Stop breaking off pieces of yourself in the name of Biblical manhood or womanhood!

“Play your position!”

I’ve read this illustration many times: ” If a goalie on the soccer team spends all his energy trying to score a goal, he hurts his team because he’s not playing his position.”

True, true. Great advice.

But then they continue. They always continue. “You’re a woman. You don’t need to be doing man’s work. You’ll hurt your family if you’re out pursuing a PhD instead of caring for your children. You’ll hurt your family if you are being ambitious toward your own goals rather than supporting a man’s ambition.”

Some of you don’t believe me. Some of you think I make this stuff up. I would like to direct you to Spend a few minutes there and you’ll see that I am not exaggerating. The rest of you already know what I’m talking about.

It’s good to play one’s position. But what should determine one’s position?

If I were a soccer coach, I would observe my players and learn their talents–find out which position they would best fit into. I would probably also take their desires into account–find out which position they would be most passionate about playing.

I would not, however, say, “All the people with brown eyes can play defense. All the people with blue eyes can play offensive. You, with the green eyes! You play goalie.”

To do so would be disrespectful to the abilities of my players. I would not be utilizing their talents for the benefit of the team. I would instead be deciding for them, based on physical factors unrelated to soccer, that they must some how form their talents to fit certain positions. That would be silly.

Yet the church  often tries to do that with gender roles.

If a man and a woman get married, they might hear their fellow church members trying to coach them: “Hey, you with the penis! You’re the breadwinner and the leader. You with the vagina! You take care of the children and support your husband. Now, play your position.”

Regardless of the woman’s actual abilities, we stick her at home, in a submissive, supporting role. We put her in the goalie position, even if she can kick that ball into the net like none other. Even if the man has no desire or talent to be a leader, we make him team captain and expect him to score some goals.

And this, this is what hurts a team.

You know how they say, “Marriage is not 50/50. It’s 100/100.”?

When we enforce gender roles, neither member of the relationship can truly give 100/100.

The man must break off any pieces of his life that don’t fit into the tiny box that is “manhood.” He must set aside any talents, desires, personality types, or spiritual gifts that don’t fit the mold. His wife must do the same to squeeze into the tiny position that she has been afforded by the church.

And what happens is, both end up only giving half of themselves.

Instead of two full people merging their lives together to become one flesh, we see two broken halves of a person, trying to glue those broken halves together and make them one cohesive relationship.

It’s time to step outside our gender roles and be ourselves.

It’s time really play our positions–the ones that God, not the church or society, assigned us when He gave us our individual talents and personalities and desires.

It’s time to give 100%, rather than holding back on the impact we could have in the world.

Let’s stop breaking off pieces of ourselves in the name of “Biblical” manhood or womanhood.

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  • Amen!

  • katers

    I am so glad that God has never shouted at me, “Hey, you with the vagina!” I mean seriously, I think that is going to go on my gratitude list for today.

    • This made me smile. yes, definitely something to be thankful for!

  • How beautiful the letters of Paul be, that become the sole law of “Biblical” marriage.

    “The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Here we already see the relationship of man and woman in marriage. They are one. One body, one mind. The right side does not control the left. The whole thing must work in harmony just so that the heart can beat and the lungs can take breath, let alone something as complex as walking.

    1 Peter says “husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat her with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. If you don’t treat her as you should, your prayers will not be heard.” Peter’s faith was so hard core that he is the only recorded non-Jesus man to have walked on water. Listen to him.

    Jesus and Paul also taught men that it was better not to marry at all than to mess a marriage up. Not women, men. “The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage.” “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” Marriage isn’t something to walk into or suffer going to hell. If you listen to these passages, it’s better not to get married at all. Ever. You will be more like the angels in heaven, who do not make children. People love to beat marriages over the head with the words of Paul, who himself never married or had children.

    “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” Wait, did that just start with “Subnitting yourselves TO ONE ANOTHER IN THE FEAR OF GOD?” Does this sound like a man has to lord over his wife as he would a dog, or that a woman should be as a dog unto a man? Why do so many Christians ignore what Jesus and Paul told MEN to do when it comes to marriage?

    If you want gender roles according to the Old Testament, women busted ass just as well as men. They did business, handled money, and had real lives and jobs outside of the home. They weren’t just housebound baby cannons. We seem to have this notion that women aren’t allowed to speak about holy things, but there were female prophets and judges thousands of years before Paul ever wrote a letter.

  • Exactly! Also, Ephesians prefaces the whole “wives submit to your husbands” thing with this: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (5:21). Later on we read Paul instruct husbands to love their wives the same way Christ loves the Church. And how does Christ love the Church? By dying for her! Now maybe it’s just the radical anarchist in me, but from what I understand the Bible says submission is a MUTUAL thing. There are no master/slave relationships in the Kingdom of God: we are to lay down our own lives for each other.

    • Agreed! As I said in a facebook comment this morning: “I think Paul was making an observation of the culture–the husband is the head of the wife in such a culture. And he was switching things up–the husband needs to exercise his headship like Christ did. By forfeiting it and becoming equal with those that he ruled over.”

  • Oh Hallejuah! I recently hosted a couple who stayed in my home for a week. I knew the woman very well, a dear friend. Her husband? Not so well? It seems he had trouble with me DRIVING my own car, FINDING my way around my own city, etc. The sexism was obnoxious! I live in a foreign country where he did not know the rules of the road, have a license, or know where we were going. But, he was a MAN, so he had to be IN CHARGE. Sorry for the bold caps, but i am so glad he is on the way home with the submissive wife. Glory be!

  • RED

    This is such a beautiful post! May I say that we still have a long way to go?

    I have struggled deeply with the gender roles business, particularly the expectation that women will be the stay-at-home parents unless an “unusual” circumstance occurs. I have observed that this is the attitude of many even in the egalitarian camp. It’s just the way things usually are, and there is a pressure to conform there even if the people around you “technically” embrace mutuality.

    The issue is doubly poignant for me because my husband, who has always been an excellent breadwinner, feels very gifted and passionate about his music, which he doesn’t have time for because of his “real” job. We have often talked about how backwards it is that it would be easier for me (the ambitious workaholic) to stay home when we have kids while he (the dreamy, sleepy, type B artist) slaves at a job he doesn’t always enjoy. Particularly since I am prone to anxiety when house-bound, and let’s face it….no kid wants that for a mother.

    Anyway. Thanks for posting such a lovely thing. It’s nice to be reminded that we really DON’T have to accept gender roles at face value—even the ones that are most often enforced.

    Do you think VoldeMark is going to come after me now? 😉