Sometimes I wonder I’m so fascinated by gender. Why have I read so many books on the topic, written so many blogs and academic papers, listened to sermons?… my interest only grows with time and in conjunction to the great turmoil in our society over gender.
What’s the big deal?? Why does it matter if men want to be like women or women want to be like men? Who cares if they want to marry each other and raise kids? Love is love, right? We can choose who we want to be and how we want to express that, right?
Religion sweeps a black mark across this mentality, citing it as “sin,” but they neglect to discuss why, like a scared parent who tells their teen not to have sex, but when the teen asks why, they have no reasonable answer.
Why are gender differences important? Why are gender roles specified? How should we as christians respond?
I think gender differences matter because all of history is one big love story.
It’s a sweeping tale of a lover who had creation at his finger tips, but longed for the companionship only a woman could bring. So she was brought forth, and while she could have been the exact replica of a man, she was fashioned to be a life giver, a support, a sustainer, a beautiful crown. Then they chose their own pleasure over obedience to their king, and you know the rest of the story. Satan has been oppressing women ever since.
But all throughout scripture, God uses the analogy of a lover and his beloved to describe his love for us! He could have used anything else, but he chose this! He created gender to reflect him, and his perfect design requires a man and a woman to bring forth life.
JEWISH BETROTHALS AS A REFLECTION OF CHRIST
I just finished watching a video on ancient Jewish betrothals, and in that time, a man and a woman coming together was a very sacred and symbolic event. When a groom was going to pursue his potential bride, he and his father would knock on her door, and if she answered the door, that was his sign he was welcome to continue his pursuit. From this, we get Revelation 3: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
God is speaking directly to his people, using language they will understand to let them know he is crazy about them and he wants covenant relationship with them! Imagine if we pursued relationships with this much intention today!
Another thing which stood out to me in the betrothal process was this: in order to be seen fit to marry, the bridegroom had to prepare a home and save a year’s wages! This would carry them through their first year of marriage so they could focus on each other. The only catch was that his father was the one who decided when he was ready to wed, not him. When anyone would ask him when the wedding was, he would say, “Only my father knows.”
Sound familiar?? Yes! When asked about his triumphant return for his precious bride, Jesus answered, “only my father knows.” He lived a life of complete submission, just as he now invites us into the same covenant.
Finally, the bride prepared herself for her groom.She had to be ready for weeks, because his arrival was a surprise for her! Her maidens kept watch for the bridegroom with her, and because he would come at night, they had to have enough oil in their lamps to last two weeks! If their lamps burnt out, the darkness would be a woeful signal to the groom that his bride had changed her mind!
We sisters have to do our part to be faithful watchwomen and guard our sister’s heart. We are invited to live in community and be a vital part of each other’s love stories. Isolated relationships give satan the upper hand.
These are only a few of the hundreds of parallels between marriage and Christ’s love for us.
Gender is important because it is God himself knocking at our door, expressing his love for us, and he has a very specific and special way he likes to go about things. Sure, we can go about it ourselves , but we would be missing this huge part of God’s heart he intended to be displayed through male/female relationships.
Jesus empowers women, and he encourages men to lay down their entire lives for them. Jesus empowers men, and strengthens men, and beckons women to unlock the deepest parts of men through their deep respect and support of them. Jesus is forever on the side of unity, of peace, of beautiful partnership.
This is why gender is important. Because we are the object of his affection, and everything he has given to us is a gift through which we can experience his love in a greater way. I want to experience his fullness in every way! I want to be swept up in his story and I want to be an accurate reflection of his bride!! Don’t you??
More on how we can reflect Christ as women in part 2, coming soon :