Why is God-Given Gender Offensive?

Exodus 20:12 – “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you…”

Our culture has, tragically, erased the God-given gender distinctions. In an age of transgenderism, talk of people operating in set roles according to their God-given gender is culturally offensive, like most of the rest of what the Bible says about most every issue. 

The Bible, however, does assign roles, which explains why there are specific commands to wives and mothers, along with husbands and fathers. For example, the Bible only refers to the male husband as the head of the household (Genesis 2:18 cf. I Timothy 2:11-15; Genesis 5:2, I Corinthians 11:2-16; Ephesians 5:21-33; Colossians 3:18; I Peter 3:1; I Corinthians 14:33-34; Titus 2:3-5). 

The Bible teaches a leadership model of singular headship and plural leadership. In a family, the husband is the singular head, and he leads with his wife as plural leaders. This explains why the Bible says it’s not good for a man to be alone, and that a wife is very helpful (Genesis 2:18). The principle of plural leadership also explains why the Bible repeatedly tells children to obey both their mother and father – because they are plural leaders (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16, 21:18; Matthew 15:4, 19:19; Ephesians 6:20). 

Deborah was not acting like the male head, or singular human spiritual leader in Israel. Instead, she led boldly, wisely, and strongly like a godly mother does in a home. In fact, in Judges 5:7 she says, “I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel.”

Lastly, a key theme in Judges is Spirit-filled leaders. In the New Testament, the juxtaposition between living in the flesh versus living in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26) is clearly played out in every generation of Judges. Over and over, a generation lives in the sinfulness of the flesh until an anointed leader filled with the Holy Spirit rises up to lead them back to God.

In Judges, the ungodly leaders live clearly “devoid of the Spirit” (Jude 19). Conversely, the Lord raises up some clear Spirit-led servants: 

  • Judges 3:9–10 – But when the people of Israel cried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the people of Israel, who saved them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. The Spirit of the LORD was upon him, and he judged Israel. 
  • Judges 6:21 – Then the angel of the LORD reached out the tip of the staff that was in his [Gideon’s] hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight.
  • Judges 11:29 – Then the Spirit of the LORD was upon Jephthah…
  • Judges 13:24–25 – …the woman bore a son and called his name Samson. And the young man grew, and the LORD blessed him. And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him…
  • Judges 14:19–20 – …the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him [Samson]…

In addition to Othniel, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson, the secret to Deborah’s success was her powerful anointing in the Holy Spirit. First, she was a prophetess of God (Judges 4:4). It is impossible to accurately prophecy for the Lord without the Holy Spirit. 

Regarding the definition of a true prophet, God says in Deuteronomy 18:18–19, “I will raise up for them a prophet…And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” In the New Testament, prophecy is listed among the gifts of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:10–11 says “prophecy” along with the other gifts of the Holy Spirit “are empowered by one and the same Spirit…” 

Secondly, in Judges 5, Deborah’s worship song is reported. In this moment, she is filled with the Spirit of God, worshipping God in the Spirit, and singing a worship song she wrote that is so perfect that it was included in the Scriptures as a perfect Word from God. Now that we have established the source of Deborah’s power (anointing in the Holy Spirit), we will next examine her life as recorded in Judges 4-5. 

Read Genesis 2:18 cf. 1 Timothy 2:11-15, Genesis 5:2, 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, Ephesians 5:21-33, Colossians 3:18, 1 Peter 3:1, 1 Corinthians 14:33-34 and Titus 2:3-5 about how men should be the singular head of a home. Then read Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16, 21:18, Matthew 15:4, 19:19, and Ephesians 6:20 about how men and women are plural leaders in the home. 

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