Masculine and Feminine Roles


Fascinating Womanhood, Helen Andelin, 1950’s

Man’s Role: Guide, Protector, Provider,

Woman’s Role: Wife, Mother, Homemaker

The masculine and feminine roles, clearly defined above, are not merely a result of custom or tradition, but are of divine origin. It was God who placed the man at the head of the family when he told Eve, “Thy desire shall be unto thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”

The man was also designed to be the protector, since he was given stronger muscles, greater physical endurance, and manly courage. In addition, God commanded him to earn the living when he said, “In the sweat of thy face shall thou eat bread, till thou return to the ground.” This instruction was given to the man, not to the woman. (Gen. 3: 16, 19)

The woman was given a different assignment, that of helpmeet, mother, homemaker.

In Fascinating Womanhood we apply the word helpmeet to mean the role of the wife as she offers understanding, encouragement, support, and sometimes help.

Since she is biologically created to bear children, her role as a mother is unquestioned.

Her homemaking role is assumed: She must nurture her young and run the household, to free her husband to function as the provider. (Gen. 2: 18)

The masculine and feminine roles are different in function but equal in importance.

In Henry A. Bowman’s book Marriage for Moderns he compares the partnership of marriage to a lock and a key which join together to form a functioning unit. “Together they can accomplish something that neither acting alone can accomplish. Nor can it be accomplished by two locks or two keys. Each is distinct, yet neither is complete in and of itself.

Their roles are neither identical nor interchangeable. Neither is superior to the other, since both are necessary. They are equally important.

Each must be judged in terms of its own function. They are complementary.”

Division of Labor

As you can see, the design for the human family is based on a division of labor.

You may be interested to know that modern research has proven this ancient plan to be the best means of people working together. In the 1970s several large industries in America joined forces in a research project to discover the best system for people to work together in groups, especially to get along with one another, without contention.

Part of their study took place in hippie communes which had begun earlier, in the sixties. These idealistic groups were not based on a division of labor, but on equality.

Men and women shared equally in all daily chores. Women worked side by side with men in the fields or building shelters. The men shared household chores and care of the children.

The interesting discovery was this: They found that equality didn’t fit masculine and feminine differences. Women were better at some jobs and men at others.

Women’s hands, more delicately formed, were better for mending and sewing on buttons. Men were more capable of hauling and shoveling.

The most significant discovery, however, was that when they shared work equally, they didn’t get along with one another. There was contention, frequent hostility, and even hatred. Such dissension caused whole communes to fall apart.

The conclusion of the research was this: The best way to work in groups is by a division of labor. What a perfect plan God designed for the family.

The greatest success in marriage occurs when husband and wife devotedly live their respective roles.

On the other hand, the greatest problems occur when either of them fails to perform his or her duties, or when one steps over the boundaries and forcefully takes over the partner’s role, or shows an anxious concern for performance or lack of performance.

To succeed in your role, accept your womanly duties with a keen sense of responsibility. Let it be your concern, your worry. You can of course employ servants, or assign your children to help. But you are the one who must see that it’s done.

To further succeed, learn the feminine arts and skills. Learn to cook, clean, and manage a household. Learn the womanly art of thrift and how to rear children. Forget about yourself and devote yourself to the welfare and happiness of your family.

“One secret of a sweet and happy Christian life is learning to live by the day. It is the long stretches that tire us. We think of life as a whole, running on for us. We cannot carry this load until we are three score and ten. We cannot fight this battle continually for half a century. But really there are no long stretches. Life does not come to us all at one time; it comes only a day at a time.” -My Prayer Book, Father Lasance http://amzn.to/2mwR5u6 (afflink)

Painting by Emile Munier, 1880

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