You may not have realized it, but there are no longer any distinct gender roles in marriage or society. At least according to Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. In his opinion striking down California’s Proposition 8 (Perry v. Schwarzenegger), he writes:
The evidence shows that the movement of marriage away from a gendered institution and toward an institution free from state-mandated gender roles reflects an evolution in the understanding of gender rather than a change in marriage. The evidence did not show any historical purpose for excluding same-sex couples from marriage, as states have never required spouses to have an ability or willingness to procreate in order to marry. Rather, the exclusion exists as an artifact of a time when the genders were seen as having distinct roles in society and in marriage. That time has passed. (115, emphasis added)
Wow. That is a sweeping statement. And, the people of the state of California would seem to disagree with Judge Walker’s assessment of society and marriage, given that they by Proposition 8 amended their Constitution to provide that: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” That sure seems to make some gender distinctions!
Fortunately though, we have wise rulers like Judge Walker, openly known to be homosexual himself, to tell all of us common folk that the time of gender distinctions has passed. How could the voters of California be expected to know anything about gender roles in society and marriage? Why, they might be naive enough to think that the era of distinctions based upon gender is still here!
Judge Walker continues by helping us to understand that “[t]oday, gender is not relevant to the state in determining spouses’ obligations to each other and to their dependents. . . . Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals (115).” Ah, so the triumph of egalitarianism is here! I didn’t even know it!
(As an aside, you should remember that Judge Walker is not just educating the people of California on marriage and society, he is educating all of us. I, after all, live in Virginia, so not big deal for me, right? Wrong. He is a federal judge interpreting the Constitution of the United States of America. So, if this opinion stands, it will effectively require every state in the Union to recognize homosexual marriage. Thankfully, it will be appealed, and there is a chance that it will be overturned, if not in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals then in the Supreme Court. More on that tomorrow.)
However, maybe I am being too hard on Judge Walker with my sarcastic remarks above. Maybe he is closer to the mark than many of us realize.
The Bible Teaches Gender Distinctions in Marriage, the Church, and Society
Now, of course, he is not even close to the Biblical mark. The Bible clearly calls homosexuality sin, and the Bible clearly doesn’t contemplate that there will ever be a time in this world when distinctions based upon gender will be a thing of the past. In fact, the Bible clearly teaches distinct roles for men and women in marriage, the church, and society as a whole. Gen. 2:18-25; 1 Cor. 11:1-16; Eph. 5:22-23; Col. 3:18-19; 1 Tim. 2:9-15, 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9, 2:1-6; and 1 Pet. 3:1-7 all teach that distinctions are to be made on the basis of gender because God has made distinctions, at creation, on the basis of gender. Likewise, all of these passages teach that males are to be in a position of authority in the family, the church, and society.
You can mouse-over any of the links above to read the full passages. I would strongly suggest that every Christian do that. Read these passages, and read them carefully.
We, as Practical Egalitarians, Are Getting a Well-Deserved Whippin’
How then is Judge Walker even close to the mark if the Bible so clearly teaches gender distinctions? He is close because our society and even most evangelical Christians abandoned these teachings a long time ago. The Feminist Revolution hit the church as well as the culture, and in many churches across America it would be controversial just to read a lot of the passages above. When is the last time you heard one of these passages preached on in your church? If your pastor were to preach on one of these passages, would he labor more to explain it away or affirm it and suggest how the body might actually live it out?
Tough questions because, in many ways, we have become as egalitarian as the culture around us. In some churches this translates to women pastors and elders and the eradication of all gender distinctions. In more conservative churches, it tends to manifest as a practical egalitarianism–a paying of lip-service to the passages while living a life that effectively denies their teachings. How many families do you know where the father is really, and I mean really, the leader of the family? Do we even know what that would look like? How many evangelical churches do you know that, while having only male pastors, have completely feminized worship, preaching, decoration, etc.?
It could certainly be said of the modern American church on this issue, and others, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men (Mk. 7:6-7 (ESV)).'”
Thus, my statement that Judge Walker is close to the mark. We should not be surprised that an increasingly hostile culture hates God’s teachings on gender roles. That’s just lost people being lost. Read Romans 3:10-18. What should surprise and sadden us is that the church has become so influenced by the world that she hates these teachings as well.
If we have any hope of a real reformation in our society, it must begin with the people of God. We must repent of our wicked ways. We must submit ourselves to God’s word. We must, once again, begin to be salt and light by unashamedly holding forth the Biblical view of gender roles in society and living it out wherever God has given us the jurisdiction and authority to do so.
Until we do that, we should expect that God will continue to chasten us with more judicial opinions like this one and more rulers like Judge Walker. God whips His disobedient children per Hebrews 12:4-11. This decision, and this Judge and others like him, are a whippin’ from God. Will we repent, or is God going to have to continue to take us to the woodshed?