Gender norms and roles have been changing over recent years, and our society has been challenging gender norms. Many Christians are hesitant to address the controversy over gender norms, yet that is exactly what we are going to be discussing today.
Is there anything wrong with challenging gender roles? What does the Bible say about gender norms?
Traditional Gender Roles
Gender norms are societal rules placed upon men and women. It is common for gender norms to morph and change over time. Traditional gender norms ascribe men to be strong, not sensitive, and masculine.
Traditional gender roles ascribe women to be emotional, weak and fixated on beauty standards. Gender norms were not created by God. The Lord never told men not to show emotions nor did he ever tell women they were weak.
In fact, Jesus was God incarnate as a man, and Jesus was never afraid to show emotions. When His friend Lazarus died, Jesus wept (John 11:35). Gender norms press the idea that men are not to show emotions, especially crying.
The only emotion that has been normalized among male gender norms is anger and aggression. In the same way, women have been unfairly stereotyped by gender norms as being overly emotional and weak.
There are countless books, television series, and films that depict women as the damsel in distress who needs a man to save her. These gender norms have stereotyped men and women to become somebody they are not.
There is nothing wrong with a man crying and there is nothing wrong with a woman being strong. Jesus broke traditional gender roles by showing emotions and crying. This proves to us that gender norms were never instituted by God.
Traditional Israel had a negative view of women, yet Jesus always had a positive attitude toward women. The Lord addressed women publicly, which was unheard of within Israel’s cultural norms (John 4:27).
Jesus also talked to the Samaritan woman at the well, which was also a controversial thing to do (John 4:7-26). Furthermore, Christ healed the woman with a bleeding disorder and told her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace” (Luke 8:48).
As we can see, Jesus had a positive view of women, and He never downplayed their abilities, knowledge, or purpose. In the modern-day, patriarchy still dominates our society. The cultural aspect of patriarchy causes many problems within gender norms today.
Patriarchy teaches that men are to be unemotional, superior, and aggressive; whereas, women are to be servants, weak, and not able to think for themselves. This cultural norm of patriarchy is not in line with God and His Word.
God did create two biological sexes: male and female. Both man and woman are created in God’s Image (Genesis 1:27). Therefore, God did create two sexes; however, genders are different from a person’s biological sex.
A person’s sex is what they are born as — either a male or a female. Gender roles are placed and forced upon people based on their sex. Thus, God did create different sexes, but He did not place males and females with gender norms.
Breaking Gender Norms
Many Christians feel uncomfortable with the idea of breaking gender norms because they associate it with being “liberal” or compromising the Bible. Gender norms were not created by God. Rather, gender norms and roles were created and imposed by society.
Mainstream celebrities have chosen to break gender norms, such as Timothée Chalamet and Harry Styles, yet many Christians view it as breaking God’s commands. Gender norms were not created by God but have been pressed upon us at such a young age that we view them to be “true” or “right.”
There are many dangers to gender norms, such as men seeing themselves to be superior to women, women feeling inferior to men, men feeling they cannot express emotions, and women feeling they cannot speak up for themselves.
These are just a few examples of the dangers of gender norms. Due to the stereotypes of gender norms, men feel it is not acceptable to cry in front of others, and if they do cry, they fear others will see this as weak despite crying and showing emotions are a normal part of being human for both men and women.
Similarly, women are restricted by gender norms because they feel they have to look, act, or be a certain way to be accepted by society. This can lead to women experiencing self-doubt, self-hate, and a myriad of mental illnesses.
There is nothing positive about gender norms as they only restrict individuals and force us to become what society wants us to be. We do not have to conform to societal standards because our only allegiance is to God.
The Bible does not tell us that we have to fit in the boxes created by society. God created us each uniquely, fearfully, and wonderfully (Psalm 139:13-16).
Over the course of the years and centuries, society has imposed gender norms on people, which affected Christians to believe this was God’s way for mankind.
As Jesus demonstrated during His earthly life, He broke many gender norms, such as expressing deep sorrow as a man as well as he viewed women in a positive light.
Christians need to understand, acknowledge, and take to heart that gender norms are ingrained into us from the time we are a child, not from the Bible, but from society’s expectations.
Many extreme conservatives believe a boy could be part of the LGBTQ+ community if he cries, likes to play with dolls, or his favorite color is pink. These attributes in and of themselves do not mean the boy is part of the LGBTQ+ community, nor does it mean the boy identifies as being a female.
It has only become socially unacceptable for a boy to cry, play with dolls, or say their favorite color is pink because of gender norms. In the same way, a girl is seen as a lesbian if she likes to play with trucks, wears “non-feminine” clothes, or prefers to have her hair cut short.
There again, none of these things in and of themselves constitutes labeling an individual as a “lesbian.” A girl is only seen as “odd,” “strange,” or a “lesbian” if she has these attributes because they do not line up with the gender norms in society.
This is why many Christians are afraid of discussing gender norms and roles because they believe it has to do with LGBTQ+ community or an individual’s sexuality, even though gender norms have nothing to do with these things.
What Does This Mean?
As established, a person’s biological sex is uncompromised as you are either a male or a female; however, gender norms can change, and they were not instituted upon us by God. Society has imposed gender norms and roles upon our worldview, as across the world, gender norms are different.
Areas in Asia and Africa have a matriarchy rather than a patriarchy, which significantly affects their gender norms and roles. In cultures such as these, the gender norms between males and females are radically different from what they are here in the West.
This is because gender norms are not absolute, and they are not all the same across the globe. Different cultures and different societies establish different gender roles.
As Christians, we need to be aware of gender norms, and we should not be afraid to talk about them and the controversy surrounding gender roles and norms.
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Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.