Gender Roles: Reflecting the Gospel
Pastor Ian invites us to consider whether the modern assumption that men's and women's roles are interchangeable is in line with the Bible's presentation of gender roles and responsibilities.
This past Sunday Pastor Eugene led us through a very challenging text that addressed the controversial topic of the role of women in the church. In teaching through this text he revealed a theological view on this topic that has been defined as complementarian. In the past five decades, as modern societies have developed, worldviews have become increasingly progressive and cultures have been impacted by growing globalisation. As a result, the complementarian view of gender roles has fallen out of favour. Some have even suggested that complementarianism is simply a way of 'keeping women in their place'
The Bible lists some notable women who served as prophets—women who spoke on God’s behalf—including Miriam, Deborah, Huldah and Anna. Additionally, the New Testament lists at least two women who served as Apostles (Pricilla and Junia). So a complementarian view of biblical gender roles does not exclusively establish men as all-knowing patriarchs who are the source of all godly wisdom. Nor does it suggest that men are sitting at the top of some leadership hierarchy. And it certainly doesn’t assign certain tasks to any particular gender. It doesn’t mean that women should always work in the kitchen and men should always work in the market, or that women should always change the diapers and men should always manage the money.
But it does suggest that men and women are not simply interchangeable. God has uniquely designed us to complement each other in mutually enriching ways. This is the key.
The term complementarian is based upon the English word complement, which as a noun is defined as, “A thing that contributes extra features to something else in such a way as to improve its quality, as in, ‘good companionship provides the perfect complement to fine food’." In the same way, in our mutual service to God we are to be the perfect complement to one another. As we serve, we do so in mutually enriching ways.
But God has also uniquely designed us in order to give insight into Christ’s relationship with His Church. In His wisdom, He decided that the Bride (His Church) would be the perfect complement to His Bridegroom (Christ). And in sharing this principle in Ephesians, Paul exposes us to the creative order: that God has given men the responsibility to be Christlike spiritual leaders, pouring themselves out, loving sacrificially so that their bride (and His) can be exalted “in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish" (Eph 5:27). This is the service God calls men to bring into the community of faith, and this is how we are tasked to tell the story of Christ even in our relationships with the opposite gender.
This Sunday we will re-engage with this topic as we return to the first letter Paul wrote to Timothy. The message will be entitled, “Wanted: Exemplary Leaders for God’s Household” and will be taken from 1 Timothy 3:1-16. Why not read ahead and ask God to prepare your heart to discern and respond to a word from Him?