Some recent videos have highlighted our culture’s confusion on gender and identity. The Bible has a great deal to say about gender. So does our culture. But if we really believe that God has revealed himself through the Bible, then we must take seriously what the Bible says about gender. Here are 2 basic definitions of what God intends men and women to do.
Biblical Manhood: Creating culture by initiating and protecting worship.
In Genesis 1-2, Adam is created in God’s image. He is special and unique from everything else God created. As an image-bearer, he is given a leadership role over all of creation, exercising God-given dominion over God’s world. He is put in charge of creation, but not in an abusive, domineering, self-centered way. Rather, the dominion he is given is to promote growth and flourishing. He’s called to “work and keep the garden”.
“Work” has to do with initiating. He’s supposed to “be fruitful and multiply”. Make culture. Take sounds, and make music. Take trees, and make houses. To use the good raw material God has given him and to make it into something that benefits the world.
He’s supposed to take the goodness of the garden OUT into the rest of the world. He is also told to “keep” the garden. In other words, protect its original purposes. He isn’t just supposed to make culture, he’s supposed to make sure that it stays on track to achieve its vision to glorify God and help the world flourish and grow.
That’s exactly why God has Adam name the animals. He is practicing. He is looking at God’s creation, getting a vision for what that animal is intended to be and defining it. Then, in his dominion over those animals, he is to be sure that animal is cared for and allowed to do what God made it to do.
In other words, Adam did exactly what God did. God didn’t just create the world and then step away from it—he stayed intimately involved. Men don’t bail—they initiate and protect. They don’t look out for themselves—they look after what God has given them the responsibility to care for.
Culture tells men to buy a big truck and build a sick man cave, lift some weights, punch another dude in the mouth, and grow a Duck Dynasty beard. He worships himself and looks in the mirror more than he looks to the heavens.
Manhood is not about how you dress or groom your facial hair. Its not about how deep your voice is or how much you know about sports. Manhood is using your power to initiate and protect the worship of God in all your relationships. Scripture tells men to give their lives away, lift others’ burdens, pick up those who get knocked down, and grow cultural epicenters for the glory of God. A godly man worships the one true God and invites others to look upward with him.
Biblical Womanhood: Creating culture by powerfully helping.
Genesis 2:18 shows God, for the first and only time, say that what he’s created is “not good.” It was not good for Adam to be alone. He needed a complement, “a helper fit for him”—so God gave him Eve. The word “fit” literally means opposite- like an interlocking puzzle piece.
While Adam was called to create culture by initiating and protecting, Eve was called to help him complete his mission to create culture. Though he was the God-called leader, he couldn't do it alone. He needed Eve.
Every Christian woman knows Proverbs 31. Somewhere, you have a crocheted quilt with that verse chapter on it. In that proverb there is a description of an “excellent” woman. This Hebrew word, chayil, basically describes someone who is able to use her power or abilities well. That’s exactly what we see in the Proverbs 31 woman. She is a life-skills ninja—she runs a business while raising kids and drawing praise from her husband. But Godly womanhood isn’t about doing everything, but using your gifts and abilities to empower others to worship God.
Culture tells women to lose weight, pucker their lips, do the squat-with-your-booty-out Instagram pose, or to be Ms. Independent-I-Don’t-Need-A-Man. Scripture tells women to lose themselves, put down their phones and pick up others’ downtrodden spirits, and realize that being a “helper” means that they’re walking in the steps of the true Helper, the Holy Spirit, who empowers people to live God-centered lives.
Practically, this doesn’t boil down to a list of a few specific actions, but it does boil down to a kind of outward focus. Godly women ask the question often “Who is God calling me to run my power through? Is there an encouraging word that needs to be said? Is there a conversation I can have or an action I can take that will help awaken another person’s desire to walk closely with God and his church?”
At the end of the day, the differences between what a godly man and woman practically do can be subtle, and will be different from relationship to relationship and person to person. Many times, it has more to do with attitude and disposition than it does action. But, we should expect this; after all, both men and women are created for the same goal. Worship.
Men, don’t buy the salvation story culture is selling you. Life isn’t about building a 401K, running through as many girls as you can get into bed, or using your power to run over others. Instead, you are called by God to lay down your life for others, using your power for the good of others. Regardless of whether or not you ever get married or ever build a family, your basic calling from God won’t change.
Women, don’t buy the salvation story culture is selling you. Life isn’t about being pretty (in whatever way culture is defining “pretty” that week), pushing away family and men and anyone else who wants to “hold you down,” or even settling down and having kids. Instead, you are called to build others up and help others create culture. Regardless of whether or not you ever get married or ever live up to any other line of Proverbs 31, your basic calling from God won’t change.
Men and women, your basic calling is to trust in the power of God working through you, to love and serve and build up others. Your gender, your sexual orientation, your past and your present…none of these define you. God defines you. He didn't make a mistake in creating you male or female. He did it on purpose.
Remember, Culture didn’t create gender. Genders were created to make culture…together.
For more on this topic, listen to our sermon on gender roles here.