(I referred to this article in a recent lesson and wanted to share the full article)
Why Men Don’t Talk
I read a book a couple of months ago that really changed my thinking on a few things and helped me understand a lot more about myself. The book was The Silence of Adam by Larry Crabb. It was so good, that I read it twice. It is called The Silence of Adam because he starts off by asking where Adam was when Eve was talking to the serpent.
Tradition has always taught, and I had always assumed that Eve was alone at that time, and that after she was deceived and ate the fruit, she went in search of Adam and gave him some to eat. But Crabb pointed out that Adam was right there with Eve during the conversation with the serpent. When I read that, I immediately got off the couch and went to get my Bible to read the verse for myself.
Genesis 3:6 says, When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, (imah) and he ate.
Wow! Adam was with her! I don’t know about you, but that blows away my categories. We always talk about how Eve was deceived, (In fact we read that three weeks ago in 1 Tim 2:14 right here in class.) And I think deep down, we sort of blame Eve for getting us all in this mess in the first place, even though we know technically that Adam was responsible.
But what if Adam was standing right there the whole time that Eve was talking to the serpent? I think this sheds new light on just how responsible Adam was for what happened. What does this say to us about not doing anything when we are not sure exactly what we should do or say? It sure makes inactivity look more sinful to me
If Adam was there, then why didn’t he say something? Why didn’t he tell the serpent to get lost? Why didn’t he correct Eve when she misquoted the command not to eat of the tree? Why didn’t he suggest they go somewhere else to talk about the situation? Why didn’t he stop Eve when she reached for the fruit?
Why Adam was silent? I’m not going to answer that right now. The answer will become obvious as we work through several concepts.
We are going to divide our study into the following topics:
- The Search for Real Men
- Man’s model—God’s role in creation, because man is created in God’s image and we need to see what that entails.
- Man’s responsibility—to walk in God’s image.
- Man’s natural tendency—to be silent.
- What Speaking is Not.
- The Reasons for Silence
- The Solution
- Woman’s responsibility
The Search for “Real Men”
I think the first time I ever heard any talk about “real men” was in college when someone said, “Real men don’t eat quiche.” I think there was a whole string of “real men” jokes going around then, but that is the only one I remember.
The traditional view of a real man is one who is broad-shouldered, self-confident, tough, unemotional and successful. If you ever read any Louis L’Amour books, the main character was always tall, dark and invulnerable and he didn’t talk much. John Wayne and Clint Eastwood always played that kind of man in their movies.
But for the past ten years there has been a call for men to be more sensitive, to be vulnerable, to share their feelings, to cry more. Men are supposed to be more concerned with connecting with others than with trying to achieve and conquer the world. I remember my dad once making the comment that there didn’t seem to be any actors rising on the scene to replace John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. Maybe that is the reason. Their character type was out of style. John Wayne has been replaced with Billy Crystal.
I think the John Wayne tough guy image is a warped model of what a man should be. But I also think that the soft, vulnerable, almost homo-sexual image that we are bombarded with in the secular media is a pendulum swing too far in the other direction.
There is obviously a problem, but what is the solution? What constitutes a real man?
In the Christian world, we’ve been trying to come up with the answer. We have Family Life Seminars, Promise Keepers conventions, hundreds of self-help books on how to be a good father, how to be a good husband, how to be a good whatever. The list of self-help books is endless.
I think that phrase “self-help” is significant. I don’t mean to discredit any of those things I just mentioned, because they all have their place. In fact, many of them were started because people felt like churches weren’t dealing with the issues. But our tendency, when we realize there is a problem, is to go find a book written by some expert with the answers or go to a “professional counselor” or go to some conference to learn some neat steps to follow or principles to apply, to get motivated to work hard, and then we go home and try really hard to follow those steps. We do them for the next few weeks or months. But eventually, we slip back into our old habits and wait for the next conference. Perhaps that is why the Promise Keepers have to come back each year. We don’t keep our promises. The problem is that we were doing all these things out of our own energy, not God’s energy.
In our day, too many men are seeking more diligently for their manhood, than for God. However, if you read the biographies of the great Christians of the past, like Dwight L. Moody, Hudson Taylor, etc., it becomes obvious that they sought God first. They spent hours in the word and in prayer. They were very godly men. And look what God did through them. They are remembered as great men. Therefore, I think it is safe to say, “The only way to be manly is to be godly.” (Crabb, p. 32)
How do we become godly? By reflecting the image of God. We can’t do that unless we know what God is like. So we need to study what God is like. That by the way is theology. I almost hesitate to say that because most people think of theology as booooooring, but you will see that is very relevant. It is relevant because if we are to be godly, we have to know what God is like.
The Model: God’s Role in Creation
Genesis 1:2 says that the earth was formless and void and darkness was over the surface of the deep. In other words, everything was chaos. Then, while everything was darkness and chaos, God spoke into the darkness and He created life and beauty.
For years, people have argued about the “Gap theory” or “Restitution Theory” which proposes that there were two creations. After the first creation, Satan messed up the earth and so God had to rebuild. All this was supposed to happen somewhere between Gen. 1:1 and 1:3.
I think one reason this idea became popular was to try to explain why there was chaos. The question people asked, was “Why would God create a chaotic earth on his first pass, and then have to come back and fix it up later?” The gap theory also gained popularity when science started saying that the earth was millions of years old. A “Gap” between a first and second creation left room for that. The fact that the earth appears to be millions of years old can be explained without a gap theory. If God created a tree, and we cut it down the next day, how many rings would it have in it? 50? 100? God created trees, man, everything, including the earth, with apparent age. So we don’t need a gap theory as an answer to evolution.
Also, a good understanding of Hebrew shows that there is no reference to a gap in time in Gen. 1:3.
So, why the part about the earth being formless and void in vs. 2? Let me propose another reason—a theological one.
When Moses wrote Genesis, he left out lots of stuff. He covered 6000 years in just a few pages, and then focused in on Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. I think Moses was very selective in what events he recorded. He only recorded what he did because they make a theological point. Therefore Gen. 1:2 is as much a theological statement as it is an historical one. It is not just giving us a chronological order of events.
When I say it is a theological statement I mean that, the part about the earth being formless and void is there to make a statement about God—to let us know what God is like. What it is saying about God is that God moves in darkness and chaos and creates order and life. The statement is there so that man, who is created to walk in God’s image will know what that involves. It involves moving into the chaos and creating order and life.
That brings us to the next point.
Man’s Responsibility: To Walk in God’s Image
Genesis 1:26 says that man was created in God’s image and one purpose was to rule over the rest of creation. Man was to help keep the order. One of the first things Adam did was to name the animals. That did three things:
- It demonstrated his superiority over them, and fulfilled the command to rule over creation.
- It helped fulfill his role of being in God’s image and taking part in creating order out of chaos.
Lori and I were talking about that the other day. If animals didn’t have names, you would find yourself saying things like… I saw one of those yellow, furry animals down by the creek today. The other person would say, “The one with the long neck?” Then you would say, “No, it had a short neck..” Then the other person would say, “The one with stripes?” “No, the one spots…” And on and on it might go. That definitely would be a chaotic situation.
- Adam was also “like” God because naming the animals involved speaking into the disorder.
I imagine that naming all those animals was not easy. Imagine if someone brought a few hundred species of animals to you and asked you to name them. Would you be overwhelmed? Sure you would. It was probably all you could do to think of a name for your baby. And if you’re like us, you didn’t decide untill they were rolling mom and baby out of the hospital.
So, Gen. 1:3 says God spoke and then in Gen. 2:19-20 man spoke. There is a logical connection between the two. Man was reflecting the image of God by speaking into the chaos and creating order.
That is the theological basis for our study. God spoke into chaos and created life and order. Man is created in God’s image and part of man’s responsibility is to speak into chaos and create life and order.
How does that apply to us today? We don’t need to name the animals.
For me, that means that when life is chaotic, I need to speak. I need to say something and I need to do something. I need to get involved. I should not remain silent. If I remain silent, I am like Adam in the garden. I am sinning.
But man’s natural tendency is to remain silent. That takes us to the next topic.
Man’s Natural Tendency: To Be Silent
If Adam were the only man in the Bible who was silent, then perhaps one could say that this conclusion is doubtful. But, there are several examples in the Bible of men who were silent. Let’s look at them and see where it got them.
The Example of Adam
We’ve already looked at this one, but I just wanted to make it a part of the list so I could ask you what were the consequences of Adam’s silence? The result was that billions of people have lived miserable lives and then died and most have gone to hell.
The Example of Abraham
Everyone probably knows of God’s promise to Abraham (Gen 15)—that he would have a son and be the father of a multitude, through whom God would bless the world. After ten years, and no children, Sarah comes to Abraham and says, take my slave, Hagar, and have children with her so that God’s promise can come true. What did Abraham say to that? Nothing. Gen 16:2 says He listened to the voice of Sarah.
Then later after Hagar has Ishmael, Sarah is jealous and Abraham tells her to do what she wants to her slave. And he lets her treat Hagar harshly.
So, Abraham was silent and did what Sarah said. What was the result? The Arab/Israeli conflict that still rages today.
The Example of Lot
We know from 2 Peter 2:7f that Lot was a righteous man, but you would never know it from the Genesis account. He stayed in Sodom and Gomorrah and was silent about the evil around him. When he offered his two daughters to a crowd of men to protect God’s messengers, that was not the action of a strong man. At the end of that account, when they are fleeing the city, and Lot’s wife looks back at Sodom and turns into a pillar of salt, it becomes obvious who it was that wanted to live in Sodom and Gomorrah and who was in really running the family. If Lot was tormented in his soul by the evil around him (2 Pet 2:8), then why didn’t he leave? Because his wife didn’t want to. Lot remained silent and passive.
Some time later Lot’s daughters commit incest with Lot while he is drunk and they get pregnant. So, we see further damage result from Lot’s silent passive life.
The Example of Bethuel
Do you remember the story of how Isaac got his wife? His father, Abraham, sent a servant back to the home country to get a wife for his son, Isaac. In the account in Gen. 24, the servant goes to a well, meets Rebekah, follows her home, and then proceeds to bargain with her brother Laban for her hand in marriage for Isaac. At the end of the account, (24:50) it says Bethuel agreed to the arrangement. It seems to me that Laban was the one who was involved, and Bethuel was along for the ride. I can’t swear to it, but nothing is said about him, and he doesn’t speak until the end of the account.
What was the result? He had two very controlling children. Laban and Rebekah. We know that Rebekah was very involved with the deception of Isaac when Jacob deceived his father out of the family blessing. And we know that Laban made life miserable for Jacob when he tried to marry Rachel and got Leah instead. So, by being a silent and uninvolved father, Bethuel helped create at least two manipulative and very controlling children.
The Example of Isaac
We don’t have to read much further in Genesis before we come to the next silent man — Isaac. He was a very passive man. If you read through Genesis, you see that he didn’t do anything right except allow his father to almost sacrifice him.
Isaac knew the prophecy of God that his older son, Esau, would serve the younger son, Jacob, but he preferred Esau who appeared to be a strong, manly man always out hunting. And at the end of his life, he was going to go ahead and bless Esau in spite of the prophecy. Why? I think it was easier to go along with the tradition of blessing the oldest son than to trust God and bless Jacob. Why? Perhaps he was afraid of Esau’s reaction? After all, Esau was the hunter. Perhaps he was afraid of what others might say when they found out. Because he was afraid to act, his wife tried to take over and handle the problem. It backfired and the family was split up and Isaac and Rebekah never saw Jacob again.
Here we have five examples of men who were silent. In each situation the result was much harm to others. We might say the result was chaos.
When God spoke, He made order out of chaos. When man fails to act in God’s image, and speak, the result is more chaos. And very important to recognize: It brings the severing of relationship. And that is what this is all about – relationships. How is my silence going to affect my relationship with others? The Bible shows that it wll definitely destroy them.
- Adam’s silence destroyed his relationship with God and his wife.
- Abraham’s silence resulted in the Arab/Israeli conflict.
- Lot’s relationship with his daughters and his wife was not good.
- Isaac had almost no relationship with his wife or son, Jacob. This is obvious when you read the story of Isaac’s deception at the blessing. Isaac never talks to Rebekah. He never talks to Jacob (except when he thinks Jacob is Esau). Rebekah never talks to Esau. And Jacob never talks to Esau. You see a family divided right down the middle.
Notice also that in each of these situations, when the man was silent, the women stepped in and took control. God said that was going to be the woman’s natural tendency in Gen. 3:16, and we can see it happening over and over again.
So, man’s natural tendency is to be silent. But what we’ve seen so far ought to do away with the description of a man as “The Strong Silent Type.” When you understand these principles, it makes you want to change it to “The Weak Silent Type.”
- What we’ve seen is that God speaks into disorder and creates order and life.
- Man is created in God’s image and should also speak into disorder and create order and life.
- But man’s natural tendency is to avoid the chaos and to be silent.
- When he does that he creates even more chaos and destroys relationships.