Thursday, March 27, 2014

Retaining Honour--Post 7

A few more thoughts on specific tasks and traits:

Two trucks parked on the road by our house the other day.  Six men in yellow vests got out.  One man got into a cherry-picker on the white truck and hoisted himself way up into the oak tree on the other side of the road.  He got out a small chain saw and revved it up and started cutting off branches that hung out over the road.

The other men watched.  Then, when he paused, they picked up the branches and tossed them into the wood shredder behind the red truck.  Then they swept the road with a broom.

I watched and thought a few things, such as:
a)      Jenny and I could do that.  By ourselves.
b)      Why is it all men doing that job?
c)      Why does it take six of them?

The “six of them” is a whole other issue that I will let people like Glenn Beck discuss, but the fact that it was all men—is there something inherent about that job that necessitates men to do it?

Some tasks are innately male or female, such as fathering or bearing or nursing a child.

But what about work in general?

Part of what makes some people insist that there aren’t any innate differences between men and women is the fact that different cultures assign very different jobs to men and women.  Women grow the food in Kenya.  Men do the driving in Saudi Arabia.

In Bible times, women carried water.  In the story of Abraham’s servant at the well, Rebekah  drew water for the servant and offered to water his camels as well.  He didn’t offer to help her.

In contrast, when we lived in the North and carried our water from the lake, I was happy to play the “weaker vessel” card and let Paul do all the water-hauling.

When Jesus is preparing for the Last Supper, Mark 14:13 says: So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him.

Apparently the notable thing was that it would be a man and not a woman carrying the water.

There are other examples of tasks in the Bible differing from our customs.

In Exodus 35, God is telling Moses how to build the tabernacle.
30 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 32 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 33 to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. 34 And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. 35 He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.

Interesting, isn’t it?  Men, filled with the Spirit of God, doing weaving and embroidery.

Other Scriptures indicate that expectations in other areas were different from what we’d expect.

Proverbs 31 describes the virtuous woman’s arms being strong for her tasks.  The male Psalmists describe intense emotions--joy, weeping, regret.  David danced so much in public he embarrassed his wife.  God and earthly fathers are portrayed as gentle and compassionate. 

Psalm 103:13--Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.

As I implied in Post 6, if it isn’t specified in Scripture, we need to be cautious about assigning certain tasks or traits as women-only or men-only.

I'm guessing the predominance of men in jobs like construction and branch-trimming is a holdover from the days when those jobs were very physically demanding.

Also, and this is just me talking: I think most men get a bigger thrill out of driving big trucks, revving chain saws, and shredding wood than most women do.

So: there wouldn’t be anything morally wrong or physically impossible about Jenny and me cutting and chopping branches.  I think Saudi women should be allowed to drive.  That Midwestern church I mentioned earlier would be wise, in my opinion, to allow ladies the option of going hunting.  And if their men want to embroider like Bezalel and Oholiab, God bless them.

Scripture is much more specific about roles in general than tasks in particular.  Tomorrow.


  1. So true! I always loved that story about Oholiab & Co. because it showed that God cares about beauty, about pretty things, about our passions. I love that!

  2. Men embroidering - I was utterly shocked when I learned that Anita Goodesign (a company that digitizes embroidery designs) is run by a male! It took me some time to get over it. And he is not the only male involved in machine embroidery.

    BTW, know what I bought with my first SS check? An electric chain saw! My husband was amused...:-)

    Fine article, Dorcas. Enjoyed it.