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Colossians 3:18-21 by Robert Dean
See how the creation of a comic book character in the 1940s fed into the distortion of role God has for women and how it was accomplished with allure and humor, building to a fever pitch around the goal of female empowerment as a good thing. In the past, Satan’s subversion of truth required subtlety. Today Truth has been replaced by blatant lies that need no half truths as a disguise for acceptance. Learn how role distinction AND equality in essence preexisted the Fall yet remain God’s modus operandi for us as spiritual beings in a fallen world. In what ways can we use the creation narrative to demonstrate God’s intention regarding roles, authority, submission, accountability and a pattern for human history?
Series:Colossians (2011)
Duration:56 mins 42 secs

Authority, God, Sin, and Humans. Colossians 3:18-21


William Moulton Marston is a name that is not familiar to many of us but many are familiar with some of his inventions, some of the things he originated, and almost all of us have been negatively impacted by his influence on our culture. He lived from 1893 until his death in 1947. He had his Ph D in psychology from Harvard but he is often known for not his invention of the lie detector machine or his influence in humanist psychology but for his comic book creation to influence and change the thinking of American males about women—a comic book hero that was created in order to subvert the biblical tradition and understanding of the roles and responsibilities of men and women in culture and as an advocate of his radical feminist ideas. His comic book creation was a wonder woman.

Marston was a radical feminist. He predates the rise of radical feminism in the 60s which is to show that the ideas that came out of the environment of feminism in the 60s had its roots in soil that not only goes back to the early 20th century but back into the 19th century. As Solomon observed in Ecclesiastes there is not thing new under the sun and there are elements of all of these ideas that can be traced into dark mists of the antediluvian period before the Noahic flood. But just because these ideas go back millennia doesn't mean that we can dismiss them by saying it is just the same old lie, because Satan is the master of taking the same old lie, the same old deception, and dressing it up in new clothes that are continuously appealing to the fallen nature of the human race and to that desire that is at the core of our corrupt sinful cells, and that is to be the ultimate authority in our lives and to reject the authority of God.

Marston was an advocate of feminism and he believed that the female nature was submissive, basically peaceful, and was the antidote to the violent aggressive nature of the male. It was his belief that by putting forth a female super hero, because of all of her powers and abilities, this would create a role model young boys could aspire to because of her ability to defeat evil and injustice. And this, indeed, has proven the case. It is not the only thing of that nature in our culture but it is one of many things. In 1943 in an issue of the periodical entitled "The American Scholar" Marston wrote: "Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength and power. Not wanting to be girls they don't want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving, as good women are; women's strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman." He sought to create this super hero that would be attractive to both women, changing the perception of the role of women, females within society, as well as men. He said the only hope for peace is to teach people who are full of pep and unbound force (men) to enjoy being bound. Submissive was a big thing for him. He was big into a lot of sexual perversion. He was a functional bigamist, though not a legal bigamist. So he wanted to change the dynamic, the model of what it meant to be a man. He said: "Only when the control of self by others is more pleasant than the unbound assertion of self in human relationships can we hope for a stable, peaceful human society." Remember he is writing this in the context of World War II. "Giving to others, being controlled by them, submitting to other people cannot possibly be enjoyable without a strong erotic element." And so there were undertones. If we have paid attention to the news in recent months a lot of these super heroes that some of us were reading—Batman, Superman, many others—are coming out of the closet, exposing their homosexual background. But that was there with Wonder Woman. There was an aspect to her that he brought in, a very subtle aspect that would be conducive to promote lesbianism and this approach to the roles of men and women.

Our culture has been affected by men like him again and again and again, those who are completely independent of God. Those who have rebelled against the truth of God's Word, those who seek to reshape culture and society on the basis of Darwinian evolution, on the basis of Marxism, on the basis of Freudian psychology, have put forth many different models, whether it is in the arts or whether it is in law in order to change the culture; such that today the average male in America under the age of forty does not think of maleness and manhood or femininity, what it means to be a woman, in the same way that their grandparent's generation did. It makes us wonder where the real men and true women will be to lead our culture in the future.

One other aspect we just can't avoid mentioning about Marston is that he also developed and is the author of a model of psychology that is based on temperament and personality analysis. It is sometimes referred to as the DISC model, and that stands for Different Character Qualities. Here we have this rank pagan, anti-Christian, anti-truth unbeliever whose influence is so pervasive that his ideas gradually and slowly began to infiltrate into Christianity. And the reality of that is no different from each of our individual lives. We are born in a culture that is called by Scripture "the world system," the Greek word kosmos [kosmoj], is used to describe this system. It is a reflection of the kind of thinking that is characteristic of Satan in his fall. What was the issue in Satan's fall? We are told in Isaiah 14 that Satan is behind the power of the king of Babylon and he articulated his ambition in five "I wills." The culmination of that is that he said: "I will be worshipped like the Most High." His core sin was a sin of rebellion against the authority of God. This is a foundational idea in Scripture: the idea of authority, the authority of God, the doctrine of divine authority; and throughout Scripture from Genesis to Revelation there is an emphasis on authority, on individual believers being responsive to legitimate authority that God has set over us. Romans 13 talks about the fact that there is no authority in relation to human government that is not ordained of God. When we get into our passage in Colossians chapter three and in Ephesians chapter five the focus there is on submission to authority, recognizing that God has built into creation from before the fall the concept of authority, and failure to submit to the properly ordained authorities is to follow the path of Satan.

As we have been in this sub-series within Colossians this nature of authority in the structure of marriage and the home has been emphasized. It is an idea that runs completely counter to the dominant thinking that characterizes our culture today—the values related to marriage, related to what it means to be a male, what manhood is, what it means to be a woman, the characteristics of biblical womanhood, runs counter to the values of our culture in such a way that many Christian women who firmly believe that they are following biblical patterns, would be viewed as liberal, radical feminists when compared to their counterparts 150 years ago. That is how far we have changed. Ultimately we have to go back to the created order and purpose of God.

The foundational command in Colossians 3:16 is to let the Word of Christ richly dwell within us. There is a series of participles and commands that follow that that indicate the result of letting the Word of Christ richly dwell within us. And immediately following that as part of what it means to have the Word of Christ richly inhabit our lives there is a serious of relationships that briefly describe the commands that are articulated in relation to marriage and the home: "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart." The following verses from that also talk about the relationship of slaves to masters and masters to slaves. At the core of all of this, before we get into the specifics of talking about what makes a godly marriage and godly family, is a recognition of authority and role distinction, and how that is developed from the Bible. Paul doesn't generate this out of his own opinion, this is not the result as modern feminists will say: that this is the result of just his rabbinic background and that essentially he was a male chauvinists, and that is his view. We believe the Bible is the breathed-out Word of God and that this is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Men and women are intrinsically equal in terms of their human nature but there are role distinctions. Those role distinctions are discovered also, as we have seen, in the very character of God. And the fact that the Bible teaches a plurality in the Godhead indicates that there is both an equality aspect (essence) but there are role distinctions that are emphasized in the Scripture. Jesus came to be a servant. That is a word that is similar to the word that is used in the Hebrew in the Old Testament to describe the role of the woman when God created the woman as a helper. He created the male first and then the woman out of his side, but her role is to be an assistant. This means that she is to compliment the man, meaning that together the two parts form a whole. The mission as God understood it and created it and defined it for the human race is one that is to be accomplished through the complimentary function of male and female. That reflects the fact that in the Godhead there is a complete unity: a oneness as is seen in passages like Deuteronomy 6:4 NASB "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!" That "one" there does not refer to a mathematical singularity but a unity of multiples. It is the same word "one" that is used when God said that a man shall leave his father and the two, male and female, shall be one flesh. So two individuals come together in a unity of marriage.

Colossians 1:18 talks about the fact that even within this unity of the Godhead there are distinctions. There is a distinct role related to Jesus Christ in terms of His role as the head of the body of the church. The word "head" doesn't indicate origin, it indicates authority. 1 Corinthians 11:3 talks about this "head" relationship. It means authority, not source. NASB "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." The authority that God has established in the marriage is the male. "…and God is the head of Christ." Even Jesus Christ is under authority. This is important to understand. The cry from the feminist Left is that authority and submission only entered into the human race is history as a corrective t the fall. What this passage shows, along with numerous others, is that authority existed from eternity past within the Godhead itself. Within the perfect environment of the Trinity there was authority and there was submission. So authority and submission are intrinsically good, intrinsically righteous, are eternally present in the Godhead, and are part of human history in God's creation.

John 5:19—Jesus said that He could do nothing of Himself unless the Father allowed Him. Complete authority orientation. Yet, in John 10:30 He recognized He and the Father were one. In the Trinity God exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are completely equal in terms of their deity, yet distinct in terms of their role and their personhood. That is so important to understand because the assault that we experience in our culture in terms of the roles of men and women is ultimately grounded upon certain perceptions of reality that deny the doctrine of the Trinity, that attack and deny the role of submission of the Son and the whole doctrine of the Sonship of Christ comes under assault. So to the degree that anyone buys into the assumptions of feminism they are buying into blasphemous heresy, because what under girds these doctrines is a view of reality that is completely antagonistic to the being of God as revealed in Scripture.

Note that after the fall and God came walking in the garden He addresses the man. It was not the man who sinned first but he is the leader. God came looking for Adam, not the woman. God addressed each one involved in the fall, first the serpent, and then to the woman He said: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception." The idea in the Hebrew there is not that she would not have had discomfort in giving birth prior to this but that now there is going to be a lot of pain and sorrow and difficulty associated with the process of procreation and birth. And this addresses one of the prime purposes that God gave to Adam and Eve in the garden. They were to be fruitful and multiply. Now with sin the accomplishment of that God-given objective is going to be made much more difficult; it has become corrupted by son. It doesn't mean that they are not to be fruitful and multiply anymore but that it is now negatively impacted by living in a fallen environment. "Your desire shall be for your husband." And there are those who have understood this to be something positive, but this is a curse statement, not a blessing statement. There is nothing here that God is saying that is positive; they are all negative consequences for the act of sin. So the desire here is not a desire to love, not a sexual desire, not a desire related to attraction; it is something quite different. The word that is used in the Hebrew is a word that is only used in a few places. It is used twice by Moses in chapters that are next to each other, indicating that you don't leap 1000-1500 years forward to grab another meaning to read back into Genesis. It is the word teshuqah. It really means a desire to dominate, to control, a desire to be the authority in a relationship. In Genesis 4:7 we have the story of Cain and Abel, and Cain is quite angry that God has approved Abel's sacrifice and so he is giving in to anger, resentment and bitterness, feelings of jealousy, rage and vindictiveness toward his brother. God comes to Cain and says he really needs to watch out for the way that sin is working inside of him because sin seeks to dominate you. NASB "If you do well, will not {your countenance} be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." The imagery used here is that of a ravaging animal crouched and ready to pounce upon its victim. The desire of the sin nature is to control and dominate. It is the same kind of desire that is generally true of women as a result of the curse.

So the woman is warned that he desire will be for the man and God then says, "He shall rule over you." This is the origin of the war of the sexes. The woman wants to dominate the relationship and the man because she is being rebellious seeks to exert his control, and so there is this battle for authority: Who is the one who is ultimately going to be in charge?

The curse on the man is somewhat related. This judgment is related to God's original intent. The original intent for the woman was 1) the combined command to both male and female to be fruitful and fill the earth. Now to do this she has to deal with all this pain related to conception, the ongoing monthly cycle, the pain in labor; all of these things are related to that, and that directly is related to her God-given mission in relation to that objective. Then she was created to be a helper, an assistant to Adam to achieve God's mission for him, but instead she puts the largest road block in history in front of him and he stumbles over it. Now there is going to be a battle over who is in charge, because that is where she failed—in stepping out from under his authority. 

Adam, the male, is going to be hit with judgment consequences that are equally related to God's intended mission to men. Genesis 3:17 NASB "Then to Adam He said, 'Because you have listened to the voice of your wife…" This doesn't mean men should never listen to their wives. They were also created to help their husbands. Husbands have to have the discernment to recognize when their wife is right and she is helping you, and when she is not right. That is the path of wisdom; it takes time. "… and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life." What was his mission? He was to take care of the garden. But now that is going to be an obstacle for him because the garden is not going to be cooperative, it is going to be an obstacle and produce thorns and weeds, etc.                      

Work before the fall was not laborious; it was not toil. It was the fulfilment of responsibility. It is the foundation to the biblical teachings on labor and their responsibilities. Adam had things to do but it wasn't difficult or toilsome. It didn't produce the sweat of the brow. But after the fall there is a conflict and the trend among men is that they take the course of passivity rather than taking to course of overcoming all of the obstacles to successfully till the soil that God has given them. The basic trend of the male is to give up responsibility and let the woman dominate, and the basic trend of the woman is to take advantage of that and dominate. That is going to vary from person to person in different situations but these are the general trends that God sets forth here. Genesis 3:18 NASB "Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; [19] By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return."

There are people who come along today and say the reason we have authority, that God later talks about the male being the leader and having the authority and the woman not having the authority is because of sin. That is an underlying assumption that we have today so we need to address this question. Do these verses teach, first of all that God established male authority and the relationship between Adam and Eve in the garden before sin? That is called the "complementarian" view. This is the term that has been used for the last thirty or forty years because there are aspects to terms like traditional view or hierarchical view that are very negative and the idea of compliment means that they come together, and only in partnership and understanding right role relationships can they achieve together the goal of God's plan. In opposition to that there is the egalitarian view that men and women are equal not only in essence but also in role, complete interchangeability and the idea that there are any kinds of distinctions and authorities just because of sin.  

What the Scripture says is that there is authority before everything. God has authority and submission in the eternal Trinity. There was authority and a failure to submit to authority among the angels before God ever created the human race. So authority existed before the fall. Then there is sin and everything after that was coloured by the corruption of sin. So we often think of things such as authority and submission in very negative ways because our experience of it always includes the experience of injustice, of tyranny, of abuse, because we are living in a fallen world. But authority is not always that way; it is not intrinsically evil, it has been corrupted in human experience. Submission is not intrinsically wrong, it is intrinsically good. But it is practiced by corrupt fallen human beings and is often negative. So we live in this fallen, sin-corrupted, spiritually dead world. The challenge from the world is to be egalitarian. It is men can do anything, women can do anything. And we see in the popularity of same-sex marriage today because that is what that is saying: that it is completely interchangeable—two women, two men, whatever. It has the ramifications for social change and we are seeing the consequences of this.

There are reasons why we can go to the creation narratives and understand that males were designed to be the authority, the leader in the home and that the women are designed to be the helper, the assistant in the home.

We see that the order of creation itself, with the male created first, indicating God's design and intention for male headship or leadership in the marriage relationship. The order is significant. The response to this is often, well this is just the way God did it, it just happened that way. But does God act without design or purpose? That is the question we ought to be asking there. And should we be paying attention to how He does something and the order in which he created. God created Adam and gave him certain instructions before He created the woman. When He created the woman He didn't create her independently of Adam but He takes her from the side of Adam and she is out from him. And that is very significant. We have revelation in the New Testament in a couple of different passages that reinforce the fact that God did this intentionally and for a purpose to demonstrate that there is an order here that is intentional. Remember that when Paul writes these things in the New Testament he does so under the inspiration and authority of God the Holy Spirit, and this is just as much divinely accurate as any other part of the Scripture. It is not just his opinion. In 1 Timothy 2:12-14, after he has made his statement prohibiting women from teaching or exercising authority over males in the local body of Christ, in the church, he says: "But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.." This is one of the foundational reasons why we do not believe women are to hold the office of pastor-teacher to teach the Bible to a mixed audience of men and women. There are many who believe that this excludes women from teaching at all, and there is a strong case to be made for that here in 1 Timothy chapter two.

Why does Paul say this? Because that is the way they did it in the synagogue? No. He goes back to Genesis chapter one. In 1 Timothy chapter two he says, "For it was Adam who was first created, {and} then Eve." God did this intentionally. There was a reason for that order; it was because it was a priority here. The idea of primogeniture, that the firstborn has priority and inheritance over those born later comes out of the creation narrative of Scripture: that the one created or born first has a priority over those who were created subsequently. Paul argues from creation. [14] "And {it was} not Adam {who} was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression." So there is a distinction here because the woman was deceived, but the man who was the designated head walks into that sin with eyes wide open. It is Adam that is fundamentally the issue. So the first point is that the order of creation shows that God intended for the male to be the spiritual leader of the home, the one accountable, the one who is the leader and the authority within marriage.

Second, we see that the way in which the woman was created also demonstrated this authority relationship. The woman could have been created at the same time as the man. He could have created the male and then created the woman. He could have created the woman and then the man. But God chose to do it in a different way: create the man first and then the woman out from the man in order to show an organic unity between the two, a complimentary unity, but to show that there was a role distinction between the two. Paul picks up in this in 1 Corinthians 11. There he is talking about head covering in the church and other issues. Here he says it is not culture, it is creation order. 1 Corinthians 11:8 NASB "For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man." There is significance in that. God in His omniscience knows what He is doing in Genesis chapter two and that implication is for all of human history. [9] "for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake." This isn't there for the man so that he can use and abuse the woman for whatever pleasure he has, it is related tom the original command that together they were to glorify God and the woman was created to help him achieve the goal of God's mission for him and God's calling for him.

The third thing we see from the original creation story is that the woman was created from Adam to show her absolute unity with Adam in terms of being fully in the image and the likeness of God. The imageness of God is passed on in Genesis chapter five. Genesis 5:1 NASB "This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God." So Adam was created in the likeness of God and then we are reminded of Genesis 1:27, "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."  Genesis 4:25 NASB "Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth…" Seth is not said to be created in the image of God, he is created in the image of Adam. Adam was created in the image of God, therefore Seth is in the image of God. We know this is true because when we get to Genesis 9:6 and the command for capital punishment the reason for the punishment of a murderer is because he has murdered a human being who is in the mage of God. Every human being, even after the fall and even though that image has been corrupted, is still an image of God bearer. We are all in the image of God. So we all have value as human beings because we are in the image of God. That relates to our essence. And we are equal, male and female, in terms of that image. But just as God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are equal to God the Father there is a role relationship. And part of the Son's role was to come to the earth, to take on humanity, and submit to the Father, which is what Philippians 2 talks about: that He willingly took on humanity, humbled Himself to the point of obedience. That is the authority issue there.

So this issue of authority and submission isn't just a matter of who is going to run things in the household. These are issues that are fundamentally related to the core issue of the angelic conflict in human history, and the core issues of salvation and regeneration and the recovery of the ability in the lives of believers to pursue the God-given goal that God has for each of us as individuals. When we violate and start playing with these core principles related to role distinctions in marriage we are attacking the very foundation of God's plan for human beings and human history. It is not a small matter, it is a vital spiritual matter, and how we handle that in our lives plays a huge role in its impact—not only upon the angels, Scripture says, but also upon our culture and civilisation around us, and has a tremendous impact on our own spiritual life.