Date: January 19, 2014
Study: In His Image: Biblical Manhood, Womanhood, and Relationships
Teacher: Lawson Hembree
What does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be a woman?
In one sense, the answers to these questions are simple. We could all probably give a very basic, biology-driven answer and be done with it. In fact, once upon a time, almost everyone in most societies could have rattled off not only the biological answer, but also a host of “typical” (we might even say “stereotypical”) characteristics, roles, expectations and norms that were commonly associated with each particular sex.
Men tended to be more aggressive, more analytical, less emotional. They tended to speak less, cry rarely – and never, ever in public. They tended to be the primary breadwinners in their homes and tended to be focused on career; they tended to occupy most positions of public, political and business leadership. They tended to be interested in sports and were the only sex who would have considered “professional athlete” a potential career. They tended to be initiators in their relationships with women and felt that was expected of them. They tended to be fathers.
Women tended to be more relational, more caring, less analytical. For those who married, they tended to be focused on the home and the raising of children. They tended to make up most of the volunteers in caring for the poor and other “mercy” and charity activities. They tended to be, in comparison to men, less socially aggressive, more demure. They tended generally to be responders in their relationships with men and felt that was expected of them. They tended to be mothers.
Times have changed. These days, more men are portrayed in popular culture as passive and lazy, the number of stay-at-home-dads has increased by 70% in the last decade, it’s common to see women leading organizations or competing in professional sports (including MMA), marriage and conception are being pushed back later and later in life or put off altogether, and states are reconsidering the definitions of gender.
Pointing out this shift isn’t to say that the stereotypes or how they have changed are necessarily good or bad at this point. However, today we live in a culture where the answers to my two opening questions are no longer simple.
As Christians, it’s our task to answer the questions “what does it mean to be a man?” and “what does it mean to be a woman?” in the same way we answer the rest of life’s central questions. We look to God’s Word. Continue reading