When the musician Prince passed away recently, the news often referred to his androgynous appeal. They said he wasn’t exactly male or female. Prince broke the mold and became something new, reinventing stereotypes. He even designed a symbol for himself that included both male and female signs.
Does the Bible really define male and female as separate roles? Does it promote differences between the sexes—or not?
Let’s explore the Bible’s own words and see. Let’s find out how the sexes are equal—and different.
Value—God created Adam and Eve, put them in the garden, gave them both dominion over animals and plants, and He pronounces all His creation good. There isn’t any difference between the value of the man and the woman; they’re equals. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto 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 moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. . . . And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day (Genesis 1: 27-29, 31).
Marriage—In marriage, man and woman are one. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh (Genesis 2:24). Marriage means mutual yielding. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife (1 Corinthians 7:4). Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:21).
Spiritual opportunity—Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised (Proverbs 31:30). Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments (Psalm 112:1)
Strong character—That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you (Titus 2:2-8).
Roles—Women are helpers. And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him (Genesis 2:18). Just as Jesus submitted Himself to the Father—though equal with Him—wives submit leadership in the family to their husbands. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. . . . For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband (Ephesians 5:22-24, 31-33)
Clothing and Hair length—There’s a difference between men’s and women’s clothing. The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment (Deuteronomy 22:5a). Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering (1 Corinthians 11:14-15).
Actions—Men are to be manly, and women feminine. That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace (Psalm 144:12). Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind (1 Corinthians 6:9).
Physical strength—Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered (1 Peter 3:7).
I’ve been watching the trends, even in Christian circles, and I’m left scratching my head.
- Do women understand the message they’re sending with how they walk, talk, and dress?
- Do men who adopt the metrosexual new cool—man buns, hairless chests, overly groomed eyebrows—think they represent Christian manliness?
- Why are women stomping around in tight jeans, jeggings, and clunky boots?
- Why are men dressing almost the same?
- Why do you have to question from a distance whether the person is male or female?
- Why are Christian women wearing their hair as short as the men? Why do some of them even shave the sides of their heads?
Much more important than outward appearance is what God thinks about our spiritual lives.
- Are we getting closer to the Lord—or to the world? Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15) Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (Matthew 22:37)
- Are we glorifying Him in our decisions? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:20).
- Are we content in our God-given gender roles? But godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6).
- When someone looks at us—even from a distance—can they tell we are different (not weird, but godly)? Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation (lifestyle), in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12b).
- Do we point people to Christ through our lifestyle? Now then we are ambassadors for Christ ( 2 Corinthians 5:20a).
Will we, at the end of our lives, hear praise?
- Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her (Proverbs 31:28).
- Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2).
- His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord (Matthew 25:23).
May God help us to glorify Him!