Last Friday, I threw in my two cents on a little ongoing debate about female pastors. You can read it here if you missed it. While I didn’t comment on whether women should be pastors, I commented on three reasons maybe women shouldn’t be pastors.
We got a lot of great comments. But I wonder if some of you were holding back. The comments seemed to be decidedly one sided, saying that women should be pastors. This is despite the fact that the two biggest denominations in America (Catholics and Southern Baptists) do not allow women to be pastors.
Yes, very few, if any people were willing to go out on that limb and say, “Yeah, there’s something about being a pastor that men are just better suited for,” or even, “I’d just rather listen to a man’s smooth baritone voice rather than a woman’s smooth baritone voice.”
Maybe I have very progressive readers. But maybe we just don’t like talking about gender roles any more. That, of course, is why I’m here. I think we’ve totally messed up the discussion about gender roles. We oftentimes can’t talk honestly about it. Here’s why I think that is.
Three Reasons We Can’t Talk About Gender Roles
No One Wants to Look Sexist
First of all, when I say “gender roles,” I don’t mean men being lumberjacks and women making sandwiches for said lumberjacks. I just mean men and women working harmoniously the way we’re made to work.
Today, it’s really hard to just have an honest talk about gender roles. And God (who is now a woman, FYI) help you if you say that maybe men are better suited for certain jobs, or there’s some inherant difference between the sexes. We’re at the point where just being a man or using the words “gender roles” is sexist. Being called a sexist is just as bad as being called a racist or a homophobe. They say that hell has no fury like a woman scorned. Yep.
Somehow, like racism or homophobia, it seems only certain groups are capable of such things. Of course, women cannot be sexist. They can’t sexually harrass male coworkers either, apparently. The Advocates for Human Rights defines harassment specifically as violating a woman’s rights, because obviously men aren’t human. (Update in yo face: 30% of sexual harassment cases are against women.) It’s not sexist for a television commercial to show a woman being the savior of her household while her husband is a drooling halfwit, incapable of basic household tasks, like using a paper towel, pulling his head out of the microwave, or forming complete sentences.
We’ve Kind of Screwed Up Gender Roles
To be fair, Christianity has done a lot to help people misunderstand what the Bible says about men and women. That whole “submission” and “head” thing kind of got abused a bit.
I think that’s why so many couples struggle. Our minds have been poisoned against what the Bible might be really saying about men and women. Women stop at that word “submission” and flip their lids, and men stop reading at “head” and start spraying testosterone all over their territory. And what no one realizes is that if people did what they were supposed to do, everyone would get what they wanted.
If women deferred to their husbands, the men would feel respected and would get to be the leaders they want to be. If men loved their wives the way Paul describes, they’d put their wives’ desires over their own, and she’d feel loved, and get what she wanted. It’s a big cycle of two people putting the other’s desires above their own. Plus, they’ll probably have more sex.
But instead, women are afraid of being a “doormat,” and men are afraid of looking “whipped,” so we’ve kind of reaped what we’ve sown. Men don’t put their wives first, because she just tries to control him, and women don’t submit to their husbands because he’s not worthy of submitting to. Both partners try to control the other, so it falls apart.
Once in a while, my wife and I will be having a trivial disagreement, and I’ll bust her chops with the old, “I’m the man, and the Bible says you have to obey me.” Then I let out a hearty laugh like a pirate.
We Can’t Make Gender Roles Look as Good as Everything Else
It’s no wonder when Christians don’t understand the Bible’s guidelines for gender roles, we’re not going to be able to make them look better than what the world is offering.
Our culture has tried a lot of things to erase gender differences. The first thing was to tell women to act more like men. That was how you get to the top. I think that’s why shoulder pads were invented…I’ll have to check on that when I’m done here. Then, men who didn’t want to be sexists were told they should act more like women and “get in touch with their feminine side.” I don’t even know which side is my feminine side. Then women were told that all acts of sex were actually rape, and men were told that merely acknowledging women in public will now result in immediate castration. Then women realized they don’t like men who act like women, and men realized they don’t like women they are scared of.
With that kind of competition, you’d think the simple acknowledgment that men and women are wonderfully different and have different roles would gain acceptance again. But it hasn’t. It just can’t get over that word “sexist.”
Plus, have you noticed how comical some people find it to get together with friends or coworkers and complain about their spouses? No wonder so many people would rather shack up than get married, when half the married people split, and at least half the married ones disrespect their old ladies or idiot husbands behind their backs.
Until we solve that, men and women aren’t going to have the best relationships in marriages, church, or society.
What’s your take on gender roles, sexism, feminism, or marriage? If you’re married, have Paul’s recommendations worked for you? What do we even mean by “gender roles” anyway? What is a woman’s or a man’s place? Don’t worry, no cries of sexism will be made.