Stereotypes are everywhere.
We perpetuate them wittingly and unwittingly.
They are so subversive we usually don’t even notice the double standards they carry.
Once we have breached the topic of stereotypes we wonder where do we start? They are everywhere in so many categories. Sometimes the easiest place to begin is in the category of gender roles.
Of all things I found a Pantene shampoo commercial recently that is actually looking to debunk some of these ideas:
It’s interesting the contrast it shows between men and women exhibiting characteristics with one being seen in a positive light, while the other is seen as negative. How often have we heard our students convey similar ideas?
Fill in the blank, “That girl is such a _________” Then as they talk about guys there seems to be another set of rules entirely.
Girls need to make sure to be “modestly dressed” so they don’t cause “guys to stumble.” (Which I agree with, btw.) However, what I don’t agree with is that guys so often get the message they can do “whatever” when they may be causing girls to lust in a similar way.
The problem with any of these ideas is that sin is not gender biased. Romans 3:23 DOES NOT say, “Girls have sinned and fall short when they are sluts but in that area guys get a free pass.” No it says, “For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
When someone hears messages in movies, magazines, television shows, social media, and even the church that seem to contradict each other, what do we do?
We begin by pointing out:
1 Samuel 16:7, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
- Remember David, the little shepherd who was out with the flocks? All of his brothers “seemed” to be the “right” fit. In short David didn’t fit the “kingly” stereotype, and yet God picked HIM.
- The world is always going to look at us from the outside.
- God cares about where our heart is, this is not gender biased.
- When we are in Christ it is our responsibility to look at others actively in the way He does.
Secondly we have to look at Galatians 3:26-28:
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
- In other words, when Jesus looks at us we all have a different part to play in the Body.
- He is clear He sees us in His love as the same.
- Our part in His Kingdom has as much to do with personality, calling and where Christ can use us best, as it does gender.
We can get so bogged down in what we are supposed to be “doing” as men and women we can forget that not all we see, or hear around us carries the truth. In Christ, all sin is black as night, no matter who commits it.
This can be an especially difficult topic to talk about when it comes to the church. The reality is that while the Bible carries the same words we all seem to read them a little differently. Remember, whatever your view is on where men and women “fit” in their roles God is clear about a couple of things:
- He does not see one position as “better” than the other, both men AND women have important parts to play in God’s plan.
- Make sure you are looking into the WORD before you talk about where women and men “fit” in the church and home. Often we take “tradition” and confuse it with Biblical truth.
- The Bible clearly talks about marriage and church when it comes to men and women. It does not talk about leaders in the workplace, government, or the rest of society.
Jesus came to set captives and oppressed free, bring sight to the blind, and be the Good News. It is vital to let those that stereotype know they are the ones so often that are blind, imprisoned and crushed. Those being stereotyped often feel trapped but don’t know how to “change” it. Thankfully, Jesus is the answer for both sets of people.
These are not simple or easy conversations to slog through. Often with tough talks like this, the way we begin, is to simply begin.
IDEA: Try taking your small group to a “Walmart” type store this week. Have them walk through looking at the covers of magazines, DVD’s, books, the ads on the televisions in electronics and make a list of what types of stereotypes they are witnessing in just one store in a short period of time.
What are you doing to actively tear down stereotypes?