Embracing the Wisdom of the Divine Architect
In Part One of God’s Design we listed some of the basic principles that are necessary for the fruitful consideration and implementation of the elements of God’s design. These principles may seem basic, but for thousands of years, mankind has wanted to “improve” the design and has suffered the consequences. Modern people of every age have often been so impressed with their accumulated knowledge that they have failed to realize, recognize, and embrace the wisdom of the divine architect.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools,and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.
Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason, God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural,and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.Romans 1: 18-32
This section of Romans seems to echo the fall of man in Genesis 3, but there is much more description and detail of the path of the ungodly here. We even have gender confusion in verses 26-28…and we thought this was a modern problem! Male and female He created them, and all of the other genders are created by the confused or ungodly.
This passage from Paul starts with, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness.” That’s either true or untrue. We are not permitted by modern sensitivities to mention the wrath of God. But remember:
- He thinks He is in charge.
- There will be consequences for disobeying.
- There will be consequences for rejecting God’s design.
The Roles of Men and Women
Controversy: There are few topics for discussion that can send folks into their corners more quickly than the roles of men and women. It was not so when I was a child. In just a few decades the whole area has been turned upside down, reversed, and irreparably damaged. Through the ages, there have always been some variations in the roles approach, but when I was a child, the prevailing approach was closer to the biblical model … closer to God’s design.
Today’s Culture: There has been much social experimentation with roles and other societal mores. I have extensive experience as an engineer. I am empirical by nature and by training: when something does not work, I try something else. Perversion does not work (Romans). By almost every measure, Western culture no longer works. I think it’s safe to say that mankind does not work well apart from God’s design.
“… every man did what was right in his own eyes.Judges 21:25
“A prudent man sees danger and hides himself; but the simple go on and suffer for it.Proverbs 22:3
Arguments: There are different ways of approaching a discussion on the roles of men and women. One approach is to deal with all of the arguments that secular culture presents against the Biblical and historical Chrisitan model. If that’s your interest, I would refer you to the book, Man and Woman in Christ, by my good friend Steve Clark. He deals with almost every argument: biological, sociological, anthropological, psychological, archeological, and illogical construct. I think it’s very helpful for Christians to have that kind of resource. I also think that we should not expect to make too much progress in discussions that have two different frames of reference. Although I am concerned about and critical of secular culture, my main concern are the people of God who have been raised and soaked in secular culture. The effects on both men and women have been profound. The effects on the individual’s character and value system have been disastrous. Narcissism is so common today that I’m not sure that it is still considered a disorder. It is increasingly difficult to disciple new Christians. The world and its slogans are self-centered. Christianity and its slogans are other-centered. Our Savior laid down his life for us and the cross is the symbol of our salvation.
A Biblical Approach: As I mentioned in part one, we can learn much from stepping back and taking a wider view. How did God present himself? How did he relate to mankind? What did Jesus do? How did he do it? What have the holy men and women done for thousands of years as expressions of their commitment to Christ?
Order: Everywhere in God’s creation, we see order: in the universe and the stars, in the solar system, in planet earth, in the sea and on the land, in the animal kingdom, and in mankind. There is social and biological order.
Most amazingly, there is order in the Trinity! We don’t understand it very well, but we say there are three equal persons in one God. They are equal, but Jesus is subordinate to the Father, and the Holy Spirit is subordinate to Jesus.
“For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak.”John 12:49
“I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.John 16:12-16
Men and women are equal.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.Galatians 3:28
As with the Trinity, order and subordination does not destroy our equality in the eyes of God.
The Feminist Movement: Much of how we experience the roles of men and women has been seriously affected by the feminist. The feminist movement has had at least four different waves with some of the effects better than others. Most Christians would agree that equal pay for equal work is a just outcome. Most Christians would not agree that the exaltation of the lesbian lifestyle is a good thing. In fact, it is an abomination.
One of the most extreme positions of the feminist movement goes something like this:
Men are evil;
Loving a man is evil;
And masculinity is toxic.
In fact, masculinity can be toxic, but it is not toxic by design. Femininity can also be toxic, but it is not toxic by design.
A Snapshot of the Roles of Men and Women
In our communities we teach that the roles of men and women are different, but complementary: you need both men and women to get the complete picture of God’s design for mankind. Generally speaking, men are taller, bigger, faster, and stronger than women. In general, women are more communicative, more compassionate, and more sensitive than men. Both are especially well-suited for their roles in the family, in the church, and even in society.
Job 29 is an excellent chapter to describe some main elements of the Christian man. He is righteous. He has a friendship with God. He is a father to the poor and as with the Good Samaritan, he sees to it that their needs are met. He protects, provides for, and represents his family. He is industrious and takes initiative. He is not afraid of commitments and keeps his word. We might respond to this profile as a “bar too high”, but it shows the kind of character and characteristics of a Christian man.
Proverbs 31 presents a profile of a Christian woman. She is secure and “strength and dignity are her clothing (v21 and v25). She is other-oriented and full of charity and good works. She opens her hands to the poor and needy. She is industrious and resourceful. She is not full of self-concern and individualism. She is loyal and has a quiet and gentle spirit. She’s full of joy and gratitude. She is the antithesis of a stubborn, manipulative, domineering woman, sometimes presented as the ideal modern woman. Once again, this ideal biblical profile presents characteristics that a young woman can grow in.
The Biblical Pattern: God’s design for family life begins to be shown in Genesis. The Lord gives some description of the role of the Father by the things that he does. He created Adam, he establishes Adam’s authority: Genesis 1:28b “…fill the earth and subdue it”; he gives Adam dominion over creation (Genesis 1:29); he gives him a job: “Be fruitful and multiply…subdue it…and have dominion. Mankind would be responsible for caring for the earth. (Genesis 1:29-30. He gave him a wife.
All through the Old Testament the Lord’s relationship with mankind teaches us much of what we need to know about a father’s role, and his forgiveness and mercy reflect and shape a mother’s role. The examples of a mother’s role are used frequently in the Old Testament to teach us about nurturance, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness.
God’s Design in the New Testament: While we can see numerous models to learn from in the Old Testament, The New Testament also provides us with a few models and some very specific instructions. Again, this is not to refute every secular model of family life, but it is to present the Biblical model for those seeking a Christian family life. Most of us are so influenced by secular ideas and models, that the best we can hope for is to grow toward Christian family life…it’s a process not just a decision, but a decision is the first step.
The New Testament Christian Husband: One of the most important verses for the Christian husband comes from a section in the fifth chapter of Ephesians.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word…Ephesians 5:25-26
With this kind of Christlike love for his wife, a husband lays the foundation for Christian family; and models for his children the kind of other centered living that prepares children for adult life and calls them to mature in a healthy way. So, if you want to teach and train your children, begin with the right kind of love for your wife.
Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.Proverbs 29:18
Without the biblical vision for Christian family, you won’t get a Christian family. The husband and father should intentionally plan for a Christian family and put steps in place that support that vision. The first step is to love your wife as Christ loved the Church.
The New Testament Christian Wife: Again, in the fifth chapter of Ephesians, the Christian household is described.
“Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,7 that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”Ephesians 5:21-27
“For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.Ephesians 5:31-33
Let not yours be the outward adorning with braiding of hair, decoration of gold, and wearing of fine clothing, but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. So once the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves and were submissive to their husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are now her children if you do right and let nothing terrify you.1 Peter 3:36
This section of Ephesians, and also 1 Peter 3:3-6, instruct the wife to be submissive to the husband, and both sections present God’s order for family life. The order was first presented in the garden of Eden and it is being shown again in the New Testament – four thousand years later. Two thousand years after that, modern people have decided it’s cultural! Many sociological experiments are run today, and families are being less and less successful by every measure: divorce, suicide, financial stability, addictions, etc. This is truly a perfect time for prophetic modeling…of Chrisitan marriage and family life.
Submission, subordination, and order are repulsive to the modern mind, and they also are repulsive to the devil himself. The Eden story is mainly about the fall of mankind, but it is also about the devil’s first and continuing attack on God’s order for the family. He bypassed Adam and went after Eve. Eve became the first woman to lead her husband into sin. Adam became the first husband to not “man up” and follow God. He followed his wife and then had the audacity to blame her and God for his failure. He was responsible.
As he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him, and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.Mathew 8:5-10
The centurion “get’s it”. He knows how to be “under” and to be “over”. His humble words are repeated today in many Christian services. His faith was remarkable – his servant was healed. It takes great humility and faith to be a Chrisitan wife.
“…however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”Ephesians 5:33
In this verse, the husband is reminded to love his wife, and the wife is encouraged to respect her husband. Sacrificial love and respect are mutually supportive and foundational to the Christian family.
Often, marriage is called a partnership. In songs, poems, and from pulpits I have heard this comparison. Actually, according to God’s design, marriage is more like a pastoral team, and pastoral teams have a leader. The role of the husband and father is a leadership role, and there always is a tiebreaker, if needed. In the world, leadership may be the result of talent or intelligence or personality or money. In the Christian family, the husband and father is the leader of the pastoral team. In Christianity, some roles are ordained and backed by God himself.
Children and Parents:
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”Ephesians 6:1-4
Children have a simple job description: “obey your parents.” Parents have a more difficult task: raising the children through the many stages of human development. Fathers are cautioned to not be too harsh since they are the seat of discipline. Both parents are actually involved in the discipline, with the specific command to bring them up in the instruction of the Lord. This can’t be given away to professional teachers, and it is an important role for which the father is specially equipped and will be responsible.
These have been “simple snapshots” of important roles of men and women. In our network of communities, we have courses on these topics. God’s design for men and women and God’s design for their roles in family life are essential to the Christian way of life. When they are confused or abandoned or secularized, the Christian way of life and mission are degraded or ruined. I am aware that many of our denominations have lost touch with God’s design for these roles, and many Christian communities can find themselves at odds with other Christian leaders and modern trends. Modern men might not want to take responsibility and modern women may not believe in family order, but the architect has a design. He has a way of putting things together that works best. More than that, when we do things his way, grace flows and empowerment happens for successful living.
Why bother? Because the world is now calling men to be more in touch with their feminine side, to be more vulnerable, sensitive, and more in touch with their emotions. I would call young men to be more in touch with their masculine side, to be of strong character, to be able to hear the Lord and commit to his purposes.
Recently a pastor spoke of his pet dog which had passed away a while back. He began to cry and had trouble completing his sermon. He later promised us that we would be reunited with our pets in heaven. I’m guessing that he lost many of the men with that sermon.
Soap opera, romance novel or Hallmark movie men aren’t real men and I think that women who watch too many soaps and Hallmark movies, begin to wish for a man who does not exist … or should not exist.
Why bother? Women today are being taught to be more like men: to be aggressive, to take their own territory, etc. We have women playing football, mud wrestling, kick boxing, etc. Many of these sports can cause hormonal imbalances that hinder full female development.
“Male and female he created them.” Men and women together reflect the image of God. We are designed to be complementary. We don’t need feminized men and manly women to build Christian community; we need masculine men and feminine women to shape and teach the next generation.
Advice for the Younger
I would advise young folks who are planning to get married to seek a spouse who could grow into a strong Christian wife and mother, a strong Christian husband and father. Plan to be an intentional Christian family in spite of the secular pressure. Plan to intentionally pass on the vision for Christian family. For parents, specifically pass on to your children the biblical model for Christian family. Some biblical memorization exercises that could regularly be recited in family prayer time*. For singles: be the best man or woman that you can be and provide supportive, additional examples for the children.
For Christian Leaders
We need strong godly “Alpha males” leading our communities and our outreaches… men that we can get behind and follow where the Lord is leading. They need to not look like Joshua or David, but they should be able to inspire us and call us to God’s design!
“…and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”2 Timothy 2:2
*Scripture Set for Study and/or Memorization Verses
Ephesians 5:21-33 The Christian household
Ephesians 6:1-4 Children, parents, instruction, right discipline
Colossians 3:18-24 The Christian household
1 Corinthians 11:3,8-9 Family order
1Peter 3:5-6 Family order
Job 29 Profile of a godly man
Proverbs 31 Profile of a godly woman
Joshua 24:14-15 Men leading families into the kingdom
Matthew 19:3-8 Marriage and divorce
Proverbs 31:21, 25 Strong, dignified woman; not Victorian
Galatians 3:23-28 EQUAL access to God in Christ; ONE in him
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 Teach your children diligently
- God’s Design: Part One – Basic Principles of “Living by Design” in Scripture
- God’s Design: Part Two – Embracing the Wisdom of the Divine Architect
- God’s Design: Part Three – Christian Leaders
- God’s Design: Part Four – A People
Top image credit: Wedding Rings Resting On a Holy Bible, from BigStock.com, © by monkeybusinessimages, stock photo ID: 13896227. Used with permission.
Bob Tedesco is the founder of the People of God, a Sword of the Spirit community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA where he served as Senior Coordinator for 26 years. He has been involved in lay ministry for over forty-five years, and has served as Regional President of the North American region in the Sword of the Spirit.