We saw in the last posting that rulership begins with the genuine, agape love a husband has for his wife. Without it, trying to implement today’s posting on leadership will lead to oppression, tyranny or disinterest. However, love without authoritative, confident, godly leadership causes a lack of respect and even contempt, as a wife and her children unconsciously seek the strength that the man, as head of his home, is not providing.
Strong family leadership from the father also gives security and purpose. If that is absent, family members generally have no clear direction toward biblical life goals, for the father is the one God designed to provide that, and he is the one naturally equipped to do so. His wife generally does not readily think in terms of long-range, ultimate issues, nor can she provide the firmness and discipline necessary for stable family life as intuitively as can her husband. Yes, contrary to what the world would have us believe, there are inherent differences in the sexes that go much deeper than simply physiological characteristics, and these affect their respective roles in family life.
This difference is underscored in the creation story of Adam and Eve. God gave Adam the task of cultivating and tending the Garden of Eden before Eve was even on the scene. Then, after God presented to Adam his “completer,” he undoubtedly took her on her first tour of the Garden, explaining to her their mission in life, just as God had previously done with him.
His leadership was natural and not contrived or forced, because he was the one equipped with the knowledge from God as to what their task in life would be. It flowed naturally from the information God had already given him and the unique characteristics built into his makeup, and Eve’s response to his leadership was equally as spontaneous. There was no controversy, no “battle of the sexes” over leadership. Adam was the leader because he was the one whom God had chosen to create first, and he was the one who had received specific instructions from God, including the prohibition on eating from the fruit of the tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil.
He shared all of God’s words with an eager and receptive helpmate. The name he gave her at this point, Woman (“because she was taken out of man” – Genesis 2:23), signified her natural submission to her husband.
When Eve succumbed to Satan’s temptation (Genesis 3:1-7), this divine order for the family was violated. She ignored Adam’s vision as to their mission in life (to take dominion over the garden for God, as His representative, by tending and cultivating it, and then, eventually, to spread that dominion over the whole earth – Genesis 1:28). She disobeyed Adam’s instructions to her pertaining to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and acted independently of his leadership. She was deceived as Satan attacked her by appealing to her short-range appetites (the fruit was “good for food”), her feminine desire for beautiful things (it was “pleasant to the eyes”), and her ambition (“desirable to make one wise”).
There is certainly nothing inherently evil with any of the attitudes that Eve displayed. God has given women appetites, an appreciation of beauty, and ambition. All these things, properly channeled for the kingdom of God, are good things. But to satisfy physical appetites apart from God’s plan, to indulge in attractive “things” without moderation and wisdom, or to be driven by ambition for one’s own independence, recognition and honor, were all aberrations of God’s intent for Eve, and plunged the whole human race into sin. How did Satan use these seemingly irrelevant distortions of Eve’s natural female tendencies to bring about the Fall? The same misuses of God-given drives continue to be destructive to us today.
Satan began his attack on Eve by insinuating that God was unfair (“Has God indeed said, `You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?'” – Genesis 3:1). His question was an overstatement of what God had actually said, and with it he planted the idea in Eve’s mind that God was unreasonable to tell them to abstain from eating of the fruit of even one of the trees in the garden.
Eve’s answer, ascribing to God the prohibition of even touching the forbidden tree, was also an overstatement, and opened the door to Satan’s direct attack on the veracity of God (“You will not surely die” – Genesis 3:4). Satan concluded his temptation by enticing Eve with the same illusion he himself was living; to be like God, independent of Him, existing autonomously from Him, living by one’s own standards rather than God’s.
Eve bit, and we, her descendants, continue to bite today. We also think we can live apart from God’s law. Our pride tells us we too can decide right and wrong for ourselves, what we should or shouldn’t do. We too can be our own god. The fruit of that thinking is mushrooming all around us, as we think we know better than God does about how men and women should relate, and how children should be raised. Today, collective man, the state, sees itself as God, and decides what is right and wrong totally apart from God’s law.
Whether or not Adam was present as Satan tempted Eve is conjecture. If he was, he watched without intervening as Eve fell for Satan’s deception, and then sinned with her by eating of the fruit also. If Satan waited to approach Eve when Adam was not present, Adam must have listened to her rendition of the encounter, and then meekly followed her leadership into disobedience.
In either case, the Bible is clear that Eve was deceived and Adam was not (1 Timothy 2:14). He knew very well what he was doing—rebelling against the clear instructions of God. Eve, on the other hand, let her emotions about the things we have discussed cloud her thinking, and fell for Satan’s lie.
Let me say here that the way women are put together makes them susceptible to temptations like this. Their strength in the marriage relationship is to deal with tasks that necessitate sensitivity to emotional issues. They are generally much better at empathizing with emotional hurts, extending care during illness, and noticing and filling needs of family members and others. Women can often more easily talk about themselves and how they feel about relationships, therefore tending to be more people-oriented than men, and they usually have closer and more intimate friendships.
These characteristics are absolutely necessary and vital to a complete family unit. However, when important decisions with long-range implications must be made, it is generally not wise to base them on how one feels at that particular time, because feelings change very rapidly. Women often have more of a tendency to act based on current feelings than do their husbands.
Adam, along with most men, tended to be more cognitive. That is generally the male orientation, equipping us for our role of family leadership. We are not as moved by emotional appeal as we are by “the facts.” Decisions are not made as often on the spur of the moment by men based on how people feel, but on an evaluation of the evidence. Men are therefore better equipped to make the decisions that are necessary for a leader to make, though they often need their wives to help them temper those decisions with compassion and understanding.
So, surprise, surprise!—men are different than women. The difference is real and unalterable, deep down inside us. We may change outwardly by effort and discipline, but who we are never really changes; we are both created in the image of God, but distinctly different! “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).
What are the results in the family when the male leadership model, for whatever reason, is ignored. That is next week.