Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood (Blog of Retha Faurie)

I was twelve when I read it in a little Bible study book for children:

God had a reason for making you! He had a reason for giving you the talents you have! He had a reason for making you a boy/ girl!

Pray: Tell God how you feel about how He made you.

And I prayed: Lord, thank you for how you made me. Thank you for my talents. Help me to use them for your honor. But Lord, I don’t know why you made me a girl. Please show me why you wanted me female?

The truth is, it is more than 2 decades later and I still do not know. The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood say that gender roles should find an echo in every human heart, but I have a human heart, and it finds no echo in mine. (I am heterosexual, and care deeply about men, in case you wondered.)

So, here is my question to gender role proponents: As a single adult woman who love God and will most likely not marry, what is my gender role? Please quote the appropriate Bible verses when you answer.

Here are a few answers that do not apply:

Not applicable #1) Wives should submit to their husbands.

not my gender role...

Not my gender role…

I do not have a husband, and the Bible is clear not everybody is called to have one.


Not applicable #2) Love your children.

a) I have no children.

b) If you call that a gender role, you proclaim fathers should not love children.

Not applicable #3) Take care of your household.

a) Hardly anyone ever comes to my little rented apartment. When I see friends, it is elsewhere. Caring for my home is the most self-centered thing I do.

b) If you call cleaning and cooking and bills my gender role, you say a male bachelor should not take care of his home.

Not applicable #4) Older women (or women elders?) should teach other women to submit to husbands, to love children, and take care of households.

a) I am not an “older woman.”

b) I cannot teach what I do not have experience of. I never had a husband or children.

c) I should preach what I do not practice? Is the whole purpose of Christian singleness for women to talk the walk instead of walking it?

d) Are you saying no man should ever preach submission to women, that it is a female gender role?

Not applicable #5) Your gender role is to not preach or teach men:

Erm, “not teaching” is no gender role, like “you did not get the part” from a casting director is not the name of a part that should be played. Teaching men is a role that, if gender role ideas are right, I do not have.

Not applicable #6) You should be a helper to [man]

a) To which man, and where in the Bible do you get that I should be that man’s helper?

b) Helper, as the Bible use the word, is not an assistant following orders, but a word used mostly for God. It is a strong aide, a rescuer, a political ally. If that is a gender role, is no man supposed to use his strength to help, to rescue or be an ally of any other man or woman?

Now, this is supposed to be easy: God made the genders to live their defined roles, say gender role proponents. These roles should find an echo in every human heart. If so, tell me my gender role as an unmarried woman who want to live as God tells me.

If there is no answer, then God did not create all humans to fulfill a gender role. And if I understand 1 Cor 7:34 right, gender related things were actually regarded as a distraction from the things of God, not as the things of God.

Comments on: "Question to complementarians: What is my gender role?" (18)

  1. I’m not a complementarian or egalitarian. I really hate these labels. Neither one is in the Bible. Hopefully, one day, there will be a time when the label Christian will be enough.

    With that being said, I have contemplated your questions myself.

    1. Submission is for everyone – not just women and wives. Authoritarians and complementarians teach submission like it only applies to women/wives. However, the Bible teaches differently. Submission is for the entire body of Christ.
    A. Men and women should submit to God.
    B. Minor boys and girls should submit to their parents.
    C. Men and women should submit to government.
    D. Men and women should submit to church leadership.
    E. Mutual submission is for both men and women.
    F. Wives should submit to their own husbands.

    2. For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result. But women will be saved through childbearing, assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty. 1 Tim 2:13-15

    One of woman’s primary functions is child bearing and rearing. This is her God given design. Eve initiated sin in the garden of Eden. This sin was possibly heinous enough to
    earn her the death penalty, but she was and “women will be saved through childbearing, assuming they … live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty.”

    She was saved for a purpose: child bearing and rearing. It is God’s desire that women (and men) raise Godly children. That can only do that via faith, love, holiness, and modesty.
    1 Corinthians 7:14,
    Malachi 2:15

    The bible teaches about 3 forms of parenthood: biological, adoptive, and spiritual.
    The Bible doesn’t tell us whether Judge Deborah had biological kids or
    not. However, she was spiritual mother of Israel. Judges 5:7

    (2 Samuel 6:23) King David’s wife Michal never had biological
    children, but she did adopt. 2 Samuel 21:8

    Not every woman will have biological children. But many childless women do have the opportunity to be spiritual mothers and/or adoptive.

    3. Lydia was probably single because the Bible doesn’t mention her having a husband. She was concerned about the spiritual health of those in her home because they were baptized along with her. Not only was she concerned about her familial household, but she was also concerned about the household of faith. She opened up her home for Paul and Silas to use as a fellowship hall for preaching and teaching the gospel. Acts 16:40

    A. As Christians, we are to be wise stewards over the resources that God gives us. Therefore, taking care of your home is not about being married or single, but stewardship. Taking good care of your home is an act of stewardship and thanksgiving. People may or may not see the condition of your home, but God is always watching.

    4. I agree with you and respect you for not attempting to teach what you have not experienced! I wish more people would live by that philosophy.

    6. All women were created to be helpers – Ezer. However, this is not limited to helping husbands. Women were created to be Community helpers too. Women are daughters, relatives, neighbors and friends before they ever become wives or moms, and some will never be wives or moms.

    These women were Community helpers. Even if they were wives and/or moms, they are most remembered for their contributions to their community.
    Esther saved her Jewish people.
    Deborah was a mother to Israel.
    Unnamed wise woman saved her city.
    Jael killed Sisera – an enemy of the Jewish army.
    Lydia opened up her home for church meetings.
    Huldah heard from God, authenticated a scroll of laws from God given to Moses, and relayed a message from God to the King’s messengers.
    Midwives disobeyed the King and saved Jewish infants.
    Dorcas helped the poor.
    Rahab hid and aided Jewish spies.
    Jesus remarked about the Queen of Sheba’s quest for knowledge.
    Abigail saved members of her household.
    Miriam was a praise and worship leader.

    I could go on. Just a few examples. None of these women are really remembered for their role as wives or moms, but rather their contributions to their community at large.


    • Thanks for commenting. I largely agree, but do you see any of that as a gender role? Something women should do and men should not? If you call any of it a gender role, it would mean that men are not supposed to do it.

      For example:
      > If spiritual childbearing was a gender role, then Paul was in sin for having spiritual children, and God called only women to it. (If spiritual chilbearing is called being a “spiritual father” for men, and a “spiritual mother” for women, it is only semantics.)
      > Faith, love and modesty are not gender roles, unless God want men to be unbelieving, loveless and immodest.
      > Many Bible women helped, and this is good, but the question is if this is a female gender role- i.e. something men should not do.

      I believe women should do the above. I also believe men should. In other words, I don’t think you mentioned any gender role just yet. But then, I don’t think you tried to. I point it out to repeat my point to readers.


  2. krwordgazer said:

    Retha, it’s sad, but many Christian churches treat single women who do not plan to marry, as if they really wished they did not exist. I believe this is because single women who wish to remain devoted to God alone do not fit any of the gender boxes, and thus are an embarrassment to the complementarian teachings– just as you have demonstrated.

    KMB, I find your interpretation of 1 Tim 2 to contradict the most foundational teachings of the New Testament. Women are not saved by or for childbearing/rearing. They are saved by the blood of Jesus for fellowship with Christ, to walk in the light with their sisters and brothers. 1 John 1:7, Rom. 3:22. Eve was not counted more guilty than Adam for the sin of humanity (see Rom. 5:14), nor was she saved from death just so she could bear children, any more than Adam was saved so he could work the soil.

    God does not save men for spiritual purposes but women for biological purposes. That would mean women are primarily biological beings, while men are primarily spiritual. Nonsense.


    • Responding to 1 Tim 2:13. I brought up that particular verse because it has been pointed out to me by complementarians. It has actually been taught in women’s Bible studies that women have only been saved for the purpose of child bearing.

      I’m just commenting because you say that is not the foundational teaching for that verse, yet I’ve heard it pointed out over and over that this is women’s main purpose coupled with being wives.

      I think in my above comment , I added that child rearing also applies to men. And trust me, they definitely don’t include men in that verse when I’ve heard it taught because they direct the verse toward women as a gender role.

      I added the bit about other forms of motherhood or parenthood because so many motherless women are made to feel left out and worthless, and those of us who understand the love of God know that’s not true.

      The part about Eve earning the death penalty – I’ve heard it taught like that several times in women’s Bible study, so where I come from it’s not My Interpretation, but a foundational teaching about the gender role of women.

      It really just depends on where you come form and the agenda being taught. I come from a deeply patriarchal community. I believed a lot of it because that’s what I grew up hearing. In recent years, I have began to re-evaluate a lot of it. Unfortunately in a patriarchal community, people aren’t concerned about cultivating a more holistic and/or comprehensive view of womanhood or personhood. Everything is taught from a very man centered rather than God centered view.

      Unfortunately, the ill effects of that patriarchy can be seen in our community.


  3. 1. Wives are subject to their husbands in everything (Eph 5:24). The grammar has been misunderstood and badly taught there. I understand it as Paul’s repetition of the fact of life ever since Genesis 3:16. If you ever do marry, you will be subject to your husband, ie vulnerable to him in ways you are not to any other person on earth. Your desire will be for him and he will rule over you, ie he will have power to nourish and cherish or to wilt just by nature of the intimate connection between you,

    2. John and Paul both spoke of their “children”. John especially emphasized his love for his children, not meaning biological children.

    3. “KEEPER of the house” oikouros. Adam was “KEEPER of the garden” shamar. Both words mean protector, guard, watch. Look them up in Strong’s (or click here where I have links to the lexicons for both these and several other ouros/KEEPER terms applied to Jesus and God). They are not about domestic service but about a spiritual authority to protect your household- which you too have.

    4. Older women should teach younger women that they have spiritual authority to KEEP= (guard, protect, watch over) their domain. Older women should teach younger women to be sober minded (repeated twice in Titus 2) whichmeans – looking at the list of lexicon definitions- to teach younger women so that that their mind will be whole, sound, healed, that they will live consecrated, set apart for God, being able to perceive what is good and constructive and what is evil, that they have the charge to GUARD their home and keep themselves safe, protected, and chaste within their home (including with their husband if they happen to have one)


    • I know, Charis. I believe the same as you do about “keep the home”. The reason I failed to mention it, is because the purpose of this entry was to engage gender role thinkers from where they are, not to teach the better meaning of “keepers at home.”

      I want to point out to those reading here that Charis did not call submission (being subject) or keeper of the house gender roles women ought to keep and men should not. As such, my challenge to gender role proponents is still unanswered.


  4. KMB,

    You said “Eve initiated sin in the garden of Eden.”

    Adam was charged to KEEP the garden- meaning watch/guard/protect. His failure to do this came first. I wonder if that is why God shifted the KEEP responsibility over the household to the woman in the NT?

    As for 1 Tim 2:15, YLT has an accurate translation “she shall be saved through the child-bearing” (YLT). Notice the definite article? A word study of “saved” shows that it includes “to rescue, restore, heal, make well”. I think it’s a statement that women will be restored to Gen 1:26-28 (equal authority/domininion) through “the childbirth” of Christ.


  5. Hi, Kmb
    It’s hard to learn all that patriarchal ideas growing up, and then having to learn mutual submission, men also having to some things touted as women’s roles, etc. for yourself.
    1 Timothy 2:11-15 is a hard passage, and the average translation don’t let on how many judgement calls translaters had to make. See here for more:
    Anyway, the passage of Eve was deceived and not Adam, have to be taken in context with:

    Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
    Rom 5:13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
    Rom 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

    Eve was deceived, but Adam was not. Yet sin entered by Adam! A likely explanation is Eve was decieved, and Adam sinned deliberately.

    1Ti 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
    1Ti 1:13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

    Paul could be put in ministry – he sinned ignorantly before being forgiven. And Eve was decieved – she sinned ignorantly. Would Paul now say neither she nor other women hundreds of generations later could be put into ministry, she should listen to the deliberate sinner’s ilk?
    The more likely answer is that Paul wanted women (uneducated at that time and place, except that some were Artemis priests schooled in that idolatry) to learn, not to teach while they still know so little (the tense of the Greek “I am not allowing” make it look like a temporary measure). This unknowing women (or woman, another possible meaning) trying to teach reminded him of Eve – she knew little and was decieved. (She is not more easily decieved – that is not in the text.)
    And saved in childbearing?
    One possible guess is that it refers to the Artemis teaching of asking Artemis to keep you safe in childbearing, and say God (not Artemis) will keep you safe. Another is that it may be referring to Jesus – the Greek is “saved through the childbearing” , and a specific woman (“she” – “if they continue”) Paul believe will still be saved by Jesus.

    About 1 Corinthians 7:14 which you mention, that is actually a good verse against patriarchy. It shows that the father is not by default the spiritual leader, but the children of a believing mother and unbelieving father could be holy.


  6. krwordgazer said:

    KMB said:

    “I’m just commenting because you say that is not the foundational teaching for that verse, yet I’ve heard it pointed out over and over that this is women’s main purpose coupled with being wives.”

    I didn’t say it wasn’t the foundational teaching for some groups. That depends on what group is reading it. What I said was that this teaching goes against the number one foundational message of the New Testament– that we are saved, redeemed and sanctified by and for Christ. If women are saved, redeemed or sanctified by or for childbearing, then they are outside of the grace of Christ. Patriarchal groups are denying the gospel for the sake of their tradition, and it’s just plain wrong.


  7. Excellent post! As a single woman like you, I’ve often thought of those same things. Singleness-for both women AND men, does not fit the complementarian mold.


  8. Don’t say you won’t get married– most people don’t get married until later in life now. Not saying that I’m a comp. Just that you’re never too old!


  9. There is no such thing as a gender role in Scripture. The honest searcher will not find the concept. As KR pointed out both men and women are saved, redeemed and sanctified in Christ to walk that road of sanctification to become like Jesus. That is our purpose period. There are no pink and blue boxes, no special privileges for men, no lessor degrees of anointing for women. All of those ideas came from men and not from God.


  10. […] Question to Complementarians: What is My Gender Role? […]


  11. (Retha: In order not to quote everything said here again, my answer is inserted in blue between woeur’s remarks.)
    woeur: You’ve clearly thought this through. How would you answer your own questions?
    Retha: I would say God calls me to live for Him with my gifts within my circumstances, regardless of whether those gifts are regarded as traditionally feminine, traditionally masculine, or neither.
    woeur: I’m a single man, undecided about marriage but I go back and forth, in part because of negative experiences with feminists over the years.
    Retha:You are seemingly American, and there is a big movement of non-feminists (home-schooled, live with parents) there. I wonder if you found any of them marriable?
    woeur: Whatever the answer is, the way feminists propose the question is entirely wrong. It drives a wedge between the sexes. It causes pain.
    Retha: I don’t know what way of proposing the question is wrong, or how asking a question causes pain.
    woeur: Say what you will about traditionalists, in my experience the two sexes get along better there.
    Retha: This post is about complementarians, and I am not sure that complementarians and traditionalists, as you mean it, are the same thing. Traditionally, the world had room for old maids, eternal bachelors, widow(er)s, priests and nuns, but complementarians talk as if unmarried people do not exist.
    woeur: I’ve seen both worlds, having been raised Quaker and later joining a traditional faith community. I was just reading St. Francis’s poem The Canticle of the Sun today. He gives genders to all kinds of created things. “Be praised my Lord, through Sister Water, for she is very useful and humble and precious and pure. Be praised my Lord, through Brother Fire, for he is beautiful and cheerful and powerful and strong.”
    I would say the gender roles developed organically over time because they made sense. If you’re living in a city-state in medieval Italy, you want the strongest, fastest, least emotional warriors to defend you. You also want the sensitive touch to take care of babies and obviously nurse and everything.
    Retha: Yes, people should do what they are gifted for. If that happens, we will still have more male soldiers and female nurses, but it is not wrong for a man or woman to – if their gifts fit – do something mostly done by the other gender. However, I think male domination developed because physical strenght determined who is the boss in less advanced societies, not because of gifting making him more suitable.
    woeur: Those roles don’t seem to make as much sense in our modern technological society, but usually it’s not wise to casually throw things like that away that developed slowly over millennia.
    Retha: I do not think there is anything wrong with throwing out a human tradition not of God, when it don’t make sense. See Mar 7:13, Col 2:8.
    woeur: Does anybody think our America society and Christianity are as robust and healthy as when the gender roles were undisputed? I think our society has suffered from their destruction.
    Retha: About “our American society” – speak for yourself. America is not my society. Whether Christianity and society is less robust or not, correlation is not causation.
    woeur: So for me there’s just a practical element to the question.
    Retha: That makes two of us.
    woeur: And then also men and women just seem to be hurting each other’s feelings more than in the past.
    Retha: Perhaps you think that because you are older and see more of people’s hurts nowadays? I have been overwhelmed by hurts lately too, but most of it is institutionalized hurt from a segment of society with really strict gender roles. Women, girls and even boys from these societies testify to all kinds of emotional and psycological pain. (Read sites like Quivering Daughters and No Longer Quivering to know what I mean.) Perhaps men experience less pain in that kind of world, because women are left powerlessly dependent and cannot afford to offend men. But if you count everybody’s pain, pain seems to me to be less where there is not such strict gender roles/ hierarchy.


    • Say what you will about traditionalists, in my experience the two sexes get along better there.

      That depends on your definition of “getting along”. If you mean that the outward appearances were that the wife did as she was told, didn’t object to being relegated to children and home stuff, then yes. But the truth is that most (the majority) of women never have liked being forced into the corners of society and men having the whole world as their living room. In the past, women as the weaker sex yielded to men because they had to. But they found other ways to get a small portion of things they wanted out of life. They manipulated, cajoled, begged and pleaded. Sometimes it worked, most of the time it didn’t. Women stayed in abusive marriages because society had been arranged so that women’s only place they were allowed was as a wife and mother. To leave meant they would live on the streets. It is still that way in some cultures.

      Today, women don’t have to marry in order to live. Women marry because they want to. But now they no longer have to be relegated to home and children. Now they CAN pursue their personal dreams and desires. So many do. Women are happier in life when they can live life as an individual with their own dreams, desires, skills to improve, interests to pursue.

      ”then also men and women just seem to be hurting each other’s feelings more than in the past.”

      Actually, in the past women just shut up and took it. Today they speak up because now they have the opportunity to be heard. Men need to listen.


  12. […] (Link): Question to complementarians: What is my [single, adult woman] gender role? […]


  13. Oh wow, I have had the same problems with my sense of worth, in the “gender roles” as a male. I am more or less backing away from the concept traditional gender roles, I never fit into them, no matter how hard I tried. Now I am just trying to live my life, slowly leaning towards the view that we are all human, and what is wild is that, what I see as the “traditional” way men are, I see in women, and vice versa. Which causes, even more, confusion on missing the mark of traditional roles. I am more or less down to believing we all portray human traits, regardless of our biological sex and gender. Of course, there are biological differences, and whatever pertains to them, but even then there are similar emotional traits, thought patterns, and effects of abuse, which elevates the problem of gender roles and self-perception. So to have the gender roles enforced on those who are or have been abused in some way? This damage increases.


  14. It is good to see a woman write, addressing such issues.


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