Social Issues (Part 4): Gender Roles

Social Issues

Gender roles are about the responsibilities that men have as men and women have as women. Most instructions in the Bible are not specific to gender – they apply to all people. But there are some that specifically apply to either men or women.

Many argue that there are no specific gender roles. They claim that there should be no difference between what a man can do and what a woman can do. On the extreme of this issue is the “feminist ideology.” In addition to confusing/changing gender roles, feminist ideology also embraces abortion, lesbianism, and hostility toward males (to include the assumption of guilt every time a man is accused by a woman of sexual assault).

Facts & Statistics

Women make up approximately 47% of the workforce in the United States. This reflects an expectation generally in society that a woman should do whatever a man does.

The number of “stay at home dads” in the United States more than doubled from 2001 to 2011.

The number of “clergywomen” in the United States has grown from 2.3% in 1960 to 20.7% in 2017.

Anecdotally, I have noticed in my writing that one of the topics that receives the most criticism – even from fellow Christians – is the difference between the roles of men and women.

Basic Bible Principles Relating to This

God made male and female to complement one another – After creating the first man, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). So He created woman (Genesis 2:21-22) because man was incomplete without her.

Men are to be the providers and protectors – God gave man the role of working for his food (Genesis 3:17-19). As husbands are to “love [their] wives, just as Christ also loved the church,” they are to nourish and cherish them “as Christ also does the church” (Ephesians 5:25-29). Paul used strong language to emphasize the need for men to work in order to provide for their families: “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).

Women are to be the helpers and nurturers – As his “help meet” (Genesis 2:18, KJV), Eve was to offer support and have her “desire…be for [her] husband” (Genesis 3:16). The “excellent wife” is described in detail at the end of the book of Proverbs, diligently engaged in the work of supporting her husband and her family (Proverbs 31:10-31). Paul explained that the “young women” were to be taught “to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored” (Titus 2:4-5).

Men and women have different roles in the home, in the church, and in society – In the home, wives are to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24). In the church, women are not to “teach or exercise authority over a man” (1 Timothy 2:12; cf. 1 Corinthians 14:34). Even in society, the wise man indicated that the husband of the “excellent wife” (Proverbs 31:10) was “known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land” (Proverbs 31:23), indicative of the fact that he was in a public position of leadership among the people.

Despite different roles, men and women are equal – This is important to point out. Many believe that because the Bible describes distinct roles for men and women, it must be teaching that women are inferior since men are given the role of headship. Yet Paul made it clear that despite the different roles, men and women are equal in Christ: “There is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Just as “God is the head of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:3) yet they are “equal” with one another (John 5:18), so too “man is the head of a woman” (1 Corinthians 11:3) yet they are equals.

Bottom Line

Many in our society want to believe there is no difference between males and females regarding their roles and responsibilities; yet the Bible shows us that while men and women are equal, God has given different roles to each.


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