They say there’s an exception to every rule, which makes me wonder:
For those who teach that the Bible requires certain roles and functions for men while women are prohibited from taking on those roles and functions – what some call biblical gender roles – any biblical examples of women moving in on men’s territory are merely exceptions to a rule. Yet it soon becomes clear their rule on roles is non-existent in the first place. While the Bible has a lot of examples of godly women* and men, none of them are definitional as to which roles are manly and which are womanly.
The exceptions aren’t limited to women doing what a patriarchal society would say is men’s work, such as Deborah leading Israel (Judges 4-5) and Huldah prophesying for the Lord as she guided the king of Judah’s trusted counselors. (2 Kings 22:11-20.) The exceptions also include men acting in ways the gender teachers say are indicative of women’s roles in God’s creation.
Here are two examples that immediately came to mind, but those who read the Bible for themselves could probably come up with more with little effort.
Gideon – the judge in the kitchen
In Judges 6, God visits Gideon in the form of the angel of the Lord. In typical hospitality for that time and place, Gideon prepared food for his visitor. Unlike earlier instances where the angel of the Lord met with someone (such as Abraham in Genesis 18), Gideon did not order his wife – or perhaps a servant woman – to prepare the bread and meat. He went to the kitchen himself:
Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak. (Judges 6:19.)
Some might say this is not really a meal, since Gideon explicitly told God he was preparing an offering. That is a distinction without a difference. The bottom line is that Gideon, God’s chosen leader for the nation of Israel, went in the kitchen and did the cooking.
David – an emotional wreck
King David is another example. Many of those who teach differing roles for men and women will describe women as more relational and comfortable with their emotions, while men are prone to action and less likely to show their feelings. Anyone Bible teacher who says this has never paid attention to David.
When David’s baby was ill and dying, David – apparently ignoring his responsibilities to lead the nation – spent his time grieving and fasting and weeping. He was not at all ashamed of his tears either:
“While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’” (2 Samuel 12:22.)
No one criticized David for his tears then. Most people today would also say that it is not unmanly to cry over a sick and dying child. The gender role teachers might characterize it as a suitable exception to their rule about men and their feelings. The problem is that it is not an exception at all. It’s the way men act regardless of gender roles.
Another instance in David’s life truly gives the lie to the notion that godly men in the Bible did not give way to their feelings. His grown son Absalom plotted to take the throne of Israel from David. This led to civil war, a war in which David’s army prevailed and Absalom was killed. David not only mourned his rebellious son’s death. He became an emotional wreck.
The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 18:33.)
David was shaken? Who wouldn’t be. But to wish himself dead and that his son’s rebellion thus succeeded is more than grief. It is an emotional collapse.
One shouldn’t blame David for being emotional, of course. Rather, the blame is on those who would insist this is merely one more exception to the gender roles they say are in the Bible. How many exceptions does one need before realizing the exceptions reveal the supposed rule to be merely an illusion of their own making?
Avoiding gender role rules
The problem with these supposed gender roles is that they get in the way of what God’s people – men and women both – are really called to do; grow in Christ. (Ephesians 4:15, 2 Peter 3:18.) You do it like this:
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1.2.)
Women and men both are to live as Jesus lived. There is no indication that men are to do the men things Jesus did and women are to do the women things. That would be nonsense, since the Bible never mentions a male/female division in what it takes to be “just as Christ.”
Rather, women and men both are to do the things Jesus did. Don’t let anyone restrict you from fully doing that by telling you there are some gender roles to follow along the way. There aren’t.
There’s just the Jesus way. Walk in it. (Isaiah 30:21.)
*Addendum: Some examples of women doing what gender role people would identify as men’s roles, taken from Silencing Women – the guaranteed way for men to stay in control –
- Mary’s Magnificat is a song by a woman so skip over those verses. (Luke 1:46-55.)
- Samaritan men shouldn’t have listened to the woman at the well tell them of Jesus because she’s a woman. (John 4:28-30, 39.)
- Anna should’ve kept quiet when she saw baby Jesus in the temple because women aren’t supposed to speak in church. (Luke 2:36-38.)
- Tamar never should have told Judah to provide her a child. Who is she to tell her father-in-law how to run the family? (Genesis 38.)
- Abigail never should have helped David. She should have supported her husband Nabal even if he was wrong, and sent David and his army away empty-handed. (1 Samuel 25.)
- Pilate was right not to heed his wife’s warnings about harming Jesus. After all, she’s not the husband in that family. (Matthew 27:15-26.)
- If King Josiah knew his officials were going to ask Huldah – a woman – for advice, he’d have never let them do it. (2 Kings 22:11-20.)
- The church would be much better off if the apostles had refused to listen to Mary talk about the empty tomb. (John 20:1-10.)
- No wonder Philip’s daughters weren’t married. He let them prophesy? What kind of Godly father does that? (Acts 21:8-9.)
- When Peter told the crowd in Acts 2 that women would prophesy, he must have meant only to other women. (Acts 2:14-21.)
- Mary told the wedding servants to listen to Jesus. How could she exercise authority over them? (John 2:1-11.)
- When Jesus said even the rocks would shout out praise to him, he meant only the boy rocks, right? (Luke 19:39-40.) At least in public?