Male and Female

Masculinism is not an every day word. Feminism is more so, and the ideology identified by that word has many champions. But where are the spokespersons for masculinism)? Does the Bible address the concepts of masculinity (“male-ness” and femininity (“female-ness”)?

Thus says the LORD:  “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

“Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure: the likeness of male or female…” (Deuteronomy 4:15-16)

We rightly infer a couple of precepts from these and other portions of the whole counsel of God in Scripture. The first concerns the natural dignity of men and women as persons made in the image of their personal Creator, Whose uncreated dignity is infinitely greater than that of any created person, and Whose infinite being cannot be depicted by the artistry of any finite human being.

A rock is inferior to a tree, a tree is inferior to a horse, and a horse or any other animal is inferior to any man, woman, or child. And though human individuals are diverse in characteristics and abilities, we all share in that majestic and unique honor: we are like God. We are living self portraits of the great Painter.

Next, though the second Person of the Trinity became incarnate as a male human being, God in Himself transcends human sexuality. The commandment in Deuteronomy underscores this. So we must look elsewhere for the reason that God the Father is not called God the Mother, and why masculine pronouns are used consistently in Scripture for the Holy Spirit and for each of the three Persons of the Trinity. Here is another key verse:

“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.” (1 Corinthians 11:7)

The issue of literal head coverings in worship assemblies is a matter to be discussed some other time! However, with these Holy Spirit inspired words about the respective glories of man and woman, the apostle has regard to what is taught from Genesis 2:18 onward in Scripture: God has given distinct roles (we might say assignments) to man and woman according to His good and perfect will.

This does not contradict the first precept. The Holy Spirit’s use of masculine terms with reference to the transcendent God throughout the Bible is itself a testimony to the proper roles of male and female. The First Corinthians verse does not contradict the Bible’s insistence on the essential equality of man and woman.

The old covenant priests and Levites all were male; in new covenant communities their heirs (elders and deacons) are to be men as well, per the qualifications given in the pastoral epistles which include the requirement that an elder or a deacon be the husband of one wife. Neither Anna (Luke 2:36) nor Priscilla (Acts 18, Romans 16) held ordained office. Although Phoebe was a servant of the church (Romans 16:1), she was not an ordained deacon. All those chosen in Acts 6 to serve in that capacity were men.

The point is that according to Scripture masculinity (“male-ness”), while not intrinsically superior to femininity (“female-ness”) nevertheless represents divine authority in a particular way.

With Biblical women like motherly Deborah (Judges 4:4, 5:7) in mind, even some Christians might balk at this assertion which is so contrary to today’s worldly wisdom. Scripture records that Deborah the wife of Lapidoth indeed judged. But unlike the other judges, we do not find it written that “God raised her up.” Barak’s role in the full account should not be ignored. Ever respecting the greater context of Scripture, we remember that the time of Barak and Deborah was a time “when every man did what was right in his own eyes.” The case of Deborah and Barak is illustrative of the precept of Isaiah 3:12 –

“As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths.”

Did Holy Spirit inspired Isaiah write this to teach that women are inferior to men? Not at all! As we see in Genesis 1:27 et. al., the same Holy Spirit has affirmed the equality of men and women as divine image bearers.

Consider this: the eternal Son of God is equal in power and glory to His Father, and to the Holy Spirit Who spoke by the prophets. (Arians* and others who deny the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ hold to a damnable heresy; they are outside of Biblical orthodoxy.) Yet, humbling himself by His incarnation, the Son was subordinated to the Father and filled with the Spirit to fulfill His Messianic calling. Thus He could say, “the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). He did not say, “the Father is better than I.”

America’s Declaration of Independence proclaims that all men are created equal. In one sense, this is exactly correct, but in another sense it is obviously false. As to our essential nature we are all equally stamped with the divine image. But just as one artist might paint the same subject many times but with different facial expressions or bodily poses, so God creatively nuances His image by way of mankind’s endless diversity of traits. Male and female are the most basic of those traits. Every human being, every individual rendering of the divine image, is either feminine or masculine.

So that mankind also would reflect the being of God triune by loving, orderly community life, womanhood and manhood were made complementary at creation (Genesis 1:26-28, 2:18). That foundational building block of human society remains in place to this day (1 Corinthians 11:11). Reproductive parenthood is its normative issue, for upon creating them God commanded the first human pair to “be fruitful and multiply.” He repeated that command to the few survivors of the Noahic Flood, from whom the whole Earth was repopulated (Genesis 9:19). The “nuclear” family is God’s institution.

Therefore as Bible believing people, we identify a cluster of ungodly errors that grow out of the denial of that…of God’s created order. Among them are the concept of unisexuality, feminism, male tyranny, diverse redefintions of marriage (for example, polygamy) and all the insidious ways in which parental authority is overthrown. We condemn these perversions. And we affirm that although sin corrupts all things human, societies are at their best when they best submit to our Creator’s design. We also affirm that it is unlawful for any human government to overturn that divine plan.

* Arians were so named after Arius, a third century proponent of this false teaching

Previously published elsewhere, June A.D. 2016


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