I wrote the last two blog posts to emphasize the point that what is the same about men and women (as humans, as persons, as bearers of God’s Image) is far more important than what distinguishes us (as men and women… or any other difference). And to whatever extent we emphasize the differences without being solidly grounded in the similarities… we do damage!
This is something Jesus clearly knew well. He seemed to think of women not primarily as sisters, but as siblings.
But the conversation can not end there. True, men and women are primarily similar: co-equals and co-Image Bearers. But we are not entirely the same. Overemphasis on our sameness can be damaging and disturbing!
(Take a look at the image to the right and tell me you’re not creeped out a little.) (I apologize for that comment – now crossed out. Thanks Ashley for pointing out it’s offensiveness. That’s the second time in the past month that I’ve had to apologize for a comment; that’s a sign that I need to start being more careful. More thoughts on this in the comments section.) (I looked hard online for a clip of one of the old “It’s Pat” sketches, but they’re nowhere to be found…) So unless we want to live in a world of “Pats”, We do not live in a world of pure androgyny. Though the concepts of masculinity and femininity have been distorted and used to oppress and discriminate in many ways throughout history, attempting to do away with these distinctions altogether does not bring us closer to the truth. If we want to draw closer to the truth, we must acknowledge the that there are differences in the world – including the differences between masculinity and femininity (which again, is not exactly the same as male and female), and to try to understand what they are (always knowing that our understanding will be somewhat flawed, for we can only see “through a glass, darkly”- 1 Cor. 13:12).
In fact, the differences between male and female, masculine and feminine, are much like any differences that we see in the world. Winter is different from summer, but how is it different? Sometimes there are cold days in summer and warm days in winter: does that mean we should do away with talking about seasons altogether? Chinese culture is different from American culture, though there may be times when an American acts more “Chinese” and a Chinese person acts more “American”; does that mean that it is only damaging and offensive to talk about culture, and that we should do away with the concept altogether? Loud people may sometimes talk softly; smart people may sometimes be wrong; athletes may sometimes be clumsy; children may sometimes act mature… and on and on. Unless we want to do away with adjectives altogether – and indeed, do away with speaking altogether! – we must acknowledge that there is a place for talking about differences and distinctions – including the differences between the sexes.
So as I continue to blog about masculinity and femininity, my hope and prayer is that I seek out the truth with a spirit of play, giving my best shot at articulating the truth with a willingness to be wrong. And I hope also that in the process I don’t do damage to others by “insisting upon a class beyond the immediate purpose it serves” (as Dorothy Sayers said in the quote from my last post).
And without further delay… The next post will return to my series of sperm and egg videos. (How a propos for Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of Christ!)