Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Men and Women

We are living in a world that tells us there is no difference between the sexes. This message is communicated in many different ways by varied means. Today in schools and colleges young people are told that girls and boys act differently not because they are actually different, but because we train them to act differently. Little boys and girls are not different except for the physical differences, but we make them different. Boys play with trucks, and little girls play with dolls, not intuitively, but because we model that kind of behavior. However, the scriptures teach that God made males and females distinct from each other for the very purpose of complementing each other. The Bible teaches us to celebrate the masculinity of men and femininity in women. God’s word says there is a divine order to the way men and women are supposed to relate to each other.

Many boys and girls are growing up without a clear definition of what it means to be a man or woman. Masculinity is portrayed to boys as a muscular physique or the tough guy image that bullies anybody in his way. Often these same men are often wimps on the inside. Girls are sent the message that femininity is sensual, and the more you show off your body, the more feminine you are. Given the fact that many children are growing up in homes where fathers and mothers don’t model what it means to be a godly man or woman, many children are buying into the world’s message. From a biblical viewpoint, today’s contemporary message is a lie.

What does it mean to be masculine? Isaiah the prophet described what it means to be a man in this classic statement, “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever” (Isaiah 32:17). This is not a boastful man but a strong man who quietly and confidently trusts God as he moves toward his purpose in life. At the same time, he is not so wrapped up in himself but has a sensitive spirit to others. He cares about his wife and children and makes himself accessible to them and models manly behavior.

The biblical masculinity in fathers and husbands that I am writing about is mocked today. The image portrayed by Hollywood is that fathers and husbands are dufuses and idiots.  Kids are growing up in families where the father does not lead the home. They are observing the man abdicate and abandon his responsibilities. They are growing into adulthood without ever seeing a good model of masculinity.

A woman’s femininity is about her capacity to enjoy and build relationships. Peter described this gift that women have as “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight” (1 Peter 3:3).

Young people are being fed a distorted message of what it means to be a man or a woman. Women are told you don’t need marriage because you don’t need to be under the thumb of some man. You can have kids if you must without marriage. Celebrities model this message. You can have kids, have a boyfriend without committing yourself to anyone and be totally happy. Women are told you can do any job that men can do, including combat in war. In all of this—women are being convinced that being just a mother, a wife, a homemaker is a second class occupation. Why would you do that when you can be yourself?

The feminist message is robbing women of the gift of enjoying their femininity and enjoying a family. Feminism robs women of placing family and marriage at the center of their lives, as the most meaningful part of their existence. Instead, it shames women into believing that their career should be the most important thing in their lives. Unfortunately, many women realize only too late that the longing for a family is a God-given desire.

Larry Crab writes about the biblical understanding of men and women in marriage:

Husbands and wives both have authority in marriage. Their authority is equal in responsibility; that is, it is not like a captain's authority over a sergeant or a sergeant's authority over a private. Husbands and wives have the authority to serve one another in wisdom and love. Married partners are authorized by God to give them­selves to their mates. This is their authority.

However, because the sexes are distinct in what they were fundamentally designed to give and in what brings them the greatest joy in relationship, the expression of their authority should reflect those distinctions. At the deepest level, a man serves a woman differently than a woman serves a man. Headship, the expression of a man's authority to serve, is characterized by rich involvement and by leadership that includes making decisions to resolve an impasse. Submission, the expression of a woman's authority to serve, is characterized by invitation and supportiveness.[1]

[1] Larry Crab, Men & Women, Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan, 1991, p. 174.

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