When God first created, He declared everything to be good except one thing. He saw it was not good for man to be alone. As there was no suitable helper for Adam from among the other creatures, God created Eve from Adam’s side to be his helper. This was the first institution of marriage (which is yet another interesting thing that sets us apart from animals – why would we ever come up with “marriage” if it weren’t set up by God?). God placed Adam as the head and Eve as the helper – equal in dignity and value, but different in role. Adam was to be the leader of his household. It was Adam for whom God was looking after they both sinned in the garden (Genesis 3:9).
That’s why it’s by “one man” all fell. Even though it was Eve who initially ate of the fruit, the guilt fell to Adam because he was the head of the household. As the head over Eve, and at this point over all creation, Adam’s sin plunged his household, and thus all creation, into sin. Eve wrongfully stepped out from his headship when she chose to eat of the fruit, but where was Adam when she did this? Some people say Adam was standing right there with her when this happened. Some say Adam wasn’t with her since the New Testament says that Adam was not deceived. Either way, Adam was not fulfilling his role the way he should have been. And therefore Eve stepped outside of her role and made a tragic decision. Adam, regardless of where he was when Satan confronted Eve, then committed the sin as well – with eyes wide open. He was NOT deceived but followed into sin willingly. He chose to disobey, and part of that disobedience was neglecting his role as the leader to guide Eve. Instead, there was a vacuum; Eve filled it with a poor decision, and Adam followed suit.
What does that have to do with us today? There is that same vacuum of leadership in the homes today. Now, don’t quit reading here, please. This is not going to be a male bashing article, but one that encourages men to step into their God-given role as the spiritual leader in the home. Men, you have been given the greatest honor God bestowed upon His creation. You were given dominion over all things here on earth. Adam was charged with tending the garden (Genesis 2:15). He was tasked with naming all of the animals, and those who provide the name for something are those with dominion over it (Genesis 2:19). He was to be the leader of his household. However, far too often that important role is being either abandoned by men or usurped by women, just as God said in Genesis 3:16.
Most of the TV shows and movies we watch portray a dim-witted dad who is either clueless, apathetic, or absent. Whether that is life imitating art or art imitating life, I’m not sure, but the damage caused by the absent father is far-reaching. Just turn on the nightly news and you can see the destruction caused by fatherless homes – either where the father is not physically present or where the father is not mentally or spiritually present. When that happens, it leaves a vacuum either to be filled by the culture through TV, social media, or peers. Our children then get their values from those places instead of the spiritual leader of the father. Or it places that role into the woman’s hands, which is not the God-ordained order.
The absence of that leadership in the home then becomes an absence of real men leading in the church. Unless you were actually raised by a strong Christian man, most men would have no idea what it means to be the spiritual leader of their homes. So are there men in the church coming alongside other men to model what it means to be the spiritual leader of the household? Are there men in the church showing their growth in God’s Word to model spiritual growth to other men?
I saw an excellent sermon about this exact thing by Voddie Baucham (you can watch it here). He talks about the rampant mediocrity within the church. 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. There is an overwhelming lack of being “sound in faith” or just knowing what it means to follow God in obedience. Voddie illustrates how this would never be acceptable in the secular world. You couldn’t be in a career for 40 years and still know nothing about your industry, yet somehow we accept that level of ignorance and apathy within the church. It is rare to find men who will step up and be a teacher or a mentor because they themselves know so little about their own faith. If someone does show a desire to learn and study God’s Word, it is viewed as a path to being a pastor instead of just doing what every Christian should be doing.
Why is this now the prevailing culture of the church? All through the Bible we can see where there is a lack of raising up children to be sound in faith; there is a lack of adult leadership for the next generation. For example, in 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, this older generation is the one who followed Joshua to inherit the Promised Land. But they failed to teach rightly about God to the next generation. So the next generation did not know the Lord. As a result, they led the nation into idolatry and wickedness. The next two verses 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." And this makes perfect sense. How can the younger generation rise up to serve the Lord when they are not taught to know the Lord?
So maybe we should look at how we are raising up young believers. Are we raising our youth so that they can become strong men in faith? Or are we trying to make church look like a good, clean version of the world's fun? If all we show our high school boys is a game night with a little prayer thrown in, no wonder they have no idea how to be spiritual leaders. They aren’t even being taught how to be good spiritual followers. In one particular church, the youth program consists of one night of “discipleship” for the youth. They are divided up by gender. The girls have a couple of hours of Bible study at a young woman’s house. The boys….go play dodgeball for a few hours with a five minute devotion. What are we raising up? What are we training? Are we challenging those boys to become men of God? Or are we telling them you get to play while the women grow in spirituality?
No wonder the gender distribution in churches is so lopsided. 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 are largely women and children, either single moms bringing their children or married moms bringing their children while the fathers stay at home. What is that teaching our children? It teaches them that faith is something women cling to or that church is only for women and children, but not men. Once boys grow up past having to do what “mama says” they no longer have to do such things.
Unless we start teaching young men how to grow spiritually and how to become spiritual leaders, this gender gap will only continue to increase. And the gender gap within the church is what is leaving that spiritual headship vacuum within the home. Instead of having Godly, male spiritual leaders in our homes, we have fathers who are absent - either physically, spiritually, or emotionally. We have fathers who have left their children to learn their values from the TV and internet. We have fathers who have never shown their children how to study the Bible or how to pray. They have spent more time making sure their kids know football statistics and the history of Star Wars characters instead of teaching them Scripture and the history of the Bible. With that lack of leadership in the homes, we will only continue to have spiritual babies who know nothing about their faith and nothing about God’s Word. As one friend phrased it, “We will be like atheists with one less hour of free time on Sundays.”
So what is the church to do now? TEACH. Teach boys how to be men – and I don’t just mean “boys” by their age, but by their spiritual maturity. Teach them how to be Godly husbands. Teach men how to be Godly fathers. Teach men how to be strong spiritual leaders in their house, on the ball fields, at the gym. Teach men how to be strong spiritual figures in the work place. Teach them the Bible and the intellectual defense of their faith. Teach them so there’s no way they can say faith is for weak-minded, emotional people but for the scientific, logical thinker and the philosopher. Teach them the real men of the Bible who were sound in faith – men like Peter and John and Paul who were fishermen and Pharisees. They were strong men who didn't back down in their commitment to Christ even under intense persecution. Teach about them as the Godly, manly leaders that they were.
To the Christian men out there, don't be discouraged. This message is not about disparaging men, it is about calling men to rise up to the challenge. You have been gifted with such an important role - and we need you to step up to that call of leadership. Rise to the opportunity to pour something of lasting value into the next generation. We need you. We need men of sound faith. We need men who are mature believers to lead our churches, our marriages, and our children. We need you to be strong spiritual leaders in the church. We need you to be the spiritual leaders of our marriages so that it is a headship we want to submit to. We need you to be the spiritual teachers of our children so that our children are raised up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We need you to be an example to others in the church of what Godly manhood looks like. We need you to show the unbelieving world what God truly intended man to be.