Gender Roles --What the Bible Actually Teaches (Part 4):
While in the message I was a strongly convinced that women should stay home with their children and should not work outside of the home. Like the Duggars, I believed women should serve their husbands and that daughters should learn to be likewise domestically minded, learning at the apron strings of their mother what it is to reverence the men in their lives. This includes fathers, brothers, and other gentlemen. Translated into daily lives, it means that women serve the men and make domestically serving them an enjoyable experience. It means teaching our daughters to enjoy cooking, cleaning, gardening, and the like. It means boys on the flipside are given more room to roam and explore and "be boys" in the yard, getting dirty.
For the Duggars, this lifestyle is more than a 'choice'--it is seen as the "right" way--the only way that God could possibly call a family to behave. They give grace to those that don't practice the same traditional family values and traditional gender roles--but they would never consider it appropriate, nor would they allow one of their unmarried daughters to aspire to a career or interest that wouldn't directly serve their future calling as wife and mother. Barring a major change of heart, there will be no Duggar daughters that do engineering, or attend medical school, or join the military.
This, at the core is the same teaching that permeates the message of William Branham. Taking only what can be found on the tapes, many message families have structured their lives and homes in much the same way as the Duggars, relegating women to lives of strictly domestic pursuits and men to the stereotypical career choices deemed traditionally 'masculine'.
Consider the following quotes by William Branham. While reading these, imagine how folks that believe William Branham to be the infallible mouthpiece of God might take these quotations and apply them to their lives:
On Women in the Workplace:
A woman's place is at home with her children. And when sheâ€¦ Now if her husband's sick and she has to work, that's different. But woman's place is at home in the kitchen, and when she leaves that she's out of her place. Exactly right. ---57-0727 - He Was To Pass That Way
But if it isn't, listen, sister dear, God made you for one place, the kitchen. When you get out of there, you're out of His will. Remember that. Women was made to be a helpmate at the house. She never was made for office work. And it's caused more disgrace and divorces and things. ---56-1003 - Painted-Face Jezebel
Many of you has wanted to do something for God. And you've neglected it for the washtub, for a job out yonder in a factory somewhere. Some of you women that ought to be home with your kids, reading the Bible to them. You got a job out yonder to make a extra dollar. Shame on you. God gave you a job; that's raise them children. Teach them the things of God. It's the truth. Think on your ways, woman. What will them dollars do? They'll ring like Judas Iscariot's did. Think on your ways and turn your foot to His testimonies, unto His Blood, unto His grace, unto His offer. ---59-0814 - As I Thought On My Ways
Conclusion from these quotes: Women should not work outside the home unless their husband is unable to work and provide necessities of life
On Women Driving:
I said, "They oughtn't never let a woman behind a wheel." Boy, if I was there, she wouldn't do it, if I had anything to say about it. 212 They say the women is the most safest drivers. I'm an international traveler. Me and my son, crossing this nation, put a book up in theâ€”in the car. And every time a boo-boo was called, pulled on the road, we marked it down, "man" or "woman." And out of three hundred, there were two hundred and eight-one of them caused by women; nineteen of them by men. That's exact. Yet, she's set there and push her hair up. And she turn out like this, and make a left's right, and everything. But, oh, course, the police ain't going to say that. They got them on a police force. What a disgrace! 213 When a woman gets from behind the table in the kitchen, in the house, taking care of her own little ministry God give her, her babies, she's out of the will of God. ---63-0412M - The World Is Falling Apart
Conclusion: Women should not be allowed to drive
On Traditional Masculinity and Femininity:
Could you imagine that? Perfuming himself up, that's a sissy, not a man. 360 "Look," I said, "sister, I'd rather go with a Christian boy that had feet like gravel cars and smelled like a polecat, if he was absolutely a Christian." That's right. True. Yeah. 361 It's excuse, "Such cute little feet, and smells so good." ---57-0922E - Hebrews, Chapter Seven #2
There seems to be something among man. Man don't seem to be, have that masculine touch that he used to have. Women don't have that feminish touch she used to have. You take man today, man don't seem to be burly like they used to be. It's all some sort of a... They want to wear suede shoes with purple, and--and they want to act like women. Now that is true. It seems to be, more or less, like a perversion. ---64-0112 SHALOM
And women dressing and acting and doing, and man permitting them to do it, big bunch of sissies! It seems like there is not even man any more. You see man wearing pink shoes, andâ€”and preachers on the pulpit, something like that. That's a disgrace. I like to see man again that's absolutely man. Looks like there's a power that drives them to do it, it's the devil and the pressure of this day. That's right. Sometime a man weighing two hundred pounds, and muscles like that, and not an ounce of man in him; acts like some big sissy out here. I like, let man be man. Let women be feminish, let them be ladies. When the Token is applied, they turn back to that. God made them different, and they are different. Man wants to look like women; women wants to look like man. It goes to show there is a perversion, a dark spirit hanging over, gross darkness over the people. ---64-0208 - The Token
Conclusion: Men should be traditionally masculine and failing to do so means that there is something spiritually deficient in the man. Women likewise should be traditionally feminine in dress and behavior and failing to do so means that they are spiritually deficent, as are the men (husbands, fathers, ministers) responsible for them.
Knowledge and civilization, and true Christianity, has nothing in common. Civilization, and true Christianity, has not one thing in common. Civilization is by knowledge. We all know that. And knowledge is from Eden, proved it, by what he preached in Eden. And knowledge causes death. Is that right? What caused death in the garden of Eden? Knowledge. But can't be of God, so it's of the devil. Whew, was that a good one! Knowledge, science, education, is the greatest hindrance that God ever had. It is of the devil. ---65-0801M - The God Of This Evil Age
Conclusion: Christians should not pursue knowledge of the world. It is incompatible with God and it is of the Devil.
In contrast, the scriptures tell us a very different story about gender roles and what Godly womanhood and manhood looks like. There is no doubt that the culture in Biblical times often looked down upon women working and earning an income. Laws often prevented women from earning an income at all, and women were never included in inheritance or lineage in the ancient cultures about which the Scriptures were written. Nevertheless, there are several noteworthy examples of women in the Bible working outside the home--some verses even praising women for doing so!
Stories of women in the Bible are a unique occurrence from other ancient texts. The book of Esther and of Ruth are devoted exclusively to the strength, faith, and character of Godly women--this is something that you will very rarely find in the secular texts of the day, much less the other ancient religions. Women are included in the lineage of our Lord--something that, given the time period, was exceptionally unusual.
Jesus taught and befriended women during his time on earth even though culturally it was very taboo for an unmarried Jew to speak to unrelated women--especially unrelated women of different races, which was the case with the Shunamite woman and the woman at the well.
The Proverbs 31 verses describing a woman that is actively pursuing real estate and business ventures of various kinds, trading, managing employees, travel, and charitable pursuits in addition to household management, child rearing, and physical labor. She is described in Proverbs 31:10 as an excellent wife and in Proverbs 31:29 as far surpassing the excellence of many women. This was not a woman obeying the 'traditional' practices of women in her day and time--this was a woman that was stepping out the norm and accomplishing far more than was expected financially, socially, and domestically.
Clearly, God has a very different idea of what constitutes womanhood. It is clear from His repeated praise of women defying traditional domesticity, crossing cultural lines in terms of the honoring of women, and a commitment during Christ's earthly ministry to the welfare of women--even when it meant defying social norms that God cares deeply for women and desires more for them than society (even our modern one) try and convince us is ideal.
The following scripture give a pretty good picture of what God sees as the 'place' of a woman in Christ:
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.
True, despite this equality there are distinctions between roles of men and women in society, the family, and the church per the Scriptures. However, this does not mean that these distinctions are rigid, legalistic things--as the examples from the Scriptures already presented prove. God does not relegate women to the kitchen, as William Branham did, and He doesn't prevent them from careers. Nowhere in the scriptures will you find a command of God for women to remain at home unemployed. Nowhere are women told not to earn an income or have a job. Women during Biblical times did not have jobs because of the social construct of the day--but the Word of God does not forbid it, and women eschewing the societal norms are often mentioned in positive lights. Many women were listed as 'benefactors' of Jesus' ministry, and many women were said to have been following Him and His disciples on their travels.
The only thing that comes even remotely close to forbidding women from working outside of the home are commands from Paul for older women to teach the younger to 'work at home' in Titus 2:5 and 1 Timothy 5:14. But even these verses do not preclude a woman from earning an income--it is merely a command to stay busy and not allow themselves to, as Paul states in 1 Timothy 5:13, become idle, gossiping, social busy-bodies--which was a problem during that time with unemployed women without many responsibilities. Women clearly should remain occupied, whether at home 100% of the time or out in the workplace.
Manhood, in the same way has a variety of flavors in the Scriptures--but nevertheless they are all considered equally legitimate and honorary. David, though small in stature and given to artistic pursuits like music and poetry is chosen to be King of Israel; some men were wealthy and some were poor; some men did manual labor and some were Priests or merchants or government employees. Some men were outspoken (Peter comes to mind), and some were shy and soft-spoken (Moses is a great example). Nevertheless, ALL these men were used of the Lord, and all of them are examples of Godly manhood.
The Patriarchal mindset states that a man must be a strong leader, a spiritual giant, and a picture of traditional masculinity. But this is simply not the case. There is a wide array of men, and a cookie cutter mindset is simply unfair.
Education in Christian Patriarchy
The last point I'd like to address in this section is education. For both men and women, education is seen as something unnecessary in the Patriarchal doctrines the Duggars hold, as well as in the message. There are some Quiverfull/Christian Patriarchy adherents that do educate their children well, but for the most part, it is not seen as the ideal. Instead of 'formal education' both believe that children should be taught practical skills--for men this means construction, yard work, and how to start simple businesses that employ their skills. For girls, this often means a thorough understanding of domestic skills--childcare, housekeeping, and cooking.
The Duggars with their 19 kids rely heavily on the older girls to help manage the home out of necessity. Having that many little ones would be impossible for one woman to manage herself, so the oldest daughters are given responsibility over homeschooling, daily care of children, cooking, laundry, and much more.
The problem is that children are not permitted a choice (once again) to be who they want to be and do what they want to do with their lives. Even if a child is "permitted" to attend college they will often be at a disadvantage from the start, having received little in the way of education earlier on in their lives.
Many young adults from message homes find themselves in the strange position of being completely unemployable and without the basic education needed to continue at University. But it's not just Message believers--it's many children who have been raised to believe that education does not matter, only to discover that in our society and modern economy it most certainly does matter.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average income for households with no more education than a High School diploma is 38,976.00 Compare that to the average income of households with Bachelor's Degrees: 75,568.00! Nearly 40k more annually for the more educated individuals.
It is not surprising that so many families in the Message and in Christian Patriarchy as a whole end up under the poverty line. With so many mouths to feed and only one minimally educated breadwinner, it is statistically the most likely outcome for the majority of families.
Compare the forbidding of education with the scriptures praising the attainment of knowledge and understanding:
For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.
How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.
God values the attainment of knowledge and wants His children to grow in understanding. It is considered a wise endeavor to seek knowledge, and an intelligent person acquires it. God gave Daniel and the rest of his captors learning and skills in literature and wisdom, which equipped them for their time in captivity. Daniel's survival was partly a result of this God-given education in literature. If that isn't a testimony to the importance of equipping our children with skills they need for success in this world I don't know what is!
Stay tuned for Part 5: Christian Patriarchy and Sex: What the Bible Actually Teaches