Sunday, August 30, 2009

Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood: Frustration

So, I wanted to update you all on my thoughts as of late. I have begun reading Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood by Piper and Grudem and find myself frustrated and confused. I don't want to write about specifics yet, as I want to give the book a chance to work itself out. But I can talk about some generalities.

So far, I am having problems with the underlying assumptions of the book, the attitudes of some of the writing, and the lack of female voice. I have read all of the prefaces (there are three), the two appendixes, and have started in on the main body of work. At times I find myself hopeful, only to have my hopes dashed upon the rocks of reading something very, um, frustrating.

For instance, I read the preface to single people, which seemed to be going well. I was even going to write a bit about how thoughtful parts of it were. But then I abandoned that when the preface ended with this little bit of "optimism" for single women everywhere (it is a quote itself, so it is a single woman writing this): "To be single is not to forego the traditional "womanly" pursuits. Whether you live alone or with a husband and children, a house or apartment is still a home that requires "homemaking." And marital status has nothing to do with the desire for warm, comfortable, aesthetically pleasing surroundings."

Other frustrations come from some assumptions that Piper and Grudem make that I'm just not sure I agree with. So far, a big one that bothers me is that they keep referring to the horrible state of society and how it can all be blamed on gender confusion. Now, I give them that society is screwed up. And I give them that there is a lot of gender confusion. But, I'm not sure society is more screwed up than it used to be; and I'm not sure these ills can all be attributed solely, or even mostly, to gender confusion. It makes me think of how Tim Keller says that the secular world embraces an increased "chronological snobbery", assuming that the current society is the "best" that has ever existed. I think Christian culture, in turn, embraces an increased "chronological abhorrence", assuming the society they find themselves a part of to be the most evil society that has ever existed. I am just not convinced that our current condition is worse than the condition of people you and I read about in Genesis. Good golly Miss Molly. Have we read Genesis lately?

I don't know how to describe my frustration other to say that at this point I feel as if the subtitle of this book should be "Adventures in Missing the Point". But, I will read it and you will probably hear a lot about it. I don't know where I'll start. My underlining and writing feverishly in the margins already warrants a few posts. And I have barely started the main body of work. :)

Also, just so you know, I am reading Redeeming Love as well right now. It is an interesting counterpart to all of this heavy thinking. Don't expect me to finish anytime soon, though. Fiction is not my thing.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Men & Women in the Church, Part 5: The Princess Complex


Before leaving Sumner's book, I wanted to give a little attention to what we'll call "The Princess Complex".

Sumner says: "Every time I long for my husband to sweep me off my feet so that I don't have to walk on the difficult path of Christlike suffering, in essence, I am asking him to prove that he is a man so I won't have to prove that I'm a Christian. When Jim and I were first married, I wanted him to be my Superman. I didn't like it when he felt afraid. I wanted him to rescue me from my fears and not have any fears of his own. My picture of marriage called for me to be human and for him to be superhuman. For me to be vulnerable, and for him to be invulnerable. I expected our marriage to be a comforting refuge where I would be held safe in the arms of my hero and where he would be admired by me. Jim would be Zorro, and I'd be Cinderella. And we would serve Christ in our home. I am on a journey of repenting from my worldly view of marriage" (89).

I think that while husbands serving and loving their wives is Biblical, I have seen and felt what happens when women "claim" that Biblical mandate as an "out" to hard things in life. I have experienced the same things in my marriage. Honestly, I often get bratty because I expect Josh to serve me. But, um, there are a lot of problems with that. I do not deserve Josh's love, let alone his service. Even if I won't admit that I am expecting him to spoil me, it still creeps in underneath the surface: "You deserve to be treated like a princess." Oh, the lies! That "deserve" word is one of the things I am warring against. I don't take it lightly. Ask any woman I've mentored. My eyebrow arches and I get a little grin on my face whenever I hear it. We can talk about exactly what we all deserve in a later post.

Josh did spoil me for awhile, until I started to realize that I no longer had to do things I hated. And that was bad for my character. I became lazy, attached to comfort, and I put too much pressure on Josh to take care of me. Now, I am the youngest child of all girls, so this being taken care of complex wasn't a stretch for me. (My sister is laughing now.) But regardless, husbands should call their wives into Christlikeness, not princess-likeness. That means helping us do the things we don't want to do: cutting the grass, talking to the person we're avoiding instead of passing the phone to you, ceasing the gossip, etc. If we wives are the body of our husband, according to Ephesians 5, he should wash us and care for us and feed us. That doesn't mean he gives us whatever we want and removes the things from our lives we don't want. Our bodies become stronger when they are pushed to their limit in exercise. Our stomachs crave chocolate and sugar, but we need to eat things that we don't necessarily want all the time. Sometimes you have to scrub uncomfortably hard to get the grime of your feet.

Christ in no way has called his church to live free of trials and tribulations. He did serve us to the point of death, but that doesn't mean we are made to be pampered. A lot of dialogue goes on out there that husbands should treat their wives as princesses. While this is true in comparison to abuse and neglect, it is not the way Christ loved and served the church. Christ does not value comfort above character for us. He cares that we grow in holiness and wholeness.

I think this also trickles into how Christian fathers treat daughters. Pampering and spoiling your children is not creating greater character in them. Daughters, as well as sons, should learn how to handle money, problem solve, and change a tire. We daughters cannot always call our dads to come help us, as much as we might want to do just that. Now there is nothing wrong with men being caring, and serving their families, and providing for them.  We should just use caution that the husband (or father) is not the only one acting like Christ while everyone else reaps the rewards.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Men & Women in the Church, Part 4: Headship

I miss my head...photo © 2008 r e n a t a | more info (via: Wylio)Men & Women in the Church, by Sarah Sumner

The next topic Sarah Sumner has inspired me to rethink is the issue of men being "head of the family." I read her book, Just How Married Do You Want to Be?, which was what made me want to read Men and Women in the Church. And in Just How Married Do You Want to Be?, Sumner talks about the issue of headship extensively. While I don't feel completely ready to dive into the deep meanings yet, as I'd like to do more study on the Biblical texts themselves, I would like to put forth what Sumner proposes: The Bible never includes the phrase "head of the family" even though we talk about it as if it is a Biblical phrase. While the concept might be Biblical (not saying that it is or isn't at this point), what is clear in the Bible is that the man is the head of the wife. This is clear, as it is not only stated but expounded upon by Paul in Ephesians 5. But Sumner speaks of the head-wife headship analogy as something that is Scriptural, and by talking about headship of the family, we are almost robbing headship of the wife of its deep meaning. A head cannot have two bodies, but one. And if the wife is his body, then they are one being and he cannot be the head of something else at the same time.

While some say that "head" doesn't in fact mean head, but instead "source" or "authority", Sumner proposes that these are interpretations that are used by us to understand the text (as it's so odd to think of the man actually being the literal head of his wife), but that these interpretations are not the most literal. In fact, headship is something that brings home the seriousness and mystery of marriage. If a husband and wife divorce, it is an extremely serious thing that is like decapitation. If a body is decapitated, both parts suffer. Divorce is that serious; it is like a death. But to cut off a tree's "source" of nutrients is not as serious. While the tree (the woman) will die, the water or sun or whatever the "source" may be is not affected. And if a husband is simply the "authority", than getting rid of his wife would be like getting rid of an employee, and while it may be an inconvenience, he just gets a new one and goes about his life. But if he and she are one body, he the head and she the body, than divorce sucks for all, as is true in reality.

Now, all of this talk of headship isn't to say that we can solve this mysterious headship business by figuring out what these roles mean through saying that heads fulfill some roles and bodies fulfill other roles. For instance, some have said that if husband is the head then husbands make decisions, observe and gather data, speak on behalf of the body, bring in the nourishment. And the wife, as the body, is the doer of the relationship, reaches out to others, even acts as the heart (emotional center) of the relationship. But, I really think these explanations rob the analogy of the mystery which it holds. If we think about it literally, all emotions start in the brain, not the heart. And the digestive system filters through the food that comes down through the mouth. Not to mention, what sex would this body be? It is a "profound mystery", and it should remain somewhat intact as such (even though we should try to learn from it), instead of us robbing it of it's deeper meaning. As Sumner says, "As much as we might wish to define the word head, it is not appropriate to do so because "head" is a metaphor, and metaphors are not meant to be defined" (153). While metaphors are supposed to teach and help us, they are not meant to act as recipes or formulas. They fit more in the poetry/art section of our brain, even though we try to fit them into the scientific side of things.

All this to say, I think men should exercise leadership over their family, relationally, emotionally, spiritually, etc. I think men ARE intended to take care of others, and their number one responsibility in that arena is that of their family, especially their wife. 1 Timothy 3 does state that men should care for their families and manage their households if they want to assume responsibility within the church. (But 1 Timothy does not use headship language.) I think we can all attest to the anti-shalom that happens when men shirk their responsibilities. So, I am not advocating that men should not be leaders of their families. But, I just know that my eyes were opened when I realized that "head of the family" is not in the Bible and perhaps we should stop treating it as Scripture itself. If the husband is the head of the wife, then they are one flesh, really, and they act as one flesh, one front, one force in all other aspects of life. Though their do might be different, their be is the same.

Thoughts? I know this might hit some buttons, so I ask hesitantly. :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Androgyny

While I often steer away from including them in my thoughts, roughly 1% of the world's population has a mixture of both male and female traits, physically, psychologically, and sexually. This article in today's NYTimes reminded me, and for that reminder, I am grateful.

I'm not sure how to think about biologically androgynous people theologically, but some thoughts occur to me off the top of my head. I have not thought these out very far, so I welcome your feedback.

-It is quite possible that biologically androgynous people have a unique perspective on how to embrace both masculinity and femininity at once. Many of us have a hard time making peace with both the masculine and feminine, leaning entirely on one or the other. So perhaps we can learn something from people who grapple with it daily. (We will talk more about this when I write about Crisis in Masculinity by Leanne Payne in the coming weeks.)

-An eunuch was among the first recorded converts to faith in Christ. While eunuchs were usually disrupted in sexual development intentionally, they are related through their androgyny to people born with dual sex organs.

See the excerpt from Wikipedia: "Unidentified eunuch of the Ethiopian court (1st century BC), described in The Acts of the Apostles (chapter 8). Philip the Evangelist, one of the original seven deacons, is directed by the Holy Spirit to catch up to the eunuch's chariot and hears him reading from the Book of Isaiah (chapter 53). It's a section, which prophesies Jesus' crucifixion, and Philip witnesses to the eunuch about the fulfillment of the prophecy. The eunuch is baptized shortly thereafter. It's the first recorded case of the conversion of someone who had possibly been marginalized for gender reasons."

That is in Wikipedia! I was quite surprised when I read it. :)

-"Male and female He created them" Genesis 1:27. I don't think that the Bible was lying in this regard, so I do think it's possible that The Fall has something to do with all of this. I don't know how to expound upon this without sounding offensive, so until I think it out a bit more, I'll just leave it at that.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Parallel Blogging: Different Perspective

I met Karen years ago at NYU. She was involved in another campus ministry, but we worked together on occasion for Christian community-wide events and efforts. She was always someone I respected for her humility, insight, and passion. I feel so lucky to have just found her blog, which doesn't revolve entirely around gender issues, as mine does, but is very relevant. I invite you to read her thoughts on womanhood as valuable and needed. Her whole blog is worth reading, but I'll point you in the direction of three posts for now if you don't have time to peruse the whole thing:

True Life: I'm a Single Christian Female (Part I)
True Life: I'm a Single Christian Female (Part II)
Women in New York

Those posts have me thinking, and for that, I am grateful. Thanks, Karen!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Men & Women in the Church, Part 3: 1 Timothy 2

Men and Women in the Church, by Sarah Sumner Ph.D.

Okay, time to get a bit more focused on Scripture. I will make my way through relevant Scripture with increasing depth in the coming months. For now, I want to focus on 1 Timothy 2. The reason is twofold. 1) Once, in a random conversation with Christian friends, Josh asked what people thought about women as pastors. We got one, and only one, quick response: "Well, I don't think women should be pastors; 1 Timothy 2 is pretty clear about it." 2) Sumner deals in depth with 1 Timothy 2 and it was thought-provoking. So let's begin our first of many visits to 1 Timothy.

First, for the record, when studying Scripture, I hate taking passages out of their original context, especially when the context is a letter, as is the case with 1 Timothy. Usually excerpts are part of larger points that the author is trying to make. 1 Timothy was written to Timothy, the mentoree of Paul, about the church in Ephesus. And 1 Timothy is a letter written in response to news from Ephesus. Its dating has it written after Paul wrote Ephesians. So, we'll keep in mind that these two letters are written to the same audience, one after the other. I usually work out of the NASB translation, but will probably use a combination of a few translations when I look at Bible passages to help with interpretation. I also look up word origins, uses, and definitions via bible.crosswalk.com using Strong's Concordance. I'm posting the whole chapter here in ESV:

2:1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men [humans], the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 8 I desire then that in every place the men [males] should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 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, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

Now, I don't want to dive too deeply into this passage right now. Sumner does a great job of that, which I might get into at another point. But for now, let's look at what might cause us to reread this passage asking for revelation from God. Verses 9-15, the chunk people reference about women, contain a lot in only a few sentences. Primarily, it is inconsistent to apply different interpretational techniques to the same passage unless the author has shifted topics or styles of writing. Paul does seem to think all of these thoughts connect, so while I don't see how they're all pertinent to each other, we should try to read them as connected parts of a larger idea, not many different ideas thrown together. So there needs to be a way to read these verses that is consistent.

The problem in reading this passage is that the modern Evangelical church seems to have taken some parts and said that they shouldn't be read literally and taken other parts and said that they should be read and applied literally. We should not say that verse 9 was written primarily to a specific problem and doesn't apply literally anymore and then turn around and say that verse 12 has a "clear" interpretation and should be applied literally. That is simply inconsistent, right? I think we can all agree that modesty and self-control are godly behaviors, but we don't seem to think that the acts themselves of braiding ones hair or wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothing is improper anymore. We also don't literally think that women must remain quiet at church all the time. (To be exact, some people believe these things, but I'm speaking of the majority of American Evangelicals when I make these statements.) We also don't think that Eve, or us women, are actually saved through childbearing, or by continuing in faith, love, holiness, or self-control. We believe, quite unanimously, I think, that we're saved through faith in Christ. Right?

So, if this passage is "clear", I'm missing something. We have text, subtext, and context, none of which seem to be clear to me. I am sure that all Scripture is inspired by God and useful for us today, so as Sumner puts it, "there are no problem verses in the Bible" (34). While I have no answers now, I do want to call us to re-examine 1 Timothy 2 with help from the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Men & Women in the Church, Part 2: Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Men and Women in the Church, Sarah Sumner, Ph.D.

The next topic that Sumner got me thinking about: Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Is there such a thing? For the past 5-10 years, there has a been a widespread movement among us Evangelicals to study and grow in Biblical manhood and womanhood. While I think these efforts are well-intentioned (people do need to wrestle with Jesus about the reality of their gender), perhaps we have started to lose the focus on us ALL studying and growing in Christlikeness. Sumner was the first person I'd read who proposed that Biblical manhood and womanhood are not themselves Biblical concepts, but interpretations of Biblical characters, texts, and principals. In the Bible, we see various types of men and women that could lead to various interpretations of what it means to be manly or womanly. And often people draw on those characters, but I'm not sure we should do that. The Bible is not a book filled with role models that we should try to emulate. The Bible is a book full of sinners that God loved despite themselves. If we are to strive to be like anyone in the Bible, let's make it Christ.

In the story of Joseph alone, which is one of my favorite Bible stories, we see men and women of all sorts. Rueben seemed to be a caring older brother, but lacked major self control and slept with his step-mother. Simeon and Levi are violent and selfish, advocating for Joseph's death and killing an entire village of people. Judah has that fun little episode with Tamar, his son's widow, but the lineage of Christ comes from this very sinful activity. Joseph himself is fairly bratty until God breaks him, then he becomes a wise ruler, after a hard life of suffering. And Jacob, their father, has major identity issues stemming from his relationship with his beloved Rachel, leading to unhealthy attachments with her sons, Joseph and Benjamin. The women also represent so many different types of women: mother Leah desparately sought her husband's affection, only to turn to God at the end and bear Judah, who becomes the continuer ? of Christ's bloodline. Rachel's identity was in her beauty, but suffered for not being able to have children for years. Dinah, Leah's daughter, has a sketchy relationship with a strange man who she marries hastily. Tamar is rejected and despised, perhaps acts seductively, perhaps was victimized, and becomes the mother of Perez, a bastard child, the youngest in Christ's lineage in this story. Potiphar's wife is obviously manipulative, seductive, and a liar.

Not all studies of Biblical manhood and womanhood are character studies, but many I have read or listened to are. And how do we begin forming one type of man or one type of woman out of extremely diverse men and women in the Bible? When you take the Bible as a whole, the types of men and the types of women vary even more in their gifts, sins, and temperaments. I don't think we should say "This type of man is Biblical" or "This type of woman is Biblical". Of course, you can say some things are not Biblical for people to hold onto in their identity, such as sexual sin, idolatry of action and heart, and impatience. But, of the not clearly sinful traits, I think we're left with too many options to make these wide-sweeping claims about gender identity. Not all studies of Biblical manhood and womanhood are character studies, but many I have read or listened to are.

Let's instead consider the person of Jesus, who exhibited both masculinity and femininity, neither in excess. If we strive to be like him, we will all grow in traits understood by our current culture as masculine and feminine. We will, at the same time, grow in strength, passion, leadership, and boldness, but also love, compassion, submission, and servanthood. We are never admonished in scripture to grow into the fullness of our gender, but to grow into the fullness of Christ. We ARE already the gender God has made us, regardless of how we act. We might not be the fullness of an adult in our gender (stuck in boyhood or girlhood), but to indicate that our gender identity comes from how we act is, I think, putting our identity in what we do instead of what God has done already.

Now, as we've started talking about masculinity and femininity I think it is important to state that these concepts are liquid, different in different cultures, and when I talk about them, I am talking about the characteristics presently understood as masculine and feminine by the majority of Americans. I will address these concepts more later.

Any thoughts are deeply appreciated, as long as they are respectful and helpful.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Men & Women in the Church: Part 1, Misogyny in Church History

BLAKE William Temptation of Eve 1808photo © 2008 carulmare | more info (via: Wylio)Men and Women in the Church, by Sarah Sumner Ph.D.

I'm posting these thoughts in chunks so that they are more manageable to read. Hopefully the topical style will also allow you pick and choose which to read and which to skim. :)

Let's begin this discussion with a quote from the book, which helps me back away from suspicion and judgment on this very hot topic: "It's important for us as members of Christ to respect those who contend for the opposite position than we do ourselves, especially since the answer is not known" (157). So, to those who might disagree with my thoughts, can't we enter this conversation with humility and grace? I know I will fail at times to remember that, but I want to advocate these values now.

First, I love that Sumner does not seek to pick a "camp" in this debate: the complementarians or the egalitarians. (For those who are unfamiliar with those terms, I would suggest doing some Wiki-ing before you continue reading this post and this blog. I would explain, but I think I'm not the best person to represent each side. In short, as Sumner puts it, "Complementarian thought is usually a mix of Bible and traditionalism. Egalitarian thought is usually a mix of Bible and feminism" (33). But that is only a brief picture of two very complex schools of thought.) Sumner sees in both complementarian and egalitarian arguments a mix of truth, misconceptions, and sin. I'm so glad Sumner sees this reality and doesn't want to deepen the division within the Church, but seeks instead to address this issue in a state of unity and love.

Now, onto the juicy stuff!

To my horror, Sumner gave a brief overview of the history of misogyny within the Church. Before reading her resources, I had some anger about how women have been treated. But, after a brief education, I was both angrier and more grateful at the same time--angrier for knowing that misogynistic teachings were accepted as truth, and more grateful for being born in the 20th century. This post will rely heavily on the quotes that Sumner uses. My hope is that this post will address the objections that 1) women have never been treated unfairly in the Church, and 2) we must submit without question to the leadership within the Church as given to us by God.

Augustine, yes the St. Augustine, believed that a man was the image of God but "woman herself alone" was not the image of God. (As Sumner highlights, perhaps this legacy trickled down and is part of the reason why single women feel so much more pressure to marry than men. Because they need to partner in order to have spiritual depth or insight.) According to Augustine, this (and I'm not even exaggerating) is because her mind is of lower quality than the man's mind and hence only men truly bear God's image. That is why women should wear head coverings when they pray (1 Cor 11), because it is an act of acknowledgment that their mind is not worthy of the glory of God. To quote him directly: "Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head...For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God."

To continue, this is why Satan tempted Eve, because her "small intelligence" was a greater vulnerability. "How could he [Adam] have believed what the serpent said? For the serpent said that God prohibited them from eating the fruit of the tree because he knew that if they did so, they would become as gods by their knowing good and evil--as if God begrudged his creatures so great a blessing! That a man endowed with a spiritual mind could have believed this is astonishing. And just because it is impossible to believe it, woman was given to man, woman who was of small intelligence and who perhaps still lives more in accordance with the promptings of the inferior flesh than by the superior reason. Is this why the apostle Paul does not attribute the image of God to her?" DID YOU READ THAT?

Moreover, Augustine cannot think of any reasons as to why woman was created other than (1) her being there to bring Adam into sin and (2) bearing children. To quote him, "If it were not the case that the woman was created to be man's helper specifically for the production of children, then why would she have been created as a helper? Was it so that she might work the land with him? No because there did not yet exist any labor for which he needed a helper, and even if such work had been required, a male would have been a better assistant. One can also posit that the reason for her creation as a helper had to do with the companionship she could provide for the man, if perhaps he got bored with his solitude. Yet for company and conversation how much more agreeable is it for two male friends to dwell together than a man and a woman!...I cannot think of any reason for woman's being made as man's helper, if we dismiss the reason of procreation."

Um, so there's a little food to chew on. First, these thoughts were pervasive among the Church fathers. I quoted Augustine because he is the most well-known of the men Sumner quoted, but there were others. They were men of faith, I'm sure, but as with us all, they were not exactly stellar in all of their interpretations of Scripture.

Also, as a question for comments, how do you think these early church interpretations of Scripture have trickled down to society today? Do you see them affecting your life in particular? I'd love to hear input on this.

More to come soon. I have a lot of food for thought from Sumner's rich book, Men and Women in the Church.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Shoes and Beauty

I went to a beautiful wedding today. And my feet hurt. A lot. I could probably do some research as to why women wear such torture devices on their feet. But, honestly, that's not what I want to write about. I want to write about the beauty of the genders coming together.

While this isn't a very complex topic, I do want to state that as much as I want to dissect and analyze gender and its role in our relationship with God, I want to make it clear that I love unity of the genders, marital or otherwise. I do not think women are better than men, nor do I think men are better than women. It is beautiful to see a couple dance, one leading, one following, the two coming together and apart in rhythmic succession. Couples are beautiful because they are different, but one.

Our conversation at our rehearsal dinner table last night gave me some food for thought. The conversation was largely philosophical--about art, faith, and life. But the one thing that stuck out to me was the emphasis on how things are beautiful when they are a bit unexpected and surprising, but ugly when they are too dissonant and shocking. I think God uses this with many of his creations, especially gender. I think the point I'm trying to make is implicit, but for the sake of clarity:

I love that men and women are different. But I hate when people live as if we are wholly different and must fit certain roles, have certain skills, etc based entirely on our gender. More than we are different, we are alike. We tease these differences out for fun or affirmation or whatever reason, but I think ignoring the ways in which we are all similar makes humanity move toward the ugly side of the spectrum instead of the beautiful side as God intended. Men and women are made in the image of God, and together we make a beautiful picture of Him, as long as the people we become and the lives we lead aren't too dissonant.
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