GENESIS 4 - Toxic Sexuality

It's Good To Be A Man  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:00
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Human sexuality turns toxic when men and women worship themselves rather than God

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On the wall in my office at Penn State I have an old quartz-movement analog clock with the Nittany Lions “chipmunk head” logo on it. (I actually inherited it from a co-worker along with his old office space when he moved to a different position a number of years ago.) Last month I noticed that it had stopped working, so I switched out the battery and put it back up on the wall. An hour later I looked at it and realized that it still wasn’t working; the problem wasn’t the battery; it was the movement itself that had given up the ghost. So I went to Walmart and bought a cheap $5 wall clock, tore the movement out of it and put it into the old Penn State clock, and now I have a working wall clock again.
But here’s the thing about that clock—even when the movement wore out it never stopped telling the time, it just told the wrong time. That’s because it never stopped being a clock. Telling time is what a clock does, it can run fast, it can run slow, it can run backwards, or it can not run at all, but no matter what it is always going to tell the time, even if it tells it wrong and you miss a meeting with your supervisor because it told you it was 2:25 when it was actually 3!
A stopped clock does not stop telling time; it just tells the wrong time. And in the same way, a man was created to serve and worship God with his masculinity--God created men to be ambitious and productive, to be procreative and driven to produce offspring that would join him in his task of taming and harnessing a wild and unruly planet for the glory of his Creator. But when Adam sinned and rebelled against God, he did not stop being a man; he merely started being a man in the wrong way.
Another way of saying this is that mankind was created to be a worshipping race. We were made, male and female, to submit to and worship and serve God. But when Adam and Eve sinned, they did not simply stop worshipping—they simply changed the direction of their worship! In the words of that great theologian of the 20th Century, Bob Dylan:
“You’re gonna have to serve somebody / Well, it may be the Devil, or it may be the LORD / But you’re gonna have to serve somebody”
When Adam stopped serving God, he did not simply stop being a servant: he began serving the devil instead. Like a stopped clock that never stops telling time, Adam didn’t stop being a worshipper; he just began worshipping in the wrong direction, worshipping himself rather than God!
Romans 1:21 (ESV)
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
One of the attacks being made against men and masculinity in our day is the charge of “toxic masculinity”; that many traits such as ambition, physical aggressiveness, drive for leadership, urge to procreate and so on is a poisonous and corrosive detriment to society. Men must rid themselves of those “toxic” elements. But as we have established, the problem isn’t the aggressiveness, drive, libido or ambition of a man—the problem is what direction it’s pointing in. God designed men with that masculinity to subdue and order and rule and cultivate this world in His Name, but when a man turns himself away from God, his masculinity is wrested out of its place. It continues to function, but it functions destructively.
And so this morning I want us to search the Scriptures to see where this “toxic masculinity” (and, indeed, “toxic femininity”) comes from. What does God’s Word say about what happens to our sexuality when we are no longer pointing towards God and serving Him? The way I want to say it today—what I want to show you from the Scriptures this morning—is
We saw last week how Satan’s temptation of our First Parents inverted the entire Creation order—instead of God ruling Adam who then ruled his wife and together they ruled over the creation, you have the creation (in the form of the Serpent) ruling over woman who then overruled her husband’s leadership as he abdicated his duty to lead her in righteousness. And since then, every son of Adam and every daughter of Eve has followed their First Parent in their sin.
Genesis 4 shows us how the effects of Adam’s rebellion began showing up in the lives of his offspring—the very first child born in the world became the first murderer in history as Cain killed his brother Abel. And as we trace the history of Cain’s descendents in verses 17-26 we see

I. The SELF-SERVING root of toxic MASCULINITY (Genesis 4:17-26)

Throughout the book of Genesis we have genealogies that record the birth of new generations. Starting in verse 17 of Genesis 4 we have the first genealogy in the Bible:
Genesis 4:17–19 (ESV)
17 Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. 18 To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech. 19 And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
After Cain fled from the presence of YHWH into the land of Nod, the Scriptures tell us that he fathered a son, Enoch. Cain was a wicked man, but he was still a man—his drive to build and create and conquer and subdue ran true in him, and so he built a city. But because his worship was turned inward to himself, he did not build the city for God’s glory, did he? He named the city after his son. Here we see one of the first ways that self-serving worship creates toxic masculinity: it causes men to
Seek the GLORY of their OWN name instead of GOD’S (Gen. 4:17)
Building cities is something that men are good at, because God made them to do it—but because men are untethered from obedience to God, they want to build cities for their name. We see the same thing later on in Genesis 11, when the founders of the city of Babel said,
Genesis 11:4 (ESV)
4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
Instead of that ambition and drive for glory being harnessed to magnify and exalt God’s Name, the self-serving root of toxic masculinity seeks its own glory.
Looking further on in Genesis 4, we see that toxic masculinity that is poisoned by that root of self-worship will cause men to
Twist MARRIAGE to serve their LUSTS instead of FRUITFULNESS (Gen. 4:19)
In Genesis 4:19 we read
Genesis 4:19 (ESV)
19 And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
God had designed marriage, declaring it to be a one-flesh union of one man and one woman, for the purpose of bringing forth godly offspring. But Cain’s great-great-great grandson Lamech was not a worshipper of God; he was a worshipper of his own lusts. And ever since then, the good and holy impulse for one-flesh union for godly offspring has been twisted and perverted not only into polygamy, but into fornication, rape, sexual abuse, homosexuality, and even the euphemistically-named “serial monogamy” of our day where you can have sex with as many women as you want as long as you marry them first and then divorce them before you move on to the next one.
The self-serving root of toxic masculinity produces conceit and arrogance that seeks its own glory instead of God’s, it twists marriage to serve its own lusts instead of obeying God’s command for fruitfulness, and it will cause men to
Turn their AGGRESSIVE nature towards VIOLENCE instead of SUBDUING (Gen. 4:8, 23-24)
As we said a moment ago, the first offspring in human history was also the first murderer in human history, as the Fall poisoned the natural aggression and strength of man, turning it into self-centered violence and hatred. Cain murdered Abel because he could not stand the thought that Abel was more righteous than he was:
Genesis 4:8 (ESV)
8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.
And at the end of the genealogy of the first murderer we find another murder:
Genesis 4:23–24 (ESV)
23 Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. 24 If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”
Cain’s line begins with a fratricide and ends with another homicide. Lamech isn’t necessarily mourning over what he did; he is boasting over it. He evidently believes that his murder of the young man who attacked him was more justified than his great-grandfather’s murder of his great-grand uncle: “If God would protect Cain from being punished for murder, He will protect me ten times more!!
Ever since that time, the same story has played itself out time after bloody time—from blood feuds between families to revenge killings to horrifying tragedies like Mark Spotz from Grampian, who sits on death row today after murdering his brother (and three other people) when an argument over being taunted with a gerbil got out of hand. The natural aggression that God gave men for subduing and harnessing an unruly world is turned into violence and death in order to serve one’s own ego and preserve one’s own reputation.
There is no doubt that there is such a thing as “toxic masculinity”—seeking your own glory instead of God’s, twisting His good purposes for sex into your own lusts, turning the tool of your strength and aggressiveness into a weapon for self-serving violence and hatred and death. When our worship turns inward, then our sexuality turns toxic. Self-worship creates toxic masculinity in the sons of Adam.
But Adam was not the only sinner in the Garden; the daughters of Eve have also followed their mother in self-worship that leads to a toxic sexuality of their own. Men sin in masculine ways, and women sin in feminine ways. And just as we see in Genesis the self-serving root of toxic masculinity, here we also see

II. The ENVIOUS EMPTINESS of toxic FEMININITY (Genesis 3:16; Prov. 7-8; 1 Timothy 2:9-15)

Adam’s sin was that he abdicated his role as ruler of his family; he became passive and did not enforce the command God had given him in Genesis 2:17:
Genesis 2:17 (ESV)
17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
And because God is perfectly just, the consequences Adam received for his abdication meant that he would no longer be able to exercise that dominion again without a great and lifelong struggle:
Genesis 3:17–19 (ESV)
17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
In the same way, the consequences Eve received for her sin fit the nature of her disobedience. Where Adam abdicated his role as head, Eve usurped his role as head, leading him into disobedience. And since she sinned by usurping the role of leader, she and her daughters would be cursed with a lifelong
Desire to DOMINATE rather than SUBMIT (Gen. 3:16; cp. 4:7)
Look at Genesis 3:16:
Genesis 3:16 (ESV)
16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”
The idea here is that Eve would desire to dominate her husband—the same word (with the same meaning) is found again in Genesis 4:7 when God warns Cain:
Genesis 4:7 (ESV)
7 ...if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”
This desire to dominate rather than submit is a form of envy, because envy does not merely want what another person has (in this case, her husband’s authority); envy wants to be what that person is (Eve wants to be Adam, not just have his leadership).
When you see this from Genesis, it is impossible to miss all around us, isn’t it? The toxic femininity of Eve’s daughters is that they hate the notion of submitting to their husband; that they should be the ones to call the shots, that they should be the ones to exercise dominion of their own, and anything that gets in the way of their own conquering or subduing or harnessing has to be sacrificed. And so they attack as ignorant or dangerous any man who refuses to abdicate his masculine role, and they look for a soft man who will fold and allow her to dominate their relationship. Children are at best only tolerated as long as they don’t interfere with her ambition to exercise her own kind of dominion, and at worst are out of the question because they will “ruin” her life.
The Scriptures are full of warnings regarding the toxic femininity of women who desire to dominate rather than submit—King Solomon himself, the wisest man who ever lived, was subdued and led away by wives who refused to submit themselves to the LORD:
1 Kings 11:1, 3 (ESV)
1 Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women… 3 He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart.
The daughters of Eve turn their femininity toxic when they turn their worship inward to themselves—in their desire to dominate rather than submit, and in their
Delight in good LOOKS rather than good WORKS (1 Timothy 2:9-10; cp. 1 Peter 3:3-4)
The Apostle Paul warns against this kind of toxic femininity in 1 Timothy 2:9-10:
1 Timothy 2:9–10 (ESV)
9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.
The Apostle Peter instructs Christian women in his first epistle:
1 Peter 3:3–4 (ESV)
3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
Toxic femininity borne of self-worship runs exactly counter to what the Scripture says here—instead of a “gentle and quiet spirit”, women are told to be assertive and bold and flaunt their sexuality and to never take a back seat to anyone—the exact description of the toxic femininity in places like Proverbs 7:10-15
Proverbs 7:10–15 (ESV)
10 And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart. 11 She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; 12 now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait. 13 She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him, 14 “I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; 15 so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you.
Such a woman wants to subdue and rule in place of a man, and so she will use her sexuality to control and pacify him—it happened to Solomon, it happened to Samson, and it happens all the time in our day.
The envious emptiness of toxic femininity desires dominion rather than submission, it delights in looking good rather than doing good, and it is characterized by a
Demand to be HEARD rather than to LISTEN (1 Timothy 2:11-14)
The poison of inward-directed self worship causes a toxic femininity that refuses to learn, but only wants to “be heard”:
1 Timothy 2:11 (ESV)
11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.
Paul points directly back to the source of this refusal to submit as coming from Eve’s disobedience in the Garden:
1 Timothy 2:12–14 (ESV)
12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.
As Matthew Henry writes in his commentary on this issue:
If man had not sinned, he would always have ruled with wisdom and love; and, if the woman had not sinned, she would always have obeyed with humility and meekness (Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 14). Hendrickson.)
But because Eve insisted on teaching Adam her deception, her daughters are cursed with a toxic femininity that insists that they be allowed to have spiritual authority over Adam’s sons—and because Adam abdicated his his role as spiritual leader, his sons are cursed with the passiveness of a toxic masculinity that will roll over and let them.
And so here we sit this morning, having said the quiet part out loud. The prevailing attitude of our society today will gleefully pile on any criticism of masculinity, so a sermon on “toxic masculinity” is all the rage. (In fact, this sermon was written the same day as the male students of Penn State DuBois were limping around on high heels in a virtue-signaling event to raise awareness for battered women—turn all the men on campus into wobbly beta-males as penitence for their inherent toxicity...)
But to look plainly at what the Scriptures say and declare that women can sin with their sexuality is the Unpardonable Sin of evangelical preachers today. Woe betide the earnest but unwary preacher who stands up before a congregation full of women in yoga pants and ambitions for becoming pastors with kids who spend more of their lives in daycare than anywhere else and tells them to repent of their toxic femininity.
Even now there is a tension in this room because of the tripwires installed in your heads by the incessant lies of the culture around you: “How dare he suggest that I can’t wear what makes me feel sexy?” “Where does he get off saying that I shouldn’t have my own career? Is he Amish or something?” “I don’t need a man to tell me how to read the Bible—I have my own brain and my own relationship with God!” “Well, those Bible verses that teach women should be submissive were written by men, after all!!” And on and on it goes.
But we must not be silent where the Scripture speaks; we must not whisper where the Word of God roars. And the Word of God says that both men and women have turned their worship towards themselves and away from God, and so both men and women sin in their sexuality. Men sin in masculine ways and women sin in feminine ways. And so I say to you, brothers and sisters, repent of your selfish, toxic sexuality.
Men sin as men, women sin as women—but there is only one path to repentance, running past the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ. Because it is in His death, burial and resurrection that what Adam and Eve destroyed in us their sons and daughters can be put right. Here in God’s Word we see

III. The RESTORATION of toxic sexuality in the WORK of Christ

The sons of Adam twisted God’s good gift of masculinity away from the work of subduing the world and turned it into a means of satisfying their own selfish lusts and ego. We have rejected God’s command to exercise dominion and so our masculinity has turned toxic, poisoning what it was meant to bless. But the Second Adam came to restore what the First Adam rejected. Jesus Christ came with
Glad SACRIFICE for His Father’s MISSION (John 5:19, 30)
Jesus says in John 5 that
John 5:19 (ESV)
19 … the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
John 5:30 (ESV)
30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
Brother, when you come to Jesus Christ to repent of your self-worship and submit yourself to Him, He reorients your masculinity back to Himself! He suffered and died on that Cross to pay the penalty for your selfish lust, your fragile ego, your violent outbursts—all of the truly “toxic” behavior of a man who worships himself more than God. And when you come to Him to repent of all of that, He restores you! He makes it possible for you to follow Him in the restoration of your mission to take godly, obedient dominion of the world for His sake!
And in the same way, Jesus Christ offers restoration for the toxic femininity of every daughter of Eve—for just as He came with glad sacrifice for His Father’s mission, in the same way He came in
Glad SUBMISSION to His Father’s RULE (cp. Luke 2:51; Philippians 2:5-9)
The accusation that submission to another necessarily means inferiority to another is a damnable lie of Hell. Because Jesus Christ, God Himself in human flesh, very God of very God, begotten not made, every way equal with God the Father, nevertheless submitted Himself:
Philippians 2:5–8 (ESV)
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Dear sister, are you so far superior to our Lord that you would scorn to walk the path of submission that He walked? Where your Savior laid down His equality for the sake of ordering His life according to His Father’s will—even to death—will you insist that you deserve a better place than He, that you will not submit to your equal in obedience to God’s creational design?
And before you object by saying, “Yeah, but my husband (or father, or elder) ain’t exactly God, though! He’s a sinner who doesn’t deserve my submission!”, consider for a moment that Jesus Christ, the perfect, sinless God the Son in human flesh spent most of His life submitting to sinners in His household:
Luke 2:51 (ESV)
51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
Your Savior delighted to submit Himself to His equal, and He delighted to submit to a mother and father who were sinners. And so in Him you are able to lay down all of that envious emptiness that your toxic femininity has produced in you. You can repent of your pride, repent of your rejection of His design to fill the earth with His image bearers, repent of your refusal to hear and demands to be heard. Come to Jesus Christ in repentance for all of it, and let Him restore in you the glory of your sexuality that fills the earth with life, that adorns and glorifies and creates and rejoices in the beauty He brings into the world through you.
There is only one way to restore the toxic sexuality that your self-worship has created—there is only one way to live according to the design of your Creator for your masculine or feminine nature. It is not by your own efforts, it is not by “trying harder” or beating yourself up over the sinful ways you have served your own glory with your masculine or feminine nature.
The only way to redeem your toxic sexuality is through the blood of Jesus Christ, the Second Adam who carried out the mission the First Adam failed, the submissive Son Who gladly submitted Himself even to death for the sake of His people. It is only when you come in repentance to Him that you can be free of that toxicity; it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that indwells a repentant and trusting soul that you can live according to the design of your Creator. So lay down all the toxicity—all the pride, all the ego, all the lust and manipulation and envy and bitterness—and come for cleansing through the blood of your Savior, Jesus Christ!
Jude 24–25 (ESV)
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.


Does the Fall of Adam and Eve mean that mankind are no longer worshippers of God? Why or why not? How is a stopped clock similar to fallen man’s nature?
How does the self-centered worship of fallen men and women corrupt God’s design for masculinity and femininity? What are the good purposes for which God has created sexuality that have been corrupted by the Fall?
How does our culture tolerate the Scripture’s teaching on the sins of women versus the sins of men? How does this illustrate the nature of Satan’s attacks on sexuality?
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