When people in the Christian churches talk about gender roles, it often ends up being a discussion about women and submission. If you’ve been keeping up with these discussions even a little, you’ve surely learned that good Christian women should view their role as a blessing. You’ve been told that submission isn’t a dirty word, but rather part of God’s ordained order for the church and the family. When we submit, we’re following the example of Jesus Christ and putting ourselves under His authority.
Even though I still hear ministers joke about how discussing submission will get them in trouble, I actually talk with very few women in the churches today who haven’t embraced, or at least acknowledge, the value of being a virtuous woman with a meek and gentle spirit. We might disagree on exactly what it looks like and we all still have much to learn about being godly women (though it really should be simple — a godly woman is a woman who’s following God), but we have a pretty good idea what our gender role is.
We talk about men’s roles in the church far less often (at least from what I’ve heard and seen). Women hear “submission is a good thing. It’s not always easy but it’s part of God’s plan and sometimes you just have to do it.” But how often do men hear, “leadership is a good thing. It’s not always easy but it’s part of God’s plan and sometimes you just have to do it”?
I wonder if one reason we overlook this is because we don’t understand why men might not want to take on their role as head, lover, provider, and protector. We might think, Why wouldn’t men want to be the ones in charge? Isn’t it much easier to “love your wife” than “submit to your husband”? They should be thankful they get to be leaders in the family and that they’re the ones who hold public ministry positions. After all, that’s the role everyone wants. That’s why we have to talk about submission for woman so much, because otherwise she’d be trying to steal men’s role, right?
But maybe that’s not an accurate viewpoint. Maybe both genders are tempted to shirk the responsibilities God has given us and avoid living up to His expectations. Maybe this is a human struggle we all share, and which also impacts how we live as godly men and women.Read more