It’s no wonder our society is so gender confused these days. Men want to be women and women want to be men, not only anatomically, but psychologically as well. Newsfeeds reporting on the transgendered folks being granted access to gender assigned bathrooms, and the wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round. The battles rage for or against these gender confused people and their cohorts desiring to be legally married as same sex couples, but there is still a battle raging within our very own Christian community where gender roles within a biblical marriage haven’t been fleshed out in full yet. Surely we can wage war on multiple fronts, but we’d better have our own ducks in a row before venturing out of bounds to tackle gender issues beyond those in our own households. So, Christian marriage partners, of the heterosexual, anatomically assigned gender happy ilk, what are your roles as husband and wife? Man and woman? Groom and bride? Dad and Mom?
So much of our focus tends to lean towards what a woman’s role is, biblically speaking. As women, we’re called to be submissive to our husbands (as to the Lord/as is fitting in the Lord, as Ephesians 5:23 and Colossians 3:18 reads, so is it in submission to God where we struggle, too?) and that is an emotionally charged word when the abuses of it stare us in the face. The feminist movement has made major strides toward equality between women and men, but I dare say we’ve gone too far. The focus on what a woman is has diminished, in my opinion, the role of what a man is commanded to be. Complementarians and egalitarians alike have struggled to make their case when it comes to the roles of men and women, but nearly all reading seems to zero in on the women, which is passively neglecting the men. The Church appears to be as confused as our secular society.
Men! Christian, Bible believing, followers of Christ, step it up. You have the God given role to lead your households, to lead your churches, and these are not to be taken lightly. Personally, I view the duty of the woman to be less daunting. God charges men with duties that are ultimately Christlike; after all, men are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. Put that hat on for starters. Imagine having Jesus’ sacrificial compassion, His unhindered ability to speak truth, perfectly balanced with grace, into every situation. Those are qualities none of us come by easily, so to be a godly man, striving to fulfill Christ’s calling, seems like a role that’d be impossible to fill. Husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies, feeding and caring for them as Christ does the Church (Ephesians 5:28-29). Is that why men tend to cave under the pressure of their calling to love their brides as Christ loves His Church? Or do they fall short because of the stubborn pride of their wives, unable to grasp what godly submission looks like, who are forever seeking to rule over their husbands (Genesis 3:16)? Is the fear of getting it wrong, or getting chewed out by your wife, holding you back from leading? Are you taking in what Scripture calls you to do and perverting it, making your role as leader more of a dictatorship? Read the passages God offers (Ephesians 5:25-33, Colossians 3:19, 1 Peter 3:7) as guidelines and make the effort to follow them, regardless of what our culture or your sinful flesh has made your place appear to be.
Women! Christian, Bible believing, followers of Christ, step it down a notch. Let your husbands fail, let them make mistakes, let them learn how to lead. Too many well meaning women take over for their husbands because they claim that their men won’t step up. This replacement practice also is seen in our churches, where men don’t step up to leadership roles, so women feel like they have to. But stand fast, knowing that the trials that come about as you struggle to learn submission under them are a training ground for the both of you. And Moms, please nurture in your sons the desires that their gender calls them to be: leaders, protectors, and providers.
These gender roles are beautifully laid out for us, God hasn’t left us without the desires for His Church and the roles we play. Of course, both genders confuse the Scriptural calling, ushering in abuses and misunderstandings as we attempt to live them out. These are to be expected, considering our fallen flesh. This, however, does not excuse us from applying them to the best of our ability, because a true desire to follow God’s decrees does not go unnoticed by Him. God can bring unexpected blessings into our homes when He sees that we’re seeking to submit to Him.
The simplest illustration for this conundrum, which twists and muddies what godly submission and leadership should look like, is found in Jesus. How He led His life on earth and on the cross, how He submitted to the will of God, these are the roles that we as married Christians can see modeled with an ideal perfection. Godly men leading with the model of Christ in mind and heart, wives willingly submitting to husbands who provide, protect, and lead; this is the picture God painted for us to decipher our gender roles. The confusion creeps in when our self-seeking pride wants to do life our own way, by ignoring or downplaying God’s way, by being willingly ignorant of what Scripture says, or worse, morphing the words of God to rationalize our pursual of what feels right and just. So if even within our church communities we can’t seem to get the gender roles figured out, still quarreling amongst denominations as to whether women should serve as teaching elders or lacking the confrontational skills needed for genuine accountability when abuse or apathy is revealed in a married couple in your fellowship, why the frustration with those in our secular society that appear to be just as confused?