that seem very different from our own. Fourth, we continue declaring the whole counsel of God, including the truth about God’s design for us as male and female persons created in His image.