Gender Roles in the Church

This is not what you are thinking it is. I am not talking about women as pastors or deacons. This is more about how the church has been raising men to look at women and how women are pressured to fill this ideal. Maybe this isn’t true in your local church or the church in which you grew up, but in my church family (have you heard of the GARBC?) this was the norm.

Timothy’s mother and grandmother have been held up as examples on women homeschooling their families. I Peter 3:3-4 along with many other verses are held up as how women should look. Proverbs 31 is used for the character of the perfect wife. Let’s actually look at these, especially Proverbs 31.

One of my best friends and I have been discussing this for ages. There is a horrendous shortage of good, Bible-believing, God-following, trusting-Jesus men in our church and lives. To add to that, those we do have have been raised that women have very specific roles in the home: mother, teacher, homemaker, wife, charitable – in no particular order but all at once. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. My own mother would have loved to be a stay-at-home-mum. It’s Biblical. Proverbs 31 shows a woman who cares for her family. She’s up before the sun to prepare for the day, makes sure everyone is clothed appropriately, is not idle, cares for those in need. Those are all amazing qualities to be respected.

We’ve noticed though, that other verses in that passage are ignored. What about how she does business? She seeks out quality merchandise for her household. She profits from buying and tending to land. I personally love that last bit from verse sixteen. “She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard.” When people tell you the Bible does not allow women to have rights, look at this verse. “. . . her profits. . .” Not her husband’s profits. Hers. So, why is it so wrong nowadays for a Christian woman to want and feel called to go to college for something outside of secretarial or education or women’s counseling or nursing? Why are we told by Christian guys that no Christian guy would a want a girl with higher education like a master’s degree or a doctorate? Now, I do believe that part of the becoming one with marriage means that a joint bank account – profits – are a huge part of marriage success. What I take from this verse is that the wife can and should be contributing to the household from outside the household.

Now, let’s look at appearance. I had a poster of 1 Peter 3:3-4 hanging on my closet door all through junior high and high school as a reminder that looks aren’t everything. I should be spending at least as much time on my character as on my outward appearance. To barely touch on the constant reminder we, as young Christian ladies, are told all through teen years: make sure you’re dressed modestly; we wouldn’t want the boys’ minds wandering because of something you’re wearing or not wearing.

That’s not our job! Yes, we are taught by Paul in the new testament to not cause another to stumble, but that doesn’t mean our job is to dress in a habit or be covered head to toe to try to keep the boys thinking of something else. Want to know something? Boys are going to be wondering about what’s under our clothes whether we’re in a bikini or in hijab (Muslim female dress). God made us in His image! Take pride in that! Note: this does not advocate going about in the nude or in a string bikini. He does instruct modesty.

Look back in Proverbs 31 verse 17, “She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms.” She takes care of herself physically. She hits the gym or buys a jumprope. Does yoga. Taking care of yourself properly will automatically emphasize or highlight your natural, God-given beauty. Don’t be ashamed of that.

Now, if you know that your boyfriend or a close male friend struggles with pure thoughts when, say, you wear a tank top. Don’t wear the tank top. Grab a t-shirt. That’s on both of you. That’s what Paul meant. It’s the same vice versa. If a guy knows that you might struggle with pure thoughts when he goes shirtless, it’s wrong on his part to go shirtless around you. That’s on both of you.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that our skirts have to be no shorter than two inches above the knee. Nowhere are we told that we aren’t to work outside the home. We’re told to raise our children right, loving God, wanting to follow Him and do what is right. We’re told that our husbands need to be able to trust us. From the beginning – Genesis – says we’re to be help-meets to our husbands. However, we’re also told that our worth, as a virtuous woman, is far above precious jewels. We have a huge job. We need our other half to treat us as their other half. We don’t need, and we don’t deserve to be hidden away.

 

 

**Bible translation referenced is New King James Version.

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5 thoughts on “Gender Roles in the Church

    1. Thank you for your input. I disagree with “help-meet” making wives subservient. It’s been a joke among the women in my church that even when man was perfect, God realized man still needed help. The way we’ve taught help-meet is partner. This post of mine was simply addressing how we’re seen as partners.

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  1. You are so very on point, in my opinion. A very well reasoned argument. Have you considered that there are a lot of men out there that think a smart woman is more, not less, attractive. It just sounds too much as if you are in a very small town.

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    1. Thank you. Yes, of course I believe that, but I write this in reaction to friends of mine telling me they have been told (in the quite large cities they love) that women need to be more conservative in professions and focus more on the home. While I agree that the lack of parenting is one of the reasons our country is so chaotic right now, that’s not the only role of the woman in the relationship. I’ll probably be writing about that at some time.

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      1. I live in one of those large southern cities, probably not as cosmopolitan as Atlanta or Dallas, but I see plenty of house husbands who have managed to retain both self-respect and masculinity. The young people are working it out and making life fit their families and what they need. And the churches are well and thriving in my neck of the woods. In my 60 years I have found that just when you think that life has settled down to boring and you are doomed to miserable plodding planned out adulthood…you turn around and something happens and everything changes. There is a reason we always say that God works in mysterious ways, the older you get the more you see and experience it! Oh, I could tell you stories……….

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