This is the final session of the 2006 Shepherd's Conference. J. Ligon Duncan, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, Mississippi and chairman of The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, will bring us the final address. It is interesting to see that this place has cleared out quite a bit already as clearly many of the pastors have needed to leave early to return for Sunday worship services in their home churches. Chris Taylor, a pastor with whom I enjoyed some wonderful fellowship this week, is one of them. Doug McHone has also already headed home.
I am still not entirely sure what I will do this afternoon. I will head out immediately afterwards to visit a nearby nonprofit organization, but following that I have absolutely no plans. I'm sure I will have a great afternoon and evening before my flight departs at a (revised) time of 11:30 PM.
Duncan's session will deal with gender. MacArthur suggested, when introducing the speaker, that few Evangelicals are aware of the importance of this issue. I would even suggest that few are even remotely aware that there is an issue! Dr. Duncan is an authority in the area of biblical manhood and womanhood and I look forward to hearing the message he will bring to us today.
Today's message will show that biblical manhood and womanhood is absolutely essential to discipleship within the local church. You cannot make a Christian disciple without addressing the issues of biblical manhood and womanhood.
Duncan will make five arguments for why this is the case - five reasons why biblical manhood and womanhood is crucial for discipleship. This will be based on Genesis 1 and Ephesians 5. The fundamental justification for the importance of speaking of this topic is more than just that it is part of the whole counsel of God.
Genesis 1:26-31 tells us of the creation of man. In the creation, man and woman, made in the image of God, entailed them being a walking, talking, breathing witness of God. Biblical manhood and womanhood is essential to them fulfilling their responsibility to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. They are reflecting God's truth. Their roles are essential to imaging and representing God in the world. At the outset of creation manhood and womanhood matters for man to image God in the world - to point to a reality of God. Gender, then, is part of the very reason we were created.
In Genesis 2 we see God saying "it is not good for man to be alone…" The Divine definition of being between one man and woman is rooted in these words, "for this reason." What reason? Because the Lord God fashioned a rib out of the man, brought her to the man, and said "here is Eve." Here is the helper that answers the need of fellowship. Marriage is created in the marriage order and.
Ephesians 5 is a well-known passage on this topic. It is an extraordinary passage in many ways. Men often miss the reason they are to love their wives. The job of a husband is to be an instrument in the hands of the Holy Spirit for her sanctification. We are to help prepare our wives to face the Lord. We are to live dying for our wives daily for their sanctification. When you live this out in marriage, you are a living, breathing, walking, talking illustration of union with Christ. You are the picture of the kind of relationship that Christ has with His church and that His church has with Christ. Biblical manhood and womanhood is not just a subcategory of all we do as disciples. Rather, it is an essential of our bearing witness of the sovereign God in this world and our witness of Christ's redeeming work in the world. It cannot be avoided, ignored or de-emphasized, but needs to be taught, celebrated, expressed, gloried in, advanced, an apologetic must be provided for it, it must be inculcated in the discipleship of the church. Why? There are several reasons:
Our culture is now completely egalitarian and this poses a particular challenge to the church. Christians can no longer be assumed to be instinctively complementarian. On the other hand, we look out at the culture and see even the sons of this age wiser than the next. Another conflicting indicator we get is the infringement of egalitarianism into Evangelicalism. The lines are becoming increasingly blurred so that we now have people claiming to be complementarian egalitarians.
Why is it important to address biblical manhood and womanhood?
Because men and women are different and these differences need to be recognized and taken into account in the course of Christian discipleship: It is glorious to celebrate the differences between men and women. When we say that the roles of men and women are interchangeable, we suppress the truth. The differences between men and women are part of what makes us image bearers of God and should not be apologized for!
If we celebrate biblical manhood and womanhood in the local church, our attitude ought to be vive la difference!". God made us this way and it is better than any other way. But it is so radical that it needs to be deliberately and specifically inculcated.
Because the Bible teaches so much about biblical manhood and womanhood: People sometimes argue that this is not worth discussing as there are really only six or seven dividing verses. But this issue goes far deeper, as it is rooted in creation and redemption as an essential part of what God is doing in us to display His glory. We can never ignore biblical teaching. A church that wants to be biblical, wants to make sure that women embrace the teaching of Scripture with joy and energy, and that the men will take up their responsibilities with joy and energy.
Because when biblical manhood or womanhood is ignored or not practiced, it results in disasters for marriages and families: More marriages dissolve between the husband and the wife did not embrace biblical teaching on manhood or womanhood than those that dissolve because of adultery. Unbiblical understanding of manhood and womanhood can only lead to chaos and disaster.
Because the issue of manhood and womanhood is at the very heart of the cultural transition we find ourselves in right now: The gender issues are not simply the tip of the iceberg in the cultural mega-shift we are seeing now. This pagan worldview wants to erase the creator-creature distinction. All our problems, they say, can be traced to monotheism. If God created male and female distinct, and in their living together in the roles He prepared for them, they were to image Him as the creator of all creation, and in our marriages we are to image this relationship between God and His people, what better strategy can there be than to erase the male-female relationship as a step to erasing the creator-creation relationship. This is a war plan for Satan to destroy Christianity.
Because it is one of the, if not the way that biblical authority is being undermined in our times: If you can get women's ordination, room for homosexuality, women as pastors in the churches and no male headship in the home out of the Bible, you can get anything out of the Bible. If you can get Paul's statement "I do not permit a woman to teach" to say "I do permit a woman to teach" you can make people believe anything. In this case there is nothing you cannot get out of the Bible or read into the Bible. We also undermine authority when we believe something from the Bible but refuse to teach it.
No matter how unpopular, it is the job of the pastor to teach what the Bible says to the eternal glory of God.