Whatever Happened to God’s Design?

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31).

“Now Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let’s go out to the field.’ While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him” (Genesis 4:8).

“The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5).

“He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels” (Genesis 12:16).

“Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, ‘I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel’” (Genesis 29:18).

“Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and raped her” (Genesis 34:1-2).

Upon reviewing all creation, God saw it was “very good.”  God had created humans to live in unity with one another. This unity reflected the image of God. God is three in one. Male and female could be two in one.

But what happened to God’s design for humans to live in unity with God and one another? The story quickly turns from very good to very bad. Murder. Evil hearts. Enslaved males and females. Women treated as property. Women overpowered.

How did we get from very good to thoroughly evil? How did we move from humans reflecting God’s unity to murder? How did we move from male and female being “one flesh” to enslavement and rape?

The answer is found in a garden power grab in Genesis 3. Adam and Eve viewed free will as an opportunity to gain power rather than an opportunity to live united, together under God’s rule. As a result, for the first time scripture speaks of humans “ruling” over one another. And their “ruling” over one another is expressed in numerous ways including murder, enslavement, and rape.

God intended for humans, male and female, to live under God, over the earth, and side by side. Sin was rooted in and resulted in human dissatisfaction with God ruling over humans and human desire to rule over God and other humans. God’s design was the unity of “one flesh.” Sin’s result was the fleshly desire to “rule over.”

God’s Design for Men and Women

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our likeness. Let them rule over the fish in the waters and the birds of the air. Let them rule over the livestock and over the whole earth. Let them rule over all of the creatures that move along the ground.’

So God created man in his own likeness.
He created him in the likeness of God.
He created them as male and female.

God blessed them. He said to them, ‘Have children and increase your numbers. Fill the earth and bring it under your control. Rule over the fish in the waters and the birds of the air. Rule over every living creature that moves on the ground.’”
Genesis 1:26-28

“Then the Lord God made a woman. He made her from the rib he had taken out of the man. And he brought her to him.

The man said,
‘Her bones have come from my bones.
Her body has come from my body.
She will be named “woman,”
because she was taken out of a man.’

That’s why a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. The two of them will become one. The man and his wife were both naked. They didn’t feel any shame.”
Genesis 2:22-25

Genesis chapters one and two give us insight into God’s design for the roles of men and women. The humans (male and female) were created in the likeness of God. The humans (male and female) were blessed. The humans (male and female) were given the task of  ruling the earth. For a good summary consider this: the humans (male and female) were created under God, over the earth, and side-by side with one another.

The humans (male and female) were a match for one another. The humans (male and female) were of the same flesh and bones. The humans (male and female) were to be one flesh. The humans (male and female) were to be unashamed with one another.

What was God’s design for humans (male and female)? Bearing the image of God. Sharing God’s blessing and work. Living in unity. Both Jesus and the apostle Paul quote from these chapters when talking about the relationship of humans (male and female) in marriage.

Give thanks for God’s wonderful design for humans (male and female)!

A Wise Woman Builds

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

A leading reason people need marital counseling is difficulty with in-laws.  Sometimes a wife compares everything her husband does to what her father did and is quick to express disappointment and criticism when her husband does not meet expectations. Sometimes a husband is more loyal to his mother than he is to his wife.

Ever seen one of those difficult marital situations where the husband has never cut the apron strings from his mother? Ever witnessed the pain resulting from a wife idolizing her hero-daddy to the neglect of her husband? Both situations spell trouble. How can this be prevented, especially when the parents in these situations are often emotionally and spiritually needy to the point where they are dependent on the unhealthy attachment to their married son or daughter? Let me share a story with you.

I have a godly friend named Flo who is the mother of four boys. All four of her sons are Christians. All four are married to Christians. All four couples are raising their children in church faith-communities. Flo has devoted her life to her family, having been a full-time, stay-at-home Mom during her child-raising years. She was involved with each of her boys and supportive of their various activities and areas of involvement. As her boys grew older, she developed healthy adult friendships with them.

Flo once shared with me some advice she shared with each of her sons before they married. Her words went something like this: “Son, you have to love her more than you love me. You have to choose her over me. If you are not ready to do that, you are not ready to be married. She has to come first.”  Even though Flo loved her boys and had a good relationship with them, she knew that her boys needed to “leave father and mother” so that they could be united with their wives.

These words of wisdom helped shape her sons’ devotion to their wives. In situations when she felt like interfering, she would remind herself of that advice she had shared with her sons. And so these words also helped prevent Flo from speaking words that might have been hurtful to her sons’ marriages.

In an age of helicopter parents who hover over and interfere in their children’s lives, even if they are married adults, I appreciate the wisdom Flo shared with her sons. In an age where mothers and fathers are so emotionally and spiritually needy they cannot bear to “cut the apron strings,” I admire a woman who is emotionally and spiritually healthy enough to release her sons so they may be fully devoted to their wives.

“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down” (Proverbs 14:1).

Finding Grace

“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8 NLT).

Play word association and when you say “Noah” you expect to hear the response of “flood” or perhaps, “ark.” But tucked away in this story of wickedness, destruction, and deliverance is this line about grace.

Noah found grace. Noah found grace in the midst of the flood.

He was the first to do so, but certainly not the last.

It happened last week.

A hurricane Katrina evacuee was reflecting on the destruction of all of his possessions and the relief he found through Christians at Skyline.

“For twenty years I’ve been running from God, and now look who’s taking care of me.”

Grace. Like Noah before him, he experienced God’s grace in the midst of a flood.