Ancient Wisdom for Modern Manhood, Part 2: A Man’s Authority and Responsibility

Adam was given an occupation and responsibility before Eve’s creation...

Soon after Adam was given his responsibilities, God gave him Eve.

Fair warning: Today’s blog post isn’t going to be politically correct. In fact, I’d say our current culture is outrightly hostile to the biblical truth you’re about to read. But it’s only from this truth that a man can discover whom he is truly created to be. 

This being said, we’re in the middle of a series of blog posts called “Ancient Wisdom for Modern Manhood,” and today, we’re looking at Genesis 2 and exploring God’s original blueprint for authentic manhood. If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, let me encourage you to do that now.

The first thing I want you to notice when you read Genesis 2 is that man — the male gender — was created first. In Genesis 1, we didn’t know that. That chapter just said God created the male and the female. But Genesis 2 dives deeper into the sixth day of creation and reveals that the male and female genders weren’t created at the same time. They were created in sequence. Adam was created first. 

Genesis 2:7 says, “Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”

Is it really significant that Adam was created first? God could have created him and Eve at the same time, so why didn't he? 

In the book of Genesis and throughout the Bible, being first always meant something and spoke to a kind of prominence. For instance, when Jesus was asked, “What was the first and foremost commandment?”, he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength” (see Matthew 22:36-38).

Throughout Scripture, the firstborn son received the greatest blessing in the family. Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce.” And Jesus was called the “firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15). The word first in Scripture always implies a sense of priority.

Since Adam was created first, it appears that God was making a statement about social structure and positioning. I know this isn’t politically correct (I warned you!), but I’m not afraid to step on some toes because Scripture’s not afraid to step on some toes. Biblically speaking, in the context of marriage, the man is the socially positioned head of the woman.

Thousands of years after Genesis, the apostle Paul was asked why women couldn’t be pastors of churches, and he appealed to the creative order. In 2 Timothy 2:12-13, Paul wrote, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve….”

Thousands of years removed from the Genesis narrative, Paul tackled this intensely difficult and divisive issue by going to the creation story to reason why men were to assume church leadership. Because Genesis is the blueprint.

Also, notice that Adam was given an occupation and responsibility before Eve’s creation. Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”

We don’t know how much time passed after God created Adam that he created Eve, but we know that God created the man and then he gave him a job to do in the garden, as well as other responsibilities. That whole time, Eve’s hadn’t been created yet. Adam was given exclusive responsibilities that weren’t given to his wife.

It’s clear from this truth that God is giving us leadership training. He’s giving something central and basic to authentic manhood and the original blueprint at work for male headship and responsibilities. 

In Genesis 2:16-17 it says, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’”

Again, Eve wasn’t on the scene yet. Adam was the one who was given the charge to obey, and he was to give the instruction to Eve once she was created. This hints at the spiritual headship God created men to assume. 

Thousands of years later, Paul would write in Ephesians 5:25-26, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word….”

A husband is to love his wife with God’s Word, which means he should lead her with spiritual truth. That’s a key component to authentic manhood and social health — to deposit the truth into our family’s lives and be the standard-bearer for it.

The reason some people may be hesitant to embrace this structure is because of unhealthy and dysfunctional masculinity. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a masculinity and leadership that is life-giving. I’ll talk about unhealthy, misrepresented masculinity in my next blog post.

As we wrap this post up, let’s look at one more piece of the masculinity blueprint: man was given authority to name. Genesis 2:19 says, “Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.”

Naming things in the Bible was significant because it was a sign of authority or leadership over something. We see God exercising that authority many times when he renamed people who came under his headship: Abram became Abraham, Sarai became Sarah, Simon became Peter, and so on.

Adam was given the responsibility to name the animals because he was called to be a leader over creation. Eve received this responsibility as well, but it came through Adam.

Soon after Adam was given his responsibilities, God gave him Eve, a “helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18, 20). This title offered further evidence of God’s core social identity for the man and woman: Adam was alone, and no animals were a helper fit for him, so God created Eve.

The deepest, most profound differences between husbands and wives are not physical. They’re sociological. And in this relational dance of men and women that God orchestrated, there is a leader and a follower, which is set up in the blueprint of manhood we find in Genesis.

I’ve got so much more to share about biblical manhood as we step into Genesis 3 in the next blog post. So go ahead and check it out now.