Interpreting Gender

A few weeks ago, I saw a picture of a man holding a sign at a protest. He was wearing a T-shirt that said “True Christian.” His sign was a list of things that women should be: quiet, keepers at home (doing dishes, laundry, ironing, etc), submissive to husbands, silent in church, care-takers of children, and modestly dressed. The bottom of the sign says, “Read Bible for details 1 Timothy 2, Titus 2, 1 Peter 3.” Here is a link, but I don’t know how long it will work. I felt so inspired looking at this sign! Please read on for a similar list for men (with more substantial Biblical backup), derived from reading the Bible in the same spirit as the people who made and appreciate the theology of women represented in that sign.

Imagine that we live in a world in which women are the ones in charge. Educating girls is the priority throughout the world. Boys are relegated to the menial tasks of life and are educated only when it’s not too inconvenient to do so. Men are paid less than women. They often get paid less for the same work, and when men enter a previously female-dominated field, the median salary for that field plummets. Women are known to be better suited to leadership because of our innate qualities. Men are at a much higher risk than women for domestic violence, assaults, murder, exploitation and abuses of all kinds. When men go to the doctor, they’re often told that the pain is all in their heads, and when they have medical procedures done, their consent is not considered to be that important since they’re generally overly sensitive anyway (that fragile male ego and all). In our society, it’s known that women are leaders (Eve was the first to eat from the tree, Jael won the war by her decisive action, Judith saved her entire city by her cunning, Mary bore the son of God, Mary Magdelene was the first to see Jesus after the resurrection, women hosted and lead many of the early Christian churches and supported Jesus and those churches financially and so on). It is obvious to us that the Bible teaches the subordination of men. The Bible clearly teaches that men should be:

1. Quiet
1 Thessalonians 4:11 and 1 Timothy 2:2 clearly teach that all men must be quiet and lead quiet lives if they want to be godly. Men must never draw attention to themselves in any way – dress quietly, speak quietly, work quietly. Trying to become the center of attention or being strident about your “rights” is a violation of the Scripture’s instruction to be quiet. So be quiet, men, and trust your mothers and wives to take care of your needs and make major life decisions for you. Because we love you and want you to experience the blessings of a godly life, we will also help you remember to stay quiet by reminding you that you’re sinning whenever you try to speak up, ESPECIALLY if you try to defend yourself.

2. Farmers
God perfectly designed men to be farmers. Look at their bodies, big and strong. God gave men the ability to develop burly muscles so that they could easily do the manual labor involved in farming. Adam was a farmer, the father of all farmers, and as part of his original design, God commanded him to care for the earth. Genesis 3:17-19 teaches us that men must grow their own food – or at the very least be willing to do so – or they cannot eat, and they most certainly cannot be godly men. A man’s highest calling is to bring forth food from the earth, and God will use the suffering you experience while doing so – and the hunger you will feel when you fail – to teach you valuable lessons about godliness, and he will glorify himself – excuse me, She will glorify Herself – as She helps you through the pain and agony you will experience. Your job is to grow food. Let your wife be a woman and do… literally every other job on the planet. You should never feel like you must work outside of your farm. Indeed if you do, your family will suffer dire consequences.

3. Submissive to wives
We see from the order of creation in Genesis that women are the crown of creation. Each day a higher order of being is created, and woman is created last. We are clearly made to be the rulers of everything that came before us, so men must maintain an awareness of their subordinate state. Ephesians 5 teaches that Christians should submit to each other. However in the home, wives are simply to respect their husbands. Husbands must love their wives enough to die for them. This much stronger language emphasizes the importance of the subordination of husbands to their women.

The Greek word used in 1 Timothy 5:14 to describe women in their homes literally translates to “house despot.” Despots are ruling authorities. Romans 13:1-7 says that no man may protest or question their ruling or governing authorities, but rather must submit themselves (or be subject to them, depending on the translation you use). In the home, Paul teaches that the governing authority is the wife. Men must develop within themselves a submissive spirit and trust that God will lead their wives well. It’s sinful, Paul says, to contradict your wife. So do everything you can to support her decisions. When you disagree with her decisions, pray to God that God will change her mind. If you feel that she may be abusing you, pray to God. He will convict her of HER sin. Don’t let her sin lead you into the sin of failing to submit yourself to her in everything. God will use your suffering to change her – better you suffer a season of abuse so that her eternal soul may be saved. Peter reminds us of the importance of a husband’s submission in 1 Peter 3:7 when he warns that God will not hear the prayers of a husband who dishonors his wife. So honor her always, that God may hear your prayers. Don’t make him turn his face away from you by choosing to live with a rebellious spirit.

4. Silent in church
This one is easy. 1 Corinthians 14:28 and 30 clearly tell men to “be silent in church.” It’s important to remember that the Bible was written so that it could be faithfully understood by a simple reading. So don’t look too hard at the context of these verses. Just remember that it literally tells you to be silent in church and obey it. At all times. The women in your church may decide that there are some situations in which you can actually talk in church. That is their prerogative as leaders in your church, led by the Holy Spirit. They will determine what you can do when and where you can do it. They are ordained by God to be your leaders. Trust them. Submit to their leading and God will bless you. Importantly, God will never lead you to a calling that the women of your church decide is only appropriate for the women, with their greater God-given spiritual authority. If you feel that God might be calling you to higher level church leadership, you are either misinterpreting His call or you are lying to yourself and everyone around you and you must repent of that immediately. Because the Bible tells you to be silent in church. And God would never contradict Himself. Or sorry, Herself.

5. Married Jewish Fathers (to be leaders in church)
The example of the disciples that Jesus picked out teaches us that church leaders must be Jewish. (While Jesus chose 12 men to symbolize the 12 tribes of Israel who went astray from God’s instruction so frequently, there were many women among his disciples who financially supported Jesus’ ministry and who were faithful to him to the end, standing near the cross long after the 12 had deserted Jesus. Indeed, some of the few disciples that Jesus praised rather than expressed frustration with were women – like Mary, sister of Martha, and the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet. So we know that although the 12 were named, that was only to symbolize the fallen tribes of Israel and that women were actually the superior disciples.) We don’t have to be Jewish now, although that would be ideal. But Peter’s dream said that Gentiles can be included in the church leadership. However, 1 Timothy 3:4, 12 and Titus 1:6 show that when the women leaders of the church deem a role appropriate for men to fill (lowly positions in the church without much influence or too much authority, like the role of deacon, which means servant, or elder, which mean older person), the man must be married and have children. Under no circumstances may a single and/or childless man be made even a low level leader in the church. Also no men who have been married more than once. If you as a man feel called by God to another role within your church, refer to point 4.

6. Bald
In 1 Corinthians 11:4, Paul teaches that men sin if they pray or prophesy with a covering on their heads. Verse 14 teaches that it is degrading for a man to have long hair. Since it’s impossible to say what is too long and what is a covering and women might get distracted by thinking about if your hair is short enough, it’s better to be safe. Rather than worrying about how close to the line of acceptable you can get, and in order to protect your sisters’ ability to worship freely, it’s safest and most loving to just shave your head entirely. This is the only truly safe and acceptable haircut for a man of God. Each morning, be sure to examine your head in the mirror from a variety of angles to make sure you haven’t missed any hairs. If you’re not completely sure if your head is appropriately bald, ask a trusted woman in your life – preferably a mother or a wife, but a sister will work in a pinch – if she can see any hairs you may have missed. We don’t want to be legalistic about these things, but you don’t want to offend God by having a covered head – what if you say a prayer without meaning to after being lazy about shaving your head for a few days? Do you want to set yourself up for that kind of preventable sin? What if you distract a woman who is just trying to worship God? Do you want to be a stumbling block? No. Of course not. So shave your heads, guys. It’s not that hard.

Remember, men. This teaching is from the Bible. Paul has some pretty negative things to say in 1 Timothy 6:3-5 about people who might teach something else than this Biblical truth. So be sure to ignore any teaching that is different from this. Your status as a godly man depends on it.

Dear Reader, I must tell you that I got physically shaky as I wrote this. I started it several weeks ago and had to stop. Today I made it through the second point before I was shaking too badly to type and I had to go get a puke bucket, which I’ve kept beside me as I’ve finished writing. THAT is how nauseated this makes me. This is violence to the words of God. This is evil. And it is, unfortunately, what many people do to our Holy Text. May we all strive to hear what God is REALLY saying in his Scripture. May we remember that the overwhelming themes of the Bible are LOVE, the weak rising strong, freedom of the oppressed, and LIFE FOR ALL! May we strive to work side by side, women and men, to bring God’s Kingdom to earth – that His will may be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Amen.

Published by Nikki Holland

I am a Quaker wife, mother, pastor, and writer. I work as the country branch director of a fabulous NGO in Belize City and I recently graduated with an MDiv from Earlham School of Religion. I love my family, and I love my community.

9 thoughts on “Interpreting Gender

  1. I saw the sign. The first thing that stood out to me most actually was this a man with a very noticeable weight problem (the sin of gluttony), was blind to it, while he attacked women. For me that is symbolic of how the devil always works. Spiritually blinding us to our obvious messy closet full of sins, while we think it is our job to clean out someone elses closet. His shirt should say… “A true hypocrite”!


    1. I would hesitate to assume that the man in question was a glutton. Weight has much more to do with resting metabolic rate & other factors outside of our control (like poverty & childhood experiences) than it does with the choices we make. Fat shaming someone we don’t know won’t heal the wounds caused by misogyny, but might make other “fat” women feel less welcome on this healing site, & that would be a real shame.


    1. Yes, I know what you mean. This feels like the worst thing I’ve ever written… I look forward to reading your post!


  2. Wonderful article! I am a dedicated egalitarian, but this just gave me chills. I am a mother of two young boys. Just imagining my children growing up in a world of prejudice and restricted opportunities made my stomach turn, and my heart beat with conviction. My boys are truly privileged, but that isn’t really a positive to me – instead, it highlights the tragedy of how a different gender, race, social status, etc are treated “lesser than” because of the curse of sin. How many young girls, in my own community, are being raised like lesser people? How many parents are blind to the gender, racial, and class bias they teach their own kids? If they knew a better, Biblical way, would they embrace it? Who is out there teaching Biblical egalitarianism in my community?


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  4. I greatly enjoyed this, & I appreciate your description of the trauma you experienced while writing it. Something like this can’t help but trigger so much in women like us who’ve experienced the constant shaming for these total misinterpretations of the Bible. Thanks for pushing through to finish & I hope you get to treat yourself to a nice long decompression session 😉


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