The Wonders of Femininity

As a disclaimer up front, this is not much of a discussion on the marriage relationship, but on the individual.

Everybody is a sinner in need of grace. As sinners, we are corrupted forms of who we really are, and the wonderful, perfect design of God lies underneath it, ready to be restored and brought to life by the power of Christ.

 
I have no doubt that God made no mistakes when He designed men. And I have no doubt that He made no mistakes when He designed women. Among its innumerable flaws, Christian culture tends to describe masculinity and femininity–and especially, the interaction between the two–almost entirely in terms of marriage, although there’s so much more than that, for the simple reason that 99+% of Scripture is written equally toward male and female, describes the Body of Christ’s interactions without a pervasive addressing of gender; there are a couple, such as the issue of female authority, which actually helps imply that many other male/female interactions are to be expected. In fact:
 
1 Timothy 5:1-2
 

“Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 

older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.”
 
Jesus hung out with his family!
 
Matthew 12:46-50
While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his lbrothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.1 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
 
And promised that we could, too:
 
Matthew 10:29-30
 
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields–along with persecutions–and in the age to come eternal life.

 

(The same promise is found in Matthew 19:29 and Luke 18:29-30)
 
Whereas, unfortunately, part of our horrific culture imparted to men includes a perception of women as prizes: another notch on the belt of James Bond or some other aspiring alpha male as part of our fight against one another to see who is the greatest. On women’s end–and this is another thing to beware–a man is often portrayed as a “Superman” who puts an end to all of a woman’s problems, whereas in reality any leader figure may well lead his wife/followers/family on a journey that may include new dangers, not unlike our journey in following the leadership of Christ. The reality is that men’s interactions with women, in every way, can be powerful and a vital element of the family of God, an excellent team within the Body of Christ, playing to the strength of God’s wonderful design for masculinity and femininity.
 
I have a tough time nailing down definitions beyond the fundamental differences between masculinity and femininity. The fundamental differences are derived from the directives of 1 Corinthians 11:3-14). But here is my simplistic, two-pronged description of the benefits of femininity within community–trite as can be! 😉
 
The cheerleader: She sees the good in others, and desires to amplify those good qualities. Her desire for the success in others is absolutely sincere, and loves to study intensely the unique path of success per individual–the unique strength, and the unique path that that person must conquer in whatever form. The expert cheerleader can see the strengths of others even as those strengths are but seeds, not yet even developed. In all that she does, she stimulates the desire in others to be useful, and the recipient of her blessings cannot wait to apply himself/herself and put his/her strengths to use for maximum effect in the world. The good cheerleader is not a coward who simply seeks out those who look the strongest to tag along but takes the side of the team who is truly in the right.
 
The nurse: She sees the flaws in others. The elements of a person that are weak, hurt, even sinful, but responds every time with a heart of gentle mercy, out of a desire to achieve healing on every single level. While the cheerleader brings out the beauty and effectiveness of an individual after seeking out the good, the nurse seeks out the flaws and the damage. She is a healing messenger that assures that all who hurt are worth healing. The nurse may not be quite like the surgeon and take on the more massive issues that afflict a person, but she is determined to care for every scratch, every bruise, and every source of discomfort–a HUGE number of details she studies to seek bringing those she blesses to a state of absolute comfort, whereupon the cheerleader dovetails with this healing and restores them to full effectiveness.
 
On the masculine end, benefits abound. Apart from the obvious, oftentimes what we find is that we, as men, are required for our strength at the same time–it can be such a tremendous blessing to get our minds off of ourselves and be a service to women; chances are, the cheerleader and nurse is not without her own needs.
 
I actually believe that the biggest problem with modern Western marriages (with all the trouble it has had) comes from expecting too much out of one person, versus the support of a larger community. In a marriage, two become one for the full daily grind, but we don’t stop being men and women as we mingle within communities and with all the potential good that can take place between us. Scripture puts the occasional parameters on male/female interactions, such as the issue of female authority (1 Timothy 2:12-14) which Paul understood from a quite logical standpoint with regards to male/female design.
 
(What we tend to get more from women in culture is the dark side of the nurse and the cheerleader; our strengths are downplayed, and our weaknesses, real or imagined, are amplified and discussed with anything but constructive intent. Feminine women are diamonds in the rough. To be sure, there’s no doubt that men put them to the test with our flaws and undeveloped strengths.)
 
1 Corinthians 11:9
“Man is not made for woman, but woman for man.” 
 
Now, of course, getting the image of Adam and Eve, we might simply get the image of God giving Adam a wife. But I believe God’s design for femininity stems, in principle, as a responder to people. Moreso than men, I find it clear that women require and seek out human leadership–oftentimes frustrated and embittered when the leadership available fails, and once again, this is not limited to marriage, but also other figures such as pastors who meet the needs of communities. Moreover, women can impart their feminine blessing to other women and men. Among the stories of godly people in the Bible, men who sought God without the guidance of human leadership far outnumbers women in my observation. Men and women both respond to leadership, to be sure, but God’s design of woman wove this deeply into Eve’s design to find her fulfillment in response to people. I do not see this as an “inferiority,” although it is potentially a distinct vulnerability. A married woman responds to her husband’s leadership for the daily grind as his helper, as the marriage is a fleshly, earthly covenant, but not necessarily for the spiritual–it is possible that he’s an unbeliever, after all–and ideally they are both disciples of Christ capable of responding to human leadership. Fundamentally, masculine and feminine amounts to the relationship of lead and follow.

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To the Man Who Tries: You are not a “Fraud”

As I say under “purposes,” I hate most men’s (so-called) “ministries.” They place notions of duty and expectations upon men without compassion–that is, a thorough investigation of their real, actual situations so as to offer an actually pertinent ministry.
 
I have heard that it’s supposed to be a typical male angst to wonder whether he’s either “good enough” or a “fraud.” And I’ve been horrified to see that reinforced within Christian culture.

I’ve seen ministry to men enforce this. I’ve often wondered, with all of the alarm in the world about men’s sexual struggles, why I never hear anyone quote Proverbs 6:26:For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life.

In both the first and second parts of this verse, men (and women in equivalent situations, no doubt) are essentially alerted to the illusion of one who loves you, when in reality the prostitute sees you as an object–a loaf of bread–and the wayward wife seeks to destroy you. It is an excellent motivator for men to avoid sexual immorality, along with the teaching that our bodies are sacred temples to be treated with reverence (hence Paul points out the atrocity of defiling that temple with a prostitute in 1 Corinthians 6:15).

I wonder no more: because the culture is actively TRYING to reduce men to pieces of bread; trying to convince them that men’s character is correlated to their material output.

Where was the wrath of God on Lazarus the beggar, and where was God’s approval of the rich man? (Luke 12:19-31) 
Where was God’s approval of the one who was blessed with reward for his labor and stored up what he had? (Luke 12:16-21)
Luke 12:15:”life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
1 Timothy 6:17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. (James 1:9-10)

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:9-10)

What in Scripture tells you that you ought to feel like a fraud for a lack of success? These sorts of passages could go on for pages. In today’s world, about 50% of recent college graduates cannot find full-time work; the AVERAGE salary for a man today in the United States is $32,000. It’s a frustrating situation, a figure that absolutely ensures that a very small proportion of men could possibly be a sole-income earner for their families, whether they want the situation or not. But why not just go to the injured and lay insult upon insult? Men are just always there to be society’s punching bags.

Moreover, men must struggle against the works of feminism which strictly examine comparisons between the successes of male and female, and women (real or fabricated) performing at less than men means deliberate, manipulative, tax-payer funded efforts in schools, job quotas, and propaganda to force the results to be “equal”; as surely as feminism is funded by taxdollars, they represent the attitude of the majority: men’s success is, somehow, simultaneously demanded yet not wanted.

My conclusion, simply, is to ignore the hatred, serve the Lord who loves you. If you’re struggling to be successful, forget the complaints of those who do nothing but complain about men. And think about this: if you ARE successful, are you observing 1 Timothy 6:17, or listening to the approval of the loveless? If we serve the Lord with our whole hearts neither bank accounts or others’ opinions can make us “frauds.”

The Cause Makes the Man

“But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” 1 Corinthians 11:3
 
As men, we might think of ourselves as sort of “sandwiched” between woman and Christ here.
 
Of course, men are submissive to other men in a variety of contexts, but those relations are liquid–one day a slave can become a master or a subordinate can rise in rank–whereas male and female are not, naturally because the condition of being male or female does not change.
 
Everyone craves direction, but women have it more in their wiring to get direction socially, looking to get it from leader figures, men and women alike, and of course their husbands in a special way if/when married–the ultimate dance of the daily grind here on Earth (“one flesh,” as “life partners”). For that reason men are not designed to respond to women’s leadership in the authority sense, such that the submissive is compelled to do as the authority tells (1 Timothy 2:12-14).
 
A “man’s man” heads out with audacity–off the beaten path as far as man is concerned, but 100% as he is led by God, who ministers man’s cause. A “man’s man” is one with the least need for social direction, but a maximum dedication to an external cause by which he demonstrates his ABSOLUTE submission to God; yes, he is simultaneously autonomous socially, while 100% submissive and dependent on the Lord who assigns the man his duties. Likewise women, submissive and responsive by design, nurture the details from behind that leadership, as God designed her to be most effective in such a place.

Genesis 18:27
Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes,”

As I write this, I feel very young and strong–much stronger than the average man. The Lord has blessed me with excellent physical health. The Lord has also blessed me to confront me with vulnerability so that I would understand my need for Him. He has also blessed me with poverty, because I then discovered abundant betrayals, and that only the Lord, through whom good things flow (oftentimes through people), can be trusted fully.

I feel great. 🙂

And now is the perfect time to recognize that I am nothing but dust and ashes. The day could easily come that I am more vulnerable than ever, and more betrayed than ever. I might be afflicted with disease, persecution, poverty–all according to the Lord’s will–and even then he will have a task for me for which he will equip me more than adequately in service to Him according to His will.

A Real Man is Expressive!

Oh come on, talking about feelings is a girl thing, right?

Well, not if you’re like one of countless men of God in Scripture who talked expressed their feelings a very great deal. Or countless male writers and poets (in all likelihood, their audiences were like-minded in that regard).

. . . okay, seriously, where did the idea really come from that men are innately disadvantaged at talking about their feelings? I think it has a lot to do with the “man up” machismo culture, a condition created by those who care nothing about men’s feelings: “results, not excuses!”

Ephesians 5:25 tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church, and despite a modern propensity to apply every undesired behavior of husbands as a violation of this command (a can of worms I intend to discuss later), I believe the crux of it, given the fact that virtually the whole rest of the Bible tells both genders to love all others with Christ-like love, is this: the reason for this passage existing comes from the fact that many, many authority figures will not care so much about the people underneath them, and hence, as leaders of their homes, it can be easy for husbands to imitate and pass on that example to their homes–therefore, rather than those examples, imitate Christ’s example who is a loving ruler (a term that can indeed be reconciled, which is the whole point of the context) of his church.

The point being, many leaders aren’t interested in their subordinates’ feelings to say the least–what matters is results. A cowardly wife is the same way, because the thought of a man wavering in his abilities to provide and be strong due to his very human vulnerabilities is too terrifying to face (another effect that may be occurring on a large-scale). If men get completely surrounded by people who see them in terms of results more than human in this regard, what do you expect? Do babies keep crying after repeatedly not receiving attention in response?

The “man up” culture is a cruel move inflicted by society, and of course, it can be inflicted on oneself–and it does not actually help a man’s output.

I know that at all times I can turn to the Lord. As a macho man? Hardly.

Mark 10:15
Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

I approach God as a little child. I intend to be just as expressive as tons of manly men of the Bible such as the Psalmists. I am commanded to pray:

Philipians 4:6
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Ever thought to wonder why? I mean, why does God call us to pray our needs if He already knows what we need without us asking? (Matthew 6:8, James 5:13)

My answer is simple: it’s because God wants us conscious of our need for Him in everything. (2 Corinthians 12:9, 2 Corinthians 1:8-10)

How can I go as far, though, to say it’s actually “manly” to be expressive? Well for one thing, we’re commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves, and loving ourselves is part of that command–when you love someone, don’t you care about his or her needs and feelings? And furthermore, when we’re commanded to serve the Lord by our external works and action (including love for others), isn’t minding our own needs the first part of getting a job done? If the worker suffers, then the work suffers, no? To be sure, this is where feminine nurturing abilities show their glory, too, in lubricating an atmosphere of “get the job done” and restore the human element involved and all the details therein–so let’s not put ladies (who, in love, are willing to use their abilities) out of work by clamming up!

If you are afflicted with a physical ailment, for example, is it strength not to express it to a doctor? Or is it rather weakness, because instead your untreated wounds will fester and weaken the worker for his own precious life and work for others?

Beyond that, if we have any gumption to consider Scripture’s portrayal of men as an act to follow, let’s be sure to talk to God about everything our hearts feel the need to talk about with Him. 😉

The squeaky wheel gets the oil! 😀

The Misused Word: Aggression

Think film theory, for a moment.

Imagine that the camera gives you a point of view of a man swinging his axe toward a target just barely out of view; all you can see is the violent strength put into each swing, an intense, determined look in the man’s eyes.

That’s aggression. By some definitions, it’s also violence.

The question, though, is what’s on the other end of the swing? From the point of view that you’re given that merely depicts aggression, how can you tell? Let’s swivel the camera slightly and see that it’s a tree that the man is trying to cut down. Let’s say we expand our knowledge to realize that he’s doing so in order to build a home.

Or perhaps, when we swivel the camera, we see that he’s attacking someone with it.

The exact same aggression might be used for an essential constructive activity, or to do someone harm. Aggression is likely high in the running for the worst-understood word in our language, as some give it altogether negative definitions. To some, like young children, aggression is frightening in any case, and there’s no doubt about it: whether he has a constructive or destructive intent, you had best not get in between him and his target. It is indeed dangerous.

Due to the destructive potential of aggression, some despise aggression altogether. The “Daddy’s girl” archetype can’t handle the idea, unable to develop the maturity to understand and discern the fact that by nature a man MUST be trusted with his own ability to be aggressive, and indeed encouraged in every way to develop it. Enter feminism, which demonizes aggression altogether, save for just one condition: it’s under a woman’s control. How dare he have that terrifying strength? With just a slight instinct of common sense, that becomes: how dare he possess that strength that is not under my control?

Feminists, and many, many women who don’t call themselves so, respond by attempting to turn the man against himself: your aggression is evil. It makes you rape and murder and destroy. In so doing, they are the victimizers, as guilty of destruction as anyone, to both the man himself and to the constructive effects of masculine aggression that build the world.

I’ve heard this gripe from many, many men: why are the girls dating all the “bad guys” and leaving all the perfectly good, nice guys? Here is what happened, and it happens in “the church” as much as anywhere, and it’s the sick, sick trick that so many men and women have played against men. Is it not sick enough that they resent a man’s strength belonging to him and being his with which to decide how best to control? But here’s how they got you to do it, and maybe the most wretched trick ever played against man; here’s how they trained men to emasculate themselves: they appealed to your desire to be a good man. In your desire to do so, you responded out of a desire NOT to harm others or even scare them. If I only stand to unsettle others with masculinity, then perhaps it’s best to throw it away.

In my opinion, this matter also separates the girls from the women: an ability to remain in a soft, supportive and unthreatening form while being unphased by the terrifying sight of masculinity in the form of aggression. Otherwise she is destructive in the vein of Delilah–more on this later.

Are those “bad guys” really bad? The men who look at what is obviously the feminization of “the church” and have no intention of doing to themselves what so many (if not most) Christian men have done? Sometimes! Because some men neither respond to the desires of a local culture OR God. They won’t listen when they’re implicitly asked to emasculate themselves, nor will they submit to God who has made men to be fully masculine while in total submission to Him. Of course, this exacerbates the confusion. Women are very, very right to find aggression and masculinity attractive, but the end result of these men may indeed follow with their own learned contempt for masculinity–not to make excuses for such women, however. Sadly, “the church” magnetizes this phenomenon worse than anywhere, oftentimes being havens for man-hating women whose contempt for masculinity is acceptable within it. Tragically, these women open themselves to further deception–some of the worst sorts of deceptions conceivable.

But the Godly man recognizes God as the uppermost management. He will say, I must follow God rather than man. (Acts 4:19) He knows that being party to his own emasculation is a sin against God who made him fearfully and wonderfully with a purpose to fulfill, indeed as a reflection of Himself, and hence this action is ultimately in the best interests of others as well. A Godly man can always stand with all his strength against human discomfort. It is worth it: he lives with a purpose, used by no one, but serving all, like Christ before him.

Think of Sampson, which deserves much, MUCH meditation this day in age. How many aggressive men came his way and he met with aggression, recognizing the sheer danger they posed against him? He held nothing back and slew them by the multitudes. And YET, he somehow had no idea what to do when a woman, Delilah, showed every single sign that she was, likewise, trying to destroy him; she didn’t rush and attack him aggressively, but destroyed him in his sleep by cutting his hair, even after giving Sampson evidence that removing his strength was exactly what she intended to do. The removal of his ability to be aggressive resulted in his destruction–in no way what God intended.

Are many men, like Sampson, unable to identify destructive intent toward them unless it approaches in the form of direct aggression? To some who don’t see the attack of feminism for what it really is, that seems to be the case.

It is crucial for all to understand this–absolutely crucial. Like with Sampson, it is life and death to understand that aggression is not the enemy, but invisible evil intent. Aggression itself is essential for life.

On Seeking Masculinity: when are we our own worst enemy?

Up front, this is going to sound like a lot of Christian cliches and my points may seem to meander, but give me a chance to tie this all together.

Let’s think about the very basis of our faith: we need salvation. As in, we need to be saved because our own strength can’t cut it–and there is straight-up no way to heaven if you believe otherwise. Are some of us, as men, resistant to the idea that we need to be rescued from anything? Is that unmanly? In Scripture, men of God were constantly put in situations beyond what they could confront with their own strength and needed to trust in God for salvation and deliverance, if not doing so while lying down as it were.

But I certainly understand, so many of you guys hate all the comparisons of the body of Christ as (collectively) God’s “woman” and are worried about being feminized. Believe me, I understand the concern–I want to be like Christ, with a “humble and gentle” spirit, but not an effeminate “nice guy.” I’d say the real problem in churches–meaning its WIDESPREAD reputation of being full of effeminate men–is more about being nerfed, or “toned down” and blunted, out of the negative stigma toward masculine aggression.

Personally, I’m a testosterone junkie, and have been lifting weights for years for that reason–in case you don’t know, lifting actually raises testosterone levels. Being able-bodied in general is a great feeling, although it has nothing to do with my career and other pursuits. At the same time, I’m not particularly afraid of soy. 😉

I understand that many men are desperately reaching for their masculinity and that’s a very complex task. On the one hand, in today’s world, feminism wants men to fail, as they nakedly despise the prospect of men being even the slightest bit more successful in the working world (along with everywhere else, really) than women and demonstrate willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve their ambitions at men’s expense (taxdollars if nothing else). On the other hand, traditionalists like to pretend that the very real taxpayer-funded forces of feminism don’t exist and impose expectations on men as if they didn’t–as if feminists wouldn’t complain and get yet another government-funded program to make women at least equal in the workforce and monetarily successful, forcefully, if/when every man somehow got a job and became a breadwinner; feminism declares crisis mode when they claim results between men and women aren’t at least equal in terms of success of results.

Good grief. Who is actually on men’s side here, and respecting their actual situation? Are we but the object of griping no matter what?

Well, as a rule, why pay heed to the opinions of those who obviously hate you?

Clearly material success is not the mark of masculinity. What makes me so confident to say so? How did God regard the poor: did He ever once shame a poor man for being “unmanly” because of his lack of material success–which of course pertains to how well he could provide for his family. Consider Job, and various other men in the Psalms who lamented poverty: what man ever once bemoaned his injured sense of masculinity when he was impoverished and frustrated?

Pslams 6:6
I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.

Or rather, did they weep for themselves? Men of God portrayed in the Bible spoke their feelings and spoke their minds, showing no shame for the reality of their vulnerabilities, and saw the fight for their lives as sufficiently honorable in itself (which it is).

What I’m putting forward confidently, guys, is that a “nothing can hurt me” machismo is not the way to masculinity–quite the contrary, and that’s because our strength comes from God’s supply and God will even expose us to our weakness to make sure we remember that.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 1:8-10
8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,[a] about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,

I admonish you, don’t be party to getting reduced to pieces of meat; your life matters, your feelings matter, and there’s no honor in saying that they don’t.

A Godly masculinity is something of the heart. It’s about having dreams–goals, ambitions, objectives–autonomously. It’s about fortitude in the face of pressure–I’m thinking socially, as a man makes no apology for going after his goal, which ought to be a Godly one of course. It’s also about a sense of honor, respecting higher morality, which inspires, tempers, and directs man’s ambition.

There is no dichotomy between sensitivity and strength–masculinity is not about being a roughneck with his senses blown out from being roughed up too much. Consider King David, a ferocious warrior who could also play a musical instrument so beautifully that it drove out an evil spirit. (1 Samuel 16:23) A masculine man is determined to carry out his purpose, and again consider King David, who ruled with his own moral judgments; sure, God often tells people specifically what to do in our situations, but for the most part we act with autonomy, led by the Spirit, with respect for God’s law. In all of this, a masculine man is not afraid.

Characterizing masculinity by material gain is as foolish and godless as characterizing femininity by outward beauty and adornment. And it’s a recipe for disaster, as in both cases, those very physical things can be lost for reasons beyond your control; if your foundation is built on the sand of money via your job (not that those are bad things), will your soul be crushed if/when you lose it? (and of course, ultimately, we all certainly will lose those things)

There’s so much to say about this matter–that’s what I have for now. 😉