God’s Basic Design
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God’s Basic Design

Psalm 139:1–18  (ID: 2291)

Are men and women the express product of divine activity or simply a random collection of molecules? Alistair Begg explains that our humanity can be rightly understood only within the context of God’s Word. As the inspired revelation of God Himself, the Bible speaks to who God is and who we are as created beings. Fashioned in God’s image, we are eternal beings with the ability to reason, create, and distinguish between right and wrong. Our unique design reflects God’s character.

Series Containing This Sermon

God’s Design for Women

Selected Scriptures Series ID: 24101

Sermon Transcript: Print

Let’s take our Bibles and turn to the book of Psalms. Psalm 139:

O Lord, you have searched me
 and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
 you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
 you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
 you know it completely, O Lord.

You hem me in—behind and before;
 you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
 too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
 Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
 if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
 if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
 your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
 and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
 the night will shine like the day,
 for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;
 you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
 your works are wonderful,
 I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
 when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
 were written in your book
 before one of them came to be.

And then he says,

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
 How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
 they would outnumber the grains of sand.
[And] when I awake,
 I am still with you.

Well, we thank God for his Word, and we look to him to help us as we study it together.

I want to be very honest with you and tell you that I’m not quite sure what to expect in these sessions today. Not that I’m unsure of what to expect from you. I’m really quite unsure of what to expect from me. “Aha,” you say, “unprepared. He’s come to us unprepared.” No. I’ve come prepared, but when I was thinking about this weekend, or this day, I was thinking about it in very different terms before I began to give myself to it properly.

Last weekend I was in Toledo, and I had to address some issues there in relationship to men. And as I thought about what was going on in that context and then imagined this week and looked forward to today, I was thinking, I think, really very badly and quite wrongly, by way of confession, which is good for the soul. I think, quite honestly—and this is a dreadful thing to admit, especially with you all here, but, I mean, I might as well—I think I was thinking, you know, last week was, you know, male and a lot different in terms of the way that one would have to approach it; and when I got to the more cozy opportunity of the women the following Saturday, I could relax a little more, perhaps, in preparation. I may be able to approach the material a little differently, after all, and so on and so on. In the midst of all of that I said to myself, “No, you’re just flat out wrong. I mean, you’re thinking completely wrongly.” And so then, after I walked around the room a few times and began to think as properly as I could, I determined that I would do what now I’m about to do.

And the reason I say that I’m not sure how it will fall out is because I don’t know how far I can go before my time runs out in the first session. And although I had very clearly in my mind a way of approaching these three sessions, it may come out very differently. I don’t say that to alarm you, nor even to, you know, falsely engender some sense of expectation, but just to be perfectly straightforward about what I’m going to do.

And if you’ve come for a few anecdotes and one or two funny stories and material that is, you know, peculiarly designed to touch the intuitive elements of femininity, then you invited the wrong speaker, and it’s going to be a really bad day. But if you said to yourself as you drove in the car, “I hope this character is not going to show up with a bunch of silly feminine claptrap stories, but I hope he’s on his game, I hope he’s ready to produce the goods, I hope that he’s going to deliver what should be delivered,” then I think you’re probably going to say to yourself, “This has been very purposeful.”

Now, you’re going to have to think. If you’ve left your brains anywhere outside, go out and get them and bring them back in. Because I want to appeal very much to your minds and to encourage you to think along these lines. After all, the title that has been given to the event is pretty straightforward: “God’s Design for Women.” So we know that it is to be about God, we know that it is to be about design, and we know that it is to be about women. And since it is about God, in the first place, it is surely appropriate that our text for all of our deliberations should be God’s Word, the Bible.

To accept the authority of the Bible is an act of faith. But it is an act of faith that is not contrary to reason.

And having read from the Bible and having made this statement by way of introduction, I want immediately to pause purposefully and talk to you about why it is that we would ever use the Bible as the source of our deliberations today, starting there purposefully and actually staying there directly. Because a number of you will have come as visitors and guests, and frankly, the Bible is not something to which you refer with frequency. You may have come more because of the word woman or because of the word design rather than because of the word God. And that’s okay. But I think you would understand that since we’re in this framework, it would be recognizable that we would operate from the text of Scripture. And the reason that we do so is because we believe that basic to all our understanding of Christian truth is God’s revelation of himself and his will. In other words, the Bible speaks to us about the truths of Christianity, truths to which we come not as a result of our human discovery of God but truths to which we come as a result of God’s disclosure of himself—a disclosure that he has made uniquely in the Old Testament and in the New Testament.

God has made himself known in a number of ways. In our humanity we have a sense of moral rightness and wrongness, which is the stamp of his handiwork. When we look at the leaves falling to the ground and recognize again that in every good opportunity—it will be springtime later, some months from now—we recognize that in the order of creation God has made himself known. But we may not have given much thought to the fact that here in the pages of Scripture, he has made himself known uniquely. Of course, he has made himself known ultimately, finally, savingly in the incarnation of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

And so I come to you today to address the subject on the conviction that the Bible—the Old Testament, the New Testament—is inspired by God.[1] The word actually means that God breathed it out. And therefore, his words, in the same way that our words speak to who we are and what we believe and, in measure, our authority and our character, the Word of God as we have it in the Bible speaks to his character. It is authoritative, it is permanent, and it is sufficient. And we believe that God knew in the putting together of the Bible all of the needs of men and women throughout all of the centuries, so that although we’re in the twenty-first century and removed by a long way from the material that we’re going to consider today, nevertheless, we discover that it has an immediate impact because of who the author is and because God made both the writings and the readers.

Now, of course, there’d be some who are saying, “Well, I understand so far what you’re saying, but isn’t ultimately the acceptance of the authority of the Bible simply, in the last analysis, an act of faith?” And the answer is yes, it is. In the final analysis, to accept the authority of the Bible is an act of faith. But it is an act of faith that is not contrary to reason. Oftentimes when people say, “Ah, but that’s just an act of faith,” what they have in mind is that somehow or another faith involves leaping into oblivion, faith involves the disengaging of our thought processes, faith involves some other mechanism in our lives. But in point of fact, when the Bible speaks about faith, it speaks of it not in antagonism to our rationality.

And in the final analysis, when we think about the Bible itself, all of our authority for believing it is ultimately in the Lord Jesus Christ himself. And those of you who were present last evening, when we mentioned just briefly the issue of the resurrection, will understand the importance of that—that when God raised Jesus from the dead, he was, if you like, unconditionally validating who Jesus was, what Jesus did, and what Jesus said. Jesus had walked along the streets of Judea. He had moved in and out the precincts of Galilee. He had grown up in the home of a carpenter. Much of his life is covered over in complete silence. And at the age of thirty, he walks out onto the stage of human history. And the remarkable thing about this Jesus is that although he is, if you like, outside of the Old Testament, still, everything that he says references the Word of God. He’s constantly quoting the Bible, and he is validating, retrospectively, the Old Testament. And that’s, of course, one of the things that an individual, when they begin to get serious about thinking about who Jesus is and why he came, one of the remarkable things is when you read the Old Testament and then you follow the life of Christ, you say, “How in the world did an individual manage to approximate so closely to all these things that were written hundreds of years before he arrived?” And, of course, he was also validating prospectively all that then would be written about him in the New Testament, in the Gospels, and in the story of the developing church in the Acts, in the letters that were written in the first century or so, and finally, in the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, looking forward to this Jesus.

Now, all of that to say this: Jesus is the grand theme of the Bible. All of the story line of the Bible converges in Jesus. He is, if you like, the focal point of the picture. I’m not very good at pictures. I’m not very good at art at all. In fact, perspective is something that passed me by. I was absent on the day they gave out perspective, in terms of those line drawings. But Sue’s good at that, and so she’s able to say to me, “No, no, no, if you look at it in this way, then you will see exactly what’s going on.” And if you look at your Bible, if you look at yourself, if you look at the issue of womanhood separate from Jesus, then it is impossible to get it right.

Just in thinking about it just now, I suddenly remembered those things they used to have at the mall a few years ago, the pictures. They were selling them in the little booths. You couldn’t see anything, right? I mean, it was something, but you couldn’t see it unless you stood and looked at it for what seemed to be the rest of your life. And the people told you, “No, you’re looking at the wrong place.” And I would stare at them, sometimes for five or seven minutes, and couldn’t see a thing. And people’d say, “Oh no, you see, it’s the Empire State Building.” I said, “I’m sorry. Not to me it isn’t.” “Well, you need to squeeze your eyes.” And I’d squeeze my eyes. And then you’d close one eye and close another eye. And eventually, “Do you see it? Do you see it?” “No, I don’t see it!”

And you may be here today, and you’re saying to yourself, “That’s the exact same thing, you know. I might as well close both my eyes when it comes to the Bible—could leave one shut and leave one open,” and so on. But the amazing thing is this: that the very faith that is involved in accepting the authority of God’s Word comes by means of God’s Word. And the Scriptures are described to us as being the Word of Christ.[2] Therefore, what the Bible says the Lord Jesus, as the head of the church, says. The Lord Jesus speaks to us today not by the contemporary utterances of inspired individuals, but he speaks to us by the teaching and application of the inspired Scriptures. Do you understand the distinction? So we don’t run around looking for inspired men or inspired women. We actually would want to look for men and women who are committed to the inspired Bible, so that we, then, being sensible women, would be able to examine the Scriptures and see whether what is being said by the teacher is actually confirmed and ratified in the Bible. Whether that has to do with the picture of womanhood, or whether it has to do with the nature of marriage, or whether it has to do with our involvement in the local church, whatever it may be, our dependence is not on the utterances of inspired individuals, but our dependence is upon the instruction and application of the inspired Scriptures.

Now, for those of you who are still with me and haven’t already said in your mind, “I should have had a second cup of coffee,” let me try and explain to you why this is so very important. Until you accept the authority of the Bible—and I can’t give you… This is not a conference on the authority and sufficiency of the Bible. But until you accept the authority of the Bible, you will not defer to it. You will not do what it says. And so the issue of “Where are we starting from in addressing the subject?” is a crucial issue. So is this Bible authoritative? Is this Word of Christ, the head of the church, to be obeyed? And are we to defer to it, whether it is palatable or not? Are we to do what it says, whether we like it or not? Are we to obey it when it runs absolutely contrary to contemporary culture? The Bible must always be given the last word on any subject.

“Ah, but,” says somebody, “you know, it’s possible to misinterpret the Bible.” Yes, of course it is. We may misinterpret the Bible, frankly, because we’re ignorant. We just don’t know really anything about it at all, and so we say silly things about it. Or we may misinterpret the Bible because we just pick wee bits out of the Bible, and we don’t pay any attention to the context in which it’s set. We may also misinterpret the Bible because of our own prejudices: we find in the Bible what we want to find in the Bible, so we go to it, and we find it, and then we say it’s there. And none of us are free from the potential for that.

Until you accept the authority of the Bible, you will not defer to it. You will not do what it says.

How, then, do we make sure that that doesn’t happen? Well, I think if we study the Bible properly, we understand that there are certain things that are perfectly plain and clear. Those are the main things over which there is really no debate at all. Nobody is concerned to argue about them. There are other things where the Bible is not as clear and is not as plain. So on the plain, clear things we need to be plain and really clear. On the issues where there is not the same clarity—secondary issues—we need to make sure that we are not dogmatic and assertive and bombastic and domineering. Now, do you understand that?

God’s design: How do we know about God? In the Bible. How do we know about his design? In the Bible. Well, I don’t want to lose somebody in the very first ten minutes. You say, “Well, I don’t, frankly, pay attention to the Bible at all. If I had known it was this, I wouldn’t have come! I thought it was some kind of principles from out there, you know: Chopra or Chukra or whoever that character is. You know, some bright ideas, some insights. I need insights! I don’t need the Bible. Goodness gracious, if you could see the house out of which I come, you’d know I need ten principles here. I need pointers! I need help. Help me! Now, don’t start this Bible stuff!”

Listen, ladies: if you stay with me, I, with God’s help, am going to show you that this is exactly what we all need. This is exactly what we need. And it is an illusion to think that we can address the sense of need that we have by simply reaching out for practical pointers to be implemented. Until we are convicted and convinced that God has a legitimate right to rule, that God has a legitimate right to speak, that God has spoken within his Word, and therefore that he gets the last word on every subject, we will not be able to make the progress that we require.

Now, we could go and illustrate this; we won’t take the time to do it. But, for example, when Jesus in Mark chapter 10 is asked a question on the subject of divorce, you’ll remember how he answers it. He answers it by going right back to Genesis chapter 1 and Genesis chapter 2: “Do you not know,” he says, “that God made them in the beginning male and female? That they became one flesh?”[3] So, we have the revelation of Scripture set over and against the investigation and the confusion of men and women.

In the [1920s], a man by the name of Hendrik van Loon—fortunately, it didn’t have a y on the end of it—but Hendrik van Loon, he wrote a book entitled The Story of Mankind. And he began his history of the world with these words:

We live under the shadow of a gigantic question mark.

Who are we?

Where do we come from?

Whither are we bound?

Slowly, but with persistent courage, we have been pushing this question mark further and further towards that distant line, beyond the horizon, where we hope to find our answer.

We have not gone very far.”[4]

Now, whether we are male or female today, those ultimate questions are the questions. Are you just a bunch of chemicals in suspension? Do you emerge from plankton soup? Because if you do, then frankly, the issues of how well I’m doing in my femininity, how well I’m doing in fulfilling the role of single woman or maternal provider, is marginal at best and probably totally irrelevant. So you see, until we address this most foundational issue, about which the psalmist writes in Psalm 139, about the very nature of our creation and what God has done, then the other questions, which are very important questions, are in need of being left on the side.

Now, you don’t have to look far to find that there is a difference between the revelation of the Bible and the investigation of man. The Tuesday edition of the New York Times this week, in its health and fitness section—actually, in the Science Times and then the subsection Health and Fitness—had a review entitled “On Being Male, Female, Neither or Both.” Okay? So I go into Starbucks, I get my New York Times. It’s going to be a great morning. I get a coffee, and I open it up, and there’s a picture here: a kind of androgynous creature with eye shadow on on the one side and a beard on the other side and so on—frankly, it’s a very interesting piece of work—set in the garden of Eden, it would appear. And I can’t read the article; I’ll just use it as way of illustration. But I’ll give you one quote from it: “Until the turn of the century, Dr. Meyerowitz writes, gender was defined through a binary taxonomy of opposites,” i.e., “people were either male or female.” Why didn’t you just say that? Because, you know, if… Anyway. That’s okay. That’s by the way.

But in the late 19th century, Sigmund Freud, the German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing and Wilhelm Fliess, a German physician, began putting forth the notion that humans were inherently bisexual, and that sexuality existed on a continuum between male and female.

In 1910, a Berlin physician, Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, published a pioneering work on transsexuality and articulated a relatively new modern definition of gender. “Absolute representatives of their sex are,” he wrote, “only abstractions, invented extremes.”[5]

Okay? So, the idea of sexuality as it is propounded here—and I’m going to show it to you in Genesis 1 and 2—and the notion that emerges out of the early days of the twentieth century in German psychiatry and which spills over the Atlantic into contemporary thought, these two notions could not be further apart. They are not bedfellows. They do not live together. You cannot merge them. Okay?

Which is why I’m saying to you what I’m saying. Unless you are convinced of the authority of the Bible, then when you take your New York Times on a Tuesday morning and read this, you are going to be immediately at sea. You’re going to be running down the street saying, “Who am I? What am I? Where am I on the continuum? Am I male? Am I female? What in the world am I?” But if you have accepted the authority of the Bible and you believe that God gets the last word on every subject, then you don’t disengage your brain. You interact with the material; you think it out in light of what you know as having been revealed by the Creator, God. And there’s all the difference in the world.

Now, interestingly, a couple of weeks ago now, when our friend Dr. Philip Johnson was here and he took questions from the audience, one of the best questions, I think, came from a lady who—I was dreadfully embarrassed. She tried asking it over here; we couldn’t hear her. And then we sent her over here, and we couldn’t hear her much better over there. And if you’re here this morning, I hope those lozenges are working. But eventually we managed to hear this conversation or hear this question, and it was actually very, very good. And the question had to do with the identity and the dignity of man as being created—“man” not in terms of man versus woman but “man” as humanity.

And, you know, that’s very important for us to realize, and I’m going to come back to it in our second session—which is probably no encouragement to you. But in the sequence of thought in Genesis, when it says that “God created man”—he made man—then, “male and female he created them.”[6] So when the word “man” is used, which is the word adam, it is speaking of the creation of humanity. And the plural defines “man” as male and female, two components of a single reality, so that you cannot conceive of humanity except you understand it in a bisexual frame of reference. That sounds dangerous, doesn’t it? Don’t go out, say, “Well, he said everybody’s bisexual. We heard it at the conference.” No. When God made man, when he made humanity, he made man bisexual, humanity bisexual. He “created man … male and female he [made] them.” So that the image of God is revealed not in a man, and then woman tags along, but the image of God is revealed in man, “man” being male and female.

Now, that is, of course, of vital importance. But the lady was asking the question concerning how all that had taken place. And Dr. Johnson had tried to speak, I think, to the issue that in the notion of creation, God has formed with love and with care—if you like, with imagination and with dedication—man; that man doesn’t just happen; that God breathes him into being; and that as a result of the activity of God, there’s no place in our thinking for the idea that we’re just here as a result of the mutation of the gene of some other animal.

Now, the lady stands up, you remember, and she asks the question: “Well, in defense of evolutionary thought,” she says, essentially, “aren’t you prepared to accept, sir, that there is a close genetic affinity between the man and the chimpanzee?” It was a good question. I don’t really remember the answer, but I was still thinking about how good a question it was. And I thought how easy it would be for some of us to say, “Oh, no, no, no, there isn’t,” and how wrong it would be for us to say that. Because there is clearly a strong genetic affinity between man—not your husband, now!—man (male and female) and the chimpanzee.

“Well,” you say, “this is even worse than I thought it was going to be. It’s getting worse by the minute.” No, this poses no problem to the Bible’s explanation of things. There is a close anatomical affinity between the man and the ape. And there are close physiological affinities between man and the pig and man and the dog. And you only need to look in your children’s bedrooms to understand that, if there was no other indication of it. If you don’t think there’s a definite physiological dimension between man and the pig, go back to your teenage son’s room and have another look at it.

But the fact is, we would expect there to be affinities, wouldn’t there? We would expect that there would be affinities between man and the other creatures. Don’t you think it would be very wise of God to act in such a way as to make possible animal tests that would be relevant and helpful to human medicine? Don’t you think it would be wonderful on the part of God so to constitute the cardiac structure of a pig as to make possible the use of pig valves in human transplantation?

None of the notions of this great anatomical, physiological comparison between one dimension of living things and the uniqueness of man by creation precludes what the Bible is saying. What the Bible precludes is the idea that man, male and female, exists as a result of evolution—an evolution that has been guided by natural selection, taking place by minute chance occurrences and variations over millions of years. No, says the Bible. Man, male and female, is the express product of divine activity. And the similarities that we find between ourselves and chimpanzees are not there because man is a development from the chimp but because God as Creator is free to duplicate his systems in more than one form of his creation.

Doesn’t that make sense? That he who created can use a gigantic chunk of the process in putting together a chimpanzee that he used to put you and I together? Because think about it. (And this actually is my simplistic analysis of the whole business.) I think chimpanzees were put there as something of a divine joke. For when you see these things coming down the road, you say, “That looks a tremendous amount like my brother-in-law Bill. There is an uncanny resemblance there to that character.” And I think that’s exactly it. I think in part what God is saying is, “Take a look at them, and look at what you would be like if I had not made you in my image. Frankly, you’re close to that in some of your habits, and the way you walk is very similar to that.” And, of course, man looks at that and he says, “Well, it’s obvious that the reason that we are where we are is because it just came jumping and bumping along.” “No, no,” says the Bible, “God did all of that. And yet uniquely he put you together.”

Listen, ladies: you are not the product of some chance happenstance, says the Bible. Your fingerprints are unique; they are not the same as anyone else in the room. Your DNA is unique; it is not the same as anyone else’s in the room. Indeed, in the whole world it is unique, as a result of God’s explicit design for you as an individual. And God don’t make no junk! So he has fashioned you intricately in your mother’s womb, forming your unseen substance, putting you together in an awareness of all that that would mean for you as an individual in the living of your life, in dealing with your physicality, in dealing with your sexuality, in dealing with your emotions, in dealing with your rationality, in dealing with your role in life, and everything else. God has purposefully organized that.

And until a woman comes to the awareness of this vast and immense notion, then like a man, you will be left looking in the magazines to try and find out who you are and where you’re from and why you exist and another twenty-four reasons from Cosmopolitan magazine to give significance to your life and structure to your marriage and hope to everything that goes along with it. Or if it’s not there, we’ll go to one of the other ones. I don’t mean to be dismissive.

Now, you say, “Well, this isn’t what we thought at all. We thought we’d get a thing on loving your husbands and trying to encourage your children to pick up their vegetables and all that kind of thing.” Well, as I say, I’m dreadfully sorry to disappoint you. You’re thinking people. You need to think this out.

God said, “Let us make man in our image.”[7] If you like, he said, “Let’s make a look-alike.” In what sense, then, are we made in the image of God? In what way is God’s design patterned in our lives? Well, that’s the stuff of systematic theology. You can buy a book through in the shop, and you can get all this. I’ll just give you a start on it.

Our rationality—our ability to think, to reason, to think logically—sets us apart from the animal world. And I know somebody may just put up their hand and say, “Well, you know, I have a Labrador. It’s a very smart Labrador, you know. It’s a very thoughtful Labrador. I’m not so sure that this rationality thing works.” Well, I have never yet seen a group of Labradors sitting around in Starbucks and discussing the doctrine of the Trinity. Your children are able to perform tasks that your Labrador can’t. You may train your Labrador with little bits of meat and cookies and everything else to perform tasks so you can go on The David Letterman Show, but you cannot say to your Labrador, “Go into the garage and bring the small, red screwdriver.” But your four-year-old can go get a small, red screwdriver—able to distinguish color, size, shape, and function.

Rationality. Creativity. Art, music, literature, science, technology, morality (an inner sense of right and wrong), immortality (the awareness that we won’t cease to exist but that we will live forever), and so on. I admit to you that the differences between ourselves and animals in some areas are not absolute differences. They’re differences of very great degree.

And this is what people say. They like to dismiss it in this way. And again, it usually comes back to a Labrador or a Golden Retriever: “Well, I have a Golden Retriever, and you said that emotions are part of it. Well, I have a very emotional Golden Retriever. I mean, if I come home and I didn’t get home at five as usual, he’s got a very long face like this. Or if he doesn’t get his food just the right time, he’s very miserable for the rest of the evening,” and so on. I fully accept that. I don’t doubt that for one minute.

But you’re not going to suggest to me that your Golden Retriever can go through the gamut of psychological interaction such as is represented when you go to hear the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance. And when you sit down, and you say to yourself, “Oh, goodness gracious, I didn’t realize it was Mahler. This is going to be dreadful.” And then the accompanying emotion is “But that was very nice of him to invite me.” And then the next thought: “How long till I get out of here?” And then: “I wonder if we’ll be able to go for coffee.” And then starting into the business of the day. And all of these multiple processes of thought are going on simultaneously—which is, I suggest to you, a difference of degree between your Golden Retriever feeling a little bit morose because you came home at half past five rather than half past four.

You see how quickly people who think, “Just throw out the Golden Retriever story.” So on the basis of the Golden Retriever getting his lunch, your view of yourself and your dignity and your femininity and everything else is cast out to the breeze. And the same people who are driving around with their Golden Retriever in the back of their minivan are reading this “On Being Male, Female,” or whatever they are, “Neither or Both.” And I’ll leave the subject aside, but actually, at the end of this line, the androgynous differences between male and female are also passed over into the differences between animal and humanity.

This is not a matter of marginal importance. Once you break the link, said Schaeffer, between an infinite, personal creator God and his creation, then the door is open to every kind of abuse. And there is a huge difference between the doctrine of creation—Psalm 139—and the theory that man (that is, male and female) is the spontaneous result of random variation in organisms over millions of years. And man will think differently not only about himself but about everything when we explain our existence in terms of time plus matter plus chance.

There is nothing that can deal with the deep-seated sense of who you are, as you, until first you settle the issue of God’s design.

If you think this morning, ma’am, that when you showered and dressed and looked at yourself in the mirror before leaving, you were looking at simply a random collection of molecules thrown together as a result of a chance process, cast into the great scheme of time without really any meaning whatsoever, then I suggest to you that you will think differently about absolutely everything than if you come to the convinced awareness of what the psalmist is saying here in the 139th Psalm.

In one of the X-Files editions, there’s a fascinating dialogue between Mulder and Scully. And “Mulder asks, ‘When science can’t offer an explanation, [can] we turn to the fantastic?’” And “Scully, ever the skeptic, replies, ‘What I find fantastic is any notion that there is anything beyond science.’”[8] “When science doesn’t answer, can’t we turn to the fantastic?” “I’ll tell you what’s fantastic is the idea that there is anything other than beyond science.”

Now, ladies, this is where you’re living your lives. This is the basis upon which conversations are taking place concerning human sexuality, femininity, the roles of women. I’m going to show you in the second session how this works itself out, what it actually means in practical terms. There is a reason for a predilection towards lesbianism that is built into a worldview. And the worldview gives rise to all kinds of extrapolations. That’s why I want to ask you in this first session when you walk out of here, or you don’t walk out of here—I don’t know what you do next—but whatever you do, you just sit and think for a moment: “Do I have a proper view of God’s design in the first place? Am I just worthless junk, readily disposable, essentially irrelevant? Am I just a combination of chemicals in suspension? A bunch of grown-up genes?”

Now, again, until you address that question and get a satisfactory answer, “How to Do the Women Thing,” “How to Do the Mom Thing,” “How to Do the Wife Thing,” “Seven Helpful Tips for This” and “Nine Wonderful Tips for That,” they will not answer your deepest longings. There is not a relationship on the face of God’s earth that can satisfy you with a man. There is not a child that can need you enough. There is not a job that can fulfill you enough. There is not a vacation that can enthrall you enough. There is nothing that can deal with the deep-seated sense of who you are, as you, until first you settle the issue of God’s design.

So, make your choice. You can go with the New York Times and Freud, or you can go with the Bible. But you can’t go with both of them together. You’re sensible people. Think this out.

Father, I pray that as we consider these things throughout the remainder of this day, that you will guide our thinking. We need your help so desperately. It’d be very easy for us, Lord, to tackle all of these subjects from a very superficial perspective. Indeed, one of the great dangers as a man coming to address women is that we, because of our own proneness to self-assertiveness, think that somehow or another we should tone it down or change it or put it in a less didactic form—maybe some more stories, etc. Forgive me and everybody like me for thinking wrongly about that.

We pray that you would help us, then, to take very seriously the question of God, your Word, and the implications of what it means for you to be the Designer. For we would expect then that as in a home where a designer leaves their mark, that in the home of our lives there would be all kinds of evidences of you. And so we pray, then, that as we think these issues through, that the Spirit of God may be our teacher. For we pray in Jesus’ name and for his sake. Amen.

[1] See 2 Timothy 3:16.

[2] See Colossians 3:16.

[3] Mark 10:6–8 (paraphrased).

[4] Hendrik Willem Van Loon, The Story of Mankind (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1921), 3.

[5] Dinitia Smith, “On Being Male, Female, Neither or Both,” New York Times, Oct. 29, 2002, https://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/29/health/books-on-health-on-being-male-female-neither-or-both.html.

[6] Genesis 1:27 (NIV 1984).

[7] Genesis 1:26 (NIV 1984).

[8] The X-Files, episode 1, “Pilot,” directed by Robert Mandel, written by Chris Carter, aired September 10, 1993, paraphrased in Vaughan Roberts, Distinctives: Daring to be Different in an Indifferent World (Bletchley, Milton Keynes: Authentic, 2000), chap. 1.

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.