Many years back when I was a part of Inter-varsity Christian Fellowship, I remember going out as a group to Toronto Centre Island to have a summer picnic. After finding a spot by the Lake with a bit of shade, it just so happened that most of us began setting up camp while 4 of the females (a group of friends that came together) took the initiative to find a barbecue to cook the food. What I noticed afterwards was amusing. None of these 4 women seemed to have experience using a barbecue grill. They had no idea how to heat the charcoal, how long a hamburger needed to be cooked, who would be delegated to flip the hamburgers, or even who would touch the raw hamburgers in the first place! I found it halarious just the way they were so sensitive toward everything – the way the tongs were held, the way they peeled the wrapping off the meat, the way charcoal was delicately hand-fed into the grill, the fear of the smoke and heat from the grill, even the constant nagging of being eaten by bugs. In the end, the leader of this group pulled up her sleeves and did most of the work through trial and error, while everyone else became a backseat driver and offered encouragements. After badly burning several patties and hot dogs later, it seemed clear they were not in the right “kitchen”. Eventually, someone else (a male) from the group came by to properly cook what we had left.
Not all women are pampered like that and I’ve seen many that are great with a barbecue. But I can’t help but wonder how much more efficient and effective had a (one) man been on the grill to start out. I do want to ask this – has not the barbecue grill been traditionally the man’s “kitchen”? Why is this the case? And to push this further, are there are not areas that are better suitable for males rather than females?
I don’t mean to be chauvinist and say that men must always man-up the barbecue grill, but I think that the dark, dirty, smelly, unasthetic feel of barbecue grilling is partially what makes it the man’s territory and it works well with how God has designed us. Similarly, women running day-care centers seems to fit in my mind of one of their best attributes – nurturing. By the way, workplace wise I really don’t think that it has to be set in-stone like this, but I’m looking at ideals here. For example Female or male doctors/nurses both can do equally well, but domestic (family) matters is where the rubber meets the road.
If you think the same way, then I think you’ll likely be in agreeing to these statements:
- Males are to be in areas of leadership, teaching, confronting while females are to be in areas of nurturing, supporting
- Males are responsible for bringing in income (2 Thessalonians 3:10)
- Husbands are to be the final (although not only) authority for important family matters
- Wives are to be submissive toward their husband’s decision unless it contradicts the Bible (Ephesians 5:22-23)
- Husbands/Males are not to be abusive of their position and to treat females with love, humility, and respect (Ephesians 5:25)
- Females as the “weaker” sex (1 Peter 3:7) is defined by physical and emotional limitations (although not spiritual and moral)
- Men are better at hard labour (“toil” – Genesis 3:17) while women are better at relationships
the “complementarian” camp though is not uniform on everything and there’s certainly room to debate on the following:
- Male-only leadership vs. Male + Female mixed leadership (with Males as the head)
- In what areas are Males ‘better/weaker’ than females (biologically)
- Special Male treatment toward women (e.g. whether or not a man should open the door for a woman or pay for her dinner)
- Females in the work-force, church
- Females teaching or preaching on the pulpit
- Interpretation of Male/Female roles in difficult passages such as headcoverings 1 Corinthians 11:4-5
- Education of children (public? private? Or homeschooled by the wife?)
The whole point of this post is really whats going on here. I believe that how you live much of your life depends on how you interpret your gender role outside and inside the family. How I preach it is based on this very male/female distinct role viewpoint. Although currently single, I wouldn’t want a wife that seeks a position of authority, does not know how to manage the home, has no care for aesthetics, and takes no interest in child-raising (adoption or not) based on how I understand God has designed male and females. It complements that which I am not so adept at – yeah I can get ‘a bit’ messy at home and prefer not to cook for myself. If you’re from Rouge Valley and reading this, I pray that you start thinking this way. That the Lord has set out specific roles as a male/female for you to play and we are to follow in obedience to his plan according to God’s word.
Maybe you still disagree with me. There’s that phrase “you shouldn’t treat a woman like that!” which is frequently attributed toward domestic violence against women. To that I whole-heartedly agree and I want you to deep down what it’s saying. I think it’s really saying that women are more frail then men and demand a special treatment that is less required of men. They just can’t take the same level of abuse and punishment that men can. Why do we cherish imagery of men holding umbrellas over women’s heads or man working long hours and bringing home his wife’s favourite bouquet with a hand-written card? I believe God made women to be more sensitive toward these matters. The reverse is true in a different way with men. I believe God has designed men to drive on respect and dignity. Likewise, the same would be said to the female passenger who refuses to pay, spits on, swears at, berates, and threatens the bus driver (this happened in real life a few years ago, guess what – he punched her cold and threw her out of the bus), you should’t treat a man like that either!
Now let me lay out my reasons why I believe Males and Females complement one another in distinct roles using the Bible.
- There are way more biblical passages that supports a complementarian model versus Egalitarian, especially within the Old Testament
- 1 Timothy 2:11-15 about female submission roots itself in the fall (Genesis 3), leaving me to believe it to be a universal principle
- While there have been female leaders biblically, I believe God empowered them as an exception and not a rule. Just because a women is supernaturally gifted in a non-traditional area doesn’t mean its the norm. The bible dictates what is normative.
- Patriarchy is not cultural but biblical, while not to be held legalistically (as some homeschooling movements have been.
- Egalitarianism has only been short-lived (~100 years) and is a minority group
- Generally weaker family structures including children upbringing
- Personal experience
Let me get to that last bit about personal experience. I really get this uneasy feelings when traditional household roles are reversed. I remember this one Christian family I visited where the wife brought all the money in, came late from work, while the husband became the stay-at-home dad. The wife became more domineering wearing the pants of the relationship while the husband became sub-ordinate and child/mother-like. Interestingly, they stopped going to church after they had their child and it seemed their spiritual life was very dry. I can’t speak for all stay-at-home dads, as usually they are in a transition period after losing work but I do want to say this: fulfill your God given mandate to work the land produce food for your family. See that you are fulfilling what God has created you to do.
For those women who emphasize individuality and independence. I would be very careful. If you want to engage in a “man’s” world (not that you believe in that in today’s society), you’re gonna be treated like a man. That means being thrown around, yelled at, spit at, misunderstood, working long stressful hours, and neglected. Everything comes with a price.
For those who are stay-at-home mothers I want to offer some encouragement. It’s a biblical, god honored profession that should never be looked down upon. Keep investing in your kids, and know that working for someone other than your husband is more of a curse than a financial blessing.
Next week, I’ll wrap up by translating this toward church ministry and the big can of worms – women serving in ministry.