Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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A Picture of Christ and the Church

Leslie Basham:  Mary Kassian says, "Your identity as a woman is bigger than you."

Mary Kassian: Gender displays God. Who we are and how we relate as male and female is an object lesson. It’s like God gave us a parable; a story written on our very bodies, something about God, in who we are and the we relate as men and women.

This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of True Woman 101, for Wednesday, June 6, 2018.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Are there really that many differences between men and women? Are the differences just superficial?

My friend Mary Kassian is going to help address these questions by taking us back to the beginning, when there was one man and one woman in a garden. We get some insight God’s design for men and women by looking at the first couple He ever created.

Mary Kassian is no stranger to Revive Our Hearts listeners. She's been a guest on multiple series, including my interview with her on her book Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild. If you don't have a copy of it, you need to get one. It's a great resource for college-aged girls and young women, and actually, women of every age. I can remember a few years ago taking a number of young, married women through that book. By the end of that series, several of those women were actually expecting their first child. Now I look at those children who are getting to be school aged. And those women have come back and thanked me for the investment in their lives as we studied together that book, Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild.

Mary will also be one of the speakers at True Woman 18: The Truth That Sets Us Free. This national women’s conference is just a few months away. I hope the date is on your calendar—September 27–29 in Indianapolis. Along with Mary and me, you’ll hear from some of our other friends, including: Jackie Hill Perry, Dannah Gresh, Pastor Eric Mason, and others. At True Woman '18 you’ll hear solid teaching from God’s Word, helping you identify lies women believe, and even more importantly, the truth you need to walk in freedom. 

At the time I'm recording this, we have just a handful of seats left. So go to ReviveOurHearts.com to find out if there is still room to register, and join us for True Woman '18. It’s coming to Indianapolis this September 27–29. Let me say, because we do anticipate selling out very shortly, if we haven't already, that we'll be letting you know about how  to livestream the conference and perhaps getting a group together to watch it in your church or home. We anticipate many thousands of women will join us for True Woman '18 by that means.

Today we want to listen to the first part of a message that Mary Kassian delivered at a True Woman Conference in 2010. It's called, "The Genesis of Gender." Now let's join Mary as she takes us back to the beginning.

Mary: How many of you have messed something up because you thought you knew what you were doing but were too stubborn to read or follow the directions? Have you ever done that?

A couple of years ago I decided to go back to a skill of necessity. I wanted to sew a dress for my son's wedding. They were having a formal ceremony, and they needed my dress to be down to the floor. Now, I'm 5' 11'' . . . yes, tall girl. To get a dress, for me, that goes down to the floor . . . not so easy.

So I found one and I ordered it. I did it in plenty of time. It came in, and it was hideous. So there was just a few weeks left until my son's wedding, and I did not have anything to wear, so I decided I was going to get out my sewing machine and sew a dress.

Now, I got an "A" when I sewed an apron in Home Ec class. And my mom is a European-trained seamstress. She grew up in Germany. So I figured if I ran in trouble, I could always go see her. My second cousin is an international fashion designer. Her dresses sell for a thousand dollars each. So, I've got the right pedigree. I figured all you need to do cut out the pieces, line it up at the 5/8 inch mark and let her rip. How hard can it be?

How many of you have ever messed something up because you thought you knew what you were doing and you were too stuborn to read or follow the directions?

I once picked up an easy-to-assemble desk at Walmart. Have you ever seen one of those easy-to-assemble desks? They come in three zillion packages with 1000 nuts and bolts. I figured, I am a carpenter’s daughter. I know how to swing a hammer, and I can swing it just as well as my five brothers. We grew up in my dad's workshop. I constructed the walls and did the electrical wiring in my basement. I built a set of willow furniture for our back patio. I’ve got the right pedigree. My goodness, it was a desk. How hard could it be? All you had to do was slap together the pieces, slide in the drawers. How hard could it be?

How many of you have messed something up because you thought you knew what you were doing but were too stubborn to read or follow the directions?

Well, I messed that desk up and I had to go back and take a look at the directions and figure out what the manufacturer said about how it was supposed to be put together.

That's what we are going to do in this session today. We're going to take a look back to Genesis at God's original design to see how our Creator put us together.

Genesis is a foundational text. It is rich, rich, rich with doctrine. Whenever the writers in the New Testament wanted to teach things about gender or wanted to emphasize things about male and female, they always went back to Genesis. They turned to Genesis to talk about what our created design was.

I think that in our culture in our day and age, we've really messed up with womanhood. We have not gotten it right. The reason we haven't gotten it right is because we've been too full of ourselves and too proud—thinking that we know what we are doing, and we haven't gone back to read the directions. So, we've gotten into trouble.

We're going to take a look at Genesis, so grab ahold of your Bibles, and turn to Genesis chapter 2.

Before we start, let's pray. Heavenly Father, I'm just so grateful that you gave us Your Word and that in Your Word we can find truth. You give us Your design. You gave us insight into Your design, into the way that You created things to work. Thank You so much that as we turn to You and look to You, You instruct us and counsel us through Your Word, through Your Holy Spirit.

I pray that as now as we take a look at Genesis, that You will help us look at it with fresh eyes and see Your Truth. And Lord, may it impact us as women in all those ways that we've messed up—we've done the seams wrongs, we've put the drawers together wrong, and it's not quite working. Father, I just pray that you will take Your Word and speak to us and guide us in Your Truth. In Jesus' name, amen.

Genesis lays out God's blueprint. It lays out His pattern for His design of male and female. It's very, very critical, particularly in these days. Gender is becoming more and more of an issue. You're going to see it as our culture moves and runs with the idea that gender doesn't matter. 

We're going to be seeing more and more gender confusion. The term that is now very popular is gender fluidity—that you actually get to pick which gender.

I think that all of us struggle with, "What does it mean to be a man?" "What does it mean to be a woman?" And particularly in this culture when we have so many different messages coming at us, and so many different ideas of what a woman should be.

Take a look at God's blueprint, His original design. In Genesis chapter 1 we see that God created man to be more like God than the rest of His creation, and that male and female share this status equally. They are both image-bearers.

"Then God said, Let us make man in our image'" (v. 26) 

Us? Make man in our image. Who is God talking to? Was He talking to the angels and saying, "Let's make man in our image"? No. Who was God talking to? You know. God was talking to God. Right? He was discussing this amongst the members of the Trinity, of the triune, one God, saying, "Let us make man in our image." And then He created them male and female.

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (v. 27).

Now there’s something incredibly important I want you to notice here. “Let us make man in our image.” Gender displays God. Who we are and how we relate as male and female is an object lesson. It’s a parable, a story written on our very bodies. It's something about God in who are and how we relate as men and women.

Scripture says that who we are is an object lesson, and the story isn't about us. Scripture says that God created sons and daughters for His glory, to display the wonder of who He is.

In Romans chapter 1, verse 20, Paul explains that there are two very important truths about God that are displayed in creation for everyone to see. Now, in context, in the first chapter of Romans, the passage specifically deals with issues of gender and sexuality and sexual behavior.

Paul says this: Romans 1, verse 20: "Ever since the creation of the world, His eternal power and divine nature invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things He has made, so people are without excuse" (paraphrase).

In other words, ever since the creation of the world, His eternal power and divine nature have been understood and seen through male and female who are the focal point of everything He made. The verse implies that when you look in the mirror and see that you are a woman, when you get dressed and see a female body, when you go about your daily business and see men and women who live in male or female bodies, when you observe the fact that God created the male body and the female body with corresponding pieces that fit together and heterosexually unite, when you see a man and a woman joining together in marriage, all these things tell a story.

From the time of creation until now, gender and sex, manhood and womanhood constantly display truths about God. God wrote His story on our flesh in who He created me to be as a woman tells a story about who He is. It tells truth about God. Paul says that people are without excuse because God's story is displayed everywhere, and it is even displayed on gender and His creation.

And what truth is that? Romans 1:20 says it’s His power and His divine nature, His Godhead. So it’s His Person—who God is. It's His nature and character, how God interacts with God is displayed in His creation of male and female.

The other thing is what He does. His plan, His eternal power, what God does, how He interacts with us is displayed in His creation of male and female.

According to Paul, God created things the way that He did in order to teach people something. He wants us to know who God is and what God does, and He imprinted that story on us as male and female.

Ephesians chapter 5 connects all the dots and indicates that manhood and womanhood, marriage and sex, all point to the story of the Bridegroom, the Son of God, who loved and gave His life to redeem His Bride, the Church. Gender exists to display the love story of the gospel, and that is why God created male and female.

God had the story of Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom, redemption, the Church, His Bride, in mind before He even created male and female. We are told that before the foundation of the earth, He had this plan of redemption mind. The love story of God that He was thinking when He said, “Let us make man in our image” and created us male and female.

So with this larger cosmic context in mind, we’re going to go back to Genesis, and we’re going to look at twelve points of God's pattern for manhood and womanhood. Six points about manhood; six points about womanhood. The truth that God wanted to display between male and female was really important. So it stands to reason that He was very intentional when He created us. Every little bit and every action was important.

 I love the Word of God because every word is important. God's Word is precious and every word is rich in meaning. He was intentional when He gave us His Word, and I think He was also intentional in His creation of male and female.

So in Genesis chapter 2, which we'll be turning to next . . . In Genesis chapter 1 we saw the equality of men and women. Genesis chapter 2 gives us a frame by frame picture rendering of the creation. Like: What happened?

Chapter 1 gave the big picture, the overview. It's like the tape gets rewound for chapter 2, and now we are going to do it in slow motion. So we are going to get all these snapshots in Genesis chapter 2 of the creation of male and female that reveal a lot of things to us. 

We'll start at Genesis 2:7. The first point of difference (and we'll start with the males) that we need to notice is that the male was the firstborn. “Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Genesis chapter 2, verse 7.

Keep your finger there. We are going to be working our way through chapter 2, point by point.

So the first thing you need to note about the creation of the sexes is that God created the male first. You might think this is trivial or inconsequential. But the firstborn son held a very unique role and position in the Hebrew family. He ranked highest after his father, and he carried the weight of his father’s authority. He was the one who was responsible to carry out his dad's instructions. He was responsible for the oversight and the wellbeing of all of his siblings.

He also served as their representative. What happened in the family was his responsibility. The buck stopped with him. If a younger brother or a sister got into trouble, Dad would corner the oldest brother and hold him accountable.

Now, my husband is a first born. He came from a family that were not believers, but it worked the same way in his house. If his brother got in trouble, my husband, Brent, got taken to the wall and, "Why did your brother do that? You're supposed to keep him in line. You're the oldest."

There's almost a natural sense of this as well. This wasn’t just a cultural quirk that the Hebrew people dreamed up. God gave them the directions. God gave them the family structure and the responsibilities according to the pattern that He gave.

It's very interesting. If you look at the story of the Hebrews in bondage in Egypt, the Lord sent the angel of death to kill the firstborn sons. Why? Why the firstborn sons? Well, because He was holding the firstborn sons accountable and responsible for the sin of the nation of Egypt. There was an accountability and responsibility that went with the position of first born. 

Adam was the firstborn of the human race. He was responsible for the oversight and wellbeing of the human family. God held Adam accountable for the Fall even though Eve sinned first. It was Adam who took the weight of the responsibility for the fall of the human race, as a whole, on his shoulders. The New Testament states, “In Adam, all die.” That's not to say that Eve wasn't personally responsible for her sin, she was responsible for her sin. But Adam was corporately responsible because he was firstborn. Her smeared the entire family.

The authority and responsibility that God gave Adam really wasn't about Adam. He gave Adam the position of firstborn because He was pointing forward to The Firstborn of God, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ became flesh and took Adam’s place. He bore the authority of the firstborn, Jesus, the firstborn of God. So He was able to properly represent us when He died on the cross.

So what does all this have to do with male and female roles? Well, it has a lot to do with your life and how you live your life as a woman.

Paul tells Timothy that the reason that males bear the responsibility for spiritual oversight of God’s family, the church, is that Adam was formed firstThat’s in 1 Timothy 2:13. Because God gave men that authority there, it also teaches that He gave every male authority to be responsible for the oversight of his own family, his little pod, his little family pod.

In Ephesians chapter 5 it show that the buck stops with the guy for what happens in his household and family. And what’s more, this responsibility seems to extend to a general responsibility of all men to take initiative and to look out for the welfare of those around them.

Exercising godly initiative and oversight is a big part of what manhood is all about. It’s what we mean intuitively when we say to a guy, “Step up! Be a man!” We're saying, "Take some initiative and responsibility because that's the essence of what manhood is all about. If you are not taking initiative and responsibility, you are not being a man." See how we intuitively know that? Even people who are not believers intuitively have this sense that God created men.

We don't say, "Step up and be a woman." Do we say that? No. Because there is a difference. It's not greater or lesser, it is just different. It's just different who God created us to be.

Second point of difference: The male was put in the garden. Genesis 2:15: “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden.”

So the second observation we can make about Genesis 2 is that God took the man from where he was created and put him in the garden. He wasn't created there. He was created out in the bush or wilderness and then put in the garden. God created the him out in the wild, from the dust of the open desert, then He led His firstborn son, His firstborn male, away from the place of creation, and put him in the Garden in Eden. Notice the wording: “God put him in the garden.”

Now, a garden is a plot of ground that is protected by a wall or a hedge. It’s an area with specified boundaries. Why is this significant? Because later in the chapter we see that when a man gets married, he leaves the place where he was created (his mom and dad), and he gets put in a place with new boundaries and responsibility. He sets up a new household and a new sphere of responsibility. He starts what we call in the Kassian household, a new pod. He starts a new pod.

Our oldest son got married, and we are teaching him “pod theology.” “You are now head of a new pod. It's not our pod. You are responsible for what goes on in your pod."

It’s as though God puts the man in this new position of responsibility, and what’s really fascinating about this is I think that the image also foreshadows Christ leaving the home of His Father in heaven in order to pursue His Bride, the Church.

Nancy: That’s Mary Kassian with a message that she gave at True Woman '10. She’s been explaining why it’s so important to embrace your identity as a woman, and she’ll pick up that message again tomorrow.

I’m excited Mary will be returning to the True Woman conference this fall. It’s coming September 27–29, 2018 in Indianapolis. We’re able to bring you that kind of message that we've been listening to from Mary Kassian because of listeners like you who value hearing Revive Our Hearts day after day. I'm so thankful for friends who pray for us and support the ministry financially so we can deliver these programs over the radio, the podcast, and at ReviveOurHearts.com.

If you appreciate what you hear on Revive Our Hearts, you can help make it possible for us to continue. When you support the ministry with a gift of any size this week, we’ll show our appreciation by sending you a copy of Mary Kassian’s book, Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild. This is a great study for women college age or older. It will show you how to avoid distructive patterns and how to build your life on godly wisdom. This is one of those books that I wish I had been able to write, but I'm so glad Mary did. I can't recommend it highly enough. Ask for Girls Gone Wise when you call with your donation of any amount.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. Here’s the number 1–800–569–5959. You can also donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Do you ever hear that a wife is supposed to be her husband’s helper and wonder, What exactly does that look like? Mary Kassian will show wives how to truly be a helper, tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

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

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About the Teacher

Mary Kassian

Mary Kassian

Mary Kassian is an award-winning author, an internationally-renowned speaker, and a frequent guest on Revive Our Hearts. She has written more than a dozen books and Bible studies, including Conversation Peace, Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild, and The Right Kind of Strong.

Mary and her husband, Brent, have three sons and six grandchildren and live in Alberta, Canada. The Kassians enjoy biking, hiking, snorkeling, music, board games, mountains, campfires, and their family’s black lab, "The Queen of Sheba."