Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gender Roles In Marriage

Men and women are different by nature, not just physically, but psychologically as well. That is a generalization, of course, and lots of folk will not fall precisely in any definition highlighting said differences. Nonetheless, I know countless women who find themselves torn when it comes to leaving their infant in the care of others when it's time to return to their work: I know of no men experiencing the same or similar consternation. Does this imply anything about gender roles in marriage? Well, yes and no.

Men do not bear children in the womb, almost never develop working breasts, and do not face the same hormonal swings as do females. They are not designed by nature to nurture infants at anywhere near the level that females are. It's not that men cannot be wonderful, caring fathers (certainly, it doesn't take genes to change diapers, give baths, or rock a cranky baby), but I have yet to see the same natural care, connection and ease of relating exist between father and infant that seems effortless between mother and her baby.

I think common sense would lead one to the conclusion that women will tend to be more domestically oriented in Christian marriage than men, but the Bible removes all doubt. I understand that some of the specifics of these passages are culturally bound, but I think the general message is unmistakable. In our day and age, we have been blessed to be much further removed from subsistence than were the original audiences of these passages. Our application of the principles will look different than theirs, but it will still result, generally, in mothers of young children being more oriented to their care and nurture than their fathers.

Fighting against the physical nature one has been made with is never anything but abominable before God, but that doesn't mean that KP is a woman's realm and bringing in the doggies is man's. Specifically, a husband and wife will have to agree together as to how this looks for them. I think what's important to remember in defining Christian marriage in this regard, is that neither spouse can enforce such decisions on the other. You're partners in the grace of God, get over yourself and figure it out together.


  1. Wow, just finished reading this gender series backwards. It is excellent! I have come out of a hyper-complimentarian cult-like environment that I'm still trying to figure out and this is some of the best (and most Biblical, not to mention sensible) things I've read on the subject. I hope you write a book!

  2. Of the making of many books there is no end... ;-)

    Seriously, I'm glad, particularly someone with your history, had the chance to read this and be helped.

    Your gracious comment was a godsend to me.

  3. do you mind if I link these on my blog?

  4. jul,
    Not at all, you're welcome to.

  5. Nanc,
    As different as cats and dogs?

  6. Hello Spirit-Led Warrior

    I am going to be very annoying and mention three topics:

    Your suggestions for radio shows/sermons were v helpful. Pete Smythe is mind-blowing (in a good way) and I've signed up for a regular link to Bethel Church's sermons.

    The posts on marriage have been illuminating. This one on gender roles makes all the right noises, but ... Your children are probably grown up, and so you are not fathering in today's environment -- where even in Christian circles it's seen as a bit of a come-down for a woman to actually care for her own children. So people "work it out" in a cultural context where anyone *except* mummy and daddy can disciple our children. People talk about quality childcare, but in the UK govt Early Years Foundation Stage, you will see the spiritual poverty of the goals for children under 5: there are 5 goals, and none of them mention the soul/heart. In general, when people choose what suits them, they flee the home in obedience to cultural expectations(even before the recession began). I suppose that mothers stayed home in the past for the same unbiblical reason, but at least someone was home. BTW, what's KP? I only know it as a brand of salted peanuts.

    Third, having thrown down the gauntlet about theology & kiddie music, I've decided to do a little digging about how many basic bible principles can be taught through children's songs and choruses.

    Best Wishes


  7. Hello Anthea,
    Glad you found the sermon sites helpful. BTW, you're never annoying!

    Some of my children are supposed to be grown up. ;-) My oldest is 23, then 22, then almost 20, then 18, and then just 11. They're all good kids and they haven't been that hard to raise. We homeschooled all of them for some time, the youngest the least time. My wife works full time now, it's just too hard to get kids through college otherwise.

    People make the decisions they have to, the church should not make those decisions artificially harder than they need to be. My experience is that people who truly believe and seek the Lord make pretty good decisions overall. The gracious preaching and teaching of the Word seeds that, I'd like to think.

    KP is military jargon meaning Kitchen Patrol. It's stereotypically seen as doing dishes, mopping floors and peeling potatoes.

    You'll have to let all of us here at the Sound know how the children's song initiative goes.

  8. I came across your site while surfing mommy sites and I like it. I'm bookmarking you for visiting again. I also invite you to drop by my site for visit as well. :) Hope to see you there.

  9. Welcome to the Sound, Jenny. Glad you stopped by and checked things out.

  10. Hiya SLW,

    Hope you've been well since our last exchange=)

    I know that this question has nothing to do with the post so I must offer my apologies instantly=)

    I was just really hoping you could help me out with something;) May I please have your insight into why water & blood came out of my Jesus when He was pierced on His side please?

    Many thanks and blessings sir


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