Biblical View of Genders Part 2

Part One covered important foundational issues regarding sexuality and gender. Part two will mainly focus on what God said in Genesis 2:18,

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

The Woman as a Helper

This verse could be one of the most misinterpreted or hated verses in the Bible. On the one hand, some Christians have interpreted this to mean that a wife is less important than the man. On the other hand, this verse is hated by the feminist movement because it seems to say that the woman’s sole purpose is to be for the man.

Neither is intended here. “Helper” does not have a hierarchy thought to it. The word is neither meant to explain superiority or inferiority. This word is used 21 times in God’s Word. Twice it is used of Eve in this passage. Three times it is used of reinforcements on a battlefield to ‘help’ win a battle. 16 times it is used of God being a “helper” of mankind. Psalm 121:1-2 is a great example of David looking for “help” from the Lord.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

David clearly does not think he is better than God, or that God’s sole purpose is to help him. The focus of this word is on the fact that David was inadequate without help from the Lord. If anything, this word in Genesis 2:18 points more to the inadequacy of the man by himself. This is at the heart of God’s statement in Genesis 2:18 right before he announces that he will make a helper.

It is not good that man should be alone.

This could be said of both genders. In one sense, Adam was not adequate by himself, and Eve was created with the intended purpose of helping someone else. This means that both genders are dependent on the other. “Helper” simply focuses on the function of being someone who is there to aid, support, and help in a task. Adam could not oversee and give care to the entire world, and therefore God made him someone to help him accomplish his task.

Both Genders Are Dependent on One another for Companionship and Completion 

Other passages in God’s Word teach more specifically about how a husband and wife function together in God’s plan for marriage. The focus of this passage is mutual dependency. From creation, God teaches the basic principle of synergy in human relationships–that two are better than one. Solomon notes this truth in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12,

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand–a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Christianity was one of the first religions to make singleness a viable option. Christ and Paul were both single. It is possible for a person to live a completely fulfilling life without someone else. However, generally speaking, God designed us for companionship and completion with one person from the opposite sex.

The idea that a man is a lone-wolf is sad and untrue. The idea that a woman needs a man to find purpose is ridiculous and unhelpful. Man is dependent on woman just as woman is dependent on man for companionship and completion.

The Gospel

God created us to be dependent on one another. Unfortunately, our sin confuses and rejects that truth.

Mr. or Ms. Independent might think dependency is weakness. Unfortunately, they are normally lonely and proud. In the attempt to be independent, they have built a wall in their life that keeps others out. Mr. or Ms. Independent can be stand-offish, arrogant, self-righteous, and brash.

Mr. or Ms. Needy become obsessively dependent. They crave intimacy so much that they ruin their relationships and isolate themselves from others. Their neediness causes others to build walls up so that Mr. or Ms. Needy cannot drain them of emotional resources. Mr. or Ms. Needy is basically expecting too much of their earthly relationships, making ‘the one‘ into a functional god, which is idolatry. Unfortunately, ‘the one’ can never meet Mr. or Ms. Needy’s insatiable desire for love, because only God can.

Both pride and idolatry are an offense to God. Mr. or Ms. Independent offends God by assuming that they know what is best for their life and ignoring God’s gift of relationships. Mr. or Ms. Needy offends God by worshipping ‘the one’ instead of the One who made them. Both sins are an arrogant offense against a good and holy God. Both sins deserve the full anger of God poured out.

The gospel tells us that we can be forgiven for our pride and idolatry by trusting that Jesus Christ died on the cross as punishment for OUR sins. This gives us a healthy dose of humility and trust in God. As we submit to his rule and rest in his love for us, we are freed to pursue the gift of marriage. In that context, we thank and worship God for all of his good gifts that he has given to us, and we enjoy those gifts to God’s glory.

Guest Post: Singleness and Soul-Tailoring

A note from Pastor Trey: I invited Dewey to write a blog post for us about singleness. Dewey is a young man pursuing future ministry. He has a unique history and has interacted with these ideas in his own spiritual life. I hope you benefit from hearing his story and what he has learned. 

Just a few summers ago I started to take interest in a nice girl, whom I will call Taylor. At this point of my life Taylor seemed to be everything I could have ever dreamed of; she wasn’t afraid to get dirty, to be silly with me, or even to talk with me about personal thoughts and feelings. I felt that since we had a good foundation of friendship, we were ready to take things to the next level. After some time, on a beautiful summer day, I started a conversation with her about the possibility of a relationship; a conversation that ended with the boyfriend/girlfriend relationship becoming reality. Now that I had that person to fix all of my insecurities, I felt like I was on top of the world, that nothing could ever go wrong. Needless to say, after nearly two years in the relationship we started to encounter some major problems. Taylor didn’t seem to “fix” my weaknesses at all. In fact, she seemed to criticize them and frustrate every attempt to deal with them. Our “ideal” relationship had become a massive enigma riddled with guilt, shame, harsh words, worse insecurities, and deadly unconfessed sins. It was at this point that I started to think that I had done something wrong in our relationship, that maybe, just maybe, if I could do something to repair it, all of the problems would be resolved.

At the end of those long two years of dating, I was convicted of all the sins I had committed and for being blind to them. I knew that something needed to change internally and externally. I went before God and begged Him to forgive me for the things I had done inside the relationship, and for the sins I committed outside. My heart was so heavy with guilt that I considered suicide many times, and all of the insecurities I had sought to cure were really magnified tenfold. But God, in His great love, showed me grace. God freed me from the sins that had enslaved my soul, and from the idol I had made Taylor to be. I knew then that I had to make a decision about our relationship, it could not continue any farther. The break-up was an exhausting, shameful, and painful process, but when it was all said and done I had freedom and a restored fellowship with God that still covers my insecurities to this day. There are still times that I catch myself looking for idols, but when I go to God and confess my sins to Him, He frees me from them as well.

Have you ever found yourself wondering what your future would hold? Whether you will remain single the rest of your life or find the guy/girl of your dreams? Do you believe that a significant other will be the answer to your problems? Do you feel “singled out?” So often we get caught up in our own desires that we forget what is really best for us. Relationships and romance are not bad by themselves, but when you have an insatiable, all-consuming desire for a relationship you will never find satisfaction.

Single Life

In our American “I-do-what-I-want” culture being single is considered a curse. Is it really a bad thing to be single? No.

1 Corinthians 7:8-9 says,

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.

Paul says that it is better to remain free of worldly anxieties that are present in any human relationships. In verse 28 Paul also says:

“…Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles…”

Yes, marriage is a gift from God. Being single is also a gift from God. With any gift we are given we should seek to honor God with it by enjoying it in the right way.

Enjoying Gifts Correctly

Often times, I have found myself making gifts more important than the Giver; it is a terrible habit to let form. Now and then we sink into sin because we forget that God’s grace is sufficient for us; it is only His grace that completes us.

The times when we start to fear that we will lose God’s blessings are the times when we forget that He already provides what we need, and even far more, daily. We are like toddlers that hold on to our old filthy diapers because we think that we will not receive a newer, cleaner one. We are anxious that God will not provide even if we tell ourselves all is well on the outside. Matthew 6:25-34 says,

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear? ’For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all .But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Questions to Consider

  • Are you seeking your own desires?
  • Are you looking for satisfaction in earthly things? In earthly relationships?
  • The hard truth is that you will never find it in those places. You will find satisfaction neither in your filthy diaper, nor in looking for a new one, nor by ignoring it. Satisfaction is found in God’s perfect grace alone, in which we are in desperate need.

Singleness and Marriage: A Blessing or a Curse

I love Valentine’s Day, not for the sappy cards, movies, chocolate, and date nights, but because of the creativity of comments of single people on facebook. You know the ones that I am talking about, right? “Happy Singleness Awareness Day” or while holding up a cat “My Valentine.” Even in our highly individualistic culture, there is an unwritten rule that being single is not okay. Singles feel slighted on Valentine’s Day, five-person dates are always awkward, and couples are constantly trying to pair up their single friends.

I’ve already explained in a previous post that early Christianity challenged their culture’s view of marriage and singleness. Both the founder of Christianity and the writer of much of the New Testament were single. Christianity teaches that marriage and singleness are gifts, but what we do with them determines whether or not they are good or bad. (1 Timothy 4:1-5)

Think about it like this: imagine there are four buckets.

Bucket #1 Bad marriage

  • Adultery and sexual sins
  • Divorce
  • Constant fighting, arguing, manipulation, and/or selfishness.
  • Earthly-focused, not eternally focused. Lives for practices, work, and mortgage payments.
  • Marriage only exists for mutual companionship and self-satisfaction.

Bucket #2 Good marriage

  • Others-oriented
  • Unconditionally committed
  • Faithful
  • Eternally-focused
  • Hold each other tightly and loosely.

Bucket #3 Bad singleness

  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Not wanting to be “tied down”
  • Selfishness
  • Earthly-focused
  • Unbalanced desire for a passionate romance to fill their life and complete them.

Bucket #4 Good singleness

  • Sexually pure in love for Christ
  • Lives for others
  • Eternally-focused, growing and learning
  • May or may not desire to be married one day, but finds hope and security in Christ, not in future romance

Adultery, fights, and divorce can make marriages bad, but so could marriages that only exist mutual satisfaction, or for mortgage payments and tax benefits. Sexual promiscuity, overly-inflated independence, and selfishness can make singleness bad, but so could over-attachment to earthly possessions or an obsession with future romance. The point is that neither marriage nor singleness is bad, but it is what you do with what you have.

John Piper says in This Momentary Marriage, “Neither marriage as a physical parable nor singleness as a physical parable is to be idolized or feared. Marriage is beautiful and physical. Singleness is beautiful and physical. God made them both. Both are designed. Like all of nature, to display the glory of Christ. Marriage and celibacy can be idolatrous. Spouses can worship each other or worship sex or worship their children or worship double-income-no-kid buying power. Singles can worship autonomy and independence. Singles can look on marriage as a second-class Christians compromised with the sexual drive. Married people can look upon singles as a mark of immaturity or irresponsibility or incompetence.”

In the Bible (Luke 12:13-21), there is a parable of a man who was blessed with an abundant crop. He chose to use this gift of abundance for his own pleasure. By tearing down his old barns and building newer and bigger ones, he planned to take a few years off and enjoy life. Before he could even start to build the new barns, his life was taken away. He had focused so much on earthly things that he forgot about eternal things. Jesus says, “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

All of us have been given the gift of singleness or the gift of marriage. Neither is better or worse. If we take God’s gift and use it for ourselves, our own gratification, our own goals, our own dreams, then we miss the point of this life. If, however, we use our singleness or marriage as opportunities and resources to help others, show God’s love to others, and serve others, then we are rich toward God.

Jesus Christ came to this earth as a single man. He lived for eternal things, not for selfish gain. He gave his body and life to die on a cross for singles and marrieds across the world. He was absolutely perfect, but he died a death that was owed to cheating spouses, selfish partners, and earthly-focused marriages. He died a death that was owed to sexually promiscuous singles, selfish independents, and love-struck romantics. God put our sins on Jesus at the cross and punished him for them. In return, we are given Jesus’ righteousness, his perfect single life. If we believe in Christ and repent from our sins, he will forgives us and welcome us as his children. As God’s love for us impacts us each day, we long to hear God say “Well done” for how we handled his gift of marriage or singleness.