Manuscript

Introduction

In April of this year I preached a sermon series entitled “Act Like Men,” through which I presented a biblical view of manhood.  This morning, as promised last April, I’m beginning a new sermon series, through which, Lord willing, I will present a biblical view of womanhood.

 

The goal of this sermon series is, (as always), to interpret and apply God’s Word; in this case, those texts which deal with womanhood.  But also, a secondary goal, and this specifically for our ladies and young ladies – I pray that as a result of this series of sermons, you will have new or increased clarity, gratitude, and confidence.  That’s my goal and prayer for all you women and young women as we study womanhood.

 

Clarity – that you would clearly understand your identity and purpose as a woman; who you are what you’re designed for.  Gratitude – that your new or increased clarity will result in thankfulness.  And confidence – that you would feel equipped, inspired, and energized to do what God has designed you to do.

 

As you might expect, the Bible will be our textbook; not a particular teacher, not a dictionary or encyclopedia, not the university or science or feminism, but the Bible.  The Bible, of course, because the Bible is the Word of God; it is revelation from God – it is, on paper, the mind of God, and so in it we find everything we need to know about womanhood.  Our text today will begin in Genesis 1:26, where we’ll read about the creation and commissioning of the first man and woman, and the questions we’ll be asking are 1)  “What is a woman?” and 2) “What is a woman for?”

 

Now, before I pray, I want to mention something:  I know, this morning, outside these Christian Church walls, many women would deem these two questions as nonsensical or even offensive.  “Those are antiquated, oppressive questions.  If there is something a woman is, then there is something a woman is not.  If there is something a woman is for, then there is something a woman is not for, which is an offensive statement, and it’s especially offensive when set out to be answered by a 40-year-old white Christian man with a homemaker wife and six children.   Why is that?

 

The reason many bristle is because the predominant view of manhood and womanhood today, what’s left of it, has been defined by feminism, which is unbiblical, and so poignantly untrue.  The result of it, in regards to womanhood, has been the  absence of clarity, aimless gratitude, and confidence in the wrong direction.  I say all that to encourage all of you Christian women to think for yourself, to think objectively and logically, and most important, biblically.

 

The truth is, God made you, with a purpose, and he expects you to be grateful and obedient.  And if you will be grateful and obedient, you will have all the things worldly wisdom promises but fails to deliver.  Namely – liberation, fulfillment, joy, contentment, satisfaction, peace, and happiness.

 

Here’s where we’re going:  This morning will be an overview of biblical womanhood, through which we’ll set out to answer the two aforementioned questions: “What is a woman?” and “What is she for?”  And in the following several weeks we’ll be taking this overview farther up and farther in.  Next week, “Glory.”  Week three, “Marriage.”  And week four, “Motherhood.”

 

Before I preach this sermon, we should pray together.

 

If you haven’t already, please open your Bibles to Genesis 1.  If you’re using one of our church Bible you’ll find that on page 1.

 

At this point, a bit of introductory history will be helpful.  The feminist agenda, especially in this country, architected and promoted by women like Susan B Anthony, Margaret Sanger, Betty Friedan, and Gloria Steinem, has consistently promoted casting off restraints, erasing lines and boundaries, rejecting the idea of universal standards, and eliminating anything that stands in the way of women doing whatever women have wanted to do (and by the way, in the 60’s, beginning to loudly tell women what they should want to do), and all this promising itself as the pathway to fulfillment.

 

Here’s the rhetoric:  “In order for a woman to experience true happiness and fulfillment, she must be liberated to pursue whatever she wants to pursue.”  And, at least since the 60’s, feminism has asserted that what a woman should pursue is a fulfilling career in the workplace.

 

Historically, the primary restraints to be cast off have been God, men, and children.  Nothing will slow you down like God, men, and children.  And so feminists have fought battles, (and won), for things like birth control, no fault divorce, and abortion, and in the church, things like egalitarianism and the ordination of women.

 

Here’s the rhetoric:  “God would not stand in your way (even if he made you).  A man should not stand in your way (even if he’s your husband).  Children should not stand in your way (even if they’re your own).  Not even your own body should stand in your way, which has resulted in a mother’s womb being the most dangerous place on the planet, where you have only a one in four chance of making it out alive.

 

Now, this all begs the question – after 200 years of feminists pretty much winning every battle, are women today more fulfilled?  Are they happier?  I suppose it’s tough to evaluate that objectively.  They don’t seem happier.  But we do know this – in 1963 21% of women were on psychotropic drugs, and today 26% of women are on psychotropic drugs.  That documented fact certainly doesn’t help the proposition that feminism leads to fulfillment.

 

Why this historical snapshot?  I say all this to encourage all of you Christian women to consider what you believe about womanhood, and consider where you heard it.  There are masses of women who claim to speak for you, but biblical femininity and 21st century American feminism are incompatible.

 

So consider biblical womanhood and then, if God gives you clarity, gratitude, and confidence, pursue and advocate this.  Christian women today have largely misunderstood texts about weaker vessels, submission to husbands, and gentle and quiet spirits.

 

Okay, let’s get to Genesis 1.  Remember our two questions?  “What is a woman?” and “What is a woman for?”  I’ll be reading Genesis 1:26-28 and Genesis 2:18-25.

 

Genesis 1 is an overview of the creation of the first man and woman.  And Genesis 2 is a zoomed in look, with more details.

 

Genesis 1:26-28

26 Then 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.”

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

28 And 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 of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

 

Genesis 2:18-25

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formedevery beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

 

These are two very important texts.  One of the reasons they are so significant is because this takes place before the fall; before sin entered the world.  So what we have here is ideal; it is not a result of sin.  This distinction between manhood and womanhood, and this account of God’s creation and commission stands, it’s normative throughout the Old testament, and will only be affirmed and expanded on in the New Testament.  In fact, Jesus himself, as well as the New Testament writers, when speaking about manhood and womanhood, will cite these passages more than any other.  So let’s find the answer to our questions in this text.

 

  1. What is a woman?

 

  1. The woman is created by God.

 

(Genesis 2v22) “And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”

 

So too, women, you have been created by God.  We were all, according to Psalm 139:13 built and designed by God.  Women, you have been made a woman and He’s made it fairly obvious; you’d have to work hard to hide that reality from yourself and others.  Your gender is not a mystery or a mistake.  Woman is created by God.

 

  1. The woman is created in the image of God.

 

(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.”

 

So too, every woman today is an image-bearer of God.  James 3:9 tells us people are made “in the likeness of God.”  As image-bearers of God, we have very unique capacities including morality, reason, intelligence, capacity for relationship and complex emotions, and creativity.  We are unlike anything else in all of creation, and by virtue of our God-image-bearing, worthy of dignity and sanctity.

 

So here is the answer to our first question.  Woman is a created image-bearer of God.  Now, that is the same answer to the question “What is a man?”  And so this is the foundation for the truth that men and women are created equal.

Men are not better than women and women are not better than men.  However, being equal does not necessitate sameness.

 

G.K Chesterton wrote this little poem:

If I set the sun beside the moon,
And if I set the land beside the sea,
And if I set the flower beside the fruit
And if I set the town beside the country
And if I set the man beside the woman
I suppose some fool would talk
About one being better.

 

Men and women are equal but distinct.  They are equal, but different.  And they are different in profound ways.  In fact, and this leads us to our second question, they are distinct in their function, purpose, and role, in the family, church, and society.

 

  1. What is a woman for?

 

Why did God make the woman?  What did he design this woman to do?  I’m going to give three answers found in this text, and again, we’ll elaborate on all of these in weeks to come.  The woman is for glory, help, and hard work.

 

  1. Women are for GLORY.

 

There is a seemingly insignificant detail in the creation account that will later, in the NT, be made a very big deal – The woman was created last.

 

Don’t make assumptions about that.  Don’t believe the joke about why Eve was created last.  She’s not an afterthought.  Think about this.  She is created last, which means something about authority and submission, which we’ll see in a couple weeks – but I want you to consider something else with me.  Something we’ll look at closely next week, made clear in 1 Corinthians 11.

 

After God created Adam He said, for the first time, after saying everything else He created was good, that Adam alone was not good.  And then God’s final creation was woman.  If she’s not an afterthought (and she’s not!); she’s the grand finale.

 

Mankind, created last, is the pinnacle of God’s creation, and Eve is the pinnacle of mankind;  She’s the pinnacle of the pinnacle;  She’s the glory of the glory;  She’s a garden within the garden.  When she arrives, the garden gets more beautiful, and Adam responds accordingly.  Look at 2v23:

 

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

 

Adam was made to grasp his loneliness and then God sent him, at last, a beautiful woman, and Adam spoke poetry.  He broke out in song.  She had been walked down the aisle by God, and instantly, in God’s grand creation finale, the garden and Adam’s life was made more beautiful.

 

You may not see all that, so we’ll be devoting an entire sermon to this next week.  It’s probably the least understood and developed aspect of womanhood in Christianity today.  But it is imperative for us all, and especially you women, to understand, that you are distinct in your ability to beautify.  You make things beautiful – a marriage, a home, a church, a room, a meal, a city.  You are the glory of the glory; the crown of the crown; the light of the light.

 

A woman is created for glory.

 

  1. Women are for HELP.

 

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

 

God did not say “I will make him a woman.”  “Woman” was actually the title Adam gave to her.  God called her a helper, which is not a degradation.  For example, in Psalm 33:20, God is called our helper.   “Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.”  A helper.  Okay, how was she to help Adam?  What was she to help Adam do?  Well, let’s look back at 1:28 and 2:15 and read what God called them to do:

 

28 And 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 of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

 

15The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

 

What does God commission them to do?  Work the garden.  Keep the garden.  Be fruitful and multiply.  Fill the earth.  Subdue the earth.  Enjoy the earth.  God desires the earth to be filled with people who love him and serve wisely as his representatives here on earth.  The man leads in this; he is head; we looked at that in April.  But the woman helps him.  He cannot do this without her.

 

This help is not insignificant.  Again, this help is not an afterthought.  The man was designed to need this help.  This is not “give me a hand” kind of help.  This is “give me your life” kind of help.  This is a man saying “I can’t do this without you; all of you; all the time; until I die.”

 

  1. (and this may go without saying at this point) Women are for HARD WORK.

 

Remember what God called the man and woman to do – Work the garden.  Keep the garden.  Be fruitful and multiply.  Fill the earth.  Subdue the earth.  Enjoy the earth.  God desires the earth to be filled with people who love him and serve wisely as his representatives here on earth.  – THERE IS NO HARDER WORK!

 

Now also, take note, where is this hard work directed?  You’ll see it’s laid out here, it’s normative throughout the entire Old Testament, and it’s affirmed and elaborated on in the New Testament.  This hard work of a woman has a trajectory; a direction; and it’s the home.

 

This is not to say that the place of every woman is the home, but it is to say the home is the priority.  Ladies, you have been made to build a home; to make a home.  Unfortunately, again, that sounds like a degradation to many, which is simply because our culture has wrongly devalued the home and family.

 

Proverbs 14:1

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.

 

If you have a husband and children, there will be a lot in your home to manage, and you are to manage it, and you are to work hard.  If there is not a husband and children yet, or anymore, though this may look different, you still must work hard.  You were created for this.

 

This is all brought together and seen very clearly in the famous Proverbs 31 text.  Let’s look at Proverbs 31:10-31, and this will be the last text we look at today.

 

Proverbs 31

An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.