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Gender, Roles, and Responsibilities in the Bible

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Gender, Roles, and Responsibilities in the Bible

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Gender, Roles, and Responsibilities in the Bible

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If we [those who are in Christ] cannot accept and operate within the roles God has given us... are we prepared to accept and operate withing the roles God has prepared for us in the kingdom?

Transcript

Christ [the second member of the God family] has a role to fulfill within that God family. He assumes the role of a Son while the first member of the God family assumes the role of Father. The Son is as much all powerful, all knowing, and eternal as the Father… yet he takes on the subordinate role. He is a servant, He is a Son, He is a messenger.

The Son does not consider equality with God the Father a matter to be contested. They work together as one… yet they are unique.

The Father and the Son have big plans for you… who are to be part of the first resurrection. When Christ returns He will give you a new role to fulfill: you will be His bride, you will wield authority [kings], you will teach on matters eternal and spiritual [Priest], and you will dispense mercy and punishment [judges].

All of these are roles which have responsibilities… and boundaries.

For now we are like school children. In the flesh we are given simple tasks intended to teach big lessons. Faithfulness in small matters indicates readiness to take on the weightier matters that will be given to us when Christ returns.

One of these simple lessons is to accept, and operate within the roles God has given us based on gender… And to do so in a Christ like way. Today, I would like to discuss how marriage, family, and gender help us better understand God.

Gender and The Image of God     

Genesis 1:27-28 Genesis 1:27-28 [27] So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. [28] And God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
American King James Version×
 the very first words of God regarding human beings addresses sex and gender. By putting male and female together we get the true/complete image of God.

 

In Matthew 19:4-6 Matthew 19:4-6 [4] And he answered and said to them, Have you not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, [5] And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall join to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh? [6] Why they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.
American King James Version×
 Jesus adds to our understanding of this image of God. Males and females were designed to unite through the covenant of marriage. The spiritual lesson is this: God is to be understood as beings in fellowship, loyalty, faithfulness, promise, and love. Beings who are unique… yet can be as one.

 

In His word, God places clear boundaries around matters of sex, marriage and family. Two of the 10 commandments address these matters. God does not want confusion... it is the human imagination which invites confusion into the world and into our minds.

Marriage, Family, and Gender Help Us Understand Godly Relationships

The bible revelation tells us there is the Father and there is the Son, and they are God.  They are two beings in a relationship based on love and commitment. Their example gives us spiritual guidelines for building Godly marriages... each partner fulfilling distinct roles in a spirit of unity. On the flip side, actively seeking to build a Godly marriage can help us understand the mind of God and what He's up to.

[Diagram] Within the relationship of the Father and Son  there is love, authority, and specialized functions. Likewise, within marriage between a man and woman there is love, authority, and unique roles.

Through God we understand marriage better… through marriage we understand God better.

Warning 1: correlations between fleshly things and spiritual things are only metaphors:

  • God's relationship with the nation of Israel is often expressed as that of a husband and a wife. But, that same relationship is spoken of as that of a parent and child [Father and Son], king and subjects etc.. So, we must accept these as metaphors, not the sum total of reality.
  • Christ's relation to the Church is expressed as a husband and wife. Yet, elsewhere our relation to Him is spoken of as brothers. So, these are clearly metaphors used to shed light on spiritual matters that go beyond what the flesh can offer.

Warning 2: We can learn from a metaphor but we mustn't take it into places the bible doesn't go.

The erotic aspect of male / female relationships is not a way for us to understand God or His doings... God, as creator, put all those hormones, and sensations in us for a good purpose... but these particular fleshly experiences are not used to explain God. Doing so is condemned in scripture Deuteronomy 16:21 Deuteronomy 16:21You shall not plant you a grove of any trees near to the altar of the LORD your God, which you shall make you.
American King James Version×

With those important qualifiers in place: the binary genders of male and female, the committed context of human marriage, and the outcome of human family appear specifically designed to reflect the ideal relationship of the God family. Philosophies, policies, and teaching that stir up confusion about gender, or marriage, or family are of the adversary... who delights in confusing human understanding of their Creator.  

Innate Distinctions Between Male and Female

Some say that biological differences are the only differences between male and female. Everything else is the result of social conditioning. Yes, some of what we consider femaleness, or maleness, are learned behaviors. But, others are not... and I don't know that any of us have the smarts to say definitively which is which.

Even atheistic psychologists and behavioral anthropologists with lots of letters behind their names do not agree on the nature / nurture debate.

For our purposes I believe its safe to assume that the genetic coding that enables childbirth in women would also have accompanying aspects of thinking and feeling that reinforce, and support that primary biological role. Likewise, the genetic coding that gives greater size and strength to males seems to indicate something about their role in the human family as well as aspects of their thinking and feeling that reinforce that primary biological role.

So, psychological characteristics like aggression, submission, assertiveness, nurturing etc. appear to be rooted in biology. The way these are applied in a social or cultural setting are perhaps where the learned behavior enters in... but even that can be debated.

The logic here applies equally to:

  • Those who believe we are created by God for a specific purpose
  • Those who believes we are what we are because of the process of evolution

Whether you are approaching reality from the evolutionist point of view, or the position of the creationist, roles appear built into the human experience. People have long rebelled against God as creator... but now there is a rebellion against biology itself.

I put it to you that our current rejection of biology...  has to do with not accepting roles… which is a rebellion against authority.

Role Distinctions Between Genders

I plan to address role distinctions within marriage in a separate message. Today's purpose is to establish foundational principles we can then build upon: specifically, role distinctions based on gender are valid.

Let’s also discuss some spiritual matters that are not gender based:

  • There is no difference between male and female as image bearers... both are made in His image.
  • Each gender is equally; sinful, worthy of redemption, worthy of God's grace, under judgment, and destined for a glorious everlasting future.

Galatians 3:28-29 Galatians 3:28-29 [28] There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [29] And if you be Christ's, then are you Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
American King James Version×
 in the most recent century this verse has become hotly debated, mostly with regard to the phrase “male nor female”.

The key phrase is "in Christ"... before God we are joint heirs and have the same destiny. God does not discriminate along gender lines when dispensing grace, forgiveness, reward, or authority in the kingdom of God. 1 Peter 3:7 1 Peter 3:7Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
American King James Version×
 not having the right perspective and impact your spiritual well-being "hinder your prayers". Clearly addressed to men this verse expects us to wrap our mind around these ideas:

Gnosis - knowledge of the biblical revelation about gender… Honor - respecting the equal destiny of both genders… Weaker vessel - holy spirit and down payment of eternal life placed in bodies that are less physically strong…  Heirs together - same destiny as you.

Some say this Galatians 3:28-29 Galatians 3:28-29 [28] There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [29] And if you be Christ's, then are you Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
American King James Version×
eliminates all gender based role distinctions for Christians. But...

  • Paul also throws social class distinctions in there "slave nor free"... but elsewhere elaborates on how people [both slave and free] are to fulfill their role within human society in a Christ-like manner. Even members of the Church of God who are slaves or slave owners have unique roles [Ephesians 6, Colossians 5]. 
    • Note: Here is a situation which is “fluid”… people can cross over from slave to free. Paul says if you can escape slavery do it, but if you cannot then fulfill the role in a Christ like way.
  • Paul includes racial distinctions in there "Jew nor Greek"... but elsewhere elaborates on the unique role Israel has yet to play in the coming kingdom of God based on ancestry [Romans 9,10,11]. 
    • Note: matters of race and ancestry are not fluid. But people can identify as “Israel” follow God and seek His ways.

Paul also discusses the unique roles of parent vs.child, disciple vs.teacher, elder vs. younger etc. He does not advocate that we overturn and uproot all these

In Galatians 3:28 Galatians 3:28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×
Paul speaks of the common spiritual dignity of both male and female. But he never advocates doing away with gender distinctions within the Church.

God's word addresses gender based roles in two areas:

  • The human family - which is built on the foundation of the marriage covenant.
  • Church governance - UCG does what it does based on what we see in scripture, not human reason, or social trends.

These are the areas we should focus upon.

Should these roles be applied to society at large?

You can try... and throughout history people have tried. But such attempts are not based on explicit biblical authority.

We have a biblical model, description of roles etc. for marriage and Church life... However, the Bible is silent on matters of female leadership in spheres of business, civic government, law. These are not matters of morality, sin, or good and evil. The choices you make may affect your ability to fulfill your God ordained responsibilities in matters of family. Each of us is under judgment.

Before God, many things are permissible…  but not all of these things are helpful. We must not fail to fulfill the roles and responsibilities God has given us.

Equality of the Two Genders

Humanly devised societies have treated women as inferior and exploited their lesser physical strength. This is not God's design...  it is man's wicked response to how the creator has fashioned women vs. men.

Note: many of the OT laws concerning women are designed to protect women from abuse within the larger culture. I view God's commandments, statutes, and judgments in this light. They are not meant to define culture/society, they provide boundaries and restraints. At present, humanity is free to develop our own forms of government, social customs, civil laws etc. [this is true even of ancient Israel]. But God says that within that context of human freedom there are some things you must not do.

Because women reflect God's image, treating them as inferior is a very dangerous idea. Consider Jesus' words and actions towards women. He treats them as spiritual equals with men. However, never does He encourage them to throw off their biological distinction as women.

There is a Better Way

There is much injustice in our world... and people want justice, fairness and equity! But often, in this present evil age, we seek this through unjust or sinful ways.

God's word contains many a call to justice, fairness, equity… but how do we make it come to pass? 

Does humanity only have two choices?

One one hand, exploitation/oppression/inequity... On the other hand, erasing of all distinctions between men and women?

There is a better way. You have been called to live that way now… as a life lesson for yourself… and a witness for the world. Roles and responsibilities can be accepted and embraced in a positive, fulfilling, Christ-like way. Participating in this prepares you for a new future.

When Christ returns He will give you a new role to fulfill, you will be His bride, you will be kings and priests... all of these are roles which have responsibilities... and boundaries.

If we [those who are in Christ] cannot accept and operate within the roles God has given us... are we prepared to accept and operate withing the roles God has prepared for us in the kingdom?