Biblical Gender Roles

If you have grown up in most Churches in America you may have heard the Gospel.  You may have heard about various Biblical prophecies.  You may have heard about the Ten Commandments and basic holy living.  You may even have been taught a little about marriage.

In churches today the only thing most people here about marriage is that God designed marriage to be an equal partnership between a man and woman. If gender is discussed at all,  you will hear that God designed men and women equally in his image and that he has given men and women equal opportunity to do whatever they want with their lives.

The problem with all these teachings about marriage and gender in most modern churches today is that they are completely and utterly at odds with what the Bible actually teaches on gender and marriage.  Our churches have completely abandoned a set of doctrines found in the Scriptures that impact not only our daily lives but also the plans we make in this life.

You might try to follow the Ten commandments and not lie or steal or kill.  But you cannot fully live a holy life for God if you are ignorant of or disobedient to his commands regarding gender and marriage.  This is the mission of this blog.  To shine a light on these forgotten and in many cases ignored doctrines of the Bible.

I encourage you to read the doctrines below and do as the Bereans did(Acts 17:10-11) and search the Scriptures to see if these doctrines are there.  I promise you – they are.  These doctrines, if you allow them to penetrate your heart and mind, will change your life like few other doctrines save the Gospel which is the greatest doctrine the Bible teaches us.

You might be a young person who makes the following prayers to God each day – “Lord what do you want me to do with my life?” If you are a young man you might be praying “God show me how to be the man you want me to be” and if you are a young woman you might be praying “God show me how to be the woman you want me to be“.   Young brothers and sisters in Christ, I can confidently tell you that the answers to these crucial life questions are found in the forgotten doctrines below.

20 Doctrines Regarding Biblical Gender Roles

1. God made man, specifically male human beings, to be his image bearers and thereby bring God glory (Genesis 1:27, I Corinthians 11:7). This is why God is always referenced in the masculine sense as a father, a son or a husband in the Bible and should always be referenced by us in the masculine sense and not in the feminine sense.

2. For man to fully exercise the image of God in him as a husband and a father he needed another being that was similar to man but also very different than man. So God made woman as a subordinate companion and helper suitable for man because she would share a common human nature with him (Genesis 2:18-24, Genesis 3:16, I Corinthians 11:7-9, Ephesians 5:22-24).

3. God created woman and by extension marriage to model the relationship between himself and his people. This is why God is referred to as Israel’s husband in the Old Testament(Ezekiel 16:8, Jeremiah 31:31-33) and why Christ is referred to as the husband of the Church in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 11:2).

4. In marriage God has placed the husband as the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church so that man can exercise the leadership and authority attributes of God’s image in him(Ephesians 5:23).

5. In marriage God has not only placed husbands in authority over their wives, but he also given them ownership of their wives. The Hebrew word for marriage in the Old Testament is literally “to be owned” as in a woman coming to be owned by a man. When a man married a woman he became her “owner” and she became “owned by” him (Deuteronomy 22:22, Deuteronomy 24:1, Proverbs 12:4, Proverbs 31:10-11). In the New Testament we read that Christ “purchased” his bride, the Church as men had purchased their wives since the beginning of creation (Acts 20:28).

6. The husband/wife relationship is the only human authority relationship where God commands the one under authority to submit to the other as “unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). Wives are commanded to submit to their husbands “in everything” (Ephesians 5:24) and in spiritual matters “…if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home…” (1 Corinthians 14:35). The only exception to a woman submitting to her husband in everything is if he asks her to disobey God’s law (Acts 5:29).

7. In marriage God has given the husband the responsibility to be the provider for his wife so that he can exercise God’s attribute of being a provider for his people(Exodus 21:10-11, Ephesians 5:29).

8. In marriage God has given the husband the responsibility to be the protector of his wife so that he can exercise God’s attribute of being a protector for his people(Nehemiah 4:14, Luke 11:21, Ephesians 5:29).

9. In marriage God has called on men to love their wives not only by leading them, providing for them and protecting them but he has also called men to give themselves up to sacrificially love their wife by washing her spiritual and spots and wrinkles to make her the glorious wife God intends her to be (Ephesians 5:25-27). This means if a husband is loving his wife as Christ loves the Church he will do as Christ does to his Churches and “rebuke and chasten” (Revelation 3:19) his wife. In other words he will discipline his wife.

10. God made woman as “the weaker vessel”(I Peter 3:7) or weaker human so that woman would need man’s leadership, protection and provision as God’s people need his leadership, protection and provision. When a woman desires a man to lead her, protect her and provide for her these desires are part of her God given design.

11. God made woman to bear man’s children and be the keeper of the home (Proverbs 31:27, 1 Timothy 5:14, Titus 2:4-5). When a woman strongly desires to bear children this desire is part of her God given design. When a woman desires to make her home beautiful and wants to organize it this is also part of her God given design.

12. God made woman beautiful and he designed man to desire the beauty of woman because God desires the beauty of his people (Psalm 45:11). When a woman desires to make herself beautiful this is because God has placed this strong desire in her so that she will make herself beautiful for man.

13. God made woman to desire and receive sexual pleasure from her husband to bring him pleasure (Song of Solomon 2:3-13). But God also designed her as the gatekeeper of sex so that she would only desire sex within the confines of marriage (Deuteronomy 22:13-29).

14. God made woman to bring man pleasure because God desires pleasure (Proverbs 5:18-19, Revelation 4:11).

15. God made man to strongly desire pleasure, especially sexual pleasure to image God’s own desire for pleasure (Revelation 4:11).

16. God compares a man’s desire for sex to our human desire for water (Proverbs 5:15). To this end God commands that men drink their fill of and satisfy themselves “at all times” with the sexual well that is their wife’s body and he commands them to be ravished (intoxicated) with her love (Proverbs 18:19).

17. God says that husbands and wives have the responsibility to render their bodies to one another for their sexual pleasure in marriage (I Corinthians 7:3). God also states that husbands and wives have the power to take sexual pleasure in their spouse’s body in marriage (I Corinthians 7:3). There is no requirement that both the husband and wife must mutually desire sex to have sex. In fact, the only time there must be mutual consent regarding sex in marriage is for the couple to mutually agree to stop having sex for a short time (I Corinthians 7:5).

18. Man and woman were designed to come together as one flesh in marriage (Genesis 2:24) to help man fully image God. This is why God’s first command to mankind was to “Be fruitful, and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). To fulfill this command, men and women must marry, have sex and thereby have children.

19. Celibacy is God’s exception to his rule that he wants men and women to marry and be fruitful and multiply. But we should only choose the celibate life if we truly have the “gift” (I Corinthians 7:7) for as the Scriptures say it “it is better to marry than to burn” (I Corinthians 7:9) with desire for marriage than to remain celibate with this God given desire for marriage.

20. Because man is God’s image bearer it is God’s design that men should rule over women in all areas of life including the home (Ephesians 5:22-24, I Peter 3:1-6), the church (1 Timothy 2:12, 1 Corinthians 14:34) and in society (Isaiah 3:12, I Corinthians 11:3). This is why God only allowed male priests(Leviticus 21) in Israel and he only allows male pastors in the Church (1 Timothy 3:1-4). This is why all twelve of Christ’s Apostles were male and even his replacement for Judas was male. Female prophets were God’s exception to his rule that women should never occupy any position of authority spiritual or otherwise over men.

15 thoughts on “Biblical Gender Roles

  1. I believe that one major problem that my wife has is of her role towards me and towards her children, all of whom are grown adults with their own children.

    When we first met, when I went to her home her then 29-year old son was still living with her. He slept until noon, went to the gym after that, hung out with his friends, and did not have a job (except for selling minutes for cell phone via the internet for a few hours a day). He had a place to sleep and always had enough food to eat, all free of charge. He contributed nothing towards the household expenses.

    Before we got married, I told her, “He is not living with us!’ She sold her house in Colombia and shortly after that married me and moved to Mexico. I thought then that the emotional umbilical cord she had to this son would be broken, but it just got longer! In May she called him 32 times, in June 34 times. (Thank God, that just before that our plan with Telmex included free international calls to most countries.) She has sent him money many times. She is now sending money to her oldest son, who is now 40 years old. She said that both of her sons are excellent salesmen. i asked her, “Then why do you need to send them money?”

    Her youngest son has been begging her to come back to Colombia. He would like for both of us to move there. While I was getting counseling via Skype from a Hispanic pastor in California mentioning my wife’s desire to move back to Colombia, he said, “Maybe God is through with your ministry in Mexico.” I went on a one man retreat in the country after that, fasting and praying for over two days. The Lord made it clear to me that He wanted me in Mexico, not Colombia. He said that I am to follow him, not my wife.

    To be honest with you, I provoked some of this problem with my wife when I told her, out of compassion, that if I ever get to a point to where I can no longer take care of myself (I’m 76 years old now), that we could move there so she could be closer to her family. This opened up an even greater desire for her to move back to Colombia. Now she and this son are saying, “What if he (meaning me) has a heart attack or a stroke in Mexico? How could he move to Colombia then?”

    I reminded my wife that even before we got married that I said that any woman who wanted to marry me would have to be willing to live in Aguascalientes, Mexico. But, unfortunately, my wife does not really understand the word committment.

    She apparently wants to live the same life with me that she lived as a widow before marrying me, with me taking the place of her son, but with financial benefits to her. Many times she has rebuked me as she would her son. Lately I have told her that I would not tolerate this disrespect, that I am not a child, but her husband. I told her that her ordering me around is very offensive to me. She said that she was not ordering me, but just talking to me as a person close to her. She said that in her culture it is not offensive. I told her that in my culture it is, and that she needed to adjust to my culture (in this). She said that I needed to adjust to her culture.

    The main reason I didn’t look at American women as being potential wives is that so many of them want to be independent of their husbands. I thought that with a Latin American woman I wouldn’t have that problem. I was sure wrong about that!

  2. Hello. Please pardon me if I am tad forward. I never felt biblical and cultural were any were near the the same thing. Cultural having more to do with the flesh and biblical having more to do with ones spirit. Am I mistaken on this?

  3. Joanna,

    I am not sure what you saying. Not everything our culture does or believes is sinful and not everything our culture does and believes is right. The Bible is our measuring stick, our canon by which we compare our behavior and our traditions. This the only way we can tell right from wrong.

  4. I should have told my wife that her ordering me around is not biblical, rather than saying that it is against my culture (she brought up the word culture, which is why I responded to her in this way). No matter what the culture says, the Bible clearly says that women are to respect their husbands, not order them around like children.

  5. Hi there,
    I read what you wrote (on another post) about a woman running a man’s race and not receiving her prize at the end because she avoided all of the “woman’s race” obstacles. You also stated that you believe God designed a man to work and provide for his family, while a woman is designed to stay at home and care for her husband and kids. Getting rid of the race metaphor, you think that a woman having a full time career is unbiblical, correct? What if she was more gifted in the area of leadership and “breadwinning,” and her husband was more gifted at raising the children and running a home? Are these not all good, suitable, noble pursuits? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thanks!

  6. Kelly,

    I believe it is unbiblical for a woman to CHOOSE to have a full time career while her husband and children and her home need her full time attention. Now it might be possible at after all the children are grown and are in school that a woman might be able to go work or teach at School as long as it did not interfere with her duties to the home. But again this is still very problematic and the vast majority of women cannot have a full time career without dropping things at home.

    Now some women have no choice but to work and have a full time career because they have no husband or their husband has become disabled. In this case God chose for them that they would need to do both taking care of their home and working. But a woman does not have the right to set the obstacles for the race God has given her – she must run the race God gives her.

    On the issue of a woman being more gifted with leadership and the ability to be a breadwinner and a man being better suited to the home here is my answer.

    A king picks two people for different tasks. He says to one – you are in charge of tasks a, b, and c. He says to the other you are responsible for tasks d, e and f. When you are both done bring the results of your tasks.

    Those two people have no right to switch their tasks because one is better than the other at certain tasks. The King assigned them their tasks. If they return to the king showing that they had exchanged tasks because they knew better than the king he will not find “good” or “noble”.

    This is how it will be with God in the judgment. We cannot in our pride and arrogance assume we know better than God. He has given us certain tasks depending our gender and yes for some of us those tasks will be more difficult than for others. Regardless we each have our role to play if we are to follow God’s rules of the race.

  7. Hi, I’m having a few issues with my husband, and i think im doubting the bible.

    Recently, my husband and i had a rather tense night of sexual relations, and as a result we’ve been cold to each other.
    during this night, i was exhaused after working all day, and he was too, just, not as tired. He insisted on relations even after i made it clear several times. i really didnt want it. Afterwards i got emotional and he got angry.

    I dont want this to ruin our marriage, but i really dont want it to happen again.
    Help?

  8. Heather,

    I Corinthians 7:2-5 makes it clear that when you marry someone God gives that person the power over your body for the purposes of sexual release. It is interesting that Paul frames the sexual rights in marriage in two different ways:

    In this first verse he speaks of each spouse freely giving their body for the purposes of sex as kindness in marriage:
    “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.:

    Then in the next verse we go from the position of the spouse freely giving their body to the other now to telling spouses that their spouse may freely “take” as in they have power over the other spouses body for the purposes of sexual release:
    “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”

    Now the Apostle Paul is not talking about a man forcing himself inside his wife – something that I would argue would be physically abusive. But he is saying that you or your husband have the right to ask for sex ANYTIME you need it and the other spouse has no power to refuse such requests. Now should a spouse take into account a spouse being sick, or otherwise physically unable? Sure and I think the Lord would want us to consider postponing sex for legitimate reasons.

    But I don’t think being exhausted from a long days work is a legitimate reason for sexual refusal or postponement.

    Consider it from you view as a woman. Imagine if you had a hard day at work and a lot of things happened and you wanted to just emotionally release everything that happened at work. Often times women need that emotional release where they can just talk about the people that gave them a hard time and all that. But you start talking and your husband says “I am exhausted and really don’t feel like talking to you today or listening to you today. Can we talk tomorrow?” How would you feel? I think most women would be quite annoyed with their husbands in that situation.

    In the same way sometimes when a man has horrible day at work – all he can think of is having sex to literally “get a load off his mind”. Talking makes you as women feel relieved, having sex makes men feel relieved and relaxed.

    The reason you got angry is because you were looking at this from only your point of view as a woman, and not his point of view as a man.

  9. I have always felt that the best way to deal with a woman who gets out of line is to start with hiding the car keys around the house. Her struggle to retrieve these keys clearly reflects the same struggle that Jesus endured in his crucifixion. Although it may be physical or emotional in the moment, they eventually appreciate the overall biblical meaning of the struggle.
    Secondly, refusing sex is the worst a wife thing can do (of course, as long as there is no medical reasoning behind it). In my opinion there is no excuse for this, especially considering that the house is based under classic patriarchy ruling.
    Having said that, I myself have not worked since forklift accident. But, my welfare checks, unemployment payments, and Uncle Harry’s inheritance money (wife’s side, but I am discussing my share) far outdo any of the scrap money she brings in from her fancy degree.

  10. Throughout this website, you cite the Bible passage telling wives to submit to their husbands “in everything.” But consider this hypothetical case: a husband is severely physically and mentally disabled. He sits in a wheelchair because he cannot walk. His limbs are weak and useless, and he frequently has epileptic fits. He certainly could not hold down a job. He cannot talk, only groan incoherently. Sometimes he is highly distressed or angered by the many situations he doesn’t understand. He’s a messy eater and wets himself.

    How can her husband fulfill his obligations to lead, provide and protect if he is so disabled that he cannot interact with the world in a meaningful way? How can he love his wife sacrificially if he doesn’t recognise her as his wife? How can he be responsible for disciplining the children if he can’t even control his own bladder?

    What should the wife do in such a situation? I think she would still love him for better or worse, but how does she practise this? If, for example, she is working while he stays at home, would God be understanding of the non-traditional gender roles, given the situation? Or would she still be punished in the next life for not submitting to her husband? (And does it make a difference if she married him knowing he was like this, as opposed to marrying an able-bodied neurotypical man who later began to suffer from an incurable progressive illness?)

    That’s another thing. It’s not directly linked to Biblical gender roles, but what do you think happens to mentally disabled people when they die? If they couldn’t have understood anything, let alone the significance of Jesus’ sacrifice, and they couldn’t have made a choice to accept Jesus as their Saviour, would they go to Heaven or Hell? Would God’s justice (regarding original sin) or God’s mercy (regarding the weak) come into play here?

  11. Consider these two scenarios:

    1. A male character in a movie takes a bullet for his wife and dies. He has saved the life of the woman he loves, at great personal cost to himself.
    2. A female character in a movie takes a bullet for her husband and dies. She has saved the life of the man she loves, at great personal cost to herself.

    Which character is the true hero?

    Husbands are to love their wives sacrificially, says the Bible, but cannot wives do the same thing? I know husbands and wives are symbols of Jesus and the Church, and I suppose it would be a little silly for the Church to take a bullet for Jesus. But I feel uncomfortable with the thought that my husband can save my life if I need him to, and yet I do not have God’s permission to save my husband’s life. What does sacrificial love amount to in practice? What is the female equivalent, if there is one?

  12. Rose,

    Your Statement:

    “Throughout this website, you cite the Bible passage telling wives to submit to their husbands “in everything.” But consider this hypothetical case: a husband is severely physically and mentally disabled. He sits in a wheelchair because he cannot walk. His limbs are weak and useless, and he frequently has epileptic fits. He certainly could not hold down a job. He cannot talk, only groan incoherently. Sometimes he is highly distressed or angered by the many situations he doesn’t understand. He’s a messy eater and wets himself.

    How can her husband fulfill his obligations to lead, provide and protect if he is so disabled that he cannot interact with the world in a meaningful way? How can he love his wife sacrificially if he doesn’t recognise her as his wife? How can he be responsible for disciplining the children if he can’t even control his own bladder?”

    The Bible tells us this:

    “41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power”

    1 Corinthians 15:41-43 (KJV)

    The Bible tells us that the presence of sin in the world has physically and spiritually corrupted everything in this world. Make no mistake – God’s design is still present in everything, yet it corrupted in different ways with different people and things. One of the corruptions of sin in this world is sickness, deformity and death. If Adam and Eve had never sinned there would be no sickness, deformity or death in humanity.

    The Bible tells us in the world to come all these things will gone for those who believe in him:

    “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

    Revelation 21:4 (KJV)

    So the answer to your question about your hypothetical husband is this. From your description the husband almost a a vegetable and invalid at best with out proper mental facilities to do the most basic things or make the most basic decisions. The reason this man is in this condition is the same reason babies are born with horrible birth defects – because of the corrupting influence of sin on this world.

    So let’s first tackle should a woman marry such a man knowing he is in this condition. My answer would be NO. The reason is that a woman should not purposefully go into a marriage situation knowing full well that her marriage will never be able to be the model that Ephesians 5:22-33 says marriage is to be. In the situation you describe the husband would be incapable of modeling any part of his role that God has called him to.

    Instead such a man should remain celibate and his family members should care for him for the remainder of his life.

    But am I saying no woman should go into a marriage knowing her husband is disabled? No. But going into a marriage with a man that is basically an invalid who cannot think or rationalize or make any kind of decision is a person going into marriage purposefully knowing they will never be able to model marriage as God desires it.

    It would be one thing if a man is simply in a wheel chair or has some other disabilities but still has his mental facilities in place.

    God says his word shows “the thoughts and intents of the heart”. God very much cares about our intent when we go into a situation. So if a woman marries a disabled man in a wheel chair, or perhaps marries a disabled veteran with the nobel intent of wanting to serve him knowing she may have to work to support their family that is a nobel and righteous intent.

    But consider another type of woman. She knows full well what the Bible says about women being keepers of the home(Titus 2:5) yet she has looked down with disdain on this role of woman since she was a teenager. She wants to be a career woman and have a man at home whom she takes care of. So she devises a plan to purposefully marry a disabled man so that she can have her career and have her man at home the way she wants. God sees her intent and it was not nobel. It was not based on wanting to care for and serve a disabled man – but was instead a way for her to have her selfish ambitions.

    So yes because of the corrupting influence of sin in the world sometimes men are called to double duty(working and taking care of the duties of the home) and other times women are called to double duty(working and taking care of the needs of their home). It is one thing if this happens to your spouse after marriage. It is also different if your intents as a woman are nobel wanting to help a disabled man, but one that can still lead you even if he cannot provide because of his disability. It is quite another to willfully plan and intend to go into a marriage where a man will not be able to lead you or provide for you because of your own selfish ambitions as a woman.

    God judges the thoughts and intents of us all and each decision we make.

    Your Statement:

    “what do you think happens to mentally disabled people when they die? If they couldn’t have understood anything, let alone the significance of Jesus’ sacrifice, and they couldn’t have made a choice to accept Jesus as their Saviour, would they go to Heaven or Hell?”

    I think mentally disabled people are much like children in that they cannot understand these things. I believe that God only holds those accountable who the mental facilities to understand their position before God. David said this of his infant child that died:

    “But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”

    David knew that he would see his infant child again one day with God. This is why I and many other Christians believe there is an age of accountability(the exact age will be different for each person). But only when you reach a certain maturity where you can understand your sin and what God requires will God hold you accountable for your decision.

    So I say all this – no I do not believe mentally ill people or young children go to hell when they die because they have not yet trusted in Christ as their savior.

    II Samuel 12:23 (KJV)

  13. Rose,

    Your Statement:

    “Consider these two scenarios:

    1. A male character in a movie takes a bullet for his wife and dies. He has saved the life of the woman he loves, at great personal cost to himself.
    2. A female character in a movie takes a bullet for her husband and dies. She has saved the life of the man she loves, at great personal cost to herself.

    Which character is the true hero?

    Husbands are to love their wives sacrificially, says the Bible, but cannot wives do the same thing? I know husbands and wives are symbols of Jesus and the Church, and I suppose it would be a little silly for the Church to take a bullet for Jesus. But I feel uncomfortable with the thought that my husband can save my life if I need him to, and yet I do not have God’s permission to save my husband’s life. What does sacrificial love amount to in practice? What is the female equivalent, if there is one?”

    There is nothing wrong or less heroic about a woman taking a bullet for her husband or sacrificing herself for her husband. There is no permission needed to save another person’s life if we have the capability to do it. However we must remember that a woman is under her husband’s authority. So let’s say there is a situation where only one person can live and one will die and a decision must be made. The husband gets this call and he should willingly give up his life for his wife and though it will be hard for her she should allow him to do so. She cannot override his decision.

    The fact of the Bible is that men are called to sacrificially love their wives and women are called to submissively love their husbands. Some of the actions they take may look very much the same in these en devours. When a man comes home from a hard day at work a later that evening decides to wash the dishes and clean the kitchen for his wife this is an act of sacrificial love on his part. When a woman consents to her husband’s request for sex even though she is totally not in the mood and has had a stressful day and sex is the last thing on her mind – she is submissively loving her husband.

    A woman’s submissive actions may also look very much like sacrifice. She sacrifices her pride when she follows her husband even though she disagrees. She sacrifices herself when she gets up in the middle of the night with her infant child and makes sure she does not bother her husband so he can get up for work in the morning. She sacrifices herself when she is an intelligent woman that could do many things in various career fields but chooses to submit herself to God’s design for her life by dedicating herself to her husband, her children and her home.

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