The Church and Gender
April 21, 2013 Leave a comment
From my perspective the Christian Church has helped fuel gender confusion by placing added emphasis or burdens on others regarding the masculine and the feminine.
Recall the early Christian Churches of Jerusalem and Galatia which demanded that new Christians follow the strict tradition “soaked” Law along with the teachings of Jesus? Today’s church in similar fashion, is seeking to subjugate men and women to “Biblically” masculine or feminine stereotypes, demanding that their romantic notions of what they consider masculine and feminine become de facto behavior for all Christians.
As a former student of Moody Bible Institute and during the course of a lifetime I have read through the Bible several times and many, many passages several times over. I have to say that I have never, ever found any description of Biblical manhood or womanhood. What is written are what characteristics a man likes about a woman (see Song of Solomon and Proverbs 31) and what a woman likes about a man (see Song of Solomon). None of these “characteristics” ~ physical and pragmatic – carry the moral weight of the Ten Commandments or of the New Commandment that Jesus gave us to “Love one another.” These “characteristics” should never be used to propagate more sons and daughters of the “Biblically masculine and feminine.”
Now, when a Church or group puts the word “Biblical” in front of its messaging it is inferring that this is what a Christian must do or be. These “characteristics” should never be taught as Biblical mandates for manhood or womanhood.
As the Apostle Paul noted about food offered to idols (I Cor. 8), there are some who can eat such food and have no issue with their conscience. Others must refuse because of their conscience. He voiced concern about those with maturity and freedom being a stumbling block to the weak in their eating of food offered to idols. But I believe that it is the Church with regard to its “genderization of males and females” that has become a stumbling block for the weak. Throughout history the Christian church has sought to enforce its will onto Christians. This was certainly true before the reformation and it is still true with the “free” church’s Libertarian Paternalism that nudges people into making decisions the church feels are best for them, including gender roles. But the church does not decide what our Spirit-led conscience tells us to do. Paul learned that lesson the hard way. We as Christians have the freedom to decide our masculinity and femininity before God as the Spirit speaks to our conscience.
The closest we come to a description of “Biblical manhood and womanhood” in the Bible is within the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus (Eph. 5). It is there that he instructs Christians as to how married men and women should relate to each other.
Regarding these relational or family matters he bids husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands. Biblical manhood and womanhood as seen here is relating to the ‘other’ ~ wife or husband ~ with love and respect. Biblical manhood and womanhood are as relational as simply loving your neighbor as you love yourself. Why create extra yokes called “Biblical Masculine and feminine” to be placed on people’s necks?
Now it is common knowledge that people do not like ambiguity. We demand black and white. We demand inerrancy. We demand “Biblically masculine and feminine” males and females. Our minds are wired to alert us to any differences to a norm. We seek to reconcile things as quickly as possible. Ambiguity comes off as a potential threat to our understanding of how life should be. As related to gender we tend to overemphasize male and female “roles” in order to reduce our anxiety over ambiguity. I believe that some of this fear has grown out the Christian Fundamentalist movement that was raised up in the early twentieth century against the threat of Liberal theologian’s textual infractions. The Conservative Christian world sought to tighten its reins on what is and isn’t “Biblical.” But it has also put a noose around each gender.
Yet, there is no gender typecasting in Scripture. And, more importantly, the message of the Gospel offers everyone freedom from fear. This includes freedom from the fear of the ambiguous and the unknown, the fear of the future and the fear of the not being able to follow the letter of the Law and therefore deserving punishment.
In the past I have attended para-church seminars based on gender “issues.” There seminar leaders urged attendees to pray asking God for the “True masculine and the “True Feminine.” These prayers, of course, will not be answered because there is no such thing. The best a man or woman can ever become is to be Spirit-filled. And the best how-to books to become Spirit-filled are the Bible and My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. Forget the OTC self-help books and seminars on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. You would be wasting your time and money. Worse, you would most likely seek to adapt to someone else’s notion of what it is to be a man or a woman. Run from this nonsense.
The current falderal about gender~- “Biblical manhood and womanhood”~- are gooey romantic notions mandated as Biblical “righteousness.” Let’s not go there. Let’s be free to be men and women without the yoke of the man-made gender laws placed on our necks. And then, perhaps, homosexuals will then feel free to come home.
I have written about this before: What is Biblical About it?
I ask the homosexual community: What happened to friendship between one man and another? And, between one woman and another? And, why take something good like friendship and debase and pervert it into something unnatural and sexualized? And why create an emotional codependency when a good friendship creates a safe environment for sharing life’s joys and hardships?