How Biblical manhood and womanhood make your marriage stronger and make sex better than you think it can be.
The Battle for the Sexes
When I was growing up in the 60’s/70’s our cultural arguments about the sexes was dubbed, “The Battle of the Sexes”. “Female” and “Male” pitted against each other is a winner take all war for supremacy, dominance and ultimately control of the culture.
But today the better title would be, “The Battle FOR the Sexes”. The present generation, perhaps more than any other is trapped in a battle against many enemies that threaten the existence of any idea of biblical roles of men and women. The very designations of “female” and “male” have been diminished. Questioning the sufficiency of these simple categories of our cultural sexual experimentation
Whether we are talking about politics, economics, science, institutional higher education, religion or philosophy, each one asks, “What is the purpose of marriage in the modern culture? What practical end does it serve humanity going forward? Why must marriage be only between a man and woman? Why not two men and one woman? Why not between a man and his daughter?”
In the name of all that is postmodern the very terms, “masculine” and “feminine” have lost any sense of absolute meaning. That great mirror of our society, “Facebook” has now in fact, 56 different options for sexual designation if you are not happy with simply “male” and “female”. According to “The Week” online reporter Peter Weber, you can identify with as many as ten of them in your profile.
With this level of confusion and lost-ness in our society at large, the church has not been untouched. Sadly, the preceding litany of confusion points to the abject failure of the evangelical church (and I am not talking about just the “liberal” ones we could all name).
As is always the case in the history of societies, when the church loses clarity (whether that is referred to as it’s “prophetic voice” or “witness”), that society will slide toward the cliff of its own self destruction. The sexual confusion of our age suggest that we have failed in our responsibility to declare the roles of masculinity and femininity with biblical clarity and accuracy. But perhaps, even worst, we have done so without the gospel and grace.
Moralism can’t regulate sexuality
With the feminist movement on one side and authoritarianism on the other, some churches have constructed a moralistic ideal that strongly resembles, “Little House on the Prairie” more than a redeemed humanity. The simple ideas that man was created to lead and the woman to submit, is not all the story.
Neither is it sufficient for the Christian family to shrink into a controlled environment where we can isolate from the effects of cultural changes. That kind of isolationism and a dash of artificial moralism is a kind of worldliness that offers no remedy against the degeneration we are experiencing.
One thing is clear, the battle has gone on long enough for our generation, so that we cannot claim ignorance, but we must acknowledge that there is a spiritual struggle that we are not winning. For all the books, conferences and movements that have come along in the past 30 years in the US, one might assume that we would have the biblical ideas of masculinity and femininity resolved or at least clearly defined and defended for our culture.
Yet from all we can see, is it possible that we have missed something at the core of biblical manhood and womanhood?
Creation differences between men and women teach us a lot about sexual conflicts and how to resolve them. But would it surprise you to know that the biblical ideas of leadership and submission do NOT have their basis in the sexuality of the person.
The presupposition that man was created to lead and the woman to submit is not all the truth and in fact, will lead to completely wrong thinking in many ways, if we think that God has such limited ideas to teach us through sexuality.
God’s better end for sexuality
Instead, God created man and woman with distinctions in capacities and competencies, but complementary in the gospel. Outside the gospel and the work of grace in Christ all the wondrous beauty of sexuality can be lost or twisted out of proportion. Like seeing sexuality in a hall of mirrors.
Further, when the sexes are viewed externally as physiology and chemistry then critiqued and “tweaked” without the gospel, we are only applying moralism to the sexes. But this solution to the complexities of sexuality and roles does not reveal the redeeming glory of the gospel that God intended to show. Listen to what one of my favorite authors John Piper has said,
“Over the years I have come to see from Scripture and from life that manhood and womanhood are the beautiful handiwork of a good and loving God. He designed our differences and they are profound. They are not mere physiological prerequisites for sexual union. They go to the root of our personhood.”
You see, while we want to present the differences that make us “man” and “woman” in a biblical way, we also want to show you something truly beautiful. That is, that we might more appreciate the power and grace of the gospel and what Jesus has done in redeeming fallen manhood and womanhood.
The grace of God restores our personhood in a way that reflects the beauty and glory of God like nothing else in all creation can display. We are convinced that the counsel we have given to many marriages is still true, if you want to improve your marriage and make it strong, then you must bring a better “you” to the relationship.
Our mission is simple, we want redeemed personhood to flourish within the marriage relationship. God has intended from the beginning that “man and woman” should become together as “husband and wife” a glorifying union of the beauty of God himself. Simply, sex is better than you think it can be. There is more to come on this subject…
This blog is taken from an upcoming book by the same author called, “A House Divided: Marriage in the 21st Century”.