“Well women are different you know!”, comes the simple pat answer when discussing gender roles within the church. This automatically assumes that women have certain roles they are better at and men have some better roles. And so on we go to standard tiresome debates, if you can call it that, that women are better at hospitality and men are better at speaking.
I have two things to say on this.
First, the same argument was used regarding race. It is still fairly common to hear that black people are better at sport or some such other nonsense. Ok we are physically different, but is that what defines us as humans? The astonishing thing about humans is how they adapt despite physical limitations. For me the problem is that a lot of prominent theologians fall for this line of thinking and if this physicality does somehow point us to certain directions then we have to ask what the gospel is promising us. After all we aren’t meant to give into flesh are we?
Second, the biblical creation stories doesn’t bring up the physical differences between man and woman and assign them roles like certain creation stories in other traditions. In Genesis one it just says they were created man and woman and later God tells them to go out into the world. In Genesis two God wants a helper for Adam. To help with what? Tending the garden. So he first gets the animals and that doesn’t work. They’re fundamentally different to Adam. They are brought out of the ground. So Eve is created from Adam’s rib and Adam who has so far been rambling random sounds in naming animals becomes and poet and declares something very profound
“This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh”.
This is astonishing. Adam makes no remark as to Eve’s difference but instead considers her of his own flesh.
So my dear 3.2 readers, the next time someone says women are different, give their ear a good yank and say ‘your ears are different, surely they are meant to be pulled!’