There always seems to be a lot of sermons, articles, and discussions about the role of women in the church and in the home. We spend a lot of time and study trying to understand what “helper” means in Genesis 2 and what the proper biblical role for women in the church may be. Can women preach, teach, lead, or should they just remain silent? We have articles by the thousands questioning if the biblically defined role of women is sexist and oppressive to women or if it is proper and dignified.
However, it is equally important – and honestly, even more important – that we spend that time to study and address the role of men in the church and in the home. If men are to be leaders in the church and home, there should be some effort to know what that is supposed to look like.
In Genesis 1:28, God gave Adam dominion over all creation. Adam was charged with naming the animals (and by naming something you assert authority over it) and assigned with tending the garden. Even though God created Eve as the helper for Adam, God still placed Adam as the responsible leader of his household. It was Adam who was the representative for all mankind. So it was Adam for whom God was looking even though they both ate of the forbidden tree in the garden (Genesis 3:9).
In this way, God has given men a very high honor, and a great responsibility, to be the leaders of God’s church and God’s institution of the family. This is one of the many ways Christians should stand in stark contrast to culture. Culture demeans and trivializes the role of men in the home. But God’s design is that men are to be teaching and leading in the home.
This role, however, in the Christian home goes much deeper than modern society even considers. Men are not to just teach and lead in developing their children into better athletes, more talented musicians, smarter students or get better at TikTok videos. The biblical mandate for the father in the home is to be teaching and leading their children to know and follow God.
After God gave the Ten Commandments to the nation of Israel, He then gave them the ultimate parenting instructions. He said, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
This directive was not just given to the mothers. It was given to every parent, and many would say more specifically it was given to the fathers. The most important job of parents is to teach their children diligently the words of God. And if the father is the spiritual head of the household, that is definitely one of his primary job descriptions.
Yet just two generations removed from God speaking on the mountain and giving the Ten Commandments, we find one of the most depressing verses in all of scripture: Judges 2:10. It says, “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.”
For context, the generation who “had been gathered to their fathers” was the generation who were children when God brought them miraculously out of Egypt. They had wandered in the desert wilderness because their parents doubted if God could lead them into the Promised Land. This was the generation that Joshua led into the Promised Land, the first ones to step foot in their inheritance.
But somehow, they failed to teach their children about God. So the next generation “did not know the Lord,” and not even the things God had done for Israel! They couldn’t even manage to tell their children how God brought them out of slavery in Egypt!
As a result, their children turned to idolatry and wickedness. Verses 11 and 12 say, “Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals; and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger.”
As sad as that is, it makes perfect sense. How can the younger generation rise up to serve the Lord when they are not taught to know the Lord? How could they not turn to idolatry if they do not know the One True God?
This was a failure of an entire generation to teach God’s Words. And if the father is the spiritual head of the household and leader of the family, then this was a failure of the father.
Let that sink in for a minute.
In order to train up the next generation, Christian men must be actively leading and teaching the next generation. And if we are doing the Christian life in community with other believers as we are commanded to do, then strong Christian men must come alongside those struggling with this in order to model and instruct how to be a spiritual leader.
But in order to do all of that, we need strong Christian men. Or as Voddie Baucham describes it, men who are “sound in faith.” Yet the church has a serious problem of rampant mediocrity of faith in men. There is an overwhelming lack of being “sound in faith,” or just knowing what it means to follow God in obedience. In a sermon addressing this problem, Voddie observes there are people who have been in church all their lives yet still know nothing about what it means to walk in the faith and, even worse, still know nothing about God’s Word.
How can a man teach God’s Word if he does not know God’s Word?
For some reason this has become acceptable in the church. Voddie explains how this would never be acceptable in the secular world. If someone has been in a particular career for 40 years yet still knew nothing about that industry, we would be appalled at that level of ignorance and apathy.
Yet we find this regularly in the church – men who are ignorant and apathetic about the faith. They have been going through the motions of church attendance yet are not studying God’s Word, not walking in obedience to God, and do not even desire to do those things. And then, as Voddie points out, when someone does desire to do the things of God, they are told they should go be a pastor. But those things are not just for pastors to do – those things are for every Christian to do.
If men are not even desiring the things of God themselves, how can they teach others to desire the things of God?
According to 2014 Pew Research Center Survey, women are more likely than men to say that religion is very important to them (60% vs 47%), to pray daily (64% to 47%), and attend a religious service (40% vs 32%). One article stated that “women so outnumber men in the pews of many U.S. churches that some clergy have changed décor, music, and worship styles to try to bring more men into their congregations.”
The demographics in church are largely women and children. It underscores the issue we have – that fathers spend more time teaching their children football, Star Wars, and movie entertainment than they spend teaching them how to study the Bible or how to pray. But a true Christian man will be more concerned about his children knowing and following God’s Word than knowing and following the things of this world.
We need true Christian men to teach the next generation how to be sound in faith. We need true Christian men to show other men how to be Godly husbands and fathers, to be strong spiritual leaders in their homes so that they can raise up the next generation to know God.
We need to regain the understanding that biblical manhood is a beautiful and desperately needed thing. Look at the strong men of the Bible who were sound in faith – men like Peter and John who were fishermen, before motorboats and rods and reels. These were tough, hard-working men. And later when the Pharisees saw “the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
Teach them about Paul, who was a highly educated Pharisee but became a bi-vocational missionary, learning how to make fishing nets, who endured such incredible physical sufferings as detailed in 2 Corinthians 11. He was beaten with rods three times, five times given 39 lashes, stoned and left for dead, shipwrecked, and constantly in danger as he traveled along the Roman roads by foot to preach God’s Word. He was arrested multiple times, writing most of his epistles from a prison cell. This was a strong, Godly, biblical man on fire for teaching the next generation.
For those of you men out there doing these things for your children, I applaud you and commend you. I was blessed to be raised by a man like this. You are truly fulfilling God’s role for men as you train up the next generation so that they will know and love God. You are leaving a lasting legacy that will carry on for many generations. Be bold to continue that work, and to encourage the men around you to do likewise. We desperately need more men like you in the church and in our homes.
God has gifted men with the opportunity and responsibility of leading the church and leading families to grow in their knowledge and relationship with God. It is the most important thing men can do. The next generation depends on this strong, Godly, manly leadership. Don’t waste it by focusing on the things that do not matter. Rise to the challenge by being sound in faith and teaching others how to follow God. Show the unbelieving world what God truly intended manhood to be.