Gender Roles [Old and New Testament Examples]

Old Testament Examples

Some Old Testament real life examples of women flourishing in their roles include Eve, who was the companion and helper of Adam, and Sarah, who is noted as an example of submission in 1 Pet. 3. Rebekah was an example of faith (although she later deceived her husband because of a lack of faith, ironically). Ruth is my favorite woman of the Bible; she was responsive to the Holy Spirit’s calling, and she was loyal, humble and hard-working. This caught Boaz’s eye, and he recognized that she was a true woman of character (3:11). Ruth showed submission, and initiative, to both Naomi and Boaz, and brought joy to whomever she was around.

New Testament Examples

Some New Testament examples include Anna, who lived a life of singleness and yet complete contentment, because she found all she needed in the presence of the Lord. Mary of Bethany recognized that being in the presence of Christ and learning from Him was the most important thing; and Mary Magdalene shows us that no sin is greater than the grace of God, and that when we are saved and healed by Christ, what else is there to do but to devote one’s life to Him.

The Man’s Treatment of Women

Christ’s interaction with women is very interesting to look at, and was offensive to many at that time. Christ did not treat women as any less human than men. He in no way treated them like second-class citizens. It is, however, important to remember that Christ did not treat women the exact same way as men. He did not treat any woman as “another one of the guys.” He did, however treat them as though they were just as important as men.

None of the Twelve were women, and Christ did not make any women apostles. However, He never once put a woman down, or treated her poorly based on the fact that she was a woman. We see in this that a distinction of function does not affect one’s status of value or standing before Christ. Christ did many things that were unheard of in that time and place. As Doriani puts it, “Jesus did not refute Greek or Jewish ideas about women; he ignored those ideas.” Christ allowed Mary to sit at his feet – the position of a formal disciple. He healed a woman on the Sabbath. He used women in His parables. Women traveled with Christ. It was women who first found that Christ had risen.

Christ’s interaction and treatment of women tells us a lot about gender roles. Christ did not treat women the same as men, yet he ignored culture’s disrespect of women, and honored women as equally valuable and precious. However, the fact that He did not make any women apostles shows that there is a difference between equal in value and identical in function. Men and women can be equal ontologically, and even have the same spiritual gifts, but this does not necessarily mean that men and women are to hold the same offices or function in identical, interchangeable, or indistinguishable roles.

In the next post, we’ll look at a few key New Testament passages and discuss what they have to teach us about this issue.

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About Tweed Tavern

We exist to exhort passionate followers of Christ to think more deeply about their faith, and to challenge deep thinkers to become more passionate followers of Christ. Throughout history, taverns have provided a venue for theological and political debate. Hoping to honor that tradition, welcome to the Tavern!
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