Thursday, May 31, 2012

not one some surgeon came up with

Let's just pretend it hasn't been since February that I've posted and just get down to business. Kids are fine, I'm not pregnant, and I'm still married to the guy I promised to still be married to. You're caught up.

I've been giving a lot of thought lately to the ideas of masculinity and feminity. What does it mean to fall into those categories? Who defined those categories? How important is being one or the other? How can those words be best applied? Here's my hypothesis: masculine and feminine are words that should only describe things that can be perceived with the eyes or ears. Possibly the hands, on occasion the nose, but I'm trying not to get too graphic here. So I can say someone looks masculine or sounds masculine or moves masculinely (replace feminine there too) but I can't (or shouldn't) say that certain characteristics or attributes are masculine or feminine. Strength, beauty, courage, endurance, patience, militance, kindness, resolve, tenacity. I don't think any of these words are best used when they are relegated to one category or the other.

Men and women are both called to be strong and the difference between the two has nothing to do with the quality or quantity of that strength. For example, being strong, having strength, doing something strenuous is usually thought of as "masculine." And then all the feminists get super agitated because "women are strong, too! I can do anything a man can do, dammit!" So they squat 200 lbs and refuse to let a man open a jar because they WILL prove that they are strong. And then all the anti-feminists are saying, "I shouldn't be strong because that's what men do and I'm called to be feminine."

But my assertion is this: strength (or any intangible characteristic,) is neither. I look at it this way--there are numerous attributes on the "shelf" of who I am. I take off of the shelf whatever is called for at that moment. Bear attacking my child? I grab "bravery." Someone trying to take advantage of me? I reach for "assertiveness." Friend hurting and needs support? I go with "compassion"(sometimes.) And all of these things become feminine because it's me, Jamie, a female, doing them. Same scenarios, but it's Kris, my husband, a male (despite the spelling,) doing them, those things become masculine.

So as a woman, I'm never called to "put on" masculine characteristics (those things that transcend the senses) because there is no such thing. I'm called to be feminine because it is a glorious thing to be a woman (if you have indeed been made one by the Maker of such things.) It is equally glorious to be a man, again, assuming it is a God-assigned role and not one some surgeon with a severly misguided undertanding of his status in the Creator/creature distinction came up with.

And it should be obvious that I am a woman. I believe that it is important for anyone with functional eyes and ears, yea, even nasal passages, to easily ascertain that I am female without violating anyone's conscience. My dress, my voice, my physical appearance should register with the majority of those in my modern, western culture, as feminine. Because THAT has everything to do with the way that I am able to deliver these genderless qualities. Ideally, I strive to do it in a way that gives God the most glory and best points the world to Him. I do that because of my gender, not in spite of it.

In all this, my goal is not to blur the gender lines. I'm not saying "masculine, feminine, whatever! Who cares?" Rather, that it is unhelpful to describe qualities that all of the church is called to possess as either masculine or feminine because men want to refrain from the ones that are thought of as "feminine" and women think they need to avoid the ones that are commonly thought of as "masculine." It is not feminine to be nurturing. But the nurturing is malleable and will take on the shape of the one that bears it. I will nuture femininely. Kris will nuture masculinely. And it is in that distinction that the glory of the difference in the sexes resides.

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