EDITOR'S NOTE: He Said-She Said is a biweekly advice column for singles featuring a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to hesaid-shesaid@crosswalk.com  (selected questions will be posted anonymously).

QUESTION: How do I respond to my superior in the workplace who has suggested, "Go get married" when I try to make meaningful contributions at work? Do men generally despise the contribution of women in the workplace? What does the Bible have to say on the subject?

HE SAID:

Without knowing the back story of your situation or the specifics in regards to the conversation which provoked this remark, it is difficult to direct you explicitly in a response. However, should it ever come up again, you may want to consider replying with something to the effect of, “I don’t understand what you mean by that.”

I would caution you from becoming too defensive on this matter in the event this was just a poorly-timed inappropriate display of “humor” (or claims to have been) by your superior. It would be safe and prudent on your part to seek out someone in the Human Resources Department to discuss and shed light on this matter, and for it to be documented should it become necessary for future use.

Having been both a superior and subordinate in government, corporate and private industry, I have found some men to despise the contributions of women in the workplace, but have also found that to be true of some women, towards both men and women.

Most circumstances are typically case-specific and shouldn’t be generalized to include “all” or even “most” men (or women) act in a certain way in all situations. As it is wrong for someone to suggest you to “go get married,” it is also wrong to label men as a group who generally despise the contributions of women in the workplace.

Conflicts within the workplace usually occur when a person feels threatened. Whether being “shown up,” “disclosed” or “put-down,” co-workers will retaliate in different ways in order to keep their territory, control or status among their peers, (in a strange way) much like animals in the wild.

Your superior may in fact just be “reacting” because he feels intimidated by your suggestions and contributions.

As for the Bible, there has always been a hierarchy and the Lord blessed those who faithfully and honorably served in subservient roles. Joseph pleased Potiphar, the warden and Pharaoh (Genesis 39), Daniel respected the chief official’s role (Daniel 1) and Ruth sacrificed for her mother-in-law (Ruth 1).  

You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things (Matthew 25:21).

Continue to serve in the role you were placed until you are moved up (or out), or choose to go somewhere else, but in the meantime, serve as if you are working for the Lord.

As Christians, our best witness can be one of action rather than words.  Others can always misunderstand, take out of context or misconstrue our words, but rarely can others misinterpret our actions.

SHE SAID:

Wow, when I first read this I was thinking, "I thought this type of thinking was dead. Didn't all these men die by now, or at least retire?" Well, based on your letter, they have not. This man obviously has no respect for women. I wonder how he treats his wife, daughters, or daughter-in-laws. To figure him out and try to "change" his attitude may be difficult, but it can be done. Only with the power of the Lord working through you and him. First I would pray every day that he would change, that he would see his comments, attitude, and actions are wrong. That they are condescending, disrespectful and take away from a positive work environment. Second, be encouraged to know God has you there because he wants you to reach others for Christ. Through your attitude, work performance, and quality of work you are to be an example for Christ. Let others wonder how you are able to deal with this man. Then when they ask, you can share with them that Christ is helping you, that God helps you to change and through Christ, your boss can too. Be encouraged to know God has put you there for a reason.

Also, please know there are a many women in the Bible who contributed to the work force. Now, personally I do think if a married couple has the financial ability for the wife or husband to stay home and raise a family vs. working, they should do it. I value the time my mom was with me and my brothers growing up. I think it's hard to have both parents working. However, until you are married (or even after), working outside the home is as much your right as a man's. In fact, based on the examples below, it can be very valuable to the kingdom. This is something you would have to pray about when the time comes. So here are a few women that should encourage you as God leads you:

Lydia, Business Owner

Acts 16:14 A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.

Rachel, Shepherdess

Genesis 29:9 While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess.

Phoebe, Missionary

Romans 16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea.  

Priscilla, Missionary and Tent Maker 

Acts 1.

Deborah, Ruler

Judges 4:4 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time.

Queen Vashti, Hostess

Esther 1:9 Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes.

Esther, Queen

[Book of Esther 1]

Deborah, Nurse

Genesis 35:8 Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried below Bethel under the oak; it was named Allon-bacuth.

Wife of Noble Character, Land Owner

Proverbs 31:16 She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard.

Midwife

Exodus 1:15 Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other was named Puah...

Also, Please remember, Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Pray and ask God for the strength to be who He wants you to be, where to work and how to serve. We are the light in this dark world, even a world filled with backward thinking men (and sometimes women). God may one day call you to stay home and that is great but if not, all works for His purpose.

HE is … Cliff Young, a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and a veteran single of many decades. He has traveled the world in search of fresh experiences, serving opportunities, and the perfect woman (for him) and has found that his investments in God, career and youth ministry have paid off in priceless dividends.

SHE is … Kris Swiatocho, the President and Director of TheSinglesNetwork.org Ministries and FromHisHands.com Ministries. Kris has served in ministry in various capacities for the last 25 years. An accomplished trainer and mentor, Kris has a heart to reach and grow leaders so they will in turn reach and grow others. She is the author of three books: Singles and Relationships: A 31-Day Experiment (co-authored with Dick Purnell of Single Life Resources); From the Manger to the Cross: The Women in Jesus' Life; and the most recent, Jesus, Single Like Me with Study Questions (includes a leader's guide and conference/retreat of the same name).

DISCLAIMER: We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. We're just average folk who understand what it's like to live the solo life in the twenty-first century. We believe that the Bible is our go-to guide for answers to all of life's questions, and it's where we'll go for guidance when responding to your questions. Also, it's important to note that we write our answers separately (we think they sound eerily similar sometimes, too!). 

GOT A QUESTION? If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to hesaid-shesaid@crosswalk.com (selected questions will be posted anonymously). While we are unable to answer every inquiry, we do hope that this column will be an encouragement to you. Click here to visit the He Said-She Said archives.

Publication date: January 24, 2013