What makes a man masculine and a woman feminine? Are you born with a gender or do you choose it? How should men and women interact with each other in relationships? It seems that everyone with a voice has an opinion on these topics, so how are we to determine what is right?
On the one side, we live in a culture that provides much of this framework for us – we are born into a worldview. On the other side, we have scriptural teachings that almost always conflict with that worldview. I want to take some time to reflect on how the world views womanhood while establishing a biblical framework that we can trust and abide by.
Riding on the coat tails of culturally positive changes like the right to vote, feminism denies any and all attempts to confine the role of women. After all, if women are to have equal rights, they must not be bound by any restrictions placed on them by man. So women are encouraged to be strong and vocal if they want to be heard or respected. Rather than submitting to traditional patterns of gender, feminists encourage women to become soldiers in combat, pastors of congregations, and the head of their household. If there is something that men have physical natural talent for, feminism wants to make itself part of it, all in the name of equal rights. ‘Anything you can do, I can do better’ seems to be the cry of the movement.
Ironically, if you look at how Hollywood portrays your average woman, she is often dressed extremely provocatively to be visually appealing to the lustful eyes of men. Our culture preaches a far different word to women than it practices.
But the scriptures stand in stark contrast to the confusing roles of women presented in our culture. In Genesis 2, woman is formed out of man, and then designed to be a suitable helper for him as he endeavors to accomplish the task given to him by God.
And if you look at Paul’s letter to Timothy, the Apostle offers three points that oppose what the world has said about women. First, he commends women for dressing themselves in modesty and self-control, not focused on the external presentation of their bodies. Then, Paul explains that women are to learn with a quiet spirit within the church. Finally, he will not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man within the church.
Paul established these patterns of gender roles within the church by examining the way God created male and female in Genesis, but he appears to see something more. God formed man first, on purpose, and sin entered the world first through woman as she subverted her role under the headship of Adam.
And this is the problem with the worldview presented by feminism and mainstream culture today. The world’s view of womanhood is nearly the complete opposite of that provided by God through scripture. This should not come as a surprise though, considering the world establishes its beliefs in the ‘way that seems right for man’. Unfortunately, that way is folly before God.
God created us and knows us far better than we know ourselves. We don’t need to create our own gender roles – he has provided them for us, and we are most fruitful when we walk in them.