Gender Roles in Christianity

Gender Roles in Christianity

Oxford University had a problem: men were consistently testing higher than women in science and math. So they tried to help the women out by lowering their standards and allowed students extra test time to close the gender gap. No, it's not fake news, this is a real story. In our world, equality between genders is required at all costs. But sometimes it seems like Christianity missed the memo. Are gender roles in Christianity important today?

Slackening test standards at Oxford is the politically correct thing to do. But it reportedly didn’t help close the gender gap -- men are still outperforming women in the science and math departments. And it demonstrates everything wrong with the social ideals of our world. I’m sure there are plenty of departments where women excel, but instead of focusing on those departments, Oxford is focusing on where women fall short. So is the problem with women’s abilities, or Oxford’s priorities? Their solution was to fight for so-called “equality” by implementing a policy that aimed to give women an advantage over men. Do you smell the hypocrisy?

Equality versus uniformity

Since we’re on the topic of math, consider a simple equation: 3 + 1 “equals” 2 x 2. They have equal value, yet they are vastly different operations. Applying equal value to things that are different is the very definition of equality. Groups of people are by definition different from each other. If we value them equally despite their differences, we are encouraging diversity. When we value diversity, we achieve equality. Equality is valuing the things that make people unique.

Or we can do what Oxford did and try to make everyone the same. To do this, we must impose traits that are deemed more desirable, like high science and math test scores, upon those that don’t have them. Thus we must discourage diversity and the traits that are different from what we consider ideal. This doesn’t achieve equality because it’s placing unequal value on different traits. But it does achieve something else: uniformity. Uniformity is the cheap impostor of equality, and the two should never be confused.

The trouble with feminism

The failure to make a distinction between equality and uniformity is why feminism is so difficult to define, controversial, and flawed. Instead of valuing the uniqueness of men and women equally, it discourages diversity by viewing men and women as the same. The traits that make men and women unique are deemed less desirable and uniformity is encouraged.

Take for example the pay gap between men and women that exists almost everywhere in the world. This pay gap indicates that men are more valuable to employers because they are paid more. If this sounds like sexism to you, it’s because you’ve been taught that money is a measure of a person’s value. But is the value of an employee really the value of a person? Is it possible that there are traits that have little value to employers but that are incredibly valuable in other areas of life?

The qualities that make one valuable in the workplace are traditionally associated with men, and the qualities that make one valuable socially and at home are traditionally associated with women. But saying that one is more valuable than the other is a rather arbitrary value judgement because both are important! If pay at work is the only thing that matters to us, we devalue traits useful in other areas of life. When a value judgement is made against certain traits, it devalues the people that possess them. It’s ironic that as feminists try to make men and women the same, the traits they devalue are almost always the ones that are traditionally associated with women. Without intending to, feminists often value men over women, thus working against the equality they are fighting for.

Gender roles: nature or nurture?

A feminist would tell you that the value of masculine and feminine traits is irrelevant because there’s no such thing as masculine and feminine traits. According to them, men and women are fundamentally the same, and everything that makes them unique is artificially instilled by society. If the traits that make one successful in the workplace are learned, women should have just as much a right to succeed at work as men. Feminists say a woman should be free to choose between staying at home and caring for the kids, or going to work and getting paid the same as men if she wishes.

But if a woman has a right to stay home or go to work, it fundamentally throws off the balance of an equal society we strive for because it gives women a choice that men cannot have. If a woman has a right to compete on an even playing field with men at work, than a man should have the right to compete on an even playing field with women at home. But it's not an even playing field. The last time I checked Wikipedia, men can’t have babies. That’s science, people!

Since feminists can’t give men the right to have children, they have resorted to giving women the right to not have children -- in other words, kill their babies before they’re born. The abortion debate has never really been about when life begins. For many, it's about giving women the right to be as promiscuous as men without suffering the consequences, even if that means playing semantics with the definition of “life” and “murder”. Promiscuity is traditionally a masculine trait that is undesirable and disgusting, yet feminists have still claimed it for women along with the rest of the masculine traits, good and bad. As a result, the ability of women to have children has been turned from an amazing, unique, miraculous ability, to something that is despised.

Is the ability to bear children artificially instilled by society? No! It's a natural ability that only women have. There are many differences between men and women that are not just nurtured into us by others, but part of our very nature. This inherent biology inspires differences that go far deeper than our bodies. For example, women may not test as highly in science and math, but they generally excel at linguistics, which is vital in raising and communicating with a child she’s bonded with for nine months while she carried it to term. Meanwhile, the aptitude for science and math that comes more naturally to most men is related to abilities important to competing for resources in a world of scarcity, whether it's hunting animals or managing people in an office. Since his wife is busy caring for the child, providing for his family naturally falls to the man.

Even as society changes, the concepts of masculinity and femininity remain constant. At one point in history, pink was seen as a boy’s color and blue was seen as a girl’s color. Though this is the opposite of the norm today, the meaning hasn't changed. Pink represented masculine boldness, a lighter version of the red military uniform a boy might wear one day. Blue is calm and soothing, feminine traits important in caring for others. During World War Two, military uniforms became darker, and colors like blue were associated with military aggressiveness. Brighter colors like pink were in turn seen as more expressive and feminine. Even as social norms change over time, the attributes they symbolize in our genders have remained consistent throughout history.

Christian perspective on gender differences

The differences that make men and women unique will always be part of our fundamental identity because they are rooted in biology and define who we are, no matter what efforts we make to remove them. Women will always be able to have children. Men will always be bigger and stronger. Men will always tend to be more aggressive, and women will always tend to be more kind. As a whole, women will excel in linguistics and men will excel in science and math. In general, men will rely more on logic, and women will rely more on emotion. All of these characteristics are different, yet equally important.

How should Christianity see gender roles? Obviously our differences don't mean women can't work and men can't care for children. But no one can be the best at everything. Our natural differences shouldn't be suppressed, but celebrated! They're a part of who we are. God created us male and female. God created us diverse. If you consider that sexist, then you must ask: is God sexist?

We’ll explore what the Bible has to say about that question in the next blog post! Click the men and women in ministry button below to see all the posts in this series.

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