Yes, the Man is the Head – Establishing Biblical Precedent
There has been lots of back and forth in the African-American Christian church about the relationship between men and women. Many, mostly women, say they are equal. Many others, mostly men, say that the woman is subject to the man. There are many Christian women and men who have been influenced by the American feminist ethic, but we all (male and female alike) must assent to what is written in the scriptures. There is confusion about the roles of men and women because of how people interpret the first Chapter of Genesis in light of the 2nd and 3rd chapters. Some will say they were both created equal and make reference to only the first chapter of Genesis. Others will say women were created equal to men and then the sexes became unequal after the fall. Only a close and honest look at the scriptures will allow us to see the truth.
In the first chapter of Genesis it seems as if the two were on equal ground. If we read Genesis, 1: 26-27, it states:
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. [*emphasis mine]
There seems to be no distinction between the male and female in terms of their relationship to one another. God tells both to rule over the other creatures on the earth. Yet, if we look at the second chapter of Genesis, we find some subtle indications of the hierarchy being created:
And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Genesis, 2: 20-24)
The man was made first, and it is clear that the woman was made “for” him as a helper or “help meet”. Some will argue that she was a co-helper that was meant to be on equal footing, but there is nothing expressly stated that corroborates this claim. In addition, we need to think about what happened when God brought the woman to the man after she was formed. Adam is the one that names Eve, not to mention the fact that he had named all the rest of creation before she showed up. In addition, she was formed from the man. The Apostle Paul also refers to this in his letter to the Corinthians when speaks of why a woman should not pray or prophesy with her head uncovered (1 Corinthians, 11: 7-10). However, there is still no explicit statement about their relationship to one another if we reflect on what Adam says about Eve and what God says. Adam says that she is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. He’s not saying he has authority over Eve, but rather that they are one person now. God tells us that for such reason a man has to leave his father and his mother and be joined or cleave unto his wife. Once a man is married, the two become a new family unit. So far the woman is not explicitly in a subordinate position, which causes a lot of confusion. However, God is very clear about their relationship in chapter 3 of Genesis. In this chapter, Eve is deceived by the serpent/devil and takes fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil which the Lord has instructed her not to touch.
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Genesis, 3:6)
Adam was not the one deceived. Upon close reading of the whole chapter, we understand that the serpent/devil doesn’t speak to Adam at all. The serpent/devil appealed to Eve’s vanity and greed. Then she passes over the fruit to her husband and doesn’t even tell him where she got it. The man trusts her judgment and ends up in a lot of trouble. Then when their sin is discovered, God calls Adam (Genesis, 3:9) to account, not Eve. It seems implicit here that Adam was in charge, and as the person in charge he has to bear his responsibility for what has happened. Later on, God makes the relationship between man and woman very clear.
“Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply they sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Genesis, 3:16) [*emphasis mine]
God is very clear about the woman’s relationship to the man, especially after the mistake she made during the transgression in the garden. It is explicit in this particular scripture that the woman is subject to the man when God says that the man shall rule over her. Many believe that Eve’s subordinate position is a punishment for disobedience. I will admit that I’m not sure if it is a punishment or if God is simply reinforcing adherence to an established heirarchy. The Apostle Paul also writes:
But I suffer not a woman to teach or usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. (1Timothy, 2:12-14).
Adam and Eve were both admonished by God about the tree, however Eve was the one who decided to openly defy God. Adam merely conceded to judgment to his wife without questioning it. As such, she demonstrated that her judgment can’t be trusted.
Again the Apostle Paul writes:
Wives submit yourselves unto your husbands as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. There fore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be unto their husbands in every thing. (Ephesians, 5: 22-23)
So there is clear Biblical precedent establishing the authority of the male over the female. Sorry ladies. Now I know a lot of brothers will want to thump their chests and say “That’s right! I’m the king of this castle. I’m the man!” however now that your authority is established, we have to understand just what it means to have this authority.
What Does It Mean to Be “The Man”
Many men, even Christian men, will erroneously equate the role with lots of privileges. They think that being the man means everyone must obey them and they get to push everyone around. Being the man means making everyone submit to your will. Some men think it means everyone has to cater to them. But if we read the Bible we learn that manhood is much more complex than what most people think.
Let’s go back to Chapter 3 in Genesis. As stated earlier, because Adam was in charge, he had to bear responsibility for what happened, despite the fact that Eve was the main transgressor. Adam was in charge. The excuse that the woman he was given had a bad idea didn’t cut it with God. It was Adam’s responsibility to at least ask Eve where she got the fruit. Also, let’s look at what God said to him after the transgression:
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life:
Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground…(Genesis, 3: 17-19)
Adam’s manhood is not merely a privilege; it is a responsibility. The beginning of which is to be the one who earns his way and the way for those he is responsible for (children and, to a lesser extent, the wife). As stated above, it is man’s responsibility to work in order to eat. Any man who feels that his manhood earns him a free ride to live off the women in his life is sadly mistaken. If you’re still doubtful, please read Thessalonians 3:10.
In addition, being the man means having a relationship with God. In order to be a good leader of your house, you must have a relationship with God. Think about all of the men in the Bible beginning with Enoch and going all the way through to the Apostle Paul. The major requisite for leadership is a relationship with God.
And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. (Gen, 5:24)
Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. (Genesis, 6:9)
Abraham had a covenant with the Lord. Moses was called the friend of God. David was called a man after God’s own heart. Why? They reverenced God and had a relationship with him. They were obedient servants of the Lord. Think about what David said to his son Solomon before Solomon ascended to the throne:
…be thou strong therefore, and shew theyself a man;
And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and withersoever thou turnest thyself. (Kings, 2: 2-3)
Here we see how David equates manhood (shew thyself a man) with obedience to God. He’s basically telling Solomon that the strength of his character as a man can be judged on his ability and willingness to keep the charge of the Lord. So if you are going to call yourself a man, you have to be ready to submit yourself to God. If you’re still skeptical, please read I and II Timothy and read the requirements for the officers of the church. If you are not close to God, you can’t be a leader of anything or anyone, and you can’t consider yourself much of a man. Period.
When we think of role models for manhood, we can’t look at roles in the media. God’s intention was not for us to look to James Bond types, the Terminator, Tony Montanna, The Godfather, or any other Hollywood caricature. He also does not want us looking at ungodly men like Trump, Chris Brown, Jay-Z, or even Barak Obama. If you’re a Christian don’t go making references to Adam. He was a poor role model, too. God sent his Son Jesus Christ to be the new role model for manhood. Jesus demonstrated the qualities of manhood that every man should aspire to in the way he lived when he was on the earth. Let’s look at those qualities:
· Humility – Humility is defined as the absence of pride or self-assertion. People who have humility know who they are and don’t have to go about trying to “prove themselves” to others. They don’t have to have “swagger”, they don’t thump their chests, or say things like, “do you know who I am?” Think about what happened when satan tried to tempt Jesus by saying “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” (Matthew, 4: 6) The devil was basically saying, “If you’re Christ, prove it!” Jesus did not say “Watch this!” or “I’ll show you!” Jesus didn’t respond with physical force. Jesus responded with the Word, “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:7)
Again, think about what happened when the apostles were arguing about who was going to be the greatest of them in heaven.
Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many (Matthew, 20:25-28)
Jesus told them that who ever wants to be the head of all, has to be the servant of all. In fact, before he endured suffering on the cross, Christ washed the apostles feet to demonstrate to them how they were to treat one another – again this is humility. A humble person does not solely think about themselves and their own needs. They are thinking about how they can help others and they look out for another person’s interests.
A man who is humble will put the needs of others before his ownf. He realizes that as head of the household, he is responsible for every member of that household and is accountable to God for what he does. Again, I can’t emphasize this enough, his manhood is not merely a privilege, but a responsibility. It will be evident in all aspects of his life. He does not make decisions without first thinking about the repercussions of his acts on others in his life. This goes from covering his mouth when he coughs or sneezes to considering how relocating with his job to another area will affect his wife and children.
· Compassion/Mercy – Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He has unlimited power and authority. When he came down to the earth, he saw that humankind was in bad shape. He could have had an attitude like “look at all these morons. It’s been thousands of years and these jerks still can’t get it right. It’s time for me to whip their butts into shape.” He could have gathered the apostles and read us all the “riot act” every day, but he didn’t. He could have sent everyone to Hell right then and there, but he didn’t. Instead Christ showed compassion. He healed many that were sick, lame, blind, and in some cases raised the dead. He came down to teach us in love instead of condemning us. He shed his blood so we could have a second chance. Think of what happened when Jesus healed people on the Sabbath day. The legalistic Pharisees who were more concerned about following “the proper order of things” rather than caring for people and their souls. But Jesus admonished them by saying:
But if you had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath day….And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the Sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? (Matthew 12: 7, 11)
A man who has compassion doesn’t try to take advantage of weakness in others, but tries to help others. A man with compassion knows how to turn the other cheek and let minor stuff slide.
· Love – God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that we might have life. Jesus loved us so much that he gave himself, a willing sacrifice, that we might be redeemed thereby. Then think about what the Apostle Paul said to man about loving his wife:
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or having any such thing: but that it might be holy and without blemish. So men ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth it and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. (Ephesians 5:25-31)
Paul tells us that a man should love his wife the way Jesus loved the church. To me, that says it all in a nutshell. Jesus forgave all our sins and gave us a second chance. He doesn’t bring up “old stuff” to hit us over the head with every chance afforded. Jesus didn’t make up a bunch of unrealistic standards for us to attain to like the Pharisees. Jesus loves us unconditionally and gives himself fully to us if we let him in. Real men know how to love unconditionally because Christ lives in them to love through them.
There are other characteristics of manhood that need no elaboration that Jesus also illustrated when he walked the earth, such as honesty, integrity, patience, temperance, and faithfulness. These are the characteristics of real manhood. Now there are many that argue that Jesus was Divine and that there is no way any human man can possess these characteristics. I say and the Bible also corroborates that when a man has a relationship with God, it is possible. Just look at the lives of Abraham, Moses, David, Jehosaphat, Josiah, Jeremiah, the Twelve, the Apostle Paul, among other men in the Bible. Sure many of them made mistakes and some did fall into sin. However, when they were wrong they acknowledged their sin, accepted responsibility for the consequences of their actions and got right with God. Being a Man doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes. It means God will be able to use them to teach you so that you can grow spiritually.
Christ’s version of Manhood vs Popular notions of Manhood
Now just in case some are still a little confused about what real manhood means according to God, let’s just look at popular conceptions of manhood and see how they stack up:
The Player – Many men think that in order to be a man, they have to prove themselves by having a number of sexual relationships. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that having numerous sexual relationships with women demonstrates manhood. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Let’s get something straight: sex outside of marriage is called fornication. The Bible expressly condemns fornication. The apostle Paul writes, “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body” (1 Corinthians, 6:18). There are many other references that are just too numerous for me to list here. Get a concordance and look up the word ‘fornication’. Then check out Deuteronomy 22: 13-30. Some will want to refer to how many men in the Bible had more than one wife. Some will go so far as to reference Solomon who had hundreds of wives. Let’s start with Solomon and lets see what his numerous relations did for him:
For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God as was the heart of David his father.
For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. (I Kings, 11:4-5)
It was Solomon’s many wives that turned his heart from the Lord, and as a result ten tribes of the kingdom was taken away from him. If we look at the earlier part of this scripture, it is implied that having such a large number of wives is not good especially, since they were not of the same faith. But lest, the faith issue be a sticking point for some, we will go back to what Jesus said about marriage. The Pharisees had asked him whether or not it was a good idea for a man to be able to get a divorce and take on another wife – hear what Jesus said on the matter:
Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. (Matthew 19:8)
Earlier in the passage (Matthew 19:4-6) Jesus plainly states that it was God’s original intention that a man has one wife. Once you had that wife, you stayed with her until one of you died. Divorce was not an option (see v. 9 of the same chapter). Now a lot of people couldn’t get with that, and their response was “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry” or as we would say today, “I guess it’s better not to get married then”. However, Christ tells us the following:
All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.
For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. (Matthew 19: 12)
Here, Jesus is not talking about someone making themselves a literal and physical eunuch. He is talking about people who are willing to put restraints on their sexual desires so that they might be obedient unto God and attain unto Kingdom of Heaven. Those who are not willing to allow God to work in their lives to reign in their sexual desires are the ones who are not able to receive the message and hence will not be able to make it into the Kingdom.
In other words, being a player doesn’t do anything for your manhood except detract from it. In the end, all you’re going to get is a bunch of kids you can’t afford to take care of or an STD.
The powerful conqueror - Another popular notion of manhood is that of a physical conqueror. A man proves his manhood by showcasing physical force or prowess. Man as conqueror is illustrated in such films as Rocky, the Fast and the Furious, Independence Day, the Terminator, Superman, etc. Sports players also fall under this paradigm. The Wall Street/political player and Billionaire mogul types are also included. Most of the time, the man glories in his own physical strength/prowess or he’s really pumped up because of the weapons, and or money at his disposal. The problem with this is that man really has no strength to glory in, no matter how strong he is, or what kinds of weapons he has, or how much money and influence he has. All power belongs to God. When we read the Bible, we find that Nebuchadnezzar was a very powerful man according to the world’s understanding of “power.” Read carefully what he says about himself:
The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? (Daniel 4: 30)
Nebuchadnezzar, like a lot of powerful men today, took full credit for his accomplishments, believing that his power came from his vast wealth and his armies. When man gets an ego boost from “his” power, then its like he’s failing to acknowledge the fact that the source of his strength, power, and wealth come from God. In fact, in many instances, this kind of man is actually trying to usurp the authority of God and is pretending to be a god in his own right. Now let’s look at how God responded to such a man:
The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws (Daniel, 4: 33)
In the very same moment that he uttered those words, God reduced Nebuchadnezzar to an animal like state in which he had lost his mind. Nebuchadnezzar was estranged from his kingdom and everything he owned. By the end of the fourth chapter of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar has a real change of heart as he writes: “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase” (Daniel, 4:37) A real man does not take glory in what he can do by himself. A real man gives glory to God for what God is able to do through him. Too many brothers fall into the conqueror complex trap and wind up victims of gun violence or incarcerated because they had to show someone how powerful they were. The old cliché is true: the bigger you are, the harder you fall.
The Smart Alec – Finally, another thing that many men tend to glory in their mental prowess. They think they are smarter than others. We see this trickster role illustrated in movies like Takers where people make elaborate plots to rob banks or such. We also see it in some of the personalities we find in the “.com” world. These men are always putting their degrees on display. They are always boasting about how “well read” they are. They think the worldly knowledge they possess defines who they are as a man. Let’s see what God says about that:
For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? (1 Corinthians, 1:19-20)
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty;
And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
That no flesh should glory in his presence. (1 Corinthians, 1:27-29)
God tells us not to get too caught up in the stuff you’re learning at your local university. We use this knowledge as it is expedient (to function in our jobs, get operate in society, etc), but it is nothing to glory in. This is not to say that you shouldn’t value an education. It only means that it should not define who you are. True wisdom comes from the understanding we get from God. And we can’t even glory in that because any wisdom we get is not gleaned on our own, but God opens our understanding so that we can comprehend. Most smart alecs end up being too smart for their own good, and their smarts will land them in a lot of trouble. Just ask Bernie Madoff.
The babymaker – This is a relatively new one that I have seen coming up. Young boys bragging about how many babies they have. Many of these boys can’t even take care of the children they are making with these young girls. First off, they are committing fornication (see The Player section), which already puts them at odds with how God defines manhood. To make matters worse, they are not caring for the children they are making. I’m going to quote what the Apostle Paul says in 1 Timothy 5:8: But if any provide not for his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. In short, if you are not taking care of your children, you can’t call yourself a Man. Period.
By now you’re probably asking, “Then how can a man define himself and his manhood?”
Simple: by the Word of God. Your manhood comes from who you are in Christ. Let Jesus define you. Let Him be your standard. Burn those “Fast and Furious” DVDs and forget about what the media, Hollywood, and Madison Avenue have to say. If you Let Christ be your standard, you won’t have to worry about getting others to respect you. They will respect, admire and follow you because you will be behaving in a way that makes you worthy of it.
Now I hope sisters will not be offended by what I have written here. Any man who follows what God has outlined in his word, will in no way be able to treat a sister with disrespect without being convicted in his heart. And remember, God never said man’s authority over a woman gave him an excuse to disrespect her (Just re-read Ephesians 5:25-31).
There may be things that I have left out, so if there are any saved brothers who want to add onto what I have said, or correct me if I’m wrong – feel free. But I’ve said my two cents. Peace!