Biological – strength, reproductive differences, women more pain-tolerant
Emotional – men are more concealed about their emotions, seen as “stronger” and more stable; women are more open and more emotional
Personality – men like to be seen as strong, dominating, physical; women value softness, kindness, and maternal tendencies more
Functional – men are “rougher;” women tend to be more careful, details-oriented
Conclusion: there are differences
General Social Roles (examples)
Male-dominated: military, labor, politics
Female-dominated: lower-age teaching, nursing, raising kids
Conclusion: there is gender-based differences in social roles for much of the society. Such differences often are based on differences mentioned above: some roles seem to be more suited for one gender, and others for the other gender.
Definition of Equality
Perfectly identical roles — practical?
Equal treatment for equal tasks — a better definition, but should the tasks be equal?
Does the concept of “equality” really matter that much? Or should we focus on the treatment?
Do different roles necessarily imply inequality?
Do we consistently consider the more “feminine” roles as less important? Why?
If certain roles are considered as less important, is this the result of gender inequality caused by prejudice, or screwed valuation based on something else?
What are the causes of gender dominance? Why do we often not value “feminine” roles as much?
Old Testament teachings
Created from man’s rib and made in the image of God (Gen 1:27); to be man’s helper — equal in creation but women was given a complementary role (men need to acknowledge their deficiency which women help fill)
Because of the Fall, women will suffer pain during childbirth, will desire1 men, will be ruled over by men (the last two points form the basis of the war between the sexes)
Responsible for naming the children and educating them at early years — maternal emphasis
Equal rights in worshipping God, can become prophets (e.g., Deborah) — equal before God
Right to property — equal in economics
The model woman (Prov. 31:10-31): involved in both business and domestic affairs, empowered with strength and honor, with words of wisdom and kindness, emphasis on inner beauty and virtue
“As time went on there was a tendency, under rabbinical teaching, to make the man more prominent and to assign to women an inferior role.”
Jesus’ life and teachings
Women, not men, are responsible for bring Jesus to earth. Jesus is called the “seed of woman” (Gen 3:15)
Women played an important role of Jesus’ ministry — supporting the efforts, serving important roles at crucial times
Women’s needs must not be neglected — physical and emotional healing, asking John to take care of Mary
Union of man and woman is sacred, and breaking the vow is the wrong of the party which forsakes the spouse (Mark 10:1-12)
No gender issues in the Kingdom of God (Mark 12:18-27)
Personal preference: continue the current social norms (1Cor. 11:2-15, 14:34-36) — does this imply these teachings is subject to change as the social structure changes? Bible teaches changing rules when reasonable circumstances arise (Num 27:1-11)
Women and men equal before God (Gal 3:28)
Wife to obey and respect husband, husband to love wife and be ready to sacrifice himself for her (as Jesus loved church and died for us). Loving one’s spouse is the same as loving oneself. (Eph 5:22-33, Col 3:18) — unequal?
Husband-wife as Christ-church: implies submission based on godliness, don’t have to submit to wrong authority
Women to keep quiet (1Tim 2:9-15), but given special promise (1Tim 2:15)
Some of Paul’s ideas were quite revolutionary (Gal 3:28) for his time. Shouldn’t we make further progress after 2000 years?
Wives to obey their husbands and change them through graceful living, to emphasize inner beauty (e.g., gentleness) over outward appearance
Husbands must be loving and reasonable, because women are “weaker vessels” — failure to do so can cause hindrance to prayers (shows how much God cares about this)
The Fall of Mankind dispute
Was woman solely responsible? –> many see gender inequality acceptable because women caused this…
Adam apparently gave the wrong instructions
Eve is responsible for giving Adam the fruit, but he made the decision to take it
Adam did not keep the garden well — why is the snake in it?
Paul: Adam is at fault (Romans 5), but since Adam and Eve are “one,” both are involved (he does admit woman is first to sin (1Tim 2:14), but this does not imply Adam is not responsible
Overall Bible teachings
Men and women have different roles based on their innate differences
Clear division of labor
Obeying the husband as church obeys Christ — what does this mean?
Love, not dominance, is the basis of all actions and decisions
Instead of arguing over equality, can we focus on something more constructive?
Man was a prototype so woman would be made perfect.
Femininity is God’s idea.
Woman is as equal to man as the submissive Son of God was equal to His heavenly Father.
The beauty of Christlikeness is the real measure of a woman.
Adam’s masculinity was incomplete and undefined without a feminine human presence.
Equality does not mean sameness.
Remember, God created the sexes and the differences between them. Let us work to make gender differences a source of empowerment, not conflict.
A model male-female relationship for study: Ruth & Boaz (Ruth)