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Gender Role Degeneracy
Romans 1:26–32
Romans Lesson #021
June 2, 2011
www.deanbibleministries.org

It is interesting that the second stage that we go to in societal and individual corruption and degradation has to do with the complete breakdown of gender roles and sexual identity. This is something that we have witnessed in the contemporary history of the United States since World War II. It is not that there have not always been those who have had homosexual inclinations. That could be a trend in the sin nature and it is a sin just like any other sin except that it has damaging consequences in relation to the second and third divine institutions, marriage and family. What we see here in Romans 1 is the assault that occurs on the divine institutions. What happens initially with the rejection of God and negative volition is the perversion of these first divine institutions—individual responsibility, marriage and family.

The divine institutions. Definition: The term “divine institution” has been used by Christians to speak of absolute social structures that were embedded by God into the human race. An institution in this sense is something that is absolute; it is a transcendental reality that applies equally to all human beings who were descendants from Adam, because Adam is the designated head of the race. He is created first, the mandates are given to Adam first, and then God takes the woman from his side showing that she has her origin from the male; she is not created separately. So there is an organic unity in the human race. The divine institutions, therefore, are these social structures that are embedded in creation for the entire human race, believers and unbelievers alike. Marriage was instituted to be a framework within which children would be reared, and they were to be reared and taught by the parents so that values could be passed on generationally.

All of this has its ultimate roots in understanding the first divine institution, which is called individual responsibility. When ever we are responsible for something we are responsible to someone. When God gave mandates to Adam in the garden, to whom was Adam responsible? He was responsible to God. Ultimately every individual is responsible to God for the revelation that they have been given. This is what Paul is talking about in Romans 1:20, 21. Every human being is responsible to God for how they respond to the knowledge of God that is evident in creation and that God has made evident within them. That is the first divine institution. It is built on the fact that man was created in the image of God, to reflect God to creation. Genesis 1:26, 27 NASB “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” The idea of dominion is the idea of rule, that man has authority over all creation. Man is distinct from the rest of creation because he is created in the image of God. He is to rule, and that means he has the authority to determine how resources are utilized and allocated. In sin he is going to mess that up, but the position of authority has not been removed from man. It will not be fulfilled in its perfection until the Son of Man returns, the Lord Jesus Christ, in order to rule and reign over the kingdom.

“… male and female He created them.” There is a unity and equality of being between men and women, male and female; one is not inherently superior to the other in terms of their possession of the image of God. They have different roles, different abilities and capabilities, and too often what happens because of sin is somebody who is a team player covets the other person’s position. As Paul describes in Romans 1:25 the first divine institution is utilized irresponsibly, God is rejected, and so this has negative and damning consequences upon the woman especially.

Genesis 2:15 NASB “Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” Job responsibility. That is part of individual responsibility and the foundation for understanding labor and productivity. So there is work in the sense of responsibility, but not in the sense of toil. This isn’t toil, it is responsible labor. Toil comes only after they have sinned. [16] “The LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; [17] but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.’” So there are commands, responsibility and negative consequences for disobedience. [18] “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’” The word that is used there for “man” is “male,” it is not a word that could be translated “mankind.”

Genesis 2:19 NASB “Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought {them} to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.” These are more domestic animals, not the broader array of species that populate the planet. When Adam begins to name them God isn’t saying to go out and name 15,000 families, He is saying start here with the domestic animals that are in the garden. Adam begins to recognize that for every male there is a female. God is teaching him to recognize that he is missing something. In vv. 21, 22 God forms the woman, so there is organic unity between the male and the female.

In verse 24 there is an editorial application. Remember that Moses is writing this to the Israelites on the plains of Moab, and after he gets through describing certain events he then makes a point of application to them in 1440 BC. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Again it is the male there, not the female. The male leaves father and mother and is joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh. It is an application from the doctrine that has just been developed from the historical creation order. The point is, Moses teaches the order of creation: male, then female. Then Moses says here is one application. Men leave their family to join with their wife to start a new family. So we move from marriage to family and they are then going to be given the mandate to multiply and fill the earth.

In Genesis 3:16, in terms of the consequences of sin, God addresses the woman. NASB “To the woman He said, ‘I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.’” It is not that there would not have been physical pain—physical pain is just a function of sense; if you don’t have pain you can’t feel things—there is a certain negativeness to pain that might have been normal in the garden as sort of a warning. Adam would still have burned his flesh if he had put it in a fire, so there would have been a need for pain as a warning that you were doing something wrong but not the kind of pain that comes in a post-fall world. So the woman would have had a measure of discomfort in giving birth but now, having had the command to multiply and fill the earth, that command is going to be tarnished, hindered, become difficult, because now there is going to be labor involved in the process of childbirth. Then there is the final statement, “Yet your desire will be for your husband.” The word “desire” has a very negative connotation, a desire for control, not a passionate or lustful desire. And, “And he will rule over you.” So he is going to want control also. This is the beginning of the war of the sexes and it can only be resolved by following the precepts of Ephesians chapter five.

We have the first problem here with divine institution # 1 in terms of not being responsible towards God and rejecting His existence at God consciousness. The second result that we see from this impacts marriage. Marriage is defined biblically as between one man and one woman. It came under assault almost instantly by Satan in the guise of a serpent when he began to divine and conquer, to separate the woman from the man and to get her away from the man so that he could entice her into disobedience and then use her to tempt the man into disobedience. He did it knowing that it was the male’s decision that was the critical factor. It didn’t affect anybody but Eve when she disobeyed, but Adam’s decision caused the fall of the human race. There were consequences to Adam’s decision. Genesis 3:17-19 NASB “Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.’”

Having set that up we see that there is an assault on marriage, on male and female roles within marriage, and immediately marriage comes under attack, and by the end of chapter four there is the introduction of polygamy. God may have permitted polygamy in the Old Testament but He never validated it. Polygamy is always presented in a negative light in the Old Testament and it was not God’s original intention.

The other problem is the development of homosexuality, and that is one of many sins against marriage and it attacks the stability of marriage and the possibility of propagation of the species. If there is a culture that gets to a certain level of homosexuality then that culture is just going to die off. Those human beings are not going to propagate.

One of the problems conservative Christianity has had for centuries is that more women are interested in spiritual things than men, and because of that some men get the idea that church is for women. When we get into this issue of gender distinction and role distinction an important chapter is 1 Timothy chapter two. At the beginning it is addressing behavior within a church, a local congregation. The first issue is prayer. 1 Timothy 2:1 NASB “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties {and} prayers, petitions {and} thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, [2] for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” We just want to be left alone so that we can witness to people and grow spiritually. That means that sometimes pastors in this country from the time of the war for independence at different times have recognized that if pastors don’t lead their congregation to wake up politically, then in the next five or ten years it won’t matter because we will lose the freedoms we have. So there are times when it is necessary to set aside the normal operating procedures of a pastor to wake people up to the fact that you have to get involved politically or your freedoms will be gone within another decade. We can pray all day long in terms of the government but if we don’t let our representatives know what the issues are what happens is we lose our freedoms because we have done what we should do as a responsible member and citizen of the country. It doesn’t have anything to do with being a Christian, it has to do with being a responsible citizen under the law of the Constitution.

When Paul says, “thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,” he uses the word ANTHROPOS. It can mean male and it can just be more generic for all humanity, which is mankind because all of the human race came from Adam, a man. 1 Timothy 2:4 NASB “who desires all men [mankind/humanity] to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there is one God, {and} one Mediator also between God and men [ANTHROPOS], {the} man [ANTHROPOS], Christ Jesus.”

Then in verse 8 Paul starts talking about the roles of males and females. 1 Timothy 2:8 NASB “Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.” The word for “holy” is HOSIOS which has to do with “holy, devout, pious,” the fact that you are in fellowship. But the word for men is ANER—not mankind but males. It is a real indictment of any local church whenever there is a prayer meeting and there are more women than men. The command is to the men to pray everywhere. That doesn’t mean the women are left out, but that is what it means to be a biblical man.

Then the women are addressed. The word “women” is the Greek GUNE, which is the female. The men are to pray; the women are to dress in a non-distracting manner. 1 Timothy 2:9 NASB “Likewise, {I want} women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, [10] but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.”

Then Paul gives a command. 1 Timothy 2:11 NASB “A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.” And immediately all the feminists tighten up; there’s Paul being a misogynist again! No, he understands there is a role distinction between males and females. [12] “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” The women are to learn in silence. The word there is a present active imperative, indicating this is to be a standard operating procedure. Paul said the same thing in 1 Corinthians chapter fourteen. And the context is the local church, not teaching in an elementary school, etc. It is talking about teaching the Word of God within a congregation.

1 Timothy 2:13 “For it was Adam who was first created, {and} then Eve. [14] And {it was} not Adam {who} was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” So there was an authority structure before the fall and there are consequences to Eve’s deception. [15] “But {women} will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.” The word “preserved” is translated “saved” in some versions. This doesn’t refer to justification salvation, it is deliverance. What was the original mandate back there in Genesis? Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. So what this is talking about is that generally speaking the role of the woman is to play that role in the propagation of the species by having the children. But it is not just to have babies, which is how some people read that. We have to pay attention to the “if” clause; that is what is important. The issue is whether they continue in faith, love, holiness and self-control. That is repeated again and again throughout the Scripture. But in terms of role the male is the spiritual leader in the home and it is the woman who is the one who has the children. What happened after the fall and with negative volition is that the culture gets all screwed up. They failed to understand what leadership is because no one understood the creator-creature distinction. They failed to understand role relationships within marriage, they failed to understand gender and role distinctions within a culture, and they failed to understand gender and role distinctions in sexuality. The result was, the further they got away from God the more the culture would implode over those very issues. We are witnessing that today.