As I prepared to address you this evening, I came across um, an insightful article written by a woman named Erin Davis. It was entitled, “Why I’m Sick of Women’s Conferences.” That piqued my interest. And I thought, “Boy, I oughta make sure I don’t make any of the mistakes that she mentions in planning this.” So she began her article with this complaint, here’s what she said, “There is a message I hear at most women’s conferences and young women’s conferences that needs revisited. I heard it spoken from almost every stage, I sat near this spring.” And she had, by the way, she had attended eight conferences in just three months.
She knows what she’s talking about. She goes on, “The message sounds something like this. ‘You’re beautiful, you’re valuable, you matter.’ What’s my beef with a message that warm and fuzzy? It’s not the message that women most need to hear.” She goes on, “When we allow women to walk out of our conferences and churches, feeling better about themselves, but less dependent on Christ, we are doing them a disservice. Women don’t need fluff. We need the meaty truth of the gospel straight from the Word of God. We don’t need messages that turn our focus toward ourselves. We need messages that pry our eyes away from our needs, our wants, our desires, and toward Jesus and his calling, that we serve others. Simply put the message that every woman needs is the gospel. Without it, you’re just spinning our wheels.”
Well said, Erin. Don’t you agree? What a good word. And that’s why all of you are here tonight, to listen to the life giving, transformational truth of God’s word, like Erin, you’re tired of women’s conferences that are filled with fluff and sentimentality. You want something solid, to anchor your lives into. You’re looking for a rock of refuge, a firm foundation, and that is exactly right. But I want to look at Erin’s complaint from just a slightly different angle. Why is it that the speakers at the majority of women’s conferences feel the need to tell women, “You’re beautiful, you’re valuable, you matter?”
Why don’t they believe that they’re beautiful? Why do they doubt their value in God’s eyes? Why do they struggle with mattering, struggle with issues of significance? Those three words beauty, worth, significance. Certainly those are important messages for women. And certainly God cares for women that they do display true beauty, understand true worth, live lives of true significance. So why must those messages always be emphasized? Is there some new challenge causing women to question their beauty, their worth, their significance?
In December 2010, a rather remarkable voice for women’s issues entered into the spotlight, in the secular realm anyway. Her name is Sheryl Sandberg and she is the current Chief Operations Officer of Facebook, the social media network or platform. She addressed a room full of female leaders at a TED conference, TED conferences if you’re not familiar with that, Ted stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. And the conference features industry leaders in those sectors of society.
Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk was called “Why we have too few women leaders.” It was a 15 minute presentation, that has as of today, been viewed more than 10 million times on the internet, 10 million times. She’s become very influential. And she is nothing like a shrill feminist. I found Sheryl Sandberg to be intelligent, winsome, intriguing. You actually can’t help but like this woman, appreciate her sincerity and her transparency.
Miss Sandberg wrote a, a book a few years later expanding on the ideas of her TED talk called, “Lean In, Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.” I bought her book, read it, most of it anyway. And I found what I expected, more intellect, intelligence, and outworking of all of that. But at the same time, it was also the outworking of a particularly secular, modernist, worldview with a single goal. Here’s what Sheryl Sandberg hopes to inspire.
This is from her book. Quote, “She wants to see, a truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes. I believe this would be a better world.” Let me say that again. “A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes, I believe that this would be a better world.”
That’s the cause to which Miss Sandberg has devoted her life. She has a large and powerful platform and influential voice, she’s got a strong intellect and she’s got very, very deep pockets. Just a personal net worth is estimated at over a billion dollars. She’s turning away though from God’s design. And she’s investing that intellect, her gifts, her energies to build Facebook and to influence women to rule half the world and to press men into mothering half the children. If you haven’t heard of any of this, you need to understand that this thinking of Sheryl Sandberg and others like her, it’s rife on college and university campuses. It really is the air that many young women breathe today. It’s huge.
Interestingly, she is finding herself continually frustrated in achieving her goals. Most significant barriers, she’s facing though, they’re not from institutionalized sexism or the opposition from men. In fact, many men are actually cheering her on. Her most significant challenge is with women, fellow feminists, because they just are not staying true to the cause anymore. They’re peeling away in droves. Sandberg cites an undeniable national trend in which women, highly trained women, quote, “Are scaling back and dropping out of the workforce in high numbers.” End quote. They want to be, she says “stay at home mothers and volunteers.” Get this. “Like my mom.”
Sandberg quotes one of her feminist heroines, Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, who expresses a similar lament. Quote, “Judith Rodin says my generation fought so hard to give all of you choices. We believe in choices. But choosing to leave the workforce was not the choice we thought so many of you would make.” Isn’t that interesting? What Judith Rodin, Sheryl Sandberg, and today’s feminists are finding, is that given the choice, many women want to be well, women. They like having babies. They like raising children, they like not being tied to a job and a boss. They like donating their time. They like volunteering, giving their time and their talents to serve causes that are meaningful to them. And that is frustrating today’s feminists.
I have no doubt that Sheryl Sandberg’s brand, her new brand of feminism is going to take root in the hearts of many, many women. Those who are burned out on the old feminism will pass off the scene and this new brand of feminism is going to take its place. It’s one that’s more winsome, more transparent. But it’s still a message that is hostile to the Gospel, hostile to divine authority, hostile to true femininity.
What Miss Sandberg will continue to face, and what she actually admits very honestly, in her book, her greatest obstacle in trying to get women to abandon their traditional role in the home. It’s in this fact, that every baby girl is born with God’s design programmed into her. For every girl growing up, for every woman she can convince to enter into the workforce, for every woman she wants to groom for political or corporate leadership. Miss Sandberg will be fighting against God’s design. It’s an uphill battle, and she’s never going to win it.
Her uh, presentation at the TED conference and her book, both were replete with evidence that God has designed women not to be leaders, but to be helpmeets. And she records both statistically and anecdotally, how she and other women don’t feel natural, they don’t feel comfortable asserting themselves as leaders. They don’t feel comfortable competing with men. Not only that, but they value things like security and stability, and they tend to be risk averse. They don’t want to take the risks, they tend to pull back when Sheryl Sandberg feels they ought to be leaning in.
Even when they do ascend into positions of power and influence, women are distracted by their maternal longings. Apart from the biological factors that they deal with routinely, there is that year and a half interruption that childbirth presents for their careers. Women also feel this constant internal tension that they should be at home with their children. Sandra even describes her own feelings of guilt and hard pain, deep pain, having to peel her clinging three year old daughter off of her leg, while she’s crying, “Mommy, don’t go.” She said that when she was getting on the plane to fly from San Francisco to Washington D.C. to give the TED talk.
What I want to say to Mrs. Sandberg, it’s what I really have the privilege of saying to all of you, God didn’t design you to climb corporate ladders, to become the help meet of someone else’s political or corporate ambitions. It’s not what you were made for. You don’t need to feel like your beauty, your worth and your significance are compromised by loving your husband and your children. Or if you’re not married, you can give your God given talents and energies to build his kingdom and you do not need to feel ashamed of that. Rather, you should feel joy. And it’s okay to feel joy, whether married or unmarried. God has designed you to be a help meet. And that is a noble thing. It’s in that capacity that you will find your greatest joy and satisfaction, being who he created you to be, doing what he designed you to do.
Listen, what Sheryl Sandberg has so helpfully articulated here is the contemporary face of an ancient challenge. This is really a primitive temptation. And it traces its origin all the way back to the Garden of Eden, goes all the way back to Genesis chapter three, in fact, turning your Bibles to Genesis chapter three. And I want to show you that original lie. This is the lie that so many women believe. Even Christian women struggle with this temptation. We understand this, which is why so many women’s conferences, feel the need to assure women that they are beautiful, they are valuable and they are significant.
Look at Genesis chapter three, and it’s in verse four, I want to direct your attention because into a world of concrete straightforward evidence of God’s goodness and wisdom, into a world that was governed by God’s clear revelation. The first question mark, written on the pages of Scripture comes from the mouth of that ancient serpent, when he asked this question, “Did God actually say?” When he slithered up to the woman that day, Satan was there to sow seeds of doubt, in her mind about God’s word, and then, about God’s character. Does God actually have your best interest in mind? Or is he withholding something from you?
Look at Genesis 3:4, “The serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you’ll be like God, knowing good and evil.'” So on the dark canvas of doubt that the serpent painted a new picture of reality for the woman, and then he stepped back. And he let her ponder that new vision for just a bit. Eve, she has no information besides this, and what she’s learned from her husband. She has no new information. She has no further certainty, she has nothing but the serpent’s vision casting, she came to a new conclusion about all the things she’d been taught thus far.
Look at verse six. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,” She’s just speculating at this point, isn’t she? She has no idea of this. But “She took of its fruit and ate. And she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” And that was it. That’s where everything changed. They had transgressed, violating God’s clear command, incurring instant guilt, experiencing instant death. The spiritual separation from God and they felt an immediate sense of shame.
All of a sudden, separation, suspicion, shame, division. Women would perpetually struggle with this very same primitive temptation to build, in Sheryl Sandberg words, “A better world for themselves.” To escape God’s design and intention and then to usurp the role, the man. Look at Genesis 3:16, “Your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you.” Conflict, dividing the most intimate union. For those designed is helpmeets, designed to learn and to work to submit, to build, women face this perpetual temptation to be like God, knowing good and evil, redefining right and wrong, women will be tempted to work for and build a new vision of reality.
With that in mind, I’d like you to turn back a few pages to see what God originally designed for women Genesis chapter one, to see how he originally created them. We don’t want his good and perfect, wise and gracious intentions to be ignored any longer. We’ve heard enough of the sadness caused by the departure from God’s good design. So we want to, tonight get back to the truth. Okay? What I hope to highlight for you tonight, what I want to explain from the text, what I want to actually commend to you is a calling that’s higher and greater and more beautiful than any deceptive fantasy that the devil can spin.
I want you to hear God’s call for you as a woman, whether you’re married or unmarried, the call is the same and it’s the highest calling you can pursue. If you embrace God’s calling for you, as a woman, if you pursue it, his plan for you will cause true beauty to shine forth in your life. His calling will demonstrate the true value of your life. It’ll satisfy your God given longing to do something truly significant with your life. Ladies, this is what God intends for you. It’s what he’s intended for women since the very beginning. And any other vision of femininity is a deception, and a distraction that will leave you sad and frustrated with a life that squandered, chasing a satanic lie.
“Biblically, the role of the woman is to be a helpmeet.”Travis Allen
First point for this evening is this, you can jot this down in your notes if you’d like, the first point. The true glory of the woman, the true glory of the woman. The true glory of a woman is this. She is an image bearer of God, and she is a co-regent with man on the earth. You know what I mean by co-regent? I mean, co ruling, co king, if you will, she’s the queen. Her glory is to reflect God’s glory. And that speaks of a beauty and a value and a significance that is far surpassing anything that any other person can offer, doesn’t it? What higher calling could the world offer than that?
Take a look there at Genesis 1:26 and 27. Look what it says God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
Notice in verse 26, God said, “Let us make man in our image and let them rule.” Man, singular, refers to mankind and mankind is made in the image of God. But then God uses the plural when he speaks of the co regency. Ruling together over the created world. This verse presents this first couple as co equals, partners, a team. But then in verse 27, we see God distinguish them from one another. “God created man,”singular, “in his own image. In the image of God, He created him,” singular, “male and female, He created them”plural. Both persons here, man and woman are image bearers of God.
Each one capable of representing God’s communicable attributes, that is things like his righteousness, his patience, his love, his mercy. They were created to reflect his glory in that way, perfectly. Not only that, but each one had the rational capacity to know God’s incommunicable attributes as well. That is things like his self existence, his immutability, his infinity, his eternity, his omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. They could know those things as image bearers, they possessed rationality, they possess an ability to learn, to understand, to apprehend truth and comprehend it on some level.
So baring his communicable attributes, and then apprehending the greatness of his incommunicable attributes, men and women, together, share the intellectual and emotional capacity to worship God in all of his glory, and all of his splendor. They’re co equal as image bearers of God. What a high calling. Together, God, assigned them a task, look at verse 28, “God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish, birds and every living thing that moves on the earth.'”
Men and women, they’re not only equal by virtue of being image bearers, they’re also equal in their God given task, to exercise joint dominion over the earth, they’re to rule together as co-regents over all creation. Exercising a delegated authority from God. Obviously, cooperation here is implied. Obviously, things like mutual respect and mutual appreciation. This is implied as well, men and women, equals in every way, but at the same time, they’re also different, aren’t they? Male and female, two different terms.
And this is an initial clue right here, in the very beginning, Genesis chapter one, it signals a difference in role, it signals a difference in function, living as image bearers of God, it wouldn’t look exactly the same, right? Living and ruling as co-regents, it would not be conducted in exactly the same way. And that’s what we see, when we turn the page to Genesis 2:4. Go ahead and look at Genesis 2:4. This brings us to a second point. And this is where we’re going to spend the bulk of our time and energy tonight because this is the most hotly contested point. This is the very bone of contention that we’re dealing with today. Men and women, equal as image bearers and co-regents, the same time having unique roles.
So consider a second point you can jot this down. The distinct role of a woman, the distinct role of a woman. To put it simply, to put it plainly, and biblically, the role of the woman is to be a helpmeet. A helpmeet, all women, whether married or unmarried, they’re designed by God to be helpmeets. Now, I want to stop there for a moment and define the word that word helpmeet, it’s kind of come down to us from generations past, and it’s become more to us like jargon that we think we understand, but don’t always take the time to define, right? So we would be well served here to slow down, get a handle on this term, helpmeet.
Look ahead to Genesis chapter two, verse 18. And do you see the word helper in that verse or something like that? That’s where the word helpmeet comes from. But it’s comes from the older King James Version of the Bible. The King James Version translated the verse this way, it said, “And the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone, I will make a help meet for him.” So I will make him a help, comma, meet for him. Meet, meaning suitable, not meat, meaning edible, it’s M E E T. We don’t talk like this any longer, do we?
Um, which is why more modern translations render this phrase, like the Christian Standard Bible, “I will make a helper as his complement.” Not someone who compliments them all the time, tells him how great he is. Someone who is fitting to him, complements him in every way. The ESV, probably in front of you, “I’ll make him a helper fit for him.” The New American Standard, “I will make him a helper suitable for him.” I like the New English Translation, “I will make a companion for him, who corresponds to him.” That’s the idea right there. A companion who corresponds. I really liked that translation “companion.” It does lack the helping idea of the word helper, but it retains the equality idea from Genesis chapter 1, and I really like that, I think that’s appropriate.
The concept of helping is important. Even if I do call my wife my little helper, it sounds a little bit condescending, doesn’t it? I don’t do that. Okay, that’s, that’s a, it’s a lesson 101 in husbanding. Don’t call her your little helper. I had to learn that very early on. But the concept of a suitable companion, one who helps, one who corresponds to the man, that’s the idea. We need to ask the question. Help the man do what, exactly? Help him do what? How is she to be helpful?
Well, from what we already saw in Genesis 1:26, and 1:28, the woman was created to bear God’s image and to rule as co-regent with a man. So there’s some way that she’ll help the man with that. Hold that idea in your mind for a moment, let’s make a few observations here about the creation of the woman. There’s a lot that we can learn from how God brought the woman into existence, which is going to teach us more about her unique role. We already said uh, in Genesis chapter one, the equality described in the text, it’s, it’s expressed in unique characteristics.
First, there’s the uniqueness of gender, Genesis 1:27. “So God created man in his own image, and the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” There’s gender there. When God made mankind, when he made human beings, he didn’t make them the same. There’s not one gender. Gender differences in no way, though, imply inequality, not at all. But those gender differences. They are thorough, aren’t they? Differences, we can all see, they’re superficial differences, things we can all see on, by outward observation, but they’re also profound differences, meaning not superficial, but deep.
Things that are undetectable to the naked eye, things like internal functionality, things like hormonal and chemical differences between men and women. Those gender differences, they reveal a divine intention, that there is to be, second thing, uniqueness of role. So not just uniqueness of gender, uniqueness of role. God intended the male and the female to have different roles. That’s exactly what we find here in Genesis chapter two. And by the way, that is what our world wants to obliterate, get rid of, they want us to think that gender is open to reassignment, redefinition, not so, not so, you cannot get away from XX XY chromosomal differences.
As we’ve already read, the woman, she did not come on the scene right away. God created the man first, Genesis 2:7, and then he created the woman, Genesis 2:21-22. Just to read those verses, quickly, look at Genesis 2:7, this is God creating the man, “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.” Then in verses 21 and 22, God created the woman, how did he do that? “The Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man. And while he slept, he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh, and the rib the Lord God had taken from the man, he made into a woman, and he brought her to the man.”
Two creations separated there, by 14 verses, right? There is a 14 verse gap between the creation of the man and the creation of the woman, happen on the same day, the sixth day, but a 14 verse gap. God could have created them together, at the same moment, at the same time, but he didn’t. You ever wonder about that? Why did Adam come first and then Eve later?
Paul told Timothy, 1 Timothy 2:12 and 13. It was partly because of this fact. Adam first, Eve second, created order, that men and not women are to be teachers and authorities in the church. Here’s what he prescribed. “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man.” He’s talking about the local church context. “Rather, she’s to remain quiet for” because here’s the reason “Adam was formed first and then Eve.” You say, “That’s not fair.” Oh, wait a minute. This is God’s design.
Ladies, this is not an indication of first century sexism. This is the Holy Spirit, laying down a pattern in the church and it’s based on a pattern in the God ordained distinctions between the man and the woman. Doesn’t have anything to do with male superiority and female inferiority, that women can’t exercise rules of authority in the church. We already saw that God designed men and women as co-equals, as image bearers of God. This doesn’t have to do with men being logical, supposedly, and women being emotional. Doesn’t have to do with clear headed male common sense versus female gullibility, or any of that nonsense.
This is about God’s sovereign choice. It’s about his choice. He created and designed one person in the human pair to lead and he created and designed the other person to follow. It’s that simple. God intends for these two image bearing co-regents to work together as a team, one will lead and one will follow, and get this, when both of them were created, he put his final stamp of approval on everything he had made, calling it what? “Very good.” Right? From Genesis 1:31.
But again, we have to ask that question. Why would it matter that Adam was formed first, and then Eve? God isn’t whimsical about anything. He’s intentional. So he must have had something in mind. Notice what happened during the interval between the creation of the man and the creation of the woman. For the sake of time, I’m not going to read all these verses, but let your eyes scan over verses 8 to, to 20. As I highlight just a few things. First, as you see there, in verses 8-14, Adam, before Eve was ever on the scene, Adam got a tour of his environment. Before the woman was ever created, God gave Adam the lay of the land.
God showed Adam the garden with its trees, which were pleasing to look at, good for food, verses 8-9. He saw the tree of life, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God showed Adam where the garden got its irrigation, its water, he helped him trace that water to its source in verse 10. God took Adam along the major rivers, verses 11-14. And Adam then became the first cartographer, naming the rivers, mapping out the natural boundaries. Along with the way he discovered natural resources. He identified minerals that could be mined from the earth and put to practical use. This is like the birth of engineering. And all of this, before Eve came into existence.
Look at verse 15, “The Lord God took the man, put him into the Garden of Eden to work it and to keep it.” So Adam is the first here to get his work assignments, directly from God. This is how the first couple would fulfill or start to fulfill their Genesis 1:28 calling, “To fill the earth and subdue it.” And get this, Adam learned all of this before Eve arrived. Why? Because God designed Adam, to be the teacher and the leader of his wife. He designed her to be the teacher and the leader of his wife. So God put Adam in a position to succeed, he set him up, he guided him as a pattern for how to lead and teach his wife.
Adam was to be Eve’s tour guide, which would create a special bond of intimacy between them. Just as it had created a bond of intimacy between Adam and God. Along the way, there were some do’s and don’ts. Look at verse 16. “The Lord God commanded the man you may surely eat of every tree in the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat for the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.” So again, Adam learned about this, this danger, directly from the mouth of God, before Eve was ever created. She wasn’t around to hear any of this for herself. She had to hear it from her husband.
God gave Adam life and death knowledge. He gave him knowledge vital for the well being of his wife. God intended Adam to teach his wife, he intended Eve to learn from Adam, and then to submit to his leadership. This concept is repeated and affirmed throughout Scripture. Most specifically, in reference to marital relationships. Paul said, 1 Corinthians 11:3, “I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife as her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” There is an authority submission relationship between husband and wife. Just as I might remind you quickly, there is an authority submission relationship between the Father and the Son.
When Paul refers here to the intra-trinitarian relationship between father and son, he completely bypasses any sense of human culture, opinion, customs, social convention, none of that has any bearing on what he’s saying here, there is an essential equality between the Father and the Son, one not, is not greater than the other. At the same time, there’s a distinction between roles, isn’t there? Even the names father and son, reveal a distinction in the relationship. And scripture portrays the distinction in role. The father wills, he ordains, he decrees, he plans. What’s the son do? The son submits to his father’s will, he executes his father’s plans. The son actually rejoices to submit to his father’s will, to practice submission.
Listen, to practice submission for every Christian, Christ like, Christ like, if we submit in our God given roles and God given areas of responsibility, if we practice submission, we’re being like Christ, who submitted to his father in everything. Scripture pictures this clearly, we never questioned it about God, do we? We only question it when we try to apply it to our marriages. Right? Why is that? Well, we’re going to come back to it in a moment. But the short answer is this. Perfect harmony exists in the Trinity. Why? No sin. Right? Perfect harmony existed past tense in that first marriage as well.
But that unity and harmony, the joy, the satisfaction, the mutual honor and appreciation that existed in that first pristine relationship, that was destroyed by sin. It was obliterated. Get this though, the structure remains the same. The order and structure that God designed for creation, for marriage, for the man, for the woman, that was for our good. He didn’t want us to get rid of the model. There’s a bond between the man who leads and the woman who submits to his leadership. There’s a bond that is formed between teacher and student. And that structure, that bond, God intended it to lead to mutual honor, mutual respect, mutual appreciation.
As Adam performs his role teaching and leading, as Eve performs her role learning and submitting. The two of them, they’re drawn close together in intimacy. They’re drawn close together in wisdom and bear fruit together as wise and productive, beneficial co-regents, who exercise dominion over the whole created world. That is God’s design, right there. So God designed women, to learn, to submit. This is why women are such stellar students. I don’t say that by way of flattery, it’s documented. Women are stellar students, they excel, they achieve in academics.
They are so effective in virtually every area of service. They are effective in every sector of society. So could there be a woman president, a good one? Yes, absolutely there could. Why? Because they’re designed to be good learners, to be good servants, to be good and effectual in everything that they do. They can achieve. They can excel, they learn well, they serve with excellence. All that is by God’s design. But we ask the question, is that what God intended for women? To be president, to rule the world, to run half the corporations, to run half the governments? And did he intend men to run half the homes and be mommies?
I read earlier from 1 Timothy 2:12 and 13, which put a restriction on women from teaching and exercising authority over men in the church. But in the verse prior, 1 Timothy 2:11, Paul tells Timothy, “Let a woman learn.” You know how countercultural that was in the first century, to bring women into learning? But I told you, God does not care about social convention. He does not care about any of that. He designed women to learn. “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.” There is again, learning and submitting, God’s design for women. In a marriage, Ephesians 5:22, “Wives submit to your own husbands as to the Lord.” Wives aren’t running around submitting to every husband. Praise the Lord. Amen, right? Okay, just their own husbands, just their own husbands. And that’s tough enough. I get it. I’m a husband. I know how hard that would be. But again, in the context of marriage, this is God’s design.
Women are learners, women are help meets. So what’s the role of a woman? She’s designed by God, to be the complimentary helper, one who helps another with a task, a job and endeavor like such as, exercising dominion over the whole earth. And God has specially equipped women. He’s specially designed them for excellence in their role, they have sharp minds, able to learn, able to exercise quality biblical submission. Now, I want to pause here and just say a word about biblical submission because it is so often misunderstood, so often misconstrued, even in our circles, right? Where we have a handle on a lot of this.
“There’s a vertical relationship between every woman and her God.”Travis Allen
Paul tells the Ephesian church Ephesians 5:21, that one of the marks, you know, as June read earlier, one of the marks of a spirit filled church is when its members are, quote, “Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Submission is not just for women, it’s for all Christians, right? But that does not mean that sometimes wives submit to husbands and sometimes husbands submit to wives. It’s not reciprocating submission like that. And that’s what Sheryl Sandberg tried to practice with her husband, women running half the countries and companies and men running half the homes. That has become what’s known today as shared earning, shared parenting marriage, or the shorter term is peer marriage.
Listen, this is a bad, bad idea, for many reasons. But the foremost is men don’t make good mommies. They’re not designed that way. That’s not biblical submission, at all. Okay, this 50/50 thing that’s radical egalitarianism, which is the product of liberal secular feminism. It is the denial of the differences of gender, the unique God given or God ordained roles. It denies all of that. Rather than embracing God’s design for the man and woman, that 50/50 model seeks to supplant it, to redefine it, to recreate it according to social convention.
It’s what Sheryl Sandberg believes, would be a better world. That is not the practice of the Christian church. That is not the practice of Christian marriage. Biblical submission is to be practiced in a healthy, spirit filled church, and is to be modeled on an individual level, by wives submitting to their own husbands in glorifying marriages, glorifying to God.
The Greek word for submission is the word hypotasso. Hypo is the word under, and it really means to line up under someone else’s authority. It’s a military concept, where some rank under the authority of others. In Ephesians 5:21, the verb form is in the middle voice, which conveys the idea of a willful voluntary submission. This is not the powerful subjecting the weak. This is the concept of I submit myself, this is my decision, I line myself up under the authority of another.
Another way to say this is men don’t press women into this, that’s subjection. This is a matter between a woman and her God, her conscience is accountable to God in this matter. And when God speaks those verses in Ephesians, 5:22 to 24, who does he address? Husbands, make your wives submit? No, wives, submit to your husbands, right? There’s a one to one correspondence there, there’s a vertical relationship between every woman and her God. It’s not for men to shove them into that.
Military imagery, I talked about the lining up under authority and the ranking structure, that imagery can sometimes convey the idea of “put up and shut up,” like in the military, right? Some like to think of soldiers as mindlessly following orders. And they believe somehow tha, that’s what’s being prescribed here for women. No wonder women recoil from that idea, right?
In fact, as I was doing some of my research for this message, I read more about this what’s become known as the biblical patriarchy movement. I don’t know if you’ve heard of this, or the quiver full movement. It’s the idea that husbands and fathers are at the top of this family pyramid dictating virtually everything to their wives, their children, anyone under his umbrella of authority, even down to their thought life. It may not be promoted this way, but it’s very often practiced this way.
Women are wilting, absolutely wilting under this authoritarian model. Imagine a combat boot smashing down a delicate flower. That’s what that is. Women have, in his models start to second guess themselves about everything questioning every little decision, to make sure they’re not un-submissive.
Again, in the practice of this, women are treated as if they have no intellectual, spiritual contribution to make it all. They basically exist to bear children, as many as possible, a quiver full, right? To raise and school all those children. Now imagine the woman she’s got her hair sticking everywhere and she’s frazzled, she’s at her wit’s end, she’s become a doormat for her husband to walk all over. That is not biblical submission. That is not what we’re teaching here.
That is a worldly, perverted, distorted view of submission, we could call it subjection or domination. But please do not call that submission. That counterfeit really brings a reproach on true biblical submission. It provides grist for the feminist mill. It supports the stereotype that they’ve warned everybody against, and it gives strength to their charge, that submission is really a bad idea. Even a dangerous idea for women.
You know what, if that’s what they are talking about, that domination model, they are right to resist it. They are right to call the church to account for something like that. A domination of women, objectifying them as nothing more than brainless baby machines. Not true. Listen we’re not here to defend that, that is not what we teach. People are right to oppose that, but we are here to teach true biblical submission. The voluntary, thoughtful, engaged involvement of the one under authority with the one exercising authority.
Submission, in that sense is dignified, noble and virtuous. If you have any question about that, just remember, Christ, he submitted. As I said, Ephesians 5:21 biblical submission is one of the marks of a spirit filled church, practiced by male and female alike. Submission is a concept is about humbling yourself, its about setting yourself a side, its about serving another’s interest, helping someone else succeed. Christ submitted and so do all of us, male and female. And just as the general who oversees the battlefield, he needs the thoughtful, wise, intellectual engagement of his commanders as they submit to his authority. So also wives submit to their husbands. So also Christian women submit within the church. So also all Christians male and female are to exercise submission in whatever realm, in the church, in the workplace where ever.
That’s a very long second point, but we had to lay some groundwork for the rest of our conference, tomorrow’s sessions. The glory of the woman, just to remind you, it says an image bearer of God, a co-regent with man on the earth, the role of the women, the way she brings glory to God is through helping, through submission. Which is thoughtful and wise and that means the woman must be a learner, a good student of God’s word. All of that speaks of her beauty, her value, her significance as a woman of God. That’s how God designed woman, to be helpful servants in support of those who God has placed in authority.
Let’s consider a third point this evening, just to see how all this works its self out. We’ll call this point number three, the fruitful influence of a women. The fruitful influence of the women. When a woman is God centered in her thinking, she recognizes that her glory is found in God and God alone, right? She understands that her worth and her dignity, it’s as God’s creature, and a God-centered woman, she’s quick to embrace her unique role, she’s quick to learn well, so she can make full use of her God given qualities and her God given design.
She wants to put all those qualities to good use, to good effect. We’re going to talk in a moment about the fruitfulness of a woman and how she lives her life and what she does. What she accomplishes. But for this point I want to focus, just ta, initially here. I want to focus on her influence, just by the very fact of being a woman. Being in existence, and being present in a situation and look at Genesis 2:18 again because this, the first not good thing in God’s perfect world. What is it? No woman. Not good. I amen that.
It’s not good that a woman should be alone. I will make him a helper, companion, suitable, fit for him. Corresponding to him. Before God created her, before he created Eve. God stopped, he raised the issue in Adam’s mind that there’s a not good thing. There’s a no helpmeet, nobody corresponding to me. And then God had Adam name all the animals, which this is another demonstration of Adam’s authority. The authority to name, but it was also a lesson in recognizing his need. God wanted Adam to come to the conclusion that he lacked. That he was incomplete, that he needed his wife. Don’t you wish your husbands knew that about you. You need me. Absolutely, they do.
End of verse 20 says, “For Adam, there was not found a helper fit for him.” So God introduces, he creates Adam’s perfect companion. Verse 21, “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man.” Listen, that’s why we take naps, right there. And while he slept, God took one of his ribs and closed up the place with flesh. The rib that the Lord God had taken from the man, he made into a woman and brought her to the man.” So look, God formed Adam from the dust, he fashioned Eve from the rib of the man.
She is, I think Barbara said this, She is the crowning jewel of man kind. She is the pinnacle of beauty and refinement. Here, all it took for God is a quick out-patient surgery probably didn’t even leave a scar here. And when Adam wakes up, he immediately rejoices over this new, beautiful creature, the man said there, look at it, “This at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She should be called woman because she was taken out of a man.” He is really, really excited here. As you might imagine after looking at animals all day.
God, he created the man out of the dust from the ground, but the woman, the woman he fashioned. She wasn’t created from inanimate dirt, she was formed from living flesh. God used his fingers, his hands, he’s the perfect surgeon. He knit her together, she’s designed. She’s crafted, she’s knitted together with excellence and for excellence. So if mankind is the crown of creation, woman, its crowning jewel.
She’s the final act of God’s creative work. After this, God put the pencil down, he’s done. And like fine art, God introduced her last of all, after, get this, he created an audience to witness and to appreciate and to admire her beauty. She’s the picture here of refined beauty. And Adam, he’s immediately appreciative, he’s deeply honoring, he acknowledges the clothes, the complimentary nature of their relationship because of the intimate communion between the two of them he calls her woman because she was taken out of a man, what is that? That is a perpetual reminder of their close intimacy.
She is the reason why verses 24 and 25, “A man shall leave his father and his mother, hold fast to his wife, they should become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” Again, just her presence, just coming in on the scene, the beauty, the refinement of her form. Her softness, her gentleness, the woman has an immediate effect just by her presence. We see this even today, women are the stabilizing force in a family, in society. They bring beauty, grace, they bring softness and refinement.
They bring dignity to a situation, respect. They have the capacity to calm very tense situations just by being there. They have the capacity to make men out of boys. The have the capacity to bring the power of conscience into a situation. Again just by being there. I don’t have time to take you through it now, but sometime, mark this down, 1 Samuel 25, 1 Samuel 25. And you see there the sobering, the calming influence of a wise woman named Abigail.
An amazing woman who delivered her people. They were about to be slaughtered by David. And she intervened and she spared David also the blood guilt of killing other people in rash anger. All the while, she was living under the oppressive, dominating influence of a very, very foolish man. God cares for those under authority. He cares for those who practice submission and he delivered Abigail from Nabal, by killing him. Then he gave her to David. Ladies don’t get any ideas here, okay?
I uh, graduated my undergrad degree from South Eastern Seminary and the president at the time was Paige Patterson. Dorothy Patterson was a pretty well known woman’s speaker at the time and she’s, she’s brilliant. Very, very witty. One time, one of the seminary wives was asking her a question, “Mrs. Patterson, do you ever, do you ever, entertain or ever been tempted with the idea of divorce?” And Dorothy Patterson stopped and said, “Divorce, no, murder?” Admit it.
The apostle Peter though, he tells us, that even harsh, disobedient husbands, men like Nabal, Abigail’s husband. He’s name means fool. Sometimes there’s a little bit of Nabal in all of us men, at times, right? Don’t amen that. But even harsh, disobedient husbands, they can be won over without a word. By the grace and the refinement of Christian wives. When the woman embraces her God given design, she is not focused on superficial and trivial expressions of feminine beauty. She realizes that her beauty comes deep inside, from a place that peter refers to as “the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which,” get this, “in God’s sight, very precious.”
Sessions tomorrow are going to unpack all this is much greater detail, but just before we close this evening, can I mention just a few practical ways that woman live according to this divine design? Two primary arenas in which woman work out their designs as helpmeets. Increasing the effectiveness of those who they serve, two main arenas, in the home and in the church. The home and the church. I realize that some woman have to enter the work place because of financial pressures, that may be the case for some of you.
For some women that’s only a season during a tough financial stretch, for others, even like single moms, that’s a lifestyle. And it’s hard, no doubt, but God, he is near in that difficulty. He cares for you as your torn away from what your heart longs for. The trial is temporary even if it seems like a really, really long temporary. God will give you the patience to endure, he’ll give you the strength to bear up under it, but for many women, perhaps we could say even the majority of women, God has called them to be wives. And some of those wives, he’s called to be mothers. And the home is a woman’s primary domain of responsibility.
In Titus 2:4-5, Paul expects young women to “Love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home. Kind, submissive to their own husbands.” Why? “So that the word of God may not be reviled.” Submission, it means coming along side your husband. Giving him perspective and counsel, working to make him successful in what God has called him to do. So since that’s the case, make sure you’re a Bible saturated wife. That way your council is godly counsel. You’ll have it ready at hand to help him make wise and godly decisions.
I realize men don’t always make good and wise decisions, and for the sake of time, lets save any of the what ifs at this point, for the Q & A time, okay? And we’ll pose all those to Kathy Edwards. But um, the longer your husband exercises leadership, listen, he is designed to be a leader and a teacher, but he needs a, an environment, he needs a role to do that. So immediately when you marry him, he’s not the perfect leader and teacher. That’s what your there for, is to help him become that.
Help him become what he’s designed to be. And the longer your husband exercises leadership, the more effective leader he’s going to be, the more good decisions he’ll make, than bad ones. Give it time. In the context of submitting to your husband in the dominion over your home. You’re to work at home, particularly in raising your children and the whole context of a passage referred to several times now, 1 Timothy 2:11-15, that whole context points to the significance of a woman’s work in the home. Particularly with raising children. “Let a woman learn quietly, with all submissiveness, I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man, rather she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first and then Eve and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”
So there’s a stigma there. “Yet she will be saved through childbearing if they continue in faith and love and holiness with self control.” Listen just as men bear the stigma of the transgression of that original sin, that is Romans 5, “In Adam all die.” Right? So also women bear the stigma of their participation in that original transgression in the garden. Women who embrace their childbearing, child rearing role, a role for which they are biologically, emotionally, intellectually, designed and suited.
If they continue in that role, as it says here “In faith, in love, in holiness, with self control.” You know what? They have a unique, intimate opportunity to raise up godly children and set them on a godly course. That ancient stigma will be erased, forgotten in the context of a godly life. A lot of sacrifice involved in that, a lot of thankless tasks, a lot of sleepless nights, mundane duties, piles and piles of laundry, no body is going to invite you to address an adoring audience in a TED talk to pass on the secrets, right? But there is a tremendous amount of joy, a high degree of satisfaction, that godly mothers find in raising the children “In the fear and admonition of the Lord.”
I don’t know about you, but I just can’t forget that image of Mrs. Sandberg’s three year old daughter clinging to her leg, crying out, “Mommy, don’t go!” I mean, what does she tell her daughter? “Sorry honey, mommy’s off to be Mark Zuckerberg’s help meet. To help him build his social media empire and that’s very, very important. I can sacrifice you for that, right?”
Well that’s the home, submitting to your husband, raising your children. Let’s quickly consider the church. I realize this is far too brief, we’ll have to save it for another conference. But if you have no husband, no children, or if you have raised your children, then be a help meet to God by serving the local church. How? Well through teaching other women and doing good works. Women are known by their fruitfulness and their works of compassion and mercy and charity. They do all these things with such excellence, so first thing, in the church, older women are to teach younger women in the local church, right?
Titus 2:3-5, “Older women to be reverent in behavior, not slanders, not slaves to wine, they are to teach what is good.” So they train the young women to love their husbands, to love their children. Yeah, you might think that loving us men is natural, easy. That’s what we husbands think, but its not true, they need to be trained. Young women need to be trained to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self controlled, pure, working at home, kind, submissive to their own husbands. So the word of God may not be reviled.
So second women freed up from duties in the home, it’s not time to go out and get some job, to build some meager empire that’s just going to burn in the end. It’s not time for them to get started getting recognized. For a job for themselves some significance outside God’s intention for their lives. Women who are freed up from the duties of raising children, women who are unmarried, they have the opportunity now to engage in good works. Like the virtuous widow that Paul commended to Timothy, 1 Timothy 5:3 and following. “She is one who has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers, night and day.” She’s one with a reputation for good works, if she’s brought up children, if she’s shown hospitality, if she’s washed the feet of the saints. If she’d cared for the afflicted, if she’s devoted herself to every good work.
That’s the woman, and you know what? All the good works that are listed there, none of them are drudgery for women. Women rejoice to engage in these deeds. These are things that are deeply meaningful, profoundly significant. Caring for children, showing hospitality, doing works of compassion, all of that, taps into the DNA of women. That is the essence of true beauty, real worth, profound significance. All living according to God’s design.
Sadly there are many women that don’t trust the way that God designed them is best. They look across the gender aisle and they, they want to do what men are doing. They may not recognize this, but wanting the role of the man, by wanting that. They’re rejecting their own femininity. They’re expressing a very negative judgment on their own sex. Discontent with what God has designed them to be, they’re unmoored from any biblical foundation, they’re set adrift. And believe me, they’re many predators out there ready and willing to use the incredible strengths of a woman, and put those help meet qualities to work for their own advantage.
They want to build their empires and they want you to help them do it. Ladies, I want to encourage you to turn away from that, to learn deeply from Gods word. To invest your intellect and your gifting in that which is eternally significant and fruitful. Like the Gospel, right? That is the fruitful influence of a woman, when she lives out the gospel. As she turns from Satan’s lie, she proclaims the gospel by holding fast to God’s authority, and God’s design for her life.
As she submits to her husband, her marriage becomes a living picture of Christ’s his relationship to the church. As she raises her children in the Lord, she teaches them the gospel, to repent of their sin and embrace salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. As she engages in good works, she demonstrates the works of the gospel coming out of a transformed life. As Erin Davis said, “The message that every woman needs is the Gospel, without it, we are just spinning our wheels.” Exactly right, Erin, exactly right. That’s the life of true beauty of inestimable worth, and eternal significance.