Gender Roles: Timeless Truth or Cultural Phenomenon?


Yesterday, I wrote about the growing gender debate in society and among evangelicals. One point of discussion with the individuals I interviewed was the history of these debates. Some felt the Bible prescribes timeless, universal, complementary roles for men and women, while others argued that these discussions have been influenced by culture and history. Rachel Held Evans, egalitarian author of A Year of Biblical Womanhood, holds to the latter position.

"This is not really a new conversation for evangelicals. We’ve been having this for a really long time. We’ve been wrestling with a prevalent narrative that men should be the earners and women should stay at home," said Evans. "But this is more of a cultural phenomenon than a biblical one. It’s a product of the post-industrial revolution where we had the Cleaver family as the standard. In more agrarian societies, we’ll see women sharing the responsibilities for earning and running the household with men."

She argues this point at length on her blog in a new post titled, "Why the church can support 'breadwinning' wives too."

Mimi Haddad, president of Christians for Biblical Equality, agrees with Rachel: "We’re looking now at a post-industrial society. Before the industrial revolution, people worked largely on farms. American culture relied on everyone doing work together and women made decisions as well."


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