|“Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.“ (Ephesians 4)|
Who will deny that love is the dominant theme of the age in which we live? Everyone talks about love, though not everyone practices it. A kind friend sent me a recent survey conducted by a team of professional pollsters, asking the question, "What do people love the most in life?" Categories were children, animals, God, the United States, their enemies, and themselves. It was discovered that 92% of the people said they loved children, barely edging out God at 86%. The United States, surprisingly enough, came third at 75%; animals were fourth, at 66%. Only 33% would acknowledge loving themselves (fifth place), and only 20% confessed to loving their enemies, all of which probably reveals that Americans love surveys most of all, and understand themselves least of all. --Ray Stedman.
The Christian faith has always emphasized preeminently two very important things -- truth and love. Jesus Christ himself was the preeminent expression of both of these -- truth and love -- held in perfect balance. He was fully the expression of truth, and fully the expression of love. Therefore Christianity, which is but the expression of his life in the world, is, to use that wonderful expression of the Apostle Paul, to be an experience of "truthing in love." That is the literal rendering of the phrase which Paul uses in Ephesians, translated in our Authorized Version, "speaking the truth in love," (Ephesians 4:15 KJV). Literally it is "truthing in love," living the truth in love. This is what Christianity is to be.
To emphasize love at the expense of truth is to produce what is usually called liberalism, with its blindness to the hard realities of sin and evil in human life, and its glowing proclamations of sweetness and light. On the other hand, to emphasize truth at the expense of love, produces a cold, hard, legalistic fundamentalism which, though it holds to the right creed, is as empty of genuine Christian life as is the former. (Ray C. Stedman, Love Made Visible).
The human race is fallen, self-centered, corrupted and mortally damaged by the sin of Adam. All aspects of our humanity have been affected. For the sake of discussion one can make a table of what might be considered archetypal aspects of our fallen sexuality. The table below is suggested as a model for discussion purposes and is not a description of specific men or women, obviously!
|NEGATIVE MASCULINITY||NEGATIVE FEMININITY|
Once we make allowances for a fallen world and inherent self-centeredness in both sexes it begins to be clear that the relationship between the sexes ought to be impossible and totally without hope. Probably this would be so, were it not for the grace of God and the redemption God has made available to mankind---beginning with his restoration and re-creation of Adam and Eve after their fall.
Men and women are alike in spirit by different in soul and body. Since a person's true identity is in his or her spirit, both men and women are called "sons of God" in the New Testament. That is, women are just as accountable to God as men, equally responsible. Both men and women ought to know the Bible well, for instance. (The headship of man in marriage and in the church is a secondary but important issue.)
The sketch on the right shows that the presence of Christ within the human heart brings and integrating, healing, peacemaking life-force within. In terms of the masculinity and femininity within each person, an inner marriage ought to be the result. Once the inherent differences between the sexes is perceived, once a person has made peace with God, it is time to get moving on one's own personal adventure of faith--with the understanding that God intends to make each one of us whole persons--in fact to conform us to the very likeness of His Son.
How far down did Adam and Eve fall? All the way! No amount of training, good parenting, good role models, lower education, higher education, peer pressure, government provisions, incarceration, or religion in any form addresses either the root causes or the full-orbed solution provided for us by a compassionate loving Creator.
Ray Stedman said, The significance of Adam as a male/female being becomes apparent when we remember that the Lord Jesus Christ came as a Second Adam. He was all that Adam was. "It behooved him," said the writer to the Hebrews "that he be made exactly like us, except for sin," (Hebrews 2:17). He became the second Adam, and therefore he, too, was a male/female being. I stress the fact that this duality was not physical -- he was not a freak, a hermaphrodite but psychologically he combined within himself all the elements of male and female characteristics. It has been often noted, in reading the Gospel accounts of Jesus, that he combined in himself the sternness and strength of the male, with the tenderness and gentleness of a woman. He manifested both in perfect balance and in equal degree.
This is why men, viewing the Lord Jesus Christ, see in him the man, the manliest of men; while a woman, viewing the same remarkable person, sees in him one who thoroughly understands and empathizes with a woman's nature, able to enter into all her feelings and reactions.
We know from the Scriptures that all the races were in Adam. The different colors and all the distinctions which we say mark race are merely superficial distinctions which were all derived from one source, created by various forces playing upon a single race of man. As you trace mankind back to its source in Adam they all disappear. All races were in Adam, and thus, all races are in Christ. He shares the characteristics of every race on earth. This is why he is such a universal figure, why, wherever Jesus Christ is preached among various people, they culturally identify with him instantly. He combines their cultural distinctives in himself.
Likewise both of the sexes are in Christ, so that Christian character is exactly the same, whether it is found in a man or in a woman. The tenderness, the gentleness, the softness of Christian love is exactly the same in a man as in a woman. The strength and sternness and sturdiness of Christian courage is exactly the same in a man or in a woman, it makes no difference. This is why Paul could write to the Galatians and say to them, at the close of Chapter 3, "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 RSV). All this is wrapped up in these amazing words in the opening chapter of Genesis where we are told that Adam was created a male/female being. Thus we have a key to the makeup and character of the second Adam.” Ray Stedman, Sex and Food (1967).
Stereotypically speaking, men respond to logic, reason, authoritative pronouncements from their superiors in the world, to dad, the king, the boss, the elder statesman, the teacher, the mentor.
Women are about love--unconditional love, compassion, mercy, motherliness, longsuffering.
These traits ordinarily are usually categorized by us as "masculine" versus "feminine." But the original genome present in Adam/Eve has been copied and is now found in all of us, in both men and women. A man who is "all man" but who lacks empathy, compassion and sympathy is not a man people look up to. A woman who is "all woman," passive, weak-willed, is likely to be a pushover lacking a spine. Whether we realize it or not, every one of us recognizes the hidden aspects in a man or a woman which represent the opposite sex. Fifty percent of life is best seen from a woman's point of view, but this reality makes many men uncomfortable! (Psychologist C.G. Jung was fascinated with the "contrasexual" in each of us). Truth is, God justifies everyone who comes to Jesus regardless of sex, age, or social standing.
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 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. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)
God is seeming all of their offspring as well. He approach is to love each of us unconditionally in ways we can understand and assimilate. God is rational and logical. He has deep emotions.
Does He care? The answer ought to be obvious but “taste and see that the Lord is good.”
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!
There is no want to those who fear Him.
The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.
Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Who is the man who desires life,
And loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil,
And your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their cry.”
What exactly is meant by Adam/Eve jointly carrying the image of God is not a simple subject to discuss. The fact that there are wide differences of opinion, and of Biblical interpretation, on this subject should surprise no one in today's world. Real men, and real women, come in many shades and colors, come from many different backgrounds, different temperaments and personality types yet are fully male or fully female by design.
Also, according to the Bible God, Elohim, is a Triune being, not dual (M/F) in nature as we humans are. The compound unity of the relationships of the Persons in the Godhead is more complex than the concept of yin and yang can convey even in a rudimentary way. God is also not a sexual Being though all three Persons are addressed as "He."
Although Adam named the animals (who were evidently already separately male and female),
"...there was found no helper suitable for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, 'This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man'" (Genesis 2:21-23).
Since the separation of the man Adam into two individuals took place before their fall, it is legitimate to suppose that perfect harmony originally prevailed between the man and the woman, and between each of them and their God. Surely they were functioning, for a season, in harmony with the creation God had given them to subdue and govern as stewards. We could say the Tao had been realized for both of them.
The fall of man was so total and so profound that nature itself was affected: death and decay began to spread through the universe and even certain laws of physics seem to have been affected. One of the most terrible consequences of the fall was the catastrophic dysfunction between the man and his wife, disrupting and distorting the previous harmony between yin and yang. Apart from God's intervening grace, this disruption would have been permanently fatal for the entire human race. The fall did not only throw into disarray the relationships between the man and the woman, their God, and all their offspring. It also affected Nature, causing disharmony, disorder, and decay. Nature was "subjected to futility." Thousands of years of human experience now vividly testifies to the complexity of the interrelationships between the sexes and even the great difficulty of achieving such things as a happy marriage without hard work and God's grace.
God's dealings with the man and his wife after their joint-fall reveal that there were serious consequences for the both of them and for the created order because they ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. However, God immediately gave them gracious new provisions and promises leading one day to a new creation, a new race, a new family of mankind. That new family would attain to higher, grander, and greater levels than the old creation could ever know. This possibility arises not only because of the provision of a Savior, but because fallen men and women would thereafter freely choose to love God, or freely choose to reject Him. Thus arises the awesomeness of free will which would make man more like His creator than ever before.
The finest and most marvelous attributes of God's Person cannot be expressed in an unfallen world. They remain latent within the godhead. These include grace, mercy, forgiveness, justice, healing, and self-giving love. God did not cause the fall, but He allowed it! Even before creation, He planned to save and restore His creatures through His own suffering. We can not save ourselves!
Surely the most helpful and wonderful book on masculinity and femininity in the whole Bible is the Song of Solomon. This great book of Hebrew poetry can be read and understood on at least three levels. First, it is a love story of a man and woman who grow and mature as their relationship progresses. Secondly, Jewish and Christian commentators have always acknowledged that the Song pictured Yahweh's love for Israel or Christ's love for His church. The woman in the Song of Solomon typifies every individual believer, as well as the church collectively, and therefore gives us a picture of discipleship seen from an "interior" point of view. Solomon is a male Hebrew name derived from shalom and Shulamite is a feminine name, also derived from shalom. Shalom in Hebrew means that peace which comes from being a whole person, to be at peace with God and with himself. Thus, we can consider that Solomon and Shulamite are the same person seen from two different points of view (one outward and one inward). The book is therefore a study of wholeness.
Jesus, the last Adam, could have been expected to marry and raise a family. It was unusual in Israel for a single man not to be married by the age of 30. From Scripture it is clear that Jesus suffered all possible forms of temptation known to man, "yet (He was) without sin." He did not marry because His primary purpose in coming was to atone for the sin of mankind on the cross, not to raise a family in the usual sense.
After returning from the dead and ascending to heaven, Jesus and the Father sent the Holy Spirit into our world to put into effect a New Covenant for living, freely available to all by grace apart from works. Under this New Covenant (having greater and better promises than those contained in the Old Covenant), many Old Testament rules and regulations were set aside. Certain customs and traditions such as circumcision and keeping the Sabbath were discarded. But no change was made in the oldest human institution, marriage. In fact, the status of marriage is elevated in the New Testament because it is to be compared, as "a great mystery," with the relationship between Christ and His church. At this point, Christian theology goes even further beyond the limitations of secular or religious philosophy as it has been handed down to us today. Jesus came to build a new race, and He came to take a Bride, the Second Eve. The marriage is not to be a physical one, but a spiritual one; and the Bride, not merely one woman: the bride is the true church--the entire company of those redeemed in this present age men, women, and children numbering many millions.
The figure of the Bride of Christ is but one of Seven Figures of the church found in the New Testament. The glorious Church Jesus has been building for 2000 years is also called the "Body of Christ," with Christ as the Head. The latter figure of the church is more or less a "masculine" picture of the church in its relationship outwardly to the world. When Jesus spoke of building His church He said, "...I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail (be able to withstand) against it." (Matthew 16:18) The church is an invincible, conquering army in its outward activity in the world.
When the church gathers around the Lord, the object of her worship and devotion, she is the Bride of Christ, feminine in her submission, obedience, and responsiveness. Thus, the church is outwardly masculine but inwardly feminine and contains balanced attributes of both men and women, since both sexes constitute her membership rolls. The church, militant and triumphant, is properly described by a verse in the Song of Solomon describing the Shulamite in her maturity:
"Who is this who looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners." (Song of Solomon 6:10)
The sun is an ancient symbol of Christ, the greater light who rules the day, and the "sun of righteousness who comes with healing in its wings." The moon is a symbol of the church which is in itself barren and lifeless but rules the night by reflecting the light of the sun, "until the day breaks..."
"Sexuality, which penetrates our whole being, will not be expressed physically in the resurrection body, but it will have its expression at the soulish and the spiritual levels. God has a purpose for it in the life to come. That is why we are given physical sex. It is designed to teach us what we are like, who we are, what our role is, in the life to come. Male organs are external to emphasize, as one of the marvelous visual aids that God is always employing, that the male role is one of visible leadership. He is designed to take the initiative, and yet to do so with tenderness and gentleness...Female organs are internal, hidden, to indicate the role of women as being inwardly sensitive, far deeper emotionally than men, more subjective, contributing deeper insights than man ever does, having a greater sense of compassion, and responding to that which leads. All this is designed to teach us truth about our relationships with one another and with God himself. That is why, throughout the Scriptures, God appears in relationship to the Christian as the lover, the aggressor, the male. We are the bride, the responders, the followers, and that is consistent through the Scriptures" (Ray C. Stedman, Expository Studies in I Corinthians.).
Some have inferred that the distinctions between the sexes would disappear in heaven since there we "...neither marry nor are given in marriage..." (Luke 20:35); however, the opposite is surely true: the differences will be enhanced and made more splendid. C.S. Lewis, among contemporary writers, makes this point clearly in his Science Fiction Trilogy and other works. One reason the delights and pleasures of heaven are at present denied us is that we are unable to avoid the excesses of legitimate joys and pleasures in our fallen condition and in this present world. Rather than enjoying a little wine, we are all too eager to drink to excess and lose self- control. Forgetting that God can only bless sexual expression in marriage, we ruin our lives with destructive, promiscuous behavior, and so on, preferring the "... pleasures of sin for a season" (Hebrews 11:25). But since the world is now way overpopulated, the gift of physical sexuality can be eliminated. No worry, Jesus has something better ahead for His Bride!
In heaven the restraints can be removed safely to allow us ecstatic pleasures without fear of sin. In such a state the differences between the sexes will be enhanced and completed:
"...Some kind of procession was approaching us, and the light came from the persons who composed it. First came bright Spirits, not the Spirits of men, who danced and scattered flowers soundlessly falling, lightly drifting flowers, though by the standards of the ghost-world (life as we know it now on earth) each petal would have weighed a hundred-weight and their fall would have been like the crashing of boulders. Then, on the left and right, at each side of the forest avenue, came youthful shapes, boys upon one hand, and girls upon the other. If I could remember their singing and write down their notes, no man who read that score would ever grow sick or old. Between them went musicians; and after these a lady in whose honour all this was being done. I cannot remember whether she was naked or clothed. If she were naked, then it must have been the almost visible penumbra of her courtesy and joy which produces in my memory the illusion of a great and shining train that followed her across the happy grass. If she were clothed, then the illusion of nakedness is doubtless due to the clarity with which her inmost spirit shone through the clothes. For clothes in that country are not a disguise: the spiritual body lives along each thread and turns them into living organs. A robe or a crown is there as much one with the wearer's features as a lip or an eye..." (The Great Divorce Macmillan Press; NY 1946 pp. 106-107).
Every human being has an equal genetic heritage from Adam and an equal inheritance from Eve! Jesus the Second (or “Last”) Adam is 77 generations removed from Adam. (See chart). We are about 130 generations down from Adam.
Arthur Custance, a Canadian scholar, spent much of his life studying the unique genetic inheritance of Jesus showing that only a man who was born of a virgin would be free from the fatal defect transmitted to all of us from our forefather Adam.
“Original sin” is a big deal genetically but human depravity runs far deeper than genes and chromosomes. Chuck Missler taught that we humans are mostly software and not hardware.
Thus half of my genetic heritage was transmitted via my father’s sperm and half came from my mother’s lineage stored in her ovum. My biological identity as a male was transmitted via a sex-determining chromosome received from my father. Biologically I am MF and my younger sister was FM. This way of seeing things as dominant and recessive is simplistic but has been helpful to me.
|"You cannot take all luggage with you on all journeys; on one journey even your right hand and your right eye may be among the things you have to leave behind. We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle and where all, if followed long enough, will therefore draw gradually nearer and finally meet at the centre: rather in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork you must make a decision. Even on a biological level life is not like a pool but like a tree. It does not move towards unity but away from it and the creatures grow further apart as they increase in perfection. Good, as it ripens, becomes more different not only from evil but from other good. I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish; but their rescue consists in being put back on the right road. A wrong sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find your error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on. Evil can be undone, but it cannot 'develop' into good. Time does not heal it. The spell must be unwound, bit by bit, 'with backwards mutters of dissevering power' or else not. It is still 'either-or.' If we insist on keeping Hell (or even earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell. I believe, to be sure, that any man who reaches Heaven will find that what he has abandoned (even in plucking out his right eye) was precisely nothing: that the kernel of what he was really seeking even in his most depraved wishes will be there, beyond expectation, waiting for him in 'the High Countries'" --C.S. Lewis, Preface to The Great Divorce.|
Churches usually measure their success on the world stage these days by head count, by their financial spread sheet, by perceived seeker-friendliness, and/or by their doctrinal soundness. What is not monitored is actual conduct, behavior, family life of their members. It's impossible to diagnose and repair these things tell when the church meets only a few hours a week! (Communal living has never worked very well down to this day). With 168 hours in a week, and perhaps only an hour of socializing on Sunday, no one is really very accountable to anyone. Top down management in a church, as opposed to Body Life, is especially deadly. Outward appearances can be very deceiving! Most of us know not to rely on our gut feelings, our personal history, our past experience. Many churches wrongly suppose they are doing well with Jesus if their official doctrine is squeaky clean, i.e., orthodox.
There are of course norms spelled out for us in the New Testament that are crystal clear about the qualifications of leaders in the assembly: teachers pastors, elders, deacons. These more mature believers are to reflect the character of Jesus Christ as the Head of the church. Without such role models we are like sheep without a shepherd and easily led astray! This desirable lifestyle in a church has been called "Servant Leadership" for good reason.
But the only way we can know our fellow pilgrims, fellow travelers, is in small groups with openness, accountability and affirmation by our brothers and sisters in Christ. After spending most of his life teaching and serving in Evangelical Churches everywhere, the late Chuck Missler came to believe the future of the church was in small groups.
Tim Keller said much of the same thing more recently. Tim Keller (a Presbyterian) describes the growing obsolescence today of old paradigm Christianity passed down to us by the Reformers to our forefathers. Today we see on the playing field, the children of the Reformation in our Evangelical Churches, Independent Bible Churches, Charismatics, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Anglicans.
(Orthodox Churches developed separately from the Roman Catholic, from the time of Constantine.)
The Roman Catholic Church today is widely held to be fully apostate and counterfeit by many. Many Catholics know Jesus Christ personally, of course. Seven Representative churches can be found on earth today. All are gathering places for converted persons.
Many churches in America can be grouped into the dying old paradigm! If they were alive and well assembles, Jesus would show up in power, and transformed lives would be everywhere seen. Old paradigm churches have had “Revivals” in the past—some revivals were sound and enduring. For example, Continuous Revival by Norman Grubb was inspired by the Welsh Revival of 1905. (Wikipedia is informative on revivals in general). But revivals seldom accomplish lasting renewal. As implied, the churches in this country are growing weaker by the year. Subscribers to the new paradigm consider themselves to each be their own god, and traditional secular notions of a brave new world or of human progress in the universe are no longer taken seriously.
The coming generation of Millennials actually contains many committed followers of Jesus. They are everywhere in our society, even if no one sees them in churches on Sunday. Many have good reasons for not identifying with our cultural values. Many, of course, are resisting the call of the real Jesus to know Him and be made whole.
The majority of younger people today, often called "Millennials," no longer buy into the old paradigm at all! A huge gap exists in many parts of the country because younger people are no longer attracted to old-paradigm Christianity. Yet the new paradigm followers of Jesus can’t be expected to do better by nature than their parents. We are all in this grand adventure together--that is, assuming we know Jesus in the first place and planning to live with Him forever. The course of mankind has been downhill since the Fall with much restraint and renewal from God every day. But today both groups tend to dislike one another not realizing that God is not a "respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34).
Keller urges that we as a nation discover again the pragmatic life styles of the early followers of Jesus, where there were no paid clergy members to bail people out and needs were met by immediate friends in house churches and communes. Since Christians today ordinarily meet one another only on Sunday, community living is nothing new but has not worked well down through the ages. Today our homeless problems are legend. The great wealth of many in America stands in stark contrast with the poverty elsewhere. We may feel entitled but we are not! Radical changes lie ahead from Jesus since He is the Owner and the Heir of all things. The status quo is surely unacceptable to Him. See The Approaching Time of the End and Population Decrease Ahead.
No one is basically good! We each need God far more than we know. But God IS Love. If we understand the real self-giving love Jesus offers, and shun the counterfeit, life becomes a grand adventure. In every personal encounter it's important for us to listen first, pray second, asking Jesus to give us discernment. Does the other person need doctrinal help (truth), or compassion and affirmation (love)? The true church is a living organism, the very Body of Christ,--never an organization, nor a social institution. Look for the real Jesus in people and ignore the trappings! Yes of course sound doctrine matters (true truth) but so does love and both are found only in the Person of Jesus.
True followers of Jesus are a minority George Barna said recently--his research shows only about 6% of Americans actually know Jesus personally today. This is but a Remnant.
God is not presently neither saving nor fixing the world. That will happen later. He is sovereign and does whatever He pleases! His program is made clear in The Book. You and I have arrived late on the stage of history! Everything is in perfect control from the throne room. Jesus is now in full control of every detail, ruling at the Right Hand and the Left Hand of God. It does not seem to us that's the case but my perspective on life, and yours as well is very limited! Consider the job assignment God has given to His Son!
|Wife of Jehovah / Bride of Christ||The Ultimate Wedding||The Marriage Supper of the Lamb|
|Jewish Wedding Traditions||Made in the Image of God||False Religion|
|Love and Relationships: Song of Solomon||Keys to the Song of Solomon|
|Psalm 45: The Wedding Psalm||A Glorious Church||The Story of Two Sisters|
|The Story of the Great Harlot in the Bible||Jerusalem: An Adulterous Woman||Intimacy with Jesus|
|The Ruin of Creation||Time and Eternity||It Takes Three to Tango||Signs of the End, or Signs of the Times?||The Anguish of Adam|||
Intimacy with God
|Yin, Yang, the Tao and Wholeness||The Exchanged Life|
|Logos and Sophia||The Excluded Ones||Jesus Plain and Simple|
|On Everlasting Destruction||Yahweh-Rophe: God our Healer||Jesus the Breaker|
Existential Christians | Cultural Christians | The Rebellious Ones | Closeted Christians | King Ego | Compromised Christians | Biblical Illiteracy
The Exchanged Life | The Left Behind | Eternally Lost | Intimacy with God | Dual Membership in the Family of God| The Rapture and the Second Coming
The Judgment Seat of Christ | Baptism | The Great Shepherd | How Saved are You? | Made in the Image of God | The Ruin of Creation