How important is a literal creation account for one’s theology? If the creation account were not literally true, it was either just Moses’ conjecture or it was a myth he repeated. If what we read in Genesis 1–11 were not literally true, what difference would it make for us a Bible-believing Christians?
Anthropology (Part 2)
Next, God through Moses says that by creation men and women are designed to relate in unique ways. By creation our different sexual identities entail inherent destinies: men as males were created to relate (act) in the world and in relationships in ways unique from how God designed women to relate (act) in the world.
Of man, God said,
- Genesis 2:15 – “Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.
- Genesis 2:18–19 – “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’ Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.”
- Genesis 2:23 – “The man 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.’”
- Genesis 3:20 – “Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.”
Man was created to initiate, oversee, order, and lead the accomplishment of God’s will in the world. Even after the Fall, Adam continued to bear the responsibility and authority in human relationships: “naming” rights indicate inherent authority over that which is named. And God created the woman to support and compete the man—she was not designed to be a “clone” of the man: doing all the same things man was designed to do. Rather, as the “suitable” “helper” woman was created to complement the man by doing different things that complemented the man and completed the image of God in people.
We are aware that many even in the Evangelical Church dismiss the Old Testament and the created ordering of human relationships described in Genesis 1–2 as a reflection of how people lived in a decidedly different world than ours. But even then one must wonder where the relational differences seen throughout history and all over the world came from—men and women in all cultures and all times have consistently related as described in Genesis 1—2.
As we look at other biblical authors writing in different times, we observe that they continued to affirm the Created intent for male—female relationships as described in Genesis 1–2.
- 1 Corinthians 11:3, 7–9 – “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. . . . For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.”
While the specific meaning of these verses is debated, it is obvious that Paul is basing his argument on a literal Creation account. And if those verses are not difficult enough, Paul clearly argues in 1 Timothy 2 for the unique relationships between men and women in the Church Age because of what he reads in the Creation account in Genesis.
- 1 Timothy 2:12–14 – “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”
The discussion in the church today about these verses in 1 Timothy seeks to understand Paul’s meaning by looking at the context of the church at Ephesus, at the culture of the Greco-Roman world, at the experiences of giftedness and “calling” that women claim to have for teaching and leadership, even at Paul’s statement in Galatians 3:28 (“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus”) as if those considerations should guide the understanding of what Paul was saying in 1 Timothy 2—how God wants men and women to relate together. But in employing this methodology for discovering Paul’s meaning here, they are using the same methodology as the Theistic Evolutionists do with scientific worldview and the Genesis account: reading and understanding what is says in the Bible through the “gird” of the current conclusions of science—the conclusions in contemporary culture. But Paul argues his position concerning proper male—female relationships in the Church from the understanding of a literal Creation account—to know how man and women should be relating in the Body of Christ, look to Genesis 1 and 2.
In 1 Timothy 2 Paul is arguing that the Genesis account taken literally reveals the proper ways for men and women to relate to each other in the Body of Christ. And when we depart from that understanding, we depart from an orthodox Anthropology.
Another significant area of anthropology we must observe from the Creation account in Genesis is that of marriage. While we could talk about the issue of same-sex marriage—and we must and can—I want to raise another topic which is not spoken of much anymore—because this is an issue the Church has long since moved away from the teaching of a literal Creation account. I am thinking of the nature of marriage: it is to be life-long; divorce was never a part of the Creation intent.
We read in Genesis 1 & 2 of a perfect relationship between men and women, and specifically, men and women in the child-producing relationship of marriage (meaning, “be fruitful and multiply”). By Creation, God intends husbands and wives to live a totally transparent relationship.
- Genesis 2:24–25 – “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
While we debate Moses’ “decree of divorce” in Deuteronomy 24, it is obvious that Jesus saw in the Genesis 2 account God’s created intension of the life-long permanence to the marriage relationship. Matthew records that Jesus’ response to the question of the religious leaders concerning divorce went right to the Creation account; Mark’s account
- Matthew 19:3–6 – “Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?’ And He answered and said, ‘Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.’”
- Mark 10:2–9 – “Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. And He answered and said to them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.’ But Jesus said to them, Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.’”
In other words, Jesus is saying, “God said it. I believe it. That settles it for me. No need to even have a discussion of what Moses’ decree and the Jewish ‘exception’ means! It is all irrelevant to the question, for God ‘said’ in Creation that marriage should be life-long with no divorce.” I fear that the majority of Christians no longer hold to a literal understanding of the Genesis account on this point. Instead we lay our cultural context alongside the Bible and come out with less than what God said literally about the nature of marriage in the Creation account.
Before we leave Anthropology, we must think about “the elephant in the room” today—gender issues in light of the Creation account. A non-literal interpretation of what the text means when it says, “male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27) has led many “Christians” to flirt with acceptance of homosexuality, transgenderism, and any self-identification other than male or female. One example of this theological drift now moving into the Evangelical Church is the now annual “Revoice” conference held in St. Louis at a PCA Church with faculty from Covenant Seminary as some of the presenters. The purpose statement on the website for this year’s conference reads (Revoice 2019):
Supporting, encouraging, and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex-attracted, and other gender and sexual minority Christians so they can flourish while observing the historic, Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality.
- Genesis 1:27 says that God created mankind as male and female—as only two different personhoods. To be created means to be inherently designed for a unique purpose. From cellular biology we learn that males and females are different not just by reproductive systems but all the way down to the cellular level—every cell in the body operates as a male or a female, and there are only two options for one’s sex and they cannot be changed by surgery.
In Genesis 2 and then affirmed throughout the rest of Scripture, God explains the unique roles / purposes that males and females were designed to accomplish as they image God in His Creation. It is “moronic” thinking to imagine that you could “exchange” your sex (cf. Romans 1:22–24).
Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man . . . . Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
As Grudem has rightly observed in his book Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? (2006), once you start changing the biblical roles of manhood and womanhood you are on the path to a gender-confused society—first feminism and emasculation, then homosexuality and transgenderism, then any perceived permutation of gender imaginable.
This is exactly what is happening in our world at an alarming speed. If pastors fail to teach the Creation truth that males and females are different—designed for different roles in Creation—then even the conservative church will, in time join the broader culture in this practical outworking of the rejection of a literal Creation account. When we fail to take the Creation account literally, our understanding of Anthropology becomes heterodox.
(This is a 4-Part series. See Parts 1, 2, & 4 here and here and here.)
Grudem, Wayne A. 2006. Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Revoice. 2019. “Revoice 2019.” Accessed February 7. 2019. https://revoice.us/.