Saturday, December 22, 2007

Why This Gender Stuff Matters

Gender: Assignment from God

Some who come across this blog may wonder, "What does all this gender stuff have to do with glorifying God?" Biblical masculinity and femininity are critical aspects of glorifying God, because both men and women were created in His image. The Great Artist has captured His own essence in the self-portrait of humanity. Therefore, as Christians, it is essential we demonstrate His likeness to a lost and dying world according to His design, without any of our self-inflicted modifications.

When we reject our God given roles as men and women, we distort the very image of God that we were created to reflect. We begin to portray humanity the way we see fit. The focus shifts from glorifying God to glorifying mankind. We become the designers. He gets pushed in the background.

A focus on one's gender role helps to solidify one's identity in Christ. Some have postponed studying gender roles until marriage because Scripture makes specific reference to the interpersonal dynamics of gender roles within the context of marriage. But biblical gender roles should be studied and pursued by all Christians in all stages of life. McCulley (2006) states: "As I studied, I realized that Scripture's emphasis was on being made a woman in the image of God. My marital status informed how that would be applied, but I was to be more preoccupied with my femininity than my singleness," (p.70). We are created male and female. We are not created to be single or married. Singleness and marriage, and any other call to ministry, do not alter the divine ordinance of our assignments as men or women. We will always be male or female as long as we are in these temporal bodies. Therefore, it is important to understand how God intended us to function in these temporal roles while we are here, regardless of the calling on our lives. Men are to be leaders. They are called to protect and provide. Women are to be nurturers. They are called to help. The slightest deviation from this standard on any level is an affront to the holy design of God. The most miniscule "variation" on God's order is rebellion. And rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23).

We are in rebellion when we make any decree for ourselves that is against God's design. We are saying that we are in control of our situation, not God. We deny Him of His sovereignty and usurp His place as Most High. This is the very sin of Satan. Worse, we commit sin when we make our own rules and attribute them to God Himself.

For example, I used to assert that regardless of what the Bible said about women, I was exempt from submission because God created me with a strong personality. (Incidentally, my concept of leadership was just as ungodly. Had God made me a man I surely would have abused the role of leadership. I would not have seen it as a holy call to be responsible and accountable to God, but rather, I would have seen it as a license to control others.) Whenever someone confronted me with the truth of God's word, particularly that women are called to submit to men, I would react with insolent pride, complaining: "I don't know why God just didn't make me a man." Was God wrong? Had He somehow made a mistake by creating me a woman? No. The problem was I loved my sin more than I loved God. I did not want to do the work required of me in order to be sanctified, namely, I did not want to reconcile the personality that God gave me with the command that God gave me. I wanted life to be easy. Purification is not easy, and Jesus never said it would be.

Here is a similar example: I know a brother in the Lord who is very active within a particular ministry. I saw an obvious need for leadership within this ministry, so encouraged this brother to step into the leadership position. His response? "Oh no. I can't do that! I'm not a leader." When I pressed him for a reason why he felt he was not a leader, this brother responded confidently, "I just wasn't created that way."

This is nonsense, and I dare say it borders on heresy. God has ordained all men to be leaders and they are called to exhibit leadership in some area of their lives. For a man to claim he was not created to be a leader suggests that the Bible is wrong. Is the Bible wrong? Did God somehow make a mistake and forget to call this man to leadership? Or is this man comfortable in his carefree existence and absolving himself of any responsibility? It is easy to wave away the commands of Scripture and live in a manner that suits our desires. It is easy to excuse ourselves from the commands of Scripture by pointing the finger at God, the only One who has the power to give such a divine veto, and say: "See? This doesn't apply to me. That's not how I was created!" However, Scripture states that God does not lie, and God does not change. We know He does not behave contrary to what He has declared. If God's Word states one thing, and you are behaving contrary to what God says, then one of you is wrong. And it isn't God.

From a reformed perspective, all glory goes to God. That means that whatever He has declared is perfect. It cannot be improved upon. Whenever we make statements that disagree with Scripture, we are in rebellion. At best, we are insinuating that God's decree could use some fine-tuning. At worst, we allow ourselves to alter God's design completely to suit our own needs. This manifests itself in a wide spectrum of ways, from a simple matter of shirking responsibility or refusing to submit, to declaring oneself to be homosexual or a transgender individual. All of these attitudes are equally sinful because they all stem from the same argument of "I can't help it . . . that's how I was created".

If we want to give glory to God, we must be sensitive to biblical gender issues. Our gender is a huge part of our identity in Christ. We have been created male and female as He saw fit, for His pleasure. Let us glorify God in our gender roles through submission to His perfect design and order as an expression of worship.

Soli Deo Gloria!

References:
McCulley, C. (2006, Fall). When you don't have a better half: Encouraging biblical roles as a single woman. The Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 6(2) 69-75.

5 comments:

Roger Servin said...

Hey Jen, thanks for the comment. I completely agree with you. It is so great to see a Christian woman who is submitted to God’s authority on this issue. I’m sure you know that there are sooooo many “Christian” women who would not have the same heart on this issue as you do! That is very sad.

Lord bless!

Roger

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm new and read what you wrote here:

"Whenever someone confronted me with the truth of God's word, particularly that women are called to submit to men, I would react with insolent pride ..."

Could you point to know where in the Bible it states that women are called to submit to men? If my mailman tells commands me to get in his vehicle, for example, as I'm retrieving my mail, am I to oblige him because of his maleness? That is a serious assumption you're making by stating that "truth of God's word, particularly that women are called to submit to men".

Jennifer said...

Hello, Anonymous, thank you for your question. It is important to note that submission is required of all Christians, not just the females. But women are given a special mandate toward submission as a way of symbolizing the relationship between God and the Church.

The two major passages where women are called to submit to men are Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3. Granted, this specifically refers to husbands and wives, but I've made a case for why we should practice submission with every man if possible (and within reason). In that post, I stated:

Some have said the Bible claims women need only submit to their husbands, pastor, father, employer, and of course God. But they technically don't need to submit or display biblical womanhood to any men other than that. Perhaps that is true. But what is the benefit in that?

Source: http://www.reformedsheology.com/2007/11/helper-to-every-man-mother-to-every.html

Many times we can submit to other men by simply yielding the floor to them in simple matters. Am I specifically commanded to do this in Scripture? Perhaps not literally. But what do I gain when I have an opportunity to edify and bless another and I choose not to, simply because I don't have to do? (See Hebrews 13:17, 1 Corinthians 10:23-24).

Finally, I would say that submission itself is not about blindly following orders for the sake of following orders. (This is not submission, but rather, oppression.) Submission is about dying to self for the sake of that man. It's a matter of edification. So if my mailman orders me to get in his truck, I would most likely not agree to do so. The Bible provides guidelines for how men are supposed to treat women as well (1 Peter 3:7 is my favorite). They are not to arbitrarily bark orders at us for the pure fun of it. They are ordered to serve us sacrificially.

Anyhow, I hope this helps. I wrote another post on this subject. You can find that post here:

http://www.reformedsheology.com/2007/11/truth-about-submission.html

Blessings and thank you for visiting us!

Michael said...

Hello Jennifer,

I found out about this site from a woman who left a message on my blog—I visited her blog and found a link to your site from that.

I'm not as new as that anonoymous person, but I am learning more about reformed theology and it appeals more to me with each passing day. In comparing this theology with the doctrines of the Jehovah's Witnesses who visit me, they favour free will and antinomianism—but the reformed position is more convincing to me.

As for your post, thank you for showing me that there are women who are happy to be the opposite of men; it's a welcome relief from the women I know who in essence oppose what they are called to do. In some ways, I can also improve. I thought it was great how you encouraged that man in that particular ministry; I often felt that if I were encouraged I could be a better man and carry out my calling.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous. Women are not to submit to man in General,but only to their husbands. John MacArthur of "Grace To You" makes that very clear also in his series " The Fulfilled Family" . There could be an ungodly conflict if a women would try to submit to another man besides her husband. B. Waldner