I swear, about once a month, my mom looks at me with a slight smile and a bit of a roll in her eyes, and says, “You are so much like your dad.” My parents have been happily married for over 30 years and raised my sister and me without teaching us a thing about so-called “biblical gender roles.”
My dad is a preacher and has studied the Bible his whole life for himself and has taught me everything he knows. He has challenged me to think again about popular “end time” theories, the “prosperity message,” and women’s roles in the Church.
Everyone loves my dad because he almost never confronts anyone on anything, only seeks to encourage, serves people and makes others laugh. I am a lot like him in this way, except I am more like mom when it comes to boldly using my words to confront injustice.
My dad had a radical encounter with Jesus when he was 15 years old and immediately felt called to devote his life to ministry. Likewise, I had a radical encounter with Jesus when I was 13 years old and immediately felt called to devote my life to ministry.
The difference is that I have been privileged to stand on his shoulders, and he actually grew up in a non-Christian family (but he eventually led both his parents to Christ).
My dad became the darling of his church when he was a teenager, because everyone could see he was a gifted evangelist. He was invested in. He was handed the mic. He was given a platform. Believe it or not, I too was highly favored by my pastor as a teenager, as everyone could see that I was gifted to be an evangelist. Therefore, I was invested in and handed the mic also.
There were no teen boys in my youth group who were as strong a spiritual leader as I was. I don’t say this to sound prideful, but to be honest.
My parents and pastor, when I was growing up, never told me that some people believed women should not be preachers or leaders over both men and women. I was protected from such nonsense, and I am grateful for that. It was not until I went to Bible school at 18 years old that I discovered complementarianism.
When I did learn of the doctrine, it broke my heart, and I cried to my dad. He sent me egalitarian theology books right away and assured me that my calling was not a sham or a sin.
I look around and see so many complementarian “preacher fathers” systematically training their daughters not to take after them, and it truly makes my stomach turn. What could these girls have been and done for the Kingdom if they were not confined by gender roles? Could they have been the next Warrior, Judge & Prophet Deborah (Judges 4), the next Apostle Junia (Romans 16:7), the next Bible teacher and church leader Priscilla (Acts 18:2, 18, 26; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19)?
I know there is a lot of fear surrounding gender in the Church right now due to LGBT issues rising to the forefront, but God has not called us to fear. The truth is that my brain is wired much like my father’s brain, but I don’t struggle with LGBT issues. I simply took on a lot of my father’s genes and personality.
My father and I both shake our legs when we are nervous and are pretty intense people. We are both introverts and extraverts. We need to be with people to gain energy, but we also need lots of time to ourselves to gain energy. We have struggled with some of the same health problems. We are “quarky” people, which is slang for one who often has a mix of emotions and is prone to depression and sadness, and giddiness and love.
Both dad and I do not procrastinate. We get things done before due dates and will feel much anxiety if we don’t. We have high creative energy, which is what makes us great writers and preachers, but we also have low energy, which is what makes us need a lot of space, relaxation and time to ourselves.
We feel pain easily, but we also feel joy easily. We don’t like feeling stuck or trapped – I hated youth group “lock-ins” as a teenager and my dad will go nowhere without his own car.
We are both highly sensitive people and have to protect ourselves by only allowing trustworthy people in. If I am struggling with anything, I talk to my dad about it, because chances are that he has struggled with the exact same thing.
My brain and body, and even my callings, are almost just like his, yet dad is “all man” and I am “all woman.”
I am a girly girl in many ways. I love pink, lace, makeup, jewelry, shopping, and hanging out with women, but my brain is wired much more like my father’s than it is my mother’s. My dad is a guy’s guy in many ways and also took good care of his wife and daughters, but he never felt the need to place himself as the boss of our home.
In some ways, dad was the boss of our home, but in other ways, mom was the boss of our home. Gender roles did not define any of us, even though we were a strong Christian family with pretty conservative values.
Children take after their parents and sometimes sons are more wired like their moms, and other times daughters are more wired like their dads, and this is more than OK. This is the truth of our humanity and it is a beautiful thing to accept the truth.
“Gender role theology” has to make great stretches when interpreting the Bible. It cherry picks Bible verses, blows them way out of proportion and proper context, and preys on those who are not highly educated in theology.
Complementarianism, and doctrines like it, seeks to rewire the way in which God created people in His image and steals from our individuality. It twists the Scriptures to fit its ultimate agenda, which is to control people (both women and men) and empower unjust hierarchies within the home and local church.
For example, complementarianism will often use this verse to manipulate men and women to follow suit:
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2 NLT).
Yet, when read in proper context, this Bible verse has nothing to do with gender roles and has everything to do with letting go of sinful behavior that damages our lives for a better way and a freer, more abundant life in Jesus Christ.
Complementarianism boasts that they have found “the better way” that leads to abundance in the home and Church, but if that were true, then why do I receive email after email from both men and women who have been scarred by this teaching and have found greater freedom in egalitarian theology?
Does the Bible not say,
For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17 NLT)?
Also, if egalitarian theology is a “lesser way” or a “lower view of Scripture” as complementarian leaders often teach, then why have my parents been joyfully married as a conservative Christian egalitarian couple for over 30 years? Further, why have my husband and I found greater freedom and happiness in our marriage when we abandoned all complementarian teachings and fully embraced egalitarianism?
Certainly, some married men and women have found fulfillment and freedom in complementarianism, but if we pay attention, these couples almost always naturally fit the molds and boxes of assigned gender roles and don’t have to force themselves to be someone they are not.
Training a daughter not to take after her father is absurd, because we get our father’s genes and many of us are raised by our dads just as much as we are raised by our moms. Of course, some daughters are going to take after their fathers!
Using the Bible, mixed with parental influence, to convince a child to follow some strange gender code is damaging, unbiblical, and foolish. When we allow kids to flourish, without telling them who they should and should not be, they are more likely to grow organically into exactly who God intended.
For more biblical evidence, check out this post by Jory Micah:
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