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Biblical roles empower and satisfywomen, Kassian says
November 24, 2003
By David Roach
Christians must adopt a biblical understanding of gender in order to combat widespread confusion about the roles of men and women, author and theologian Mary Kassian said in an address to seminary wives at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“It is a jungle out there when it comes to understanding masculinity and femininity, when it comes to making sense out of relationships, when it comes to understanding God’s Word and what God’s Word has to say to women,” Kassian, author of such books as The Feminist Gospel: The Movement to Unite Feminism With the Church, said.
“... We are living in a time when women do not know what it means to be a woman and men do not know what it means to be a man.”
Kassian highlighted several keys to living out a biblical conception of femininity in her mid-October address.
First, women must know what they believe about gender and be able to offer biblical support for their position.
Though men and women have equal worth before God, the Bible assigns unique roles to each gender, she said, noting that man was created to be the leader and initiator in a family, and woman was created to be a helper.
By fulfilling these roles, Christians can achieve unity with their spouses and bring glory to God, she said.
“God’s pattern is one of complementarity, and yet that complementarity doesn’t draw apart,” Kassian said. “It drives together in unity. There is a more profound unity and oneness than is possible than if it was just sameness. That is the Genesis plan for men and women.”
When biblical gender roles are lived out in marriage, the unity between husband and wife illustrates the mysterious unity present in the Trinity, Kassian said.
“How can it be that two can be one? How can that be? ... I can’t tell you exactly how that can be. But I can tell you it points to God because God is three but God is one. So it’s important the way I relate to my husband. It’s important the way I relate to other men as a woman,” she said.
While some women may think that submitting to their husbands is oppressive, Kassian said when it is properly understood, biblical submission actually empowers and satisfies women.
“The Bible tells us to submit, and it tells us ... that submission is good. It’s beautiful. And I have grown to believe that a submissive woman is in an incredible posi-tion of power because she can influence for righteousness and for good.
“And she is an incredible strength for her husband and her marriage, and she does not suffer one bit. In fact, she probably has much more in her relationship, in her marriage, in support than she would have had had she been clinging to her rights,” Kassian said.
Living out biblical femininity, however, is not an activity limited to marriage, she said. Women must model biblical womanhood in all of their relationships.
“I interact with men in my life as a woman,” she said. “The Bible does not say I need to submit to all men in my life. I don’t. Before God, I am bound to submit to my husband, not every man that walks on the face of the earth. But there is a gentleness and a quietness in my spirit so that I can interact in a womanly fashion even with men who are not my husband.”
A godly woman, Kassian said, has incredible potential to impact her world for Christ.
“It is amazing the power of a godly woman. I have so much power in my marriage relationship that it scares me. It’s scary. I am very ... careful with the words that I say because I know the impact that they can have. And ladies, God has given you a great deal of influence.
“You are able to strip a man down to nothing or build him sky high simply with [your speech] -- and you know it. And you use it sometimes to manipulate and control and for your own advantage. And you know what happens? It backfires. Unless you’re being a godly woman, it won’t work over the long haul.”