Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Different by Design

Leslie Basham: As a woman, you’re different from the men in your life. Pastor Alistair Begg says that’s not a bad thing.

Pastor Alistair Begg: The distinctions between men and women are in-built human characteristics programmed in, designed purposefully by God. In other words, we can say that—irrespective of what may be shouted at us across the hallways of our universities—the Bible is clear and affirming. God blessed man and woman by giving different—but complementary—functions . . . different but complementary . . . different by design.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of True Woman 101, for Tuesday, June 26, 2018.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Here at Revive Our Hearts, we’re committed to bringing the truth of God’s Word to bear on the lies that we hear around us so frequently in different parts of our culture—and that it’s really easy for us to see ourselves believing as well.

One important area that we see this in is the matter of the way that God made us as women, the way God made men as men, and some of the different implications that go along with that.

If you missed yesterday’s program with Pastor Alistair Begg, I want to encourage you to go to ReviveOurHearts.com to hear what he shared. This is foundational for us to remember that God’s design is no accident. He made us purposefully to reflect His image.

And as we’ll hear today, from the beginning His design actually included differences between men and women. Now, it’s important for you to hear this: Different is not bad. Different doesn’t mean that somehow one gender is superior to the other. Adam and Eve had equal value before God—both precious in God’s sight, both created in His image.

Now, it’s true that sin has royally messed up the way that God originally made things! And Alistair’s going to address that later in this series. But for now, remember that different doesn’t imply that men are better than women or, for that matter, that women are better than men. So let’s dive into Genesis chapter 2 with Pastor Alistair Begg, who’s speaking to a group of women.

Pastor Begg: Genesis chapter 2 and verse:

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name" (vv. 18–19).

So if you ever wondered why it was called a hippopotamus, the answer is right here in 2:19. 

So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man." For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (vv. 15–25).

Now we have essentially done, in the first session, the hard work that is necessary in the building of a house. Long before ever you get even to the ground floor, there has to be the laying in of all of the irrigation, all of the essential supplies, all of the stuff that—frankly—has no aesthetic appeal to it at all . . . unless you are a very fixated engineer.

But for the average person, they say, “Can we cover that over as quickly as possible, and let’s at least get up into the basement, if not into the ground floor.” Of course, without the hard work being done and the care being given to all of those foundational engineering elements, to proceed too quickly to the basement, the ground floor and above will only be to create difficulties later on. And that’s the reason that that I have labored—and in some senses perhaps belabored—our opening session.

Those of you who are mothers are going to either instill this in your children or somebody else is going to instill something else in your children. A generation will grow up—your boys will grow up to be men, your girls will grow up to be women—and they will grow up to model, to display, the things that they have taken onboard as the underpinnings for femininity and for masculinity.

Remember that they’re growing up in a world where Freudianism and the kind of product of early nineteenth-century thought has now come to great fruition and is just flushing across the structures of education and the involvement of boys and girls in their relationships with one another.

Therefore, it’s good and important to go back to basics—to go back to the very beginning—and to notice how God is described here as putting together humanity—Mr. and Mrs. Adam.

If your Bible is open in Genesis 5, you will notice the description there:

This is the written account of Adam’s line. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. [And notice the immediate change to the plural.] He created them male and female . . . (vv. 1–2). 

When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, “. . . and blessed them. And when they [plural, male and female] were created,” He called them 'man.'" So they’re called Mr. and Mrs. Adam, if you like—not because she had taken his name from him, in the way that we do today, but simply because of their essential one-ness.

They are, in their femininity and masculinity, the unique components (as we said earlier this morning) of a single reality, the unique entity in all of creation, distinct from all of the other creatures over whom they are given jurisdiction. Man is made in the image of God.

Now, I want you to notice just three things, and I’ll try and work through the three things in a way that gives, perhaps, more cohesion than there was in the first hour.

First of all, I want us to notice that we are different—male and female—different by design. I’m going to refer frequently to these opening verses of Genesis, and now to verse 28 of Genesis 1.

God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

Now for those of you who live in Solon, Ohio and are, at the moment, concerned about the great advance in the deer population, I want you to know that Genesis chapter 1 speaks to the issue. It doesn’t give a definitive answer as to how it should be dealt with, but it says very clearly that there is no problem in dealing with it. 

Namely, that it is possible for man—as man, male and female—recognizing the dominion that has been given to us over the other creatures. We do not possess the right to abuse them or to misuse them. But there is not a problem, actually, in euthanizing them (which, of course, is a synonym for putting them down, getting rid of them).

So our view of the world actually affects all of our decision-making, even at the most—apparently—trivial level. Man and woman together are given the responsibility and the privilege of ruling over the rest of creation.

It is together, you will notice in verse 27 of chapter 1, that we reflect God’s image. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” This is very, very, very important because the average male chauvinist pig doesn’t understand this verse. If he doesn’t get a clear understanding of it, then he will be up on his high horse quite routinely propounding the notion that he was made in the image of God.

“I don’t know about you,” he may say to the females under his jurisdiction or within his precinct, “but I was made in the image of God!” Well, you just have to say to him, “Listen, cloth-ears, if you’d been paying attention a’ tall, you would understand that man, Mr. Adam—Mr. and Mrs. Adam, are male and female in the way in which it unfolds in Genesis 1.”

So that although Adam bears the name “man,” as the head of the race . . . His creation is first, there’s no question about that (we can feel bad about it, do whatever we like with it), but as head of the race, it requires both man and woman to express God’s image!

In other words, the only way we can understand what it means to be truly human is by looking both at masculinity and at femininity. In other words, true humanity is expressed in the bisexual nature of humanity.

Now, that’s not to say that the unmarried don’t possess the image of God, because what we’re seeing here—what the Bible is saying, namely—is that it is in the complementary nature of male and female that God’s image is manifested in their interwovenness. 

It would be wrong for us to suggest that somehow or another a single man or a single girl is somehow less than an expression of true humanity, because the marriage picture is only one of a number of pictures that are used (there is a governmental picture and so on) to express the nature of God’s revelation in this way.

So nobody needs to run home and say, “Well, I’m not in the image of God because I don’t have a husband, I don’t have a wife.” The fact of the matter is that God’s creation of humanity is expressed in the genders that are uniquely fashioned. And that is why you have both.

Now, having said that, there is clearly a distinct truth about the image of God that is represented and expressed—and safeguarded—in marriage. “The two shall become one.” In this co-mingling, in this co-union, there is something that is revealed about God that is mysterious.

It is the revealed secret to which Paul refers to in Ephesians 5. Remember he says, “This is a great mystery.” He says this is a mysterious thing, this two becoming one. “And I’m talking about Christ and the church” (see Eph. 5:32). Here in the co-mingling of male and female there is this amazing, mind-boggling notion of God having manifested Himself in humanity.

In the distinctions that exist between male and female there is a diversity that is unified—and there is a unity that is diversified. The distinctions between men and women are in-built human characteristics programmed in, designed purposefully, by God.

In other words, we can say that—irrespective of what may be shouted at us across the hallways of our universities—the Bible is clear and affirming. God blessed man and woman by giving different—but complementary—functions . . . different but complementary . . . different by design.

That’s why, in Genesis 1:31, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good”—including the essential differences between men and women!

Now, it is obvious that men and women are clearly not identical. You say, “Well, that’s the most brilliant thing you’ve said so far. That’s incredible! Where did you get that insight?!” (laughter)

Well, every small boy suddenly realizes, “I don’t look like my sister, and she doesn’t look like me.” Why? Just because somehow or another I got pushed further along the sliding scale of sexuality? Or because God uniquely fashioned me in terms of masculinity?

Now you say, “Is that important?” Well, it’s important on far more levels than the purely physical. Men and women are clearly not identical, and therefore they don’t have to function identically. If men and women are not identical, why do they have to do identical things?

Why is it that a man would somehow feel that he couldn’t possibly be truly a man unless he was doing what women do? Or that a lady is not really what she needs to be unless she can do what man does? Where does that notion come from? It doesn’t come from the Bible.

Traveling in upstate New York this year, I came on roadworks all the time. Sometimes I was stuck at the roadworks, waiting, and sometimes I was in the front of a line—as it happened—going back and forth on a particular journey. I think on every single occasion the person that was standing there with a big STOP sign and a helmet was a girl.

Now that’s fine, if that’s what she wants to do, but I said to myself, “Is this really what the feminist lobby was trying to achieve? (laughter) You know, so my daughter could grow up to hold a STOP sign, wear jeans and working boots, and drive around on a giant Caterpillar?” 

That’s okay, but the presupposition that is built into it is that somehow or another, unless the girl is able to take charge of that situation, unless she is able to embrace it, it will mean that she is less than she is supposed to be—or she has not championed life in the way that she needs to.

“No!”—says the Bible—“The difference is clear, and the differences are important. They’re important in life. They’re important in marriage, and they’re important in ministry.” And the complementary nature of things comes to the fore in the portion that we just read, didn’t it?

“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. [I'm going to] make a helper suitable for him’” (Gen. 2: 18). Now the way in which this unfolds is quite incredible, if you look at it.

In order to build a woman (and that actually is the verb in Hebrew), God has to make man incomplete. He takes something out of man, so man now is incomplete. He is then made complete in receiving back what was taken out from him.

The female is built in separation from her true origin or context, so that she will only come home—return to where and what she should be—in her understanding of her femininity in light of the reality of masculinity—whether that is living in singleness or whether that is living in marriage.

Any view that sidesteps that is deficient in relationship to what the Bible is saying. Physiology alone teaches us this: that we are so unbelievably different, by design.

The second thing we should notice is this, the difference by design is in order that there might be harmony, in order that everything may fit the way God intended it to fit.

Now, I’m not here to give a talk on human physiology or sexuality—you’ll be relieved to know—but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that human physiology seems perfectly suited to all that it would mean, physically, to be co-mingled in a one-flesh union as an expression of the reality of our masculinity and femininity. 

Anything other than that is certainly a deviation from it and the Bible actually says, is a perversion of it. So that marriage, by its very definition, is heterosexual, it is monogamous, it is a one-flesh union, and you don’t need a textbook to figure that out.

Now what you have in the opening two chapters of Genesis, of course, is two complementary expressions of what has happened in Creation: Genesis 1:1, up to the third verse of chapter 2, is a kind of a comprehensive description that reaches its climax in the creation of man.

Genesis 1, verse 27: “So God created man . . . male and female he created them.” Then in verse 4 to 25 of chapter 2, you have this further expression of it, where it is impossible to say anything other than that man’s preeminence is established over all of the rest of the created order.

And in that section in chapter 2, the responsibilities—the functionality—of male and female is defined. The duty of man is given there in verse 15: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Man is created and given this responsibility of work—not that he is the only one who needs to work. But nevertheless, in the divvying up of tasks, God says to him, “Now, Adam, what I want you to do is, I want you to get out there, and I want you to look after this garden that I’ve given to you.”

“And at the same time,” He said, “What I’d like you to do is take all of these creatures that I have fashioned for you. I would be very, very grateful if you could do the scientific task of looking at them and then of naming them”—a demanding but a delightful privilege.

And there he goes, pointing at the creatures and figuring out what they’re all going to be called. But in this process, it reveals Adam’s need of a mate. Genesis 2, verse 20:

So the man gave names to all the livestock, and the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But [notice!] for Adam no suitable helper was found.

He wasn’t content to be the zookeeper in Jungle Book, you know? He wasn’t happy just to hang around with the apes and the monkeys and to watch the dolphins do their thing. There was no suitable helper for him to be found. Man was lonely, and the woman was created on account of man’s loneliness.

“No suitable helper was found.” Woman is a suitable helper for man. Man, incidentally, is a suitable helper for woman. But the emphasis here is on the need and nature of what it would mean for this feminine creature to now be taken out of this masculine creature in order that she may be a helper suitable for him. She is created, if you like, in order to make him complete.

Now some ladies immediately have a problem with the idea of “a helper suitable.” Is the problem with “suitable,” or is the problem with “helper?” I’m not sure.

Woman: “Well, I’m not just here to be your helper!”

Man: “No, you’re not. You’re here—fashioned in the image of God, in order to glorify God and enjoy Him forever—and so am I.”

But, having said that, there are certain things that we both need one another for. “Helper,” you see, doesn’t equal “subordination.” For example, in the Psalms, it’s not uncommon for us to read—for example in Psalm 33:20, “We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our helper and our shield.”

He’s our “helper and our shield.” Does that mean, then, that God is subordinate to us? Clearly not! But He is prepared to fulfill the role of helping us in our need. Man was prior to woman in Creation, but his priority does not mean superiority. Where you write in that little page, you can write, “Priority doesn’t equal superiority.”

You’re not going to be, “Hey, I was here first!”—like you’re trying to get your car into a space in a car park. “I was here first!” It doesn’t work that way in terms of man and woman. Man can’t get up in the morning and go, “I was here first! Get the breakfast!” 

To which the lady may reply, “I was here second! Get your own!”  

Priority does not mean superiority. “You need a helper, Adam, it’s clear—for a lot of reasons. You’ve done a nice job on the animals, I must admit that, but your flower beds are a complete disgrace.” (laughter)

“Whoever said that those things would go like that? I tell you, this lady’s gonna be a big help to you, Adam, she really is. Frankly, without her you’re no use. You need her in more ways than you understand.” So do you think that, for him to be given this wonderful helper is for him to get up in the morning and create a list, stick it up on the equivalent of the 'fridge with her name at the top? “Eve: to-do list for today . . . Help! Let’s get going!” Clearly not. 

Surely he’s coming to her and saying, “Eve, what am I supposed to do now? Eve, can you help me with this? Eve, where do I put that? Eve, where are my car keys? (laughter) Eve, you know I can’t do math—help the kids! Eve, I don’t know what color it should be. Eve, could you get me some trousers? Eve? ‘Help, help me Rhonda! Help, help me Rhonda!’” (laughter)

So priority doesn’t equal superiority, but God is a God of order. Therefore, if He’s a God of order, there has to be order. And since He’s the Designer, He designed it with Adam first and then Eve. Problem? Well, for some, yes. But the priority thing does not imply some kind of female inferiority.

In fact, one reason I think for the priority of man is made clear in 1 Peter 3 in his responsibility for loving and caring for the woman. But without the woman, man knows himself to be deficient. Since she’d been taken out of him, he knew himself to be complete only when he lived in harmony with her.

In the same way, without the man, the woman is also incomplete. Having been taken out of him, she was only complete when she was put back with him. It’s a wonderful picture; it’s a mysterious picture. I’m sure we can’t unpack it. They are different, but they’re equal, as we are made in the image of God.

Together they submit to the purposes of God, together they enjoy harmony in the home, in the church. Men and women need each other. They need each other! Everything that undermines that reality, it ultimately is unhelpful, and it’s untrue.

And that, of course, is the great issue of homosexuality in our day—“Really, I don’t need a wife. I don’t need a woman around here! I can live with Rodney, and he and I are equally good at the task of parenting. After all, wouldn’t you much rather have your children in a loving homosexual relationship than an unloving heterosexual relationship?” Sophistry . . . the best kind. I’m not going to break one clear instruction of Scripture in order to try and uphold another instruction of Scripture.

So feminism and the fight for equal rights have tended to obscure all of the proper and delightful differences—haven’t they? Take Vogue magazine and go through it. How many times do you turn the page and say, “Is that a fellow or a girl in that advertisement? Is that a girl that looks like a chap or is that a chap that looks like a girl?”

Is that by chance? No, it’s by design. Because it is the ultimate rebellion against the Creator. Man is saying that, “God, You didn’t make us, and even if You did, You clearly didn’t make us different by design. We reject Your ideas of harmony. We reject Your ideas of wholeness. We reject Your ideas of family. We reject Your ideas of femininity. And we are expressing this in multiple fashions!”

There are those who are growing up within our homes, trying to find their footing, trying to find their framework, trying to find their future. Unless you as the mom are clear, we’re in real trouble! The difference, by design, is in order that there might be harmony.

Nancy: The differences God intentionally placed—in His design of men and women—are truly beautiful when we understand them in the light of God’s Word. Pastor Alistair Begg has been showing us how those differences can help us glorify God more completely.

Okay, so how do these truths affect your practical decisions and your real relationships in everyday life? Mary Kassian and I have co-authored a Bible study workbook that will take these biblical truths, help you understand them, and show you how to build your life on them. The study is called True Woman 101: Divine Design.

In this study we take you back to the book of Genesis to understand God’s perfect wisdom in designing men and women. You’ll see how sin entered the world and destroyed relationships . . . and you’ll get hope for true change and be challenged to live out the beauty of godly femininity before a confused world.

This week, when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’d like to send you a copy of True Woman 101: Divine Design. Your gift is an investment in Revive Our Hearts, and it will pay off as more women are able to hear God’s Word through this program and discover freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ!

So be sure to ask for True Woman 101: Divine Design when you call with a gift of any amount. The number to call is 1–800–569–5959, or you can visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now today we heard about the pristine paradise that Adam and Eve originally experienced in the Garden of Eden—but our world sure isn’t that way today, is it? Tomorrow, Pastor Alistair Begg looks to Genesis chapter 3 for the explanation, so please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you to know the truth of God’s Word. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the NIV84.

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