What does the bible say about femininity and masculinity? According to some church leaders there are very clear definitions around each genders’ qualities. Books and ministries have been constructed around the belief that there are absolute gender roles in Scripture that transcend culture and time to which all men and women must conform. One would expect such beliefs to be challenged in today’s progressive culture, as remarks from some notable church leaders reveal. But I’m confused? As I read the Scriptures I have a difficult time discerning what exactly the Bible says about “masculinity.”
Was it “masculine” when Adam blamed his wife for his failure? (Gen 3:12)
Was it “masculine” for Abel to be a rancher unlike his less-masculine brother the farmer? (Gen 4:2)
Or was Cain “masculine” for being aggressive and killing his brother? (Gen 4:8)
Was it “masculine” for Abram to leave his father’s home to be his own man? (Gen 12)
How about when he offered his wife (twice) to Pharaoh to protect himself? (Gen 12:12-13)
Was it “masculine” when Abram went to battle to save his nephew? (Gen 14)
How about when he impregnated his wife’s servant? (Gen 16)
Was it a mistake for God to bless Jacob, “a quiet man who dwelt in tents,” rather than his “masculine” brother Esau, a hunter? (Gen 25:27)
Was it “masculine” when Moses killed the Egyptian? (Ex 2)
Were Bezalel and Oholiab “masculine” when God called and gifted them to “devise artistic designs,” to “work in gold, silver, and bronze,” and sew “finely worked garments”? (Ex 31:1-10)
Or were they only “masculine” when they were “cutting stones” and “carving wood”? (Ex 31:4-5)
Was Deborah “masculine” when she judged and led Israel? (Judges 4)
And was David “masculine” when he decapitated Goliath? (1Sam 17)
What about when David was writing music or playing his lyre?
Was it “masculine” for David to leap and dance before the Lord and cause a woman to laugh at him? (2Sam 6)
Was David’s poetry “masculine,” or just his military conquests?
What about his adultery or his murder of his mistresses’ husband, was that “masculine”? (2Sam 11)
Is Nehemiah, likely a eunuch, a model of biblical masculinity?
Is the ideal wife in Proverbs 31 being “masculine” when she entered business by selling her linen to merchants? (Prob 31)
Was Jesus “masculine” when he refused to defend himself, his honor, or his friends before false accusations?
Was Jesus “masculine” when he told Peter to put away his sword?
Was Jesus “masculine” when he stripped naked and washed his followers’ feet?
Was Jesus “masculine” when he embraced children and upheld them as examples of greatness in his kingdom?
Was Jesus “masculine” when he wept at Lazarus’ tomb?
Was Jesus “masculine” when he cried over the sight of Jerusalem and desired to gather its people like a hen gathers her chicks?
Was it “masculine” for Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, Nicolaus, and Stephen (the first martyr) to have a ministry of “serving tables”? (Acts 6)
How about the Ethiopian eunuch Philip meets who becomes an early follower of Christ? Is he “masculine”? (Acts 8)
I’m confused? What is biblical masculinity? Because it seems that the men in the Bible, like men today, represent a wide spectrum of gifts, personalities, interests, and callings. Some are warriors, some are artists, some are both. Some lead, others follow. Some are the pinnacle of virility with thousands of wives and concubines, and others are castrated eunuchs affirmed for their faith and courage. Some get naked and dance (David), and others get naked and drunk (Noah). Some defend themselves with swords (Peter), and others remain silent before their accusers (Jesus). Some cry (Jesus), others sing (David), and some even sew dresses for other guys (Bezalel). Some are hunters (Esau), others chill out in tents (Jacob), one made his brothers jealous with his fashion sense (Joseph).
So what is biblical masculinity?
Maybe, just maybe, it’s the wrong question. Rather than worrying about what’s masculine or what’s feminine, we ought to be more concerned with what’s godly.
Stop just living your life FOR God, and starting living WITH him. The new With God Daily Devotional by Skye Jethani is delivered to your inbox every morning with reflections on Scripture, theology, culture, history, and current events. The brief readings, Scripture, and prayers are designed to transform your vision of God and his world each day by drawing you into a deeper awareness of his presence. If you’ve read WITH, don’t miss this resource for developing your communion with God.Sign Up for the Devotional