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Gender Roles

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Some recent videos have highlighted our culture’s confusion on gender and identityThe Bible has a great deal to say about gender. So does our culture. But if we really believe that God has revealed himself through the Bible, then we must take seriously what the Bible says about gender. Here are 2 basic definitions of what God intends men and women to do.

Biblical Manhood: Creating culture by initiating and protecting worship.

In Genesis 1-2, Adam is created in God’s image. He is special and unique from everything else God created. As an image-bearer, he is given a leadership role over all of creation, exercising God-given dominion over God’s world. He is put in charge of creation, but not in an abusive, domineering, self-centered way. Rather, the dominion he is given is to promote growth and flourishing. He’s called to “work and keep the garden”.

Workhas to do with initiating. He’s supposed to “be fruitful and multiply”. Make culture. Take sounds, and make music. Take trees, and make houses. To use the good raw material God has given him and to make it into something that benefits the world.  

He’s supposed to take the goodness of the garden OUT into the rest of the world. He is also told to “keep” the garden. In other words, protect its original purposes. He isn’t just supposed to make culture, he’s supposed to make sure that it stays on track to achieve its vision to glorify God and help the world flourish and grow.

That’s exactly why God has Adam name the animals. He is practicing. He is looking at God’s creation, getting a vision for what that animal is intended to be and defining it. Then, in his dominion over those animals, he is to be sure that animal is cared for and allowed to do what God made it to do.

In other words, Adam did exactly what God did. God didn’t just create the world and then step away from it—he stayed intimately involved. Men don’t bail—they initiate and protect. They don’t look out for themselves—they look after what God has given them the responsibility to care for.

Culture tells men to buy a big truck and build a sick man cave, lift some weights, punch another dude in the mouth, and grow a Duck Dynasty beard. He worships himself and looks in the mirror more than he looks to the heavens.

Manhood is not about how you dress or groom your facial hair. Its not about how deep your voice is or how much you know about sports. Manhood is using your power to initiate and protect the worship of God in all your relationships. Scripture tells men to give their lives away, lift others’ burdens, pick up those who get knocked down, and grow cultural epicenters for the glory of God. A godly man worships the one true God and invites others to look upward with him.

Biblical Womanhood: Creating culture by powerfully helping.

Genesis 2:18 shows God, for the first and only time, say that what he’s created is “not good.” It was not good for Adam to be alone. He needed a complement, “a helper fit for him”—so God gave him Eve. The word “fit” literally means opposite- like an interlocking puzzle piece.

While Adam was called to create culture by initiating and protecting, Eve was called to help him complete his mission to create culture. Though he was the God-called leader, he couldn't do it alone. He needed Eve.

Every Christian woman knows Proverbs 31. Somewhere, you have a crocheted quilt with that verse chapter on it. In that proverb there is a description of an “excellent” woman. This Hebrew word, chayil, basically describes someone who is able to use her power or abilities well. That’s exactly what we see in the Proverbs 31 woman. She is a life-skills ninja—she runs a business while raising kids and drawing praise from her husband. But Godly womanhood isn’t about doing everything, but using your gifts and abilities to empower others to worship God.

Culture tells women to lose weight, pucker their lips, do the squat-with-your-booty-out Instagram pose, or to be Ms. Independent-I-Don’t-Need-A-Man. Scripture tells women to lose themselves, put down their phones and pick up others’ downtrodden spirits, and realize that being a “helper” means that they’re walking in the steps of the true Helper, the Holy Spirit, who empowers people to live God-centered lives.

Practically, this doesn’t boil down to a list of a few specific actions, but it does boil down to a kind of outward focus. Godly women ask the question often “Who is God calling me to run my power through? Is there an encouraging word that needs to be said? Is there a conversation I can have or an action I can take that will help awaken another person’s desire to walk closely with God and his church?”

Onward.

At the end of the day, the differences between what a godly man and woman practically do can be subtle, and will be different from relationship to relationship and person to person. Many times, it has more to do with attitude and disposition than it does action. But, we should expect this; after all, both men and women are created for the same goal. Worship.

Men, don’t buy the salvation story culture is selling you. Life isn’t about building a 401K, running through as many girls as you can get into bed, or using your power to run over others. Instead, you are called by God to lay down your life for others, using your power for the good of others. Regardless of whether or not you ever get married or ever build a family, your basic calling from God won’t change.

Women, don’t buy the salvation story culture is selling you. Life isn’t about being pretty (in whatever way culture is defining “pretty” that week), pushing away family and men and anyone else who wants to “hold you down,” or even settling down and having kids. Instead, you are called to build others up and help others create culture. Regardless of whether or not you ever get married or ever live up to any other line of Proverbs 31, your basic calling from God won’t change.

Men and women, your basic calling is to trust in the power of God working through you, to love and serve and build up others. Your gender, your sexual orientation, your past and your present…none of these define you. God defines you. He didn't make a mistake in creating you male or female. He did it on purpose.

Remember, Culture didn’t create gender. Genders were created to make culture…together.

For more on this topic, listen to our sermon on gender roles here.

Taking Wise Risks

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This past Sunday, we looked at Ruth 4. One of the key ideas from that chapter is the way Boaz took a wise risk in marrying Ruth, while another guy (we’ll just call him “So-and-So”) played it safe and rejected her. He saw Ruth as costing him too much. He knew he would lose people’s respect…and lose money if he married Ruth. So he passed.

One thing we noticed is how Boaz showed an eye-popping balance of right-headed thinking and genuine emotion. By law, Boaz had to offer Ruth to So-and-So, because he had the first right of refusal. There’s no doubt that Boaz was scared of losing Ruth, but he wasn’t controlled by his emotions.

Boaz didn’t panic. He didn't freak out. He didn't say, “Oh no, Ruth! Without you my world will stop! Let’s run away together! Let’s give ‘em somethin’ to talk about!” No, Boaz was calm and collected.

We also know that he wasn’t controlled by his libido, either. If you remember back to earlier in the book, Boaz had plenty of opportunity to sleep with Ruth, but he didn’t. He honored her. He wanted what was best for her, regardless of what it might cost him.

In Ruth 3:13, Boaz basically says, “If this other guy will marry you, so be it. But if not, then I will.” This isn’t your typical 21st-century love story, is it? It’s got some nice parts to it, but ultimately Boaz and Ruth’s story isn’t the biblical version of The Notebook. There’s no kissing in the rain or we-don’t-need-no-stinkin’-parents runaway scenes.

So going into chapter 4, we know Boaz isn’t “fighting for Ruth” because he can’t imagine life without her, or because he can’t keep his pants on. He’s not pining after his soul mate. No, he’s displaying a character filled with wisdom and driven by a love for God. His love for Ruth is not about Ruth…its about God’s heart for Ruth. So-and-So says, “Imma do me.” Boaz says, “I’m going to take care of a daughter of God.” Boaz risks his reputation and his inheritance and much more because he’s wiling to take a wise risk on a Moabite girl that needed redeeming.

So what about us? It’s easy to cheer on Boaz while not looking in the mirror at ourselves. We should take wise risks, too. But what does that look like?

A wise risk is simply loving others with God’s love, putting your own comfort on the sidelines to provide for someone else. But wise risk is more than boyfriend-girlfriend stuff. Its parent-child. Its employer-employee. Its brother-sister. Its neighbor-to-neighbor.

While it might look different for a single college student than it does for a retired couple, there are two ways to approach a wise risk for the glory of God and the good of others—pray and think.

  1. PRAY

Duh, right? It might be less obvious than you think. We pray for sick family members and “traveling mercies” and other means of comfort, but do we ever pray for discomfort? When was the last time you prayed for God to show you a risk to take to show off his character?

If there’s one thing the Bible promises Christians, it’s suffering. Now, your suffering might look different than someone else’s. Your suffering might be draining that savings account a little to help someone in need. Your suffering might be being stuck in a living room with someone with whom you have nothing in common, but who needs a person to talk to. Your suffering might be a million different things, but God didn’t promise to keep you from it.

Praying for discomfort is risky, because God just might answer your prayer. But seeking God is the wisest thing you can ever do.

  1. MEDITATE ON SCRIPTURE & THINK IT DOWN INTO YOUR SITUATION

Remember that Boaz didn’t make decisions willy-nilly. He clearly thought through his decisions. He didn’t take a risk on Ruth in a moment of passion—he took a risk on her because he knew God’s heart was for the widow. He knew it was the right thing to do…which he could only know by dwelling on the law (Psalm 1). Unlike So-and-So, Boaz’s budget was driven by honoring the character of the LORD, not honoring his own name.  Boaz’s mind was on the things of God; So-and-So’s were on the things of So-and-So.

So don’t mindlessly get into a risky situation. Don’t give money to someone if it's going to result in hurting them more than helping them. Don’t date someone who is killing you spiritually because you “want to be a good witness.” That’s not the wisdom of God.

But be willing to stretch a little. Don’t use God as your excuse not to sacrifice. That’s not his wisdom either.  Be aware of opportunities— to sacrifice your time, risk your reputation, break out of the mold, give away your vacation money—to take a risk to serve someone. Be willing to be hurt, rejected, or even taken advantage of. Be willing to feel the tension of opening your hand when you want to clench your fist. Think about the risks and face them head on, and make the wise-yet-risky decision.

Wisdom is nothing more than acting in the character of Christ. He loved his Father and he loved others. He sacrificed his reputation, his comfort, and even his safety—his life!—to make a way for our salvation. Jesus, the better Boaz, put all self-interest aside for us. He was crushed for our sin so we don’t have to be. The King of the Universe stepped down from a throne into our earthly ghetto. He took a wise risk for us, for you.

The truth is, God really doesn’t take risks. He knows the outcome. He is moving history toward one common goal… Us with him, him with us. (Rev 21:3)

That means, that in Christ, there are no eternal risks. We get it all back. When Jesus comes back and makes all things new, there is nothing lost for his sake…that we won’t get back 10 fold. In other words, even in the mistakes you make…if you are loving like God loves…you haven’t lost a thing.  Jesus put it this way, “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matt 16:25). In other words, in yet another great paradox of following Jesus, Its risky not to risk. The safest thing you can possibly do is risk it all.  

So pray. Meditate on Scripture and then think it down into your life.

Who or what could use a wise risk from you?

Co-authored by Brandon Smith

Posted by Trevor Atwood with

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