Gende Roles

Archive Post: Original blog post from June 2011 can be found at

For as long as I can remember, I've had an issue with gender roles. The fastest way to becoming my enemy was to to tell me that I had to do something, or that I wasn't allowed to do something simply because I'm a girl. I also happened to do karate, a number of sports, be good at math & science, and I even was a bit aggressive and got into a number of fights as a kid with boys and held my own. After all that, why should anyone try to impose gender roles on me? Psh, please.

Well, as I grew up, I learned that the reason for my aggression wasn't gender roles on its own. It was only certain interpretations of it. I'll elaborate more as we go on, but as usual, I'd like to start with scripture, and today let's look at Ephesians 5: 

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 

 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. 

I'm sure that many of us have heard that scripture before. Usually in the context of women being told to submit, and that the man is the head of a household. The truth is, that's all true. Obviously its true, its written clearly in the Bible. Women, let's not try to argue against/avoid it. Its real. It's not about you. As v21 says, its in reverence to Christ. But there is also a whole lot more written in this text as well. 

This scripture is usually used to talk to women about submission, which I think is very interesting because in this famous passage about gender roles, the Bible spends about twice as much text giving instruction to men. Women are to submit, but men have a great responsibility in this which a lot of times is ignored and unspoken. They're charged with loving their wives as themselves, even to the point of giving their lives for the wives. It even elaborates on the importance of feeding and caring for her. Its amazing that sometimes this same scripture is interpreted that a woman is supposed to tend to a man while he goes about his business and doesn't really have a responsibility to give much to her. The Bible didn't only call for you to hurl money at your wife[feed], but also to care. Listen. Consider her feelings. Spend time. All those things that you want from others to show you that they care. But the main point that I want to point out is that if you love someone to the point of giving your life for them, that essentially means you are willing to sacrifice for that person. It doesn't always have to be your life, but maybe time and certain comforts. This scripture gives a pretty clear assessment of what a man's love for a woman should look like.

Now, being that I'm not married, this scripture ministered to me in a different way. I recently read an excerpt from one of Steve Harvey's books on women and dating, and the chapter title was "If you don't have standards, go get some." Unfortunately, a lot of women have just one or two standards if any at all. He must have a job, and /or he must be of a certain height[or some other physical characteristic], but what are our standards? Well, they should be based on the Bible. What the Bible says we should have. 

From the scripture above, we can deduce that a man is supposed to be willing to give of himself. Not just leftover cash, extra time, or what's convenient, but to make a sacrifice even as large as his one and only life. Right? OK. I think we got that in theory. So what's your response when:
-He cancels to watch a game with his boys? 
-What if he just doesn't want to pay toll to come pick you up, so he asks if you come to him? Afterall, the $2.25 metrocard is cheaper than $8 toll right?
-He's busy, so you have to meet and hang out on his terms and his time? You're busy too, but you're just better at making time ....right?

*If you shook your head at these three above, that means that you have a standard of requiring the other person to be capable of considering you and to be capable of modest sacrifices. Basically, he has to understand your worth.
*If you came up with a  "yea, but " to the scenarios, you have a standard of bending to whatever situation comes up.....which essentially isn't a strong standard.....or much of one at all. This isn't to say that there aren't times where you have to compromise. Every friendship, brotherhood or any other relationship involves give and take. The question is how much are each of you giving and taking?

Ok, so I went on a little tangent talking only to the ladies, but here's something for both. I think we've all read Proverbs 31 (if you haven't read it!) And the description of a virtuous woman being more precious that rubies. But here's the thing about rubies. They don't sell for less than a certain price. You have to work for some time to get enough money to buy one. It's a precious stone that's lodged in the ground, so you have to go after it. It doesn't come to you. It doesn't go down in value so you can have it. That's how lodged in our godly standards us women should be, and men, understand that you have work for a ruby. It's not going to come to you. Of course if you're walking down canal street, imitation pieces may come to you. There are always people desperately looking to sell knock offs down there, so all you have to do is stand around, and it'll come to you. You can haggle the price down too. But if you want a real ruby, you have to save, then you have to go to Kay's jewelers, and stand in line before you get it. Kay's jewelry consultants don't go running after you because they understand the value of their jewelry, and they only want customers who understand that also. You can't compare a ruby to mass produced, dyed, cut plastic. Simple.
I recently attended a series of young adults seminars at a church in Manhattan on Sunday evenings which was just amazing. The leader of the group said something when we had our women's only meeting which had me perplexed for a bit, but that I think I'm starting to understand. He said that any man who invites you out, even just as friends, but doesn't have the means to cover both his and your expenses or isn't willing to compromise on your terms [not staying out too late, meeting in groups or whatever they may be] is immature. I think I would have agreed if he left the "even as friends" part out of it, but I was kind of like wow, that's a new one, especially coming from a man. But I guess that's where gender roles come in. It takes a certain maturity level for a man to understand how he is supposed to treat a woman(any woman), as well as how he should be treated and the same for women. 
What I'm getting at is that gender roles don't have to be bad. It also was never meant to be one sided, or make a slave of one person. It's really only for order and happiness in the homes of God's children. If each party understands and obliges to their role, it can be a very beautiful thing. I see a lot of young couples at my church who are very happy. The man doesn't order his wife around, and when she does things for him, he says thank you. The man also always opens the door, drops the woman off at the door while parking the car, makes the car run in the rain, picks up the wife, and goes through whatever pains are necessary to make the wife comfortable. The wife doesn't argue or undermine the man in front of people, and considers him first before making plans. She makes sure the house is clean and well furnished, and shout outs to all the young wives at CAC because as a friend of mine says every Sunday, you do a good job picking out ties! Caring for each other. That's what gender roles are about. Men, understand your role so you understand how to treat your ruby like a ruby, and not a boulder.
Ladies, understand and embrace your role so you can develop the right standards to sift through the Canal street men and get to those who want diamonds and rubies. 

As always, my posts are inspired by things that I experience and reflect on over the course of the month, and then dig through the Bible for answers on. Standards & roles... definitely my words of meditation this week :)
Can I get a Amen?

Thanks for reading, and joining me on my journey of learning, living and reflecting!