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.