Saturday, 4 June 2011

In the case of a hammer, and a saw...

Lets say I want to build a house. Two major tools I need are a hammer and a saw. I don’t need one less than I need the other. They are of equal value to me when building the house, as I cant complete the build without both.  However, I can’t use the hammer to cut the wood. I can bang the hammer on the wood as much as I want, but it won’t cut it.  I can’t use a saw to hammer in the nails. I can hit the nails with the saw as much as I want, but it won’t nail anything together. My hammer and saw are both very important and of equal value to me, but have different roles to play when building my house.
This sounds a lot like a metaphor for something doesn’t it? Your right, it is!
Recently, the issue of gender roles has been coming up a lot in my day-to-day conversation. I understand that this can be a contentious, and often dividing subject- especially amongst Christians, so I want to handle this as carefully as I can, while still presenting what I believe to be a biblical viewpoint of our roles as men and women.
The major question that has been coming up is this one ‘So- you reckon women can’t preach?’. The easy answer to this is No, I don’t think women should preach unless under circumstances in which they are teaching other women, or when there are no guys around to dothe job (wince).
What?! You might be saying... ‘Isnt that degrading to women? They should be able to do everything that men can- by saying there is something that men can do, that women cant, your saying women are less than men, or less important’.
This is the idea that I want to challenge. The real question isn’t ‘Why cant women preach?’, but ‘Why do we think women are less than men because they cant?’ If I said ‘Men cant give birth’, no one says ‘Thats ridiculous! If a women can do something that a man cant do, its degrading to men’- because we realise that women are made for that task. So why is it so hard to believe that there are some tasks made for men, and some made for women? That because we are made differently, there are different roles for us to play in the world?
Just like our saw and our hammer in the *awesome* metaphor above, men and women are equal in value in the sight of God, but perform different roles. God himself models this through the trinity. The father, son and holy spirit are all equal in value (they are all God), but all have different roles.

Different rolls.....
 In a world dominated by gender ambiguity and mixed roles, its a difficult paradigm to shift. We are preoccupied with the smaller issues (why cant a woman do everything a man can do?) that we forget to think about the underlying beliefs (why do we think its degrading to women to have a different role?). So this is my challenge to those reading this post- just have a think about the underlying beliefs without getting caught up in the hot fire emotionally fuelled issues that dominate our current culture.

p.s- If you are wondering about the lack of bible verses to back this up- its really difficult to pull out one verse or a passage in the bible that gives a direct answer to the issues of biblical manhood and womanhood (because ultimately the bible isn’t orientated around this, but around Gods plan of salvation!). There are many stories and longwinded examples and explanations from the bible that  discuss mens and womens roles, but I wanted to keep this post as simple as possible. A really good book on the subject is Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, by John Piper and Wayne Grudem(2006).

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