Questions & Answers – Gender and Patriarchy
This section of the website is for frequently asked questions regarding gender-related topics in the bible (including patriarchy, headship, sexuality, and gender roles).
Table of Contents
(Questions are numbered for ease of reference)
- What is your position regarding gender equality?
- Is male headship God’s plan?
- Doesn’t the Bible teach that patriarchy is God’s arrangement? It seems like egalitarians have an agenda.
- Doesn’t it say in 1 Corinthians 11:3 that man should have authority over woman?
- Are men superior to women in God’s perfect arrangement?
- What does it mean in Genesis 3:16 that a woman’s desire will be for her husband?
- Why do I never see you condemning homosexuality or transgenderism?
- What is your position on transgenderism and homosexuality?
- But isn’t the law against shellfish consumption part of the Mosaic Law, which was replaced by the New Covenant?
- What is God’s view of transgender people and others who don’t accept the roles of the gender they were born with?
- Should women primarily concern themselves with household responsibilities? Isn’t that their divinely ordained role as women?
Questions & Answers – Gender and Patriarchy
1. What is your position regarding gender equality?
I support gender equality because I believe everyone, regardless of gender, is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and that everyone should therefore be respected as bearers of that holy image and free to fully express the unique combination of gifts they receive from God (1 Corinthians 12). I likewise oppose all forms of gender discrimination on the grounds that we are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).
2. Is male headship God’s plan?
I used to accept the idea of male headship until I came across what I take to be a better understanding. In 1 Corinthians 11:2-3 Paul explicitly says that he’s talking about tradition, not some eternal arrangement decreed by God. In contrast, the eternal arrangement decreed by God can be found in the beginning when God gave dominion over the whole earth to man and woman jointly (Genesis 1:26-28). Then when mankind disobeyed God by trying to live by their own ways instead of by faith, part of God’s warning was that man will seek to rule over woman (Genesis 3:16). If you look at the matter from the time of Eden it is clear that man ruling over woman has its origin in disobedience to God, not in obedience to God. Patriarchy therefore is a fallen behavior and has no place in God’s kingdom. Genesis is clear on this.
3. Doesn’t the Bible teach that patriarchy is God’s arrangement? It seems like egalitarians have an agenda.
The first instance in the Bible of man ruling over woman (i.e. patriarchy) is Genesis 3:16 where God warns Adam and Eve of the consequences of following the serpent’s guidance (that is, the consequences of succumbing to temptation to sin). Before that, God made man and woman each in the image of God and gave each dominion over the whole earth (Genesis 1:26-28). Quite literally, the serpent has been the one with the patriarchal agenda since the beginning. Only by putting on the fullness of Christ (Colossians 2:6-15) can we overcome the serpent’s agenda and its divinely forewarned consequences, including patriarchy.
4. Doesn’t it say in 1 Corinthians 11:3 that man should have authority over woman?
“But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3).
Even if we grant that patriarchy is God’s arrangement (which we shouldn’t, since it’s not and it would be unscriptural to do so, but for the sake of entertaining the patriarchs let’s pretend), wouldn’t the hierarchical arrangement (we’ve all seen the umbrella) be obsolete for a man or woman in whom Christ dwells? For instance, if it is no longer a woman who lives but Christ who lives in her, how are we supposed to say a man is to rule over Christ? Wouldn’t the patriarchs then have it backwards? Since Christ is above man, shouldn’t then the woman in whom Christ dwells rule over the man? But if it is also no longer the man who lives but Christ who lives in the man, then are we to say Christ should rule over Christ? Surely not since according to the hierarchy Christ is ruled only by God. Let us therefore put away all this foolishness of hierarchies and acknowledge that it is no longer we who live but Christ who lives in each of us. Let us follow God as equals created in his image. Let us lay down our umbrellas as Christ laid down his life for us, and let us pray for God’s grace to rain directly upon all our heads, uncovered and unashamed, as it was in the beginning.
5. Are men superior to women in God’s perfect arrangement?
No. God created both males and females in God’s image and instructed them both to have dominion over the whole earth (Gen 1:27-28), to steward and “maintain” the earth the way God set it up (Gen 2:15). Anyone who looks down on women is not embodying Christ and instead is embodying the fallen attitudes of the flesh that God warned about in Genesis 3:16. Jesus said we must die to the flesh and be reborn of the spirit of God (John 3:3-8). When that happens, as Paul put it, “there is neither male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
6. What does it mean in Genesis 3:16 that a woman’s desire will be for her husband?
“To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you”” (Genesis 3:16).
The term desire (teshuqah) means to long for. In this passage God is describing the effects of the fall, warning that the husband will adopt a patriarchal attitude toward the woman and that the woman will long for her husband. But if she already has her husband, why would God warn her that she will desire or long for him?
My reading is that her desire is a longing for the husband God joined her with in the beginning, the one who longed for her before her creation (Genesis 2:18-20), the one who joyously declared her “bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh” upon first seeing her (Genesis 2:23). Her longing is for the way things were in the beginning when they both lived by faith, without fear or shame, together taking care of the garden and everyone in it.
This longing is included as part of the warning of the consequences of sin because it will be unfulfilled longing. Instead of being joined as one flesh (Genesis 2:24), with joint dominion (Genesis 1:26-27) as God purposed from the beginning, the man now dominates the woman and the woman longs for the way things were, the way things are supposed to be – the “very good” way (Genesis 1:31). The only way (John 14:6) to restore the broken marriage relationship is to once again boldly live by faith as coequal partners in the image of God – that is, Christ must dwell in both bodies (Galatians 2:20, Colossians 2:9-10).
Similarly, the only way to restore the broken dominion relationship is to boldly live by faith as joint caretakers of the earth and all its inhabitants.
For additional information on teshuqah, see this commentary on the verse.
7. Why do I never see you condemning homosexuality or transgenderism?
Apostle Paul says in Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
I take this passage quite literally. We are no longer to identify with the flesh (Romans 8:9) but with the Spirit of Christ. We are no longer to look upon each other as male or female, just as we are not to look upon each other distinguishing Jewish Christian from Gentile Christian. If there is no more gender but only Christ, then who am I to judge according to someone’s gender or the gender of their partner? Is Christ to judge Christ? (Romans 14:13, Matthew 7:1)
8. What is your position on transgenderism and homosexuality?
When it comes to LGBTQ issues, the bible is not nearly as clear as most anti-LGBTQ people make it out to be. There is more evidence against shellfish consumption in the bible than there is against being LGBTQ, yet I don’t see any of these “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” people standing outside Red Lobster protesting shellfish consumption. Instead I see them eating shellfish and pointing to some other passage in the bible to justify it. This leads me to believe they are motivated by hatred for their neighbor rather than reverence for God. I don’t claim to have every answer when it comes to God, but I know Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself and that is the principle I live by. You won’t ever see me using the bible to justify and perpetuate hatred, cruelty, or oppression. Instead you’ll see me doing the opposite, using it to show love and to liberate the oppressed. That’s been the basis of my ministry for the past 15 years.
9. But isn’t the law against shellfish consumption part of the Mosaic Law, which was replaced by the New Covenant?
Shellfish are animals. We have been called since the beginning to have dominion over the animals. We have repeatedly failed to live up to this instruction, instead chasing after our own lusts for meat like the Israelites during the exodus (Numbers 11) and being too stiff necked and hardhearted to humble ourselves and live mercifully. Jesus said those in authority should serve and love those under them (Mark 9:35, Matthew 20:28). When will we stop using scripture to justify our cruelty and our ungodly pursuit of our own lusts? When will we repent and live mercifully, exercising our authority over animals the way Jesus exercises his over us? With LOVE. I’ve written several articles explaining the importance of this.
There are far more instances in the bible of God calling us to live mercifully than there is against sexual conduct at all, let alone a specific kind of sexual conduct. Yet why ignore the thousands of passages regarding mercy and then point to a small handful of ambiguous passages concerning sexuality to justify a lack of mercy? My response in the previous question is essentially to first remove the plank from your own eye, then you will see clearly how to handle the issue regarding someone else’s choice of partner.
10. What is God’s view of transgender people and others who don’t conform to the roles of the gender they were born with?
There were no defined gender roles in Eden. Man and woman were each given the same roles and responsibilities by God in the beginning. Man and woman were each created in God’s image (Gen 1:27), each given dominion over the whole earth (Gen 1:28), each told to take care of the garden (Gen 2:15, 2:18), each told to eat a diet exclusively comprised of fruits and vegetation (Gen 1:29), and each told to unashamedly (Gen 2:25) live by faith in God (Gen 2:16-17). The only implied gender role was procreative. They were told to “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28) and to be joined together to fulfill these roles that were jointly given to man and woman by God (Gen 2:24).
Defined gender roles (outside of those implied by procreation) have their origin in sin. As a consequence of man and woman’s failure to live by faith in God (by not trusting in God’s warning about the tree that causes death and instead trusting in the deception of the serpent), God then warned the woman, “your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16). In other words, this failure to live by faith in God resulted not only in death but also in patriarchy, which was the beginning of defined gender roles (outside of procreative necessity). The man attempting to deflect blame to the woman for his own failure to heed God’s warning (Gen 3:12) was the first recorded patriarchal act in human history, which we are told was motivated by fear (Gen 3:10).
Gender norms today and throughout history have differed widely across cultures and traditions. Defined gender roles outside of those strictly relating to the biological act of procreation are entirely a product of the human imagination, which God deems evil (Gen 6:5). God gave the same roles to man and woman, both of whom were created in his image. Since gender roles outside of procreation are not defined by God but instead by the human imagination, I take transgenderism to likewise be a product of the human imagination. Given that it is impossible to change your gender for the purposes of procreating, the only thing one can change by identifying as transgender is the culturally defined set of gender roles one identifies with. In the eyes of God, there is no gender difference outside of the anatomical differences necessary for procreating. This is why there is no gender difference whatsoever between angels, since they do not procreate. Similarly, since marrying and procreating will no longer exist after the resurrection, and everyone at that time will have returned to God and will live by the ways God established in Eden, gender roles will not exist in the future kingdom (Matt 22:30).
So to answer your question, God sees a transgender person exactly the way he sees any other person. Transgenderism is a reflection of the distorted gender roles humanity has created from its own imagination. Moreover, constructed gender differences (outside of procreation) are rooted in sin and deception, as opposed to the gender-neutral directives established in the beginning by God. Those who live according to defined gender roles are therefore living just as contrary to their true nature as those who live according to the opposite of those defined gender roles. The only way to avoid living a lie regarding gender identity is to live according to the image of God we were created in. And in that image there are no gender differences, aside from procreative purposes. In other words, none of us should live according to defined gender differences since they are all rooted in a false image of self. Instead we should live by faith in the gender-neutral directives established in the beginning by God.
Read this article to learn more on how gender roles hinder the gospel message.
11. Should women primarily concern themselves with household responsibilities? Isn’t that their divinely ordained role as women?
No, women (and everyone for that matter, regardless of gender) should primarily concern themselves with drawing near to God, as Jesus demonstrates at the end of Luke 10 where he tells Martha it is better to be like Mary, sitting at his feet learning, than it is to prioritize anything else above this primary task (James 4:8, Mark 12:30). Household responsibilities being relegated to the female is a cultural norm, not a divinely ordained mandate. We should be careful not to hinder anyone’s spiritual gifts by imposing cultural norms onto them that would inhibit the fullest expression of those spiritual gifts (Acts 5:29).
If an individual feels called by God to assume household responsibilities, then that individual should be free to pursue those things without resistance or pressure based on cultural norms regarding gender (Mark 7:8). If instead a person does not feel called to such things, then they should likewise feel free to pursue the things that would afford them the greatest opportunities to express the unique combination of spiritual gifts God has created them to express (1 Corinthians 12).
For frequently asked questions regarding animals and stewardship click here.
For other general topic questions regarding God and the bible click here.