Read the first post in this series: Redefining marriage
This is another call to repentance, another call that is not for those outside the Church. I’m not even sure it’s for everyone inside the Church. In fact, it may not even make sense to anyone but me. That’s because, more than anything else, I am “preaching” to an audience of one. Any finger-pointing is directed first and foremost back at myself.
This post, and any others in the series, are a reflection of some of my ongoing thoughts and concerns about marriage in general. At this point, I freely admit to being more short on answers than I’d like.
We have confused stereotypes and prejudices about gender with how God created men and women — and have dared slapped the label “God-ordained gender roles” on the resultant mess and nonsense.
We have searched out Scriptures to find “evidence” for our own pre-conceived notions about gender roles. We have twisted Scripture into convoluted evidence, and attacked anyone as “less than Christian” who called our carelessness and lack of logic into question.
We have attached gender to the evidences of the Holy Spirit’s work in a person’s life, even though Scripture does no such thing. The truth is that there are no male or female “fruit”, no male or female “gifts”.
We have confused cultural norms and practices with God’s will for men and women.
We have confused our own opinions and experiences, our own hopes and desires, with what God requires of us. (“I like men to be like this…I’m sure God feels the same.” “All the women in my family don’t do this, so no Christian woman should.” “I’m uncomfortable with this, so it must be wrong.”)
We have seen gender where there is no gender. Like the three year old boy I knew who insisted on drinking only from a “boy cup” and using only a “boy spoon”, we too often claim certain things are masculine or feminine, when they are neither. Courage is not a “masculine virtue”, nor is gentleness a “feminine virtue”. The Bible does not speak of gender-specific virtues or character traits.
Furthermore, God does not give either sex a free pass on certain sins because some people of our gender may find them especially easy to commit, or overwhelmingly tempting. Nor do we get to opt out of obeying God in those instances when to do so might cause our same-sex peers to look askance at us and call our gender identity into question. Too bad. Following Christ is not without cost.
Side note: if you are a woman, please don’t whine about “persecution” just because you are being accused of “acting like a man” when you don’t shrink back with fear or don’t insist with feigned helplessness that a man do something that you are capable of doing for yourself. If you are a man, please don’t whine you are being “persecuted” just because one of your buddies makes a joke about you being “whipped” when you try to love your wife as much as you love yourself.
We allow our culture to define masculinity and femininity for us. Oh, sure, we deny this, but the truth is that we merely tweak and attempt to “Christianize” the current cultural definitions. Thus, the red-blooded American Christian husband should be having all the mind-blowing sex he wants whenever he wants it — but only with his wife. Of course, she should be the Christian version of a “real woman”: voluptuous and sexy, wildly uninhibited during sex, but soft-spoken and gentle in every other setting. The truly godly wife should be her husband’s very own private porn star — incredibly skilled at performing every sex act he can imagine without him even having to ask — yet so innocent and pure that she not only never kissed another man, but never had a remotely sexual thought prior to marriage. But there is more. Men like sports; women like Pinterest. Men are from Mars; women are from Venus. Men are initiators; women are responders. Men need respect; women need love. We just recycle our cultural messages and repackage them with the “Christian” label.
We bludgeon one another with ungodly measuring sticks of what we claim is true masculinity and femininity. Those that do not measure up to our arbitrary standards are left feeling bewildered, emotionally battered, and inadequate — often with deep aching wounds at the very core of our being. I have experienced what a terrible thing it is to be convinced, by fellow Christians, that I fail to measure up as a woman, as a human being. Men who have been similarly bludgeoned insist that their wounds are even more devastating.
We tell each other lies about gender. We place burdens on ourselves and others that God never intended. We accuse. We condemn.
We allow gender to separate us when our very own Scripture teaches us that there is neither male nor female in Christ. Instead of focusing on Him, we prefer to focus on sex and gender. We prefer to divide rather than unite.
Instead of embracing the beauty of God’s creation, instead of seeing His image in every man and woman, we pit one sex against the other, shove each other into boxes, tear each other down, exalt ourselves, demean each other, insult each other, exploit each other, abuse each other.
We need to repent. We need to read the Bible without our lenses of prejudice. We need healing. We need to seek the Father’s heart about men and women, male and female. We need to reflect Him, instead of cultural stereotypes, even Christianized ones. There is a lot that needs repenting.
May God have mercy.