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Up Front 6/8/2022

Gender Observations in Culture: Alastair Roberts

"... a code of honour, calling for the virtues of manliness, gives force to our expectation that leaders in particular be exposed to challenge and prove the strength of their positions or forfeit their status. The authority of leaders cannot easily be abstracted from their demonstration of the virtues of manliness: strength, honour, mastery, and courage. Manly authority doesn’t reside simply in offices, but arises from the public perception that a man possesses such virtues, especially when they are exercised in the service of goodness, truth, or beauty. Where a leader clearly lacks such virtues, people will not regard him as having much authority, even though he may enjoy office. Office and command without the weight of some form of the traditionally manly virtues—whether the person exercising it is male or female—can seem bossy. It is the sort of leadership that is perceived to lack the strength to underwrite its claims to people’s submission.
Women do not naturally gravitate to a manly code of honour. The social virtues that are elevated in women’s groups tend to be things like inclusion, supportiveness, empathy, care, and equality. Through his and his students’ research on the subject of ‘social justice warriors’, Jordan Peterson has identified that it refers to a real phenomenon in the world, but also suggests that it is specifically related to a maternal instinct: ‘the political landscape is being viewed through the lens of a hyper-concerned mother for her infant.’
The manly code calls us all to play to strength, whereas the maternal instinct calls us all radically to accommodate to weakness.
C.S. Lewis once observed, ‘battles are ugly when women fight.’
If we are to make progress, it will not be through submission to raw and antagonistic masculinism, but in the prudent, careful construction of societies and communities of discourse that harness both male and female social strengths, while counteracting their respective weaknesses and dangers.
An important part of this development, I believe, must be found in resistance both to complete gender integration on the one hand and to extreme gendered segregation on the other. We must recover the values of manliness: the future of a truthful and free society depends upon them. We must cultivate virtuous and honourable manliness in young men and save them from the clutches of feral masculinity. This requires the establishment and preservation of realms of male homosociality, where men are cultivated into mature masculinity, not least by members of an older generation.

Questions on Women and Head-coverings.

  1. Is the head-covering of 1 Cor 11 a literal head-covering?

    1. It was literal in Corinth and was the standard in all the churches of the New Testament. It is uncontested. 1 Cor 11:16 “If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.”

    2. The question of application however may appeal to the immediate context. In that culture, the removal of the head-covering meant something in their context that it does not mean now in our context. This does not negate the importance of the symbols, but the underlying meaning was and is the primary importance.

      1. Baptism is a symbol, and the Lord’s Supper is a symbol-even in the same area of scripture in 1 Corinthians.

      2. 1 Cor 16:20 “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” Greeting with a Holy Kiss may be an example where something that is commanded is not practiced in our culture, but the underlying meaning remains important.

    3. It may be difficult for us to answer because it's so foreign to our current practice. We may get this wrong. We should be humble about it, acknowledge the possibility, and ensure that the underlying reality is present.

    4. We should also pray that if we are wrong, the Lord will reveal it to us and determine that if he does we will obey him.

  2. Q: What does the head-covering symbolize in the Corinthian situation?

    1. Marital submission: 1 Cor 11:3 “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”

    2. Sexual Propriety: 1 Cor 11:5 “but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven.”

    3. Feminine Design: 1 Cor 11:7-9 “For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.”

  3. Q: Is head-covering for women a universal standard for all occasions?

    1. No, it is in the act of public prayer in the gathered church as they worship. In our setting, in gathered worship, it would be the platform. Those that are given the microphone to pray in the gathered service.

    2. b. It does not address single women. There was not a symbol for her submission to her father or parents. Although, those same expectations would apply. Submission to authority, proper/modest, and feminine.

  4. Q: Is there a contradiction in the being silent passages, and the prophesying? No, in fact, it reinforces the same principles.

    1. 1 Tim 2:9-14 “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”

      1. What is the context? v8

      2. What is the concern for women? v9

      3. What is the character expected? v11.

    2. The other “silence” passage is in a particular context. 1 Cor 14:34 “the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.”

    3. Context: 1 Cor 14:27-30 “If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent.”

    4. 1 Cor 14:34-36 “the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.”

      1. “Silent” in the context of weighing the prophecy.

      2. “Shameful” “to speak” in the context of weighing the prophecy in the public gathering.

  5. Q: Is there a contradiction between her prophesying and her teaching? Is this indicating that a woman can teach in the church?

    1. 1 Timothy 2:12 “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”

      1. Quiet in the context of teaching.

    2. Teaching and Prophesy are also always distinguished from each other.

      1. Romans 12:6–7 “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching;”

      2. Ephesians 4:11 “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers,”

      3. Acts 13:1 “Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers"

    3. The word teaching is didaskalo, didache: instuctions, and teachings...Teaching would be the opening up and explaining and applying the words of scripture or the teachings of Christ or His apostles.

    4. 1. Acts 18:11 Paul stayed 18+ months in Corinth teaching…the Word of the Lord. Paul did not prophesy in every church--he taught, as to the Thessalonians.

      1. 2 Thess 2:15 “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” We are not told to hold firm to the traditions that were prophesied, but those that were taught.

      2. 1 Tim 4:11 “Command and teach these things.

      3. 2 Tim 3:16-17. Scripture is profitable for teaching not prophesying.

      4. 1 Tim 3:2 “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,” An elder is to teach not prophesy.

If you have questions to add, email me at

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