What does the Bible have to say about gender stereotypes?


Between me and my wife, it's pretty much understood that practically every time we go somewhere, she would be the one to drive. She has not problems with that, and I enjoy it. But some people around us—even those in the church community—would tell us that I should be doing the driving instead because I'm the man. My most common response to this is, "Where in the Bible does it say that?"

The Bible has been accused of creating gender stereotypes. Some people would say men should work and provide while women should raise the kids. But a closer study of the scriptures will show that there is no intention to put neither men nor women in a box by creating stereotypes.

I do believe in gender roles in marriage, but I also believe that they go both ways. Ephesians 5:22-33 states, "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord... Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."

But in the same way, husbands are also to submit to their wives—not in terms of leadership but in the sense that husbands should put the needs of their wives above them. And wives are also called to love their husbands just as we, the church, are called to love Christ.

Gender roles are formats for us to follow, not strict parameters that should limit what men and women can do.

In fact, many times God switches the most culturally accepted gender norms throughout the Bible. Some examples: He calls Deborah to be a warrior for His glory. He puts Esther in a leadership position over all the Israelites. Jesus becomes the nurturer of the sick, broken and sinful.

There are more generally accepted norms like the father is usually the one who gives direction and leadership while the mother is the one who nurtures the children and manages the household. But that doesn't mean that a woman can't work and a man doesn't have to wash the dishes and tuck the kids goodnight.

Think of it this way: God gives both man and woman specialisations both in a physical and spiritual sense—but not to box our roles up but to give us a framework for what matters most to Him: partnership. Just as God partners with us and partners with Himself in the form of a Triune being complete and full functioning, God desires for the same for men and women in the context of society and in family.

Men are great at something and women are great at another thing, but it doesn't always have to be that way. At the end of the day, what matters is that we work with one another to carry out God's will and purpose for our lives no matter what our roles may be at work, in marriage, in church or in any other community for that matter.