Embracing Our Unique Roles
“A true gentleman will not be attracted to the behaviour of a lady who does not allow him to behave as he ought. It is only when a woman carefully keeps a guarded heart and sets her sight on Christ alone that her conduct will compel a gentleman to rise to the challenge of winning her heart and proving himself to be a man of God and a man of honour.”
This anonymous quote is the epitome of our God-given role as a man or woman. We have been assigned unique roles by God according to our gender. This is nothing to be afraid of, offended by, or rejected. Just hear me out!
Unfortunately, thanks to our society today, our gender roles end up being reversed. Men, you sit back and relax and exhibit passivity. Women, because of this, we then end up taking control. When in reality, it should never be this way. Let’s go back to the garden of Eden where it all began…
First of all, women — we are not less than men in any way, shape, or form. We learn of this in the beginning of Genesis; Adam and Eve were created equal in God’s sight. Please refer to chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis. We are no less important or valuable to God. Forget what our chauvinistic culture says. We believe what the Word of God says.
Now, Adam was created first by God. This signifies his unique role of leader and initiator. Eve was then created from Adam by God and given to Adam as his helper. Eve was to help, complement, and nourish her husband. Please don’t think this minimizes a woman’s role; instead, it defines it. It is true we were created equal, yet different.
I love the way Matthew Henry explains our unique roles: ‘Eve was not taken out of Adam’s head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.’ Beautiful.
In Ephesians 5:21-33, Paul speaks on and emphasizes the uniqueness of our roles as well. Men are called to love their wives just as Messiah loves the church. This means sacrificially and selflessly. Wives are told to follow their husbands just as the Church obeys Messiah. This isn’t just mindless following. It is simply an act of obedience, joyful submission, and an active participation and response to a loving leadership.
Men, leading does not mean you rule over the women in any tyrannical way. Leading is a form of serving. Elisabeth Elliot, the wife of the late Jim Elliott, wrote this to her nephew: ‘The world cries for men who are strong—strong in conviction, strong to lead, to stand, to suffer. I pray that you will be that kind of man—glad that God made you a man, glad to shoulder the burden of manliness in a time when to do so will often bring contempt.’
Joshua Harris does an amazing job at going into details about our unique roles as men and women in his book Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship. I will paraphrase some of what he says below. First, men; here are four practical ways he teaches that you can do in your relationships with women:
1. Assume the responsibility of leading and initiating in your relationships with women
Provide direction, suggest ideas, and initiate conversation or activities, etc.
2. Be a spiritual leader in your relationships with women
Strive to set an example of spiritual growth and passion for God by making time to ask questions such as, “So what did you think of the sermon?” or “Can I share something God is showing me?” or “What’s an area God is helping you grow in?”
3. Do little things in your relationships with women that communicate your care, respect, and desire to protect
Just be a gentleman. You can do this through small actions, such as: open the door for them, pull out their chair, escort them to their car at the end of the night. But remember, you’re not doing this to try and win her heart, you’re merely doing it for God’s glory by serving a sister in Messiah and honoring her as a woman.
Sidenote to women: If you’re just friends with a man, and he’s trying to treat you like a lady, don’t assume he has a romantic interest in you. One of the fastest ways to derail a man’s attempts to practice servant leadership is to interpret his actions as romantic overtures. Something to remember; “Girls should assume that until a guy expresses interest, they’re just friends.”
4. Encourage women to embrace Godly femininity
Look for ways to encourage your sisters in Godly femininity. When they make room for you to practice servant leadership, thank them. When they’re humble and gentle, encourage them. Femininity is not weakness. It requires great strength of character for a woman to be gentle in an age that screams for her to do otherwise. When you see a woman going against the grain of culture by cultivating a skill that will serve her family someday, compliment her. When a girl is pursuing a demanding career, but is still being feminine, let her know that you notice. Let her know you respect her. Be the biggest encouragers and prayer warriors for women who are seeking to glorify God by practicing Godly femininity.
And now we move onto the women. Ladies, here are four practical ways that Joshua Harris advises that you can do in your relationships with men:
1. In your relationships with Godly men, encourage and make room for them to practice servant leadership
Encourage men to be men by refusing to do the work of leading for them. Avoid developing a habit of initiating in your relationships with men. This doesn’t mean that you never do so, but that it’s not the normal pattern in your life. Neither does this mean that when you’re single, you’re supposed to submit to every man you meet. God asks a woman only to submit to her husband. But a single woman can, with men whose character warrants it, encourage servant leadership and respond to their initiative. We ladies can be too quick to fill the silence in a conversation. We’re like, “Oh no! He’s not talking! I need to say something.” But it’s important for us to let there be awkward silences so the men can step up and lead the conversation. Don’t (always) plan your times together, and don’t be too quick to be the one who “clarifies” the relationship—“What is our status?” If at all possible, make him do it.
2. Be a sister to the men in your life
The first way you should view a Christian guy is as your brother. Pray for them. Be yourself. Don’t put up a front. Be a friend.
3. Cultivate the attitude that motherhood is a noble and fulfilling calling
The Bible encourages younger women to learn homemaking skills from older women. Learning to keep a home and love a husband and children is part of God’s plan for the complete training of young women (Titus 2:3). Don’t hesitate to learn the practical skills that will one day allow you to serve a family. As a single woman, you can express your femininity by practicing hospitality and by caring for and nurturing the people in your life. Don’t be embarrassed to embrace this side!
4. Cultivate Godliness and inward beauty in your life
If you want Godly men to respect you and cherish you as a woman, refuse to buy into our culture’s obsession with being physically beautiful and sexually alluring. This is an attitude that springs from the motives of your heart and extends to the way you dress and act around men. Is your wardrobe an expression of your love for God? There’s a big difference between dressing attractively and dressing to attract. What’s your motive? Ask your father or another Christian woman to honestly evaluate your clothing. Are you willing to sacrifice fashion to be obedient to God? Honor the men in your life by acting and dressing modestly. Peter tells us in Scripture that our beauty should be that of our inner selves—“the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (I Peter 3:4). Grace will make you beautiful and will attract truly Godly men to you. Make Godliness and inward beauty your priority.
And there you have it! Boys, I encourage you to be men. And girls, be ladies.