Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Equally Important

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Men and women are equally important to God, equally valuable to God. You’ll never find the Scripture belittling women. You’ll never find the Scripture demeaning women. And you won’t find the Scripture belittling or demeaning men either. You find the Scripture giving value and worth and significance to men and women, created in the image of God.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, January 25.

Yesterday, Nancy began a series called A Vision for Biblical Womanhood. She’s giving us a solid biblical foundation on what it means to embrace the role God’s given us as women. While we’re still early in the series, Nancy’s going to address a question that is bound to come up. Does the Bible teach that men are more important than women? Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: You’re probably aware that there are those in our culture today who say that there are no real differences between men and women except for the obvious physiological differences.

Well, I read something the other day, and if nothing else convinces you that there are profound differences between men and women, this will. This had to do with the procedure for getting money out of an ATM machine. Somebody observed the difference between the way men get money out of an ATM machine and the way women get money out of an ATM machine.

For men it’s fairly simple. Here’s the male procedure:

  1. Drive up to the cash machine.
  2. Put down your car window.
  3. Insert card into machine and enter your pin number.
  4. Enter amount of cash required and withdraw.
  5. Retrieve card, cash, and receipt.
  6. Put window up.
  7. Drive off.

That’s how this writer says that men get money out of an ATM machine. Now here’s the female procedure. And I’ll just tell you, for starters, it has 27 steps.

  1. Drive up to the cash machine.
  2. Reverse and back up the required amount to align car window with the machine.
  3. Set parking brake and put the window down.
  4. Find handbag and remove all contents onto the passenger seat to locate card.
  5. Tell person on cell phone you will call them back and hang up.
  6. Attempt to insert card into machine.
  7. Open car door to allow easier access to machine due to an excessive distance from the car.
  8. Insert card.
  9. Reinsert card the right way.
  10. Dig through handbag to find diary with your pin written on the inside back page.
  11. Enter pin.
  12. Press cancel and re-enter correct pin.
  13. Enter amount of cash required.
  14. Check makeup in rear view mirror. [I didn’t see that on the men’s list!]
  15. Retrieve cash and receipt.
  16. Empty handbag again to locate wallet and place cash inside.
  17. Write debit amount in check register and place receipt in back of checkbook.
  18. Recheck makeup.
  19. Drive forward two feet.
  20. Reverse back to cash machine.
  21. Retrieve card.
  22. Re-empty handbag, locate cardholder and place card in the slot provided.
  23. Mouth "I’m sorry" to the irate male driver waiting behind you.
  24. Restart stalled engine and pull off.
  25. Redial person on cell phone.
  26. Drive for two to three miles.
  27. Release parking brake.

Now, when it comes to this whole issue of manhood and womanhood, we want to look at it from a biblical perspective, not just what we think. Actually, our opinions on this don’t matter a whole lot, and what other people have said doesn’t matter a whole lot. What matters is what God has to say.

We need to start with the assumption that God’s plan is good. God’s design for men and for women—and for marriage and for human relationships—is right; it’s necessary, and it’s important.

When you think about it, who better knows how life should function than the Creator and Designer of life Himself? God is the One who designed us. He made us; He knows how we function. We need to look to His plan to find out how we’re supposed to work. Things work best when they function according to their design.

This is true of the chair I’m sitting on. It’s designed to be a chair, so it works best when you use it as a chair. Now, it would be foolish for me to try to use this chair as something it wasn’t designed to be—say, a fork or a piano. It wouldn’t work as a fork or a piano because it wasn’t designed to be a fork or a piano. It was designed to be a chair.

When we function according to God’s plan, God’s purpose and God’s design in relation to our womanhood, and when men function according to God’s plan and purpose and design in relation to their manhood, God is glorified. Things function; they work. They’re blessed, and others are blessed as well.

Now, over these next several days, I want to explore several questions. The first is: What does the Scripture teach about manhood and womanhood—about gender? We’re not going to explore in great depth; I’m going to do an overview. And I certainly won’t answer every question. In fact, I will probably raise more questions than I answer. But I want to at least get us thinking about what the Scripture teaches about gender issues.

Then we want to move toward the question: Does this all really matter? And if it does, why does it matter? What’s at stake in this whole issue? What do we have to lose, and what do we have to gain from seeing our manhood and our womanhood from God’s perspective?

And then: What difference should all this make? What difference should it make to us individually as women? What difference should it make to us corporately as the body of Christ in this world? So that’s where we’re headed over the next several days.

Just to lay a basic foundation here, I think we would all have to agree—that is, if we are committed to the authority of Scripture—that Scripture affirms that men and women were both created in the image of God. Men and women were both created. That means we did not evolve. We did not just happen. We are not the result of chance. We were created by God and created in the image or the likeness of God.

As such, that means that men and women have equal worth, equal value and equal dignity as persons before God. The Scripture teaches that type of equality—that we have equal value, equal worth before God as persons, men and women.

The equality of men and women is affirmed in the creation account in the very first chapter of the Bible. We looked at this verse in the last session, Genesis 1:27. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Equally in His image. It wasn’t, “God made male in his image, but the female is something inferior.” No, male and female—He created them both in his image.

So that suggests to us that men and women are equally important to God, equally valuable to God. You’ll never find the Scripture belittling women. You’ll never find the Scripture demeaning women. And you won’t find the Scripture belittling or demeaning men either. You find the Scripture giving value and worth and significance to men and women, created in the image of God.

I think of the title of a book by a woman I know, Rebecca Jones is her name. And the book is called Does Christianity Squash Women? I love that title because it reflects on what our culture has come to believe is the truth about God’s Word. Many in our culture would say, “Christianity puts women down,” and they would pull out verses to say it proves their point.

You will not find that in the Scripture. You will not find the Scripture belittling or demeaning or putting down women. You find God giving status and worth and value to both men and women. All are precious in His sight.

It’s important, as we move on to talk about some of the differences between men and women, that we start with that foundational principle that both were created in the image of God, equal in His sight.

You see that equality in the way Jesus treated women in the culture where He lived, which did not respect women and considered women, many times, as nothing more than a piece of property. In some cases, in those cultures, women were not allowed to be taught or were not considered in any sense equal heirs together of the grace of life.

Jesus exalted the status of women. Jesus showed respect and kindness to women. You see Him treating women in a way that reflects His belief that they are created in the image of God.

In the New Testament you see when we come to Pentecost, that the Holy Spirit at the forming of the church is poured out in a new way on both men and women. Again, we’re talking about evidence in the Scripture, Old and New Testaments, that men and women are equal before God.

In Acts 2, in his Pentecost sermon, Peter quotes from the Old Testament book of Joel, chapter 2. And you read these verses: “In the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.” And Peter said, “This is what we’re seeing today at Pentecost.” God says, “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17-18; see also Joel 2:28-29).

So without going into any further discussion about what all that means, it’s clear that God poured out His Spirit equally on men and on women. God didn’t give men some special dispensation of the Holy Spirit. God poured out His Spirit on men and women equally.

We read, as we continue into the New Testament, that men and women have been equally baptized into the body of Christ. That is, those who have repented of their sins and placed their faith in Jesus Christ have been equally made a part of the body of Christ. And they share equally in the privileges of salvation, the privileges of redemption. Men and women have equal access to God.

For example, in Galatians chapter 3 the apostle Paul says, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” He’s speaking to men and women. If you are in Christ, you’ve been baptized into His body. And then he says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (verses 27-28).

Now, as we’re going to see, Paul doesn’t mean by that verse that there are no differences between men and women. But he does say that we have equal share in the privileges and the blessings of redemption, equal access to God through Jesus Christ.

And then we see in 1 Corinthians 12 that as members of the body of Christ we have all been given spiritual gifts—not just gifts given to men to serve the Lord. God has given spiritual gifts to every woman who is a believer. First Corinthians 12:7: “To each”—who is each? It’s every member of the body of Christ, which we’ve already been told is men and women—“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

You see, you can’t just look at your pastor and say, “Well, he’s been given a spiritual gift to serve the Lord.” No. You have been given a spiritual gift to serve the Lord as well. And God gives us different gifts, different manifestations of the Spirit, to serve Him for the common good, for the building up of the whole body of Christ.

That means that, as a woman, as I exercise the gifts that God has given to me by His Spirit, the entire body, including men and women, is built up in Christ. So Scripture affirms that men and women were both created in the image of God and have equal worth and value before God.

At the same time, Scripture also affirms that there are God-created differences between men and women. Equality does not mean sameness. Now, no one disputes the obvious physiological differences between men and women. But I think it’s important that we realize that those external or physiological differences are merely a reflection of deeper, more profound, fundamental differences that God has created between men and women.

I will be the first to acknowledge that it is politically incorrect today to talk about differences between men and women. In fact, you can lose your job over it. Just ask Lawrence Summers, who is the former president of Harvard.

He dared to suggest at an academic conference that there could possibly be some innate factors—not just socialization, but some innate factors—to explain why there are more men than women in high-level science and engineering positions. And the department to which he was speaking got up in arms and ultimately ended up getting rid of him as the president of Harvard.

So I know that we are treading on some ground in this series where angels fear to tread. I know we are going to get some letters over this. And we love letters at Revive Our Hearts. We even love letters from people who don’t agree with everything we say.

I know that many of our lives have been greatly impacted by the writings and the ministry of Elisabeth Elliot. She’s been something of a mentor in my own life and ministry. She contributed a chapter to a book on biblical manhood and womanhood that was written more than 10 years ago.

In that chapter, here’s what she had to say about these differences.

Throughout the millennia of human history, up until the past two decades or so (remember, this was written more than a decade ago) people took for granted that the differences between men and women were so obvious as to need no comment. They accepted the way things were.

But our easy assumptions have been assailed and confused. We have lost our bearings in a fog of rhetoric about something called "equality," so that I find myself in the uncomfortable position of having to belabor to educated people what was once perfectly obvious to the simplest peasant.1

She’s saying, “Everybody used to get it. And now the most educated people don’t seem to get it.”

Well, I go back to Genesis chapter 1, verse 27. God created man (mankind) in the image of God. Male and female He created them. There is something different about male and female. They alike are created in the image of God. They alike were created to bear or reflect the image of God. But there are differences. There is something different between male and female.

And really, if you think about it, it’s an exercise in futility to deny that there are differences because nothing—no studies or rhetoric or discussion—can change the reality that God created men different from women. And those differences are far more profound than the obvious physiological ones.

As I was reviewing my notes this morning, I thought about that song in My Fair Lady where Professor Higgins says to Colonel Pickering, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” Some of you remember that song. Well, thank God for the differences! If we were exactly alike, one of us would be unnecessary.

We need each other’s differences. Our differences are intended to complement each other, to strengthen each other. And again, those differences are not just the obvious physiological ones. They’re far more fundamental than that, and they are God-created differences. Those differences were intended to balance each other, to complement each other.

This is a silly illustration, but think of a knife and a fork. They’re both eating utensils, but they’re different. They’re intended to complement each other. Try eating with two knives, or try eating a steak with two forks. You need the knife and the fork. You need the things that are different about them. There are things that are the same about them, but you need the differences.

And in the differences between men and women, God intended that we should not be independent from each other. God intended that we should not be competitors with each other, but that we should be interdependent with one another, that we should complete each other.

So the man and the woman were created to have complementary purposes—not identical, but complementary. We get a hint of this, a glimpse of it, in Genesis chapter 3, when we see the different consequences that God imposed on the man and on the woman after they sinned. Their consequences were not identical (verses 16-19).

In the different consequences you get a glimpse of how God created men and women different. To the woman, God said, “Here’s the consequence of your sin. I will multiply your pain in childbearing.” How many mothers here would say, “That’s true”? It is. God said, “I will multiply your pain in childbearing.” The consequence that was meted out to the woman was given to her in her distinct, unique realm as a bearer and nurturer of life.

Now, that doesn’t mean that every woman will be blessed with physical children. I don’t have any physical children. That would be true of some of you as well. But it does mean that only women can have children. That’s something that a woman can do that a man can’t do.

I think that reality pictures something deeper—that God designed the woman to have her primary realm of life as a bearer and a nurturer of life, a life-giver, giving birth to the next generation. That’s the woman’s primary field of calling and endeavor, which means that that’s where she experienced the consequences for her sin.

To the man, God said, “Cursed is the ground because of you . . . thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you . . . by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread.” So where was the man affected as a consequence of his sin? He was affected in his primary sphere of responsibility, which was where? In the workplace, as a provider for his family.

Now, that doesn’t mean that men aren’t nurturing. It doesn’t mean that women don’t ever work outside the home. But it does speak to the primary spheres of responsibility for the man and the woman being different.

We come to the conclusion of it all in verse 31 of Genesis 1: “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” That included male and female. It included the fact that it was good that they were created in His image, that they were alike in many respects. But it also included their differences. Those differences are very good. Those differences are a gift from God. They’re something to be received, to be cherished, to be protected rather than denied or rejected.

I want to tell you as a woman—I know some of you are younger women, and you’re just starting into your journey toward womanhood. Let me say that you have a choice as a woman. You can receive the gift that God has given you, or you can reject it.

You can say, “I don’t want to be a woman. I’d like to be more like a man. I envy, I covet the things that God has given distinctly to men.” You can fight it; you can resist it, but that will be a pathway to misery. It will be a pathway to what Adam and Eve experienced in their marriage and in their family, which is brokenness and hostility and conflict.

Or you can choose to embrace, to receive, to accept the gift of womanhood with its differences from manhood. And you will find that that will be a pathway to great blessing and a great means of your fulfilling the purpose for which God created you.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be back with a final challenge and prayer. She’s been offering a biblical picture of womanhood, and I hope you’ll study more on this issue. There’s a lot of debate and confusion, and you’ll find it helpful to study God’s Word and ask Him, “What is Your purpose for me?”

To help you do this, we’d like to send a booklet by Dr. John Piper called What’s the Difference? He’s a brilliant scholar who has written this simple overview to help you understand the biblical passages that speak to the issue. You can also get a CD from Nancy called Embracing the Gift of Womanhood. It’s a shorter presentation of our current radio series.

We’ll send the CD and booklet when you make a donation to Revive Our Hearts. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com or ask for What’s the Difference? and Embracing the Gift of Womanhood when you call 1-800-569-5959.

Academics tend to divide themselves into two groups: the egalitarian camp and the complementarian camp. Do these words have any bearing on your life? Find out Monday when Nancy picks up the series. Now she’s back with a final thought.

Nancy: As we pray, let me just ask if you have ever come to the place where you have said, “Lord, thank You for making me a woman. And thank You that You have made me different than men. Thank You that You have made men different than women. And, Lord, I accept and receive my womanhood as a gift from You”?

Pray with me and say, “Lord, would You glorify Yourself in and through my life? Use me as a woman, and help me by Your grace to fulfill, as a woman, Your created purpose for my life.” Lord, we pray it together in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

1Elisabeth Elliot, The Essence of Femininity: A Personal Perspective, from Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood by Wayne Grudem and John Piper.

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