The Power To Become Series: The Issue of Creational and Redemptive “Sequence”
Let me make a head-on statement at the risk of generating sparks. In our sometimes militantly feminist society, it’s more than likely that some people won’t listen no matter how carefully I explain. But to begin, let me say: In most of His workings, God starts with men. Get that. Men are God’s “starting place.”
Fundamental to our whole study is this fact: The shaping of a man is foundational to anything God seeks to do.
I am in no way suggesting that men are superior to women. Neither am I hinting at any rejection or reduction of the value of women in God’s Kingdom purposes. But this starts with a simple fact in Scripture—the sequence in creation: “Adam was formed first” (1 Tim. 2:13); and it’s this sequence which God has chosen to preserve in His redemptive “order” of dealing with humankind.
There’s a functional purpose to that order. It isn’t that by making man first He prefers him. It is that having made man first in the initial creation, He has chosen to deal with man first in His quest to recover what the Fall has brought about. Just as God in Creation’s purpose started with man (in order to later form woman from his side, and thereby demonstrate the union and heart-commitment He intended the couple to have), so in redemption’s purposes He begins with men to demonstrate something. That “something” is the objective of our whole study—the target of our men’s ministries. Our objective is to recover something of understanding we men have lost about our responsibilities under God But more about that later.
Right now, however, let it be made very clear—indeed it’s obvious!—that God has not perpetuated this order or sequence because men are wiser, or more intelligent, or more gifted—or anything else—more than women.
For example, if we were to take a cross-sampling of Its of a mixed group of men and women, fifty percent of the women would be more intelligent than the men, more gifted, etc.—and vice versa. And I also want to assert that some feminist concerns are valid. It is unfortunate that it’s taken our formerly male-dominated society so long to acknowledge the equality of women in many areas. In our Western Culture—but even viciously worse in some others—there are still many places where women suffer from dehumanizing sexism and grievous injustice. That is not part of God’s design and it is offensive to His will. Such instances have nothing whatsoever to do with the principle of creational and redemptive sequence with which we’re dealing.
So, God’s dealing with men as His “starting place” has nothing to do with any system that demeans or restricts women. Nonetheless, God has appointed an “order” for processing His work in advancing His redeeming, recovering, releasing works among humanity. And things happen better and they happen faster when they are on God’s terms. God starts with men, not because men learn better or faster—indeed, we in fact tend not to! But this still is God’s order, and He has chosen to “initiate” what I’ll call “releasing life” through men; i.e., things being released to divine order because men accept their responsibilities under that order. So, we deduce: There are no second class citizens in God’s Kingdom, but there is a creational order which God has maintained in His redemptive purposes an order that works best when men learn to accept their responsibility as the Creator intended.
But reactions do arise. Human arrogance still dares to say, “No, God! Don’t do it that way. We have new insight. Look at it THIS way!”
The reactionary stance to God’s sequential order may rise with accusations of male chauvinism. Others point to the obvious fact that men fail: “So why are they any better than women for God’s initiating His work?” And my answer is to emphasize: “Better isn’t the issue God’s order or sequence is.” We refuse accusations of male chauvinism, stoutly opposing such practices. There is a radical difference between what I’m proposing and what male chauvinism does.
Male chauvinism is essentially the result of granting the privileges of preference to men without requiring of them the responsibilities of leadership. It’s male chauvinism that toys with women and trumpets the hollow idea of men being “better” In contrast to this, we are NOT persisting in an argument for male preference or dominance, but insisting on a male’s acceptance of his responsibilities in leadership. When that is realized, the man’s “leader” role will never be used to limit or control the advancement or fulfillment of women, but to serve and assist the woman’s highest possibilities—including her discoveries of leadership, influence, and biblical self-realization.
God’s plan is for a man to take his leadership role—to learn of, to accept, and to exercise those responsibilities (not privileges) that thereby he might serve and assist God’s means for the release of a woman’s highest potential.
No! Chauvinists we’re not!
In this vein, I believe stark honesty requires a dual admission. First, that Christianity has done more to recover and equalize the societal gap between men and women, and thereby to dignify womanhood, than any other social force or religious system on earth. Second, however, the same honesty requires an admission with regret. Some Christian traditions have in places and at times, whether intentionally or unwittingly, fostered some degree of male chauvinism they have based on a supposed “biblical” foundation. In seeking to distance ourselves from that injustice, we nonetheless still hold to true biblically based teaching. The Spirit of Truth in the eternal Scriptures shows God’s intent. He points the way toward prioritizing the development of men—responsible men—without diminishing anything of a woman’s potential. And when this way is honored, the end result will be the maximizing of each woman’s greatest possibilities at every dimension, just as surely as it will the man’s.
The history-changing invasion of Jesus Christ into the human scene was to make us all one and to bring salvation’s victories to every individual, we all—regardless of gender—are made winners, now and forever! This is the spirit of our whole proposition in focusing Men’s Ministries
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
Christ has come not only to save us and to break hell’s powers, but also to undo social injustice at every level. It’s important to recognize that fact, because the above evidence (Gal. 3:28) of God’s acknowledgement of equality between men and women tells us something. He not only is set on liberating people so that both men and women can become all that they were intended to be, but also He has laid the foundation in His Word as to how this may come about on His terms—a plan which starts with His bringing men to learn their role.
From The Power To Become Series: A Man’s Starting Place, copyright 2013 by Jack W. Hayford. All rights reserved.
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