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Line in the Sand ***TRIGGER WARNING***

Lately, I have had a theme on my mind. The theme is the design of the Creation of the world. I am part of a church denomination that embraces the design as the blueprint for who we are meant to be. I love that about my Church. God designed us to be perfect and to live in a perfect relationship with him. Beautiful. But my church goes beyond that. It expresses the design of God’s creation as sexual relationships being between one man and one woman. Okay, most evangelicals will get behind this. That was how God made them right? “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” is what you’ll hear by most Christian protesters at Gay Pride rallies—but really, that’s not why I am writing this blog post. I am writing this because of the much less popular view among evangelicals. It’s the belief that women and men are equally called—not in the “separate but equal” sense—but the seriously equal sense. That men and women are both called to leadership within the Body of Christ. I adore that part of my church. I believe that statement with all my heart. Why? Let me explain.

Genesis 1 details the intention God had in the creation of mankind.

So, God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and every living creature that moves on the ground.’ Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was the evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.”(vv.27-31, NIV)

I want to call everyone’s attention, not only to what is in this passage but also to what is not (an aspect that is equally telling). This passage shows that God told “THEM”—male and female to subdue and rule over the earth. They had joint authority. He gave them everything. However, there is a striking lack of God telling Adam to rule over his wife in the original design. Did you notice that? Adam and Eve appear to have been blessed with absolute equality. Neither ruling over the other instead, they are working side by side as leaders in the paradise God had created for them. 

However, after the fall—after sin entered the world and corrupted the design—God addresses the man and woman and punishes them for their sin.

To the woman, he said, ‘I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor, you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.
“To Adam, he said, ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil, you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.’”
(Genesis 3:16-19)

Simply explained, Adam ruling over his wife (and subsequently, men ruling over women) was a result of the fall—a result of sin entering this world. I find it interesting to note that women having painful child-births is acknowledged as a result of sin. “Eve ruined it for everyone. Darn her!” However, the patriarchal mindset is viewed as God ordained? How is that possible? How can one part of Eve’s punishment be because of sin, but the other be something God desired for humanity? God’s statement that her husband would rule over her is a result of her eating the fruit, not something he ordained or wanted. But you reap what you sow—and in this case, Eve ate the fruit and gave some to her husband. That was on her.

I also find it interesting to note what Adam’s punishment was. He would labor—work hard and be the breadwinner. My husband pointed out to me the irony that this seems to be a point of pride for men. Like this was a reward or something. Adam was being punished. He would have to work to survive and keep his family alive. Where God designed the Earth and gave Adam and Eve dominion over it, now suddenly Adam (and Eve) was having to work extremely hard to simply get by. Again, that was not how God designed it—but here we have modern men rejoicing and bragging about their fallen state. They brag that they’re the breadwinner when that was actually meant to be a punishment. It is like a child being happy to be placed in time-out. It just does not make sense.

But that is the world we live in.

Especially as evangelical Christians.

I was told by a pastor once that I should not work outside the home because that is not what God intended. No, that is not what the curse intended. God intended for me to be equal to my husband in our responsibilities. Neither leading nor following.

“Well, okay. But Sin did enter the world, so we just need to deal with the consequences.”
Well, to a point—but not entirely. We need to understand that the world around us is fallen. We cannot hold the people who are not saved to the standard of Christian holiness but as Christians. As believers in Jesus Christ and those who have accepted his gift of love and grace at the cross, we are no longer under the curse.

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.’”(Galatians 3:13)

“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive in Christ Jesus. Therefore ,do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires, Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.(Romans 6:11-14)

“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.”(Romans 6:22)

Christ, when he died on the cross, he took the punishment for our sins. What does that mean then? It means that, Men, it is okay if you cannot work or make as much money as your wife. You’re not less of a man or less of a Godly person for earning less than your female counterpart. Wives, guess what, you’re not limited to being ruled over by your husband. You can now step up beside him and care for your family together—as equal partners, sharing in every responsibility that comes to caring for your home (earning money, cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, making coffee, etc.) Christ took the punishment, so why do we insist on “staying in time-out”?

Honestly, I think it is because of that stupid fruit still. Why did they eat it? Because they wanted to be like God. Men took lording over women and truly fell in love with the power. This is where we get the phrase “Toxic masculinity”—don’t get me wrong. I am not against masculinity. God made men masculine and Godly masculinity is awesome (I have a very great example of Godly masculinity right here in my home), but toxic masculinity is the masculinity that tells a woman she is less than what God DESIGNED her to be (an equal partner, and co-heirs in Christ) and limits her based on the curse upon Eve (which, by the way, we are no longer under). Toxic masculinity tells men who do recognize God’s call and design upon women that they’re “weak” or “girly” because they’re not “leading like a man”. Toxic masculinity is the masculinity that limits men to being the “stronger half”, the main breadwinner, and the “macho man”. Toxic masculinity has a “God-complex”—a desire to rule over something weaker than themselves. This is a masculinity refusing to get out from under the curse of sin and death. This is NOT God’s design for men.

What is Godly masculinity? Godly masculinity is the masculinity that chases after a relationship with God. A man like this wants to “walk with God in the garden”—talking with God and listening to what he has to say. A man like this won’t “lead” a woman but will walk along side her. He will listen to her and speak to her in a genuine dialogue—not overpowering her voice because he recognizes that it is a God-given voice that is meant to be heard. This is a man who will use his physical strength, not to overpower or Lord over a woman, but to help as needed (after all, she was meant to be his “Ezer” *or helper corresponding*, and he is meant to be hers). Godly masculinity will not flaunt male dominance but will use his voice to speak equality. Godly masculinity strives for the design of the creation of male and female and refuses to stay under a punishment that was taken away.

Now, Feminism goes the same way. There’s toxic forms and Godly forms. Each takes a similar form as masculinity stated earlier-- only replace it with “feminism”. 

But I want to draw your attention back to the beginning of this post. I pointed out my denomination’s stance on sexual relationships. The general evangelical church screams out “God designed them male and female” but ignores the fact that God designed males and females to be equally responsible. That he gave them shared authority. That he placed neither above the other. The church preaches that homosexuality is a result of the fallen world and therefore must not be allowed but, turns around and claims God’s ordination of male headship.

Church, I am drawing a line in the sand, and you cannot straddle it with one foot on one side and the other foot on the other. On one side is the design—the original blueprint for creation. One man, one woman, equally and lovingly made by God to share the authority over the earth together in a life-sharing and life-giving way. On the other side is the result of the curse—men and women fighting over authority in toxic masculinity and toxic feminism, acceptance of sexual immorality, abuse, sin, and death. You cannot preach in favor of part of God’s design and against the rest of it. It’s all or nothing. So, Church, are you going to turn around and accept the design of God with the unity and mutual authority of male and female. Or are you going to stop shouting about “Adam and Steve” and start waving the rainbow flag? You can either embrace the design or reject it. So, Church, what’s it going to be?


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