Summary: Topical study looking at gender roles in marriage

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Foundation Two: Gender Roles in Marriage

In this session, we will discuss God’s roles for the husband and wife in the marriage union.

Why are gender roles so important in marriage? For one, God designed marriage, and when people do not follow his design, the marriage is destined for problems. It is important for us to know and follow his design, even when it is countercultural or contrary to what we are accustomed to.

We can discern the importance of gender roles by considering the first marriage in the Garden of Eden. Gender roles was essentially the first thing Satan attacked leading to the Fall. By tempting Eve instead of Adam, Satan was manipulating her to usurp the authority God had established. The Fall happened when Adam followed Eve who was deceived by Satan (Genesis 3:1-6).

God’s original intention was for the husband to lead the marriage, which can be clearly discerned from Scripture. In this lesson, we will establish the husband’s authority by looking at the creation narrative. We will consider the perversion of gender roles as a result of the Fall, and then we will consider God’s reestablishment of the husband’s and wife’s roles by looking at other key Scripture passages.

Let’s first start with a biblical foundation for male leadership. How do we see this established in the creation story?

God Created Adam Before Eve to Demonstrate His Authority.

In the creation story, God first made Adam and then Eve as his helper. Genesis 2:18 says, “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’”

In 1 Timothy 2, Paul used the creation order as evidence for men being the leaders/teachers in the church and not women. Look at what he said in 1 Timothy 2:12-13: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve.”

Some have tried to explain away Paul’s teaching on male leadership in the church as simply cultural and, therefore, not applicable to the church today. However, Paul’s argument for male leadership was not just a cultural argument. Paul used a creation argument for the establishment of male leadership, meaning that God established this order from the beginning. Certainly, in the ancient culture, birth order was very important. The first born child would often receive a double portion of the inheritance. Birth order showed one’s rank. Similarly, Paul said God’s creation of Adam first was not haphazard but by sovereign design. It was meant to show his leadership in relation to his wife.

God established the husband’s authority in the home from the beginning of creation, and Paul’s argument was that this authority should continue to be reflected in God’s church.

In what other ways do we see the husband’s authority reflected in the creation story?

Adam’s Naming of His Wife Demonstrated His Authority

Another evidence of God’s original design for male leadership in the home is demonstrated in the fact that Adam named his wife. We see Adam’s naming of his wife in two parts. First, in Genesis 2, God called for Adam to name all the animals. After naming them, God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep, and, from his body, God created Adam’s wife. Then Adam immediately named her. Genesis 2:23 says, “The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man.’” As Adam originally named the animals, he then named his wife “woman.” Secondly, after the Fall, he then called her “Eve” because she would be the mother of all the living (Gen 3:20).

Similar to ancient times, naming in our culture still is a reflection of one’s authority. Parents name their children since they are the authority. God’s design for Adam to lead his wife can be clearly discerned from the creation story, both in the creation order and in the naming of his wife.

Gender Roles Were Perverted in the Fall

In the Fall, Satan tempted Eve to eat from the forbidden tree. Scripture actually says that Eve was deceived but not Adam. First Timothy 2:14 says, “Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” Why does it say that Adam was not deceived but the woman was?

Remember, in the context of 1 Timothy 2, Paul is making the argument that women should not be the leaders/teachers in the church (cf. 2:12). He seems to be making the argument that the Fall happened because Adam willingly followed his wife instead of being the leader God had called him to be. Eve was deceived, and Adam followed even though he knew it was wrong. Satan’s temptation disrupted God’s original order.

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