Growing up, we were all taught “appropriate” ways of thinking and behaving based on our gender. Like it or not, when we reached adulthood, our attitudes and mindsets in this area were firmly locked into place. But if many of us feel stifled, it’s because what we were taught doesn’t match what God is calling us to do. The message the world gives us as men and women completely contradicts what Christ tells us.
When we believe wrong, we live wrong. Most of the things we go through in life are based in wrong-belief. Erroneous thinking has been nourished by erroneous teachings in the Church; it is religious teaching that stresses male domination and suppresses the voices, gifts, and talents of women. Religious teaching also suggests the husband should control the household; and a wife, no matter the situation or circumstance, should quietly follow along—no questions asked.
Who wants to be disrespected, lied to, cheated on, used, and abused? When men and women hold on to traditional and erroneous beliefs about their roles—and see that nothing is changing—their lives are burdened! Neither the man nor the woman was supposed to dominate or control the other. No—they were to exercise their authority over the earth and, in a partnership, rule the entire earth and their household, as well.
God didn’t create man and woman with an evil intent. Their purpose was not to bash one another, or try to control the other. He never wanted us to live in strife, confusion, or under a curse. The grace that comes with equality and partnership helps us to stay away from self-centeredness.
Whether we’re looking at friendships, marriages, secular careers, or the ministry, relationships governed by the world’s standards aren’t the way God intended them to be when He created Adam and Eve as equals. Sin ruined gender relationships until Jesus came to earth to restore them, but we still see inequalities all around us. Using old covenant Law as our guideline in this area diminishes the quality of life for everyone, but acknowledging God’s grace for both men and women gives everyone an equal chance to be included. “He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6, NLT).
Most of us have been misled by the idea that only men are qualified to lead or minister, or that a woman can’t hear from God without a man being present. The biblical examples of Miriam, Deborah and Barak, and Mary and Joseph, show us that God uses women as well as men. The confusion comes when we misunderstand the word “submission” in the context of the Word of God. For example, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:21) doesn’t mean that males should dominate women; it means that both men and women should submit to each other and push aside their own egos.
Now that Taffi and I have gotten revelation on how gender roles are supposed to work, even our marriage is better than ever! We believe we have the answer today because, like everything else that was once dictated by the Law of Moses, marriage requires freedom from erroneous thinking! In John 8, Jesus taught His people about freedom from bondage, especially as it pertained to old covenant Law. He basically said I am going to give you something that will make you free, something that will lift the burden. He called that something truth.
When we understand the Gospel’s message about gender relations, we realize just how much Jesus accomplished in breaking down the barriers between men and women. He set a powerful precedent that would last through the centuries by forgiving the prostitute of her sins, speaking to the woman at the well, and encouraging Mary to sit at His feet while He preached. He did this deliberately, to reconcile men and women and send the message that we’re all equal in God’s eyes. “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (Ephesians 2:14).
“Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). If we want to be free from the struggles we go through in any of our relationships, grace is the truth that will make us free. If we continue to live under the law of domination, thinking that one gender is superior over the other, we will never discover the vision that God has for men and women. Grace in relationships provides balance. We see that in our marriage every day— where I am weak, Taffi is strong, and vice-versa. We have to embrace grace and the truth in order to eliminate weaknesses, not only in marriage, but in every endeavor of our lives.
In order for us to reach our true potential as human beings and achieve what God wants us to achieve, we must change our ways of thinking about male-female relationships. We’re all one in Christ. When we sense His calling on our lives, we should never ignore it. Submitting to Him unites all of us!
I believe Taffi’s teachings on gender roles are simply life-changing. I’m looking forward to this teaching blossoming and becoming revolutionary in the Body of Christ.
—Creflo Dollar, excerpt from Taffi Dollar’s book Gender Roles: A Grace-Based Perspective
Dr. Creflo Dollar co-pastors with his wife, Dr. Taffi Dollar at Creflo Dollar Ministries, Atlanta, GA.