The Purpose of God’s Design of Men and Women

—by Rick Hawkes, Ruling Elder

EDITOR’S NOTE: On October 7, Rick began a 7-week Adult Sunday School series on “God’s Design for Male and Female.” In our cultural moment there may be no more important topic on which to be biblically clear and informed. Plan on attending and participating in this important discussion each Sunday, 9:25-10:25 a.m. (Rick earned a Master of Divinity and a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Westminster Theological Seminary).

A modern eye regards the Bible as a fatally flawed book because it is mostly about males. But the modern eye is jaundiced. In the eye of autonomous man, God is very distant and small, even vanishingly so, while everything about me is of the utmost importance. In Scriptural terms, the Bible is largely concerned with God’s covenant representatives and his covenant people. God’s design of creation, including his design of mankind as male and female, is the context within which God’s covenant drama is played out.

While my modern sensibilities may grate at finding that all God’s covenant representatives are male, these representatives share a much more important characteristic which I am almost wholly unable to grasp: they are not me. That God should make my relationship to him dependent on the someone who is not me leaves me sputtering with indignation. Who died and made him…whatever? Part of me believes that law, politics, economics, even sexuality, is all about me. Fortunately, this belief is an illusion that is continually torn apart by the diamond-edged buzzsaw of God’s creation design.

It befuddles me that something so riveting to me as sexuality should be of secondary importance in the biblical story which claims to be the central story of my life. If God had issued a survey before writing the Bible, I would have requested chapters on how to be financially successful, how to be admired by all, how to get people to do what I want, and what’s up with men and women. Instead, issues like the differences between men and women are secondary to a bigger story.

Yet in that bigger story, the secondary questions, including that of male and female, keep popping up at crucial turning points. Eve, as a female, somehow plays into the fall of all mankind. Sarah and her struggles with infertility, with her husband, and with her servant are a link in the birth of a nation. The beauty of Bathsheba seems to undermine, then establish the line of salvation. The disobedience of one Persian queen threatens an empire while the obedience of another Persian queen saves God’s people. On the word of a simple Galilean girl hang all the angels of heaven.

God’s design of male and female is glorious in itself. But it has far greater glory and significance as part of the story of redemption. We will go hopelessly wrong in living out our sexuality if we look at it only in reference to “me”. However, if we can pry our eyes off of ourselves and look at the bigger story in which we live and move, then we will begin to see the full glory of what it can mean to participate, as a man of God or as woman of God, in his divine comedy.