Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Defending biblical gender roles

What will the next generation of men and women look like?

There are times when I read something on the internet, or recall something a friend said, or that I read in a book, and when I go to bed that night, I can't stop thinking about it. I've come to learn that often, it's the Lord, prompting me to explore the idea further, to delve into it, Bible in hand. Tonight is one of those nights.

I read something today about Christian feminism, and it really bothered me. I mean just bothered me to my very core. I tried to go to bed, but I couldn't. So I flipped on my computer intent on writing a post that blew Christian feminism out of the water, that proved all those Christian feminists wrong. But every time I wrote something, the words just didn't seem right. So instead of refuting Christian feminism, I'm going to defend biblical man and womanhood.

This is one area where the Bible is very clear. And I suppose that's why when I read posts by Christian feminists, I'm left feeling confused. I'm left wondering if we mean the same thing when we say we are Christian. Because, when I say I am a Christian, I mean I believe not only in the teachings of Jesus Christ, but also in the teachings of the religion that is based off of his life. I believe the teachings of the Bible. Even the ones that assign very distinct roles to both men and women (of which there are many, by the way).

Back to what I read. There's this blogger I follow who is (apparently) a Christian feminist. And she asked a question of her readers: What if we raised our daughters to stop seeing themselves in light of their gender and its' "inherent limitations", and instead allowed them to be who they were created to be? Could we change the face of Christianity in one generation if we raised strong girls who became strong women who became leaders in the church? And could we teach our boys to help these girls along in this cause?

That question, the idea behind it, scares me. When I think of a world where little girls aren't raised to be nurturing and meek and gracious, and where little boys aren't raised to be providers and protectors, it scares me. Essentially, she's asking, when is it our turn? When do we women get to be men and men get to be women? Yes, if we teach this to our children, we could change the face of Christianity in one generation. But a better question would be, is this biblical, is this right? What will happen to our families if we really do live this thought out? I'm not sure many Christian feminists are asking those questions.

God created genders. It must've been important to him. He could've created a man to be a companion to Adam in the garden. Then each man could do double the work, and no one would feel limited by their gender because they'd be the same. But he didn't. Genesis 2:18 says, "It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."  When God created woman for man, He did it because our nature, who we are deep inside as women was the best possible option for man. If we raise our girls to ignore their gender, to believe that it somehow limits them, what are we raising them to believe about God?

Because if we think gender roles limit us as women, essentially, we think God made a mistake when he made women as the suitable helper for man. We think God should've made women to do what men do, and men to do what women do. And He didn't. So obviously He was wrong in the beginning. And if He was wrong then, what's to stop Him from being wrong about others things? And so it is on the slippery slope that is feminism.

Behind Christian feminism is the idea that there are these limitations that come part and parcel with our womanhood. That somehow the fact that our churches don't allow women pastors or elders shows that our churches, our men, believe that women are inferior.

But the Word never says that your gender limits you as a person. By contrast, 1 Corinthians 11:11 says this, "Nevertheless, in the Lord, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born from woman. But everything comes from God." Please get this. In God's eyes, women and men are equal--we all come from God. We all bear His image. But neither gender could survive without the other. Women can't just be men; it isn't in their nature. And men can't just be women; it isn't in their nature. We are interdependent, not independent.

And I think that's what really bothers me about Christian feminists. Their cry is that the church is sexist and women aren't given enough opportunities, or are relegated to only certain roles in the structure of the church. What I have found to be the common thread among Christian feminists is a lack of contentment.

We may not understand why God has made genders. We may not get why He would inspire the ancient men of God to write things like, "I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man" (1 Tim. 2:12) or "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church." (Eph. 5:22) or "But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the wife is her husband..." (1 Corin. 2: 1). But He did. He made us equal, but he made us distinct.

Listen to this verse from Titus 2:

"But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. "

The author says to teach sound doctrine. Then he goes on to explain what sound doctrine is: men who are dignified, self-controlled, and faithful in love, and stable, and women who are respectable, who are mentors, who love their families, and are keepers at home, respecting the role their husbands have been given by God. Christian feminists buck against verses like this. They want the freedom to be whatever they want to be.

But there is freedom in acceptance. There is liberty in contentment. There is truth in living the way God intended. And there is something deep inside that begins to bloom when women and men accept their roles as God intended. I am living testimony to the fact that when a husband and wife both accept who God created them to be (as men and women of God), something changes. It is like a ripened vine that pushes up out of dry earth, reaching for the heavens. Our very existence living as men and women ought to is sweet worship to our God.

A year ago, I first asked myself what biblical womanhood really was. I was raised a feminist. I was raised to be strong and independent. I knew how to get my way in my marriage. My husband was also raised a feminist. He was raised to believe that it was chauvinist to try to lead a woman. That women didn't need protecting. But when we both embraced biblical man and womanhood, suddenly I had no desire to fight for my rights. I had no desire to be right just because I could be. I was stripped of my manipulating ways, my pettiness, and my pride. And my husband matured. He learned how to cherish me, how to provide and protect while treating me with respect and compassion. There is nothing better, nothing sweeter, than understanding and accepting biblical gender roles.

If Christian feminists get their way, and we change the face of the next generation, I don't believe there will be freedom. There will be emptiness though. And longing. A woman can achieve anything a man can achieve. It isn't about ability--or our worth. And accepting biblical manhood and womanhood isn't about oppression, or power. It's about acceptance of God's creation--the way He decided to make it--not the way we want to see it.

1 comment:

  1. Wow - great post!! Very wise and clearly biblical. I don't know how anyone could argue with the points you outlined here.