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Archive for the ‘gender’ Category

This happened two years ago.  Revealing!

Finally!  JW’s knocked on my door this morning.  First time ever.  An older guy and a younger Polish woman.

So I threw some Genesis 19:24 shapes their way. “To which Jehovah are you witnessing, the LORD out of the heavens or the LORD on the earth?”

The woman seemed quite interested.  The man said “Trinity?  Rubbish.  Paul refutes the trinity in 1 Corinthians 11:3.”  So we went to 1 Corinthians 11:3

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

“How does this refute the trinity?” I ask.

“Well,” he explains, “God is the head over Christ.  Which means Christ is less than God.”

I say “So the Father is the head of Christ the way I’m the head of my wife?”

“That’s right”

“Let me ask you, Is my wife less of a human being than me?”

“Yes” said the man.  “N..” said the woman and then changed it to a faltering yes.

I check I’ve heard them right.  “So my wife is less of a human being than me?”

“Well,” reasons the man, “you make the decisions.  You’re in charge.”

“Hmmm (I hum non-commitally).  And so I’m a greater being than my wife?”

“That’s right” said the man.  The woman frowns.

I turn to her and say “You realise you’re in a cult don’t you.”

The man grabs her by the arm and they start to make their escape.

“Keep reading the bible and keep thinking about marriage,” I call to her as they move down the street.  “You know women are equal to men… AND JESUS IS EQUAL TO GOD!”

Don’t think they’ll be back any time soon.

But it goes to show that Arians are misogynists whatever the PC gloss.  And of course misogynists are Arians, whatever the Christian gloss.

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Is she a doubler?

The Gospel of the Blokey-Hearted doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, so maybe I need to bang some old drums again.  For those who missed the rants first time around, here’s

Models of masculinity

Some manly things Jesus did

He said – She said

Spouse speak

Three thoughts on Headship

Is the fruit of the Spirit too sissy for real men?

Arian Misogyny

And here’s a repost regarding a distinct but related problem: when blokey attitudes define marriage…

Today I heard one more story of a keen young gospel soldier recently married.  From what I can tell the wife is feeling abandoned, isolated and increasingly desperate.  And the husband is pressing on in his ministry service for the Lord!

If I had a minute with the young gun I’d ask him to read about John Wesley’s disastrous marriage. Just after John married Molly he wrote to her from the road to inform her of his views on marriage and ministry: “I cannot understand how a Methodist preacher can answer it to God to preach one sermon or travel one day less, in a married than in a single state.”  (Read more here).  It should be a cautionary tale for every young gospel soldier.

But the Wesley model is not dead.  I still remember the ringing endorsement our own marriage union gained from a leading UK evangelical while we were still engaged.  “You’re marrying well there Glen,” he said, “She’s a doubler.”  He was referring to a calculation that there are (apparently) ministry doublers and ministry halvers.  Thus the question to be asked about every prospective bride is, “Is she a doubler?”

Now that might be a question you ask a prospective PA or church worker.  But if that’s the first question you want to ask your bride-to-be then, seriously, that’s the proof right there.  It’s not meant to be.  And you’re the problem!  If the prospect of being fruitful and multiplying with this woman inspires a ten year business plan, call it off now.  The kind of multiplication God has in mind is multiplication in which you commit to each other for their sakes.  And, fellas, the more you want to use her for other ends, the less multiplication’s gonna happen!

And I’m not just trying to make a cheap gag here.  The Lord has designed marriage to be a multiplying union.  But in His economy it turns out to be fruitful as and when you are brought to commit to each other in deep oneness.  I mean this physically but I mean it in every other way.  The way to ministry multiplication can only be through marriage multiplication which can only happen in and through the union and communion of husband and wife. That’s got to be the beating heart of it all.

Single people should definitely seek the Lord’s wisdom about who to marry.  Wesley should definitely not have married Molly.  If two people have massively different expectations of what Christian service will entail then that’s a real warning sign.  But what first needs to be sorted out in our thinking is the very nature of marriage itself.  It is not a ministry multiplication venture.  It is a covenant union, joined by God, reflecting Christ to the world.  And out of this union comes a multiplication of spiritual and physical children.  Under God it cannot help but be fruitful and multiply.  But under God He will bring fruitfulness in very unexpected ways.  It will not be a multiplication one spouse’s prior ministry plans.  The old individual plans must die.  This will be a new union with a totally new kind of fruitfulness – much of which simply cannot be predicted.

But an understanding of marriage that is anything like a contractual business partnership will strike at the very heart of the covenant union.

I pray for this young couple, that there would be a death to the old individualist/contractual understanding.  And that out of that death would come new life in their union and communion.  And, yes, that out of that there may even come a wonderful fruitfulness.  But it will be His fruitfulness His way.

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A repost from two years ago…

Over the summer we got Sky Sports so I could watch the Ashes (I still think I should ask for a refund).

One morning I turned on to watch some highlights and caught the end of  ‘Aerobics Oz Style.’  I immediately laughed remembering the show from my youth in Australia.  As I recall, the whole thing was basically an ultra-gay fitness instructor in ultra-pink lycra teaching ultra-fat housewives to star-jump.

But it seems Aerobics Oz Style has changed.  The gay guy in spandex has been replaced by 5 supermodels – part silicone, part botox, part peroxide, all legs and boobs and hair and teeth – gently stretching in the Australian sunshine.  I stood there holding my remote – my laugh of recognition turned into this boyish burble.  “Hur hur hur- the purdy laydies with their purdy hair, hur hur.”  After a few seconds of slack-jawed, misty wonder I snapped out of it and changed channel.  But I couldn’t help asking myself – What just happened?  How did I go from grown-up to idiot boy in the space of 5 blondes?

Well here’s my quick answer: when women uncover themselves to serve passive men some fundamentals of masculinity are reversed. Or to put it another way: pornography turns a man into a child. (I’ll leave to one side women and porn here – though that needs thought too.)

Think about it:  A man is meant to go out from himself and win a bride.  He is meant to proactively serve an actual flesh and blood woman with real and costly service.  He – and he alone – is to uncover her nakedness (a common biblical phrase, see Lev 18) and enter into a deep oneness, not only of flesh but of soul and spirit also.  The woman is to be discerning, to give herself only to the one man who lays down his life for her.  She is to warmly receive him (and him alone) with single-hearted faithfulness.

But then, what happens with the man who indulges in pornography?  He doesn’t go out from himself but turns in on himself.  He pursues nothing but his own desires.  He woos no-one but himself.  He is not the active servant, he is the passive recipient.  He doesn’t uncover her nakedness, she indiscriminately uncovers herself.  He doesn’t engage her mind or heart but merely consumes her flesh.  This image calls forth nothing from the man except his credit card details.  And the habituation of this selfishness will only shut him down further.  Pornography turns a man into a child.

Which is why the male icon of the porn industry pads around his mansion in his jim-jams.

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Happy Friday

Some Adam Buxton goodness.

The last few videos on escaping to the shed nails masculinity better than anything I’ve ever seen!

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Abuse – sexual and verbal

Emma points to a harrowing art project:  Project Unbreakable.  Victims of sexual abuse are photographed carrying placards of what their attackers said to them.

It’s made me think again of the deeply entwined nature of sexual and verbal abuse.  In both you have, typically (though by no means exclusively), a man wielding power over a woman for his own benefit.  The words of a stronger man are forced on a woman just as his body is – often together.

Here’s an excerpt (lightly edited) from an older post I wrote on the awful similarities between both kinds of abuse – He said – She said.

Men are designed to move towards their woman – their one woman, the one they have pledged their life to.    They enter their world for their woman’s benefit and not their own.  Men do have have fruitful, life-giving words to bestow (note how often ‘seed’ and ‘word’ goes together in Scripture: Mark 4:14 ; 1 Cor 3:6; 1 Peter 1:23; James 1:21).  The woman is to trust one man and one man only – the one who has pledged his life to her.  She receives her man’s approach to be blessed by his words….

In all this we see the parallel between sex and words…

A woman has commonly (I’m tempted to say, universally) been on the receiving end of soul-piercing death-words.  And they have experienced them as violations in a way different to how men would experience those same words.  Stronger men (often fathers) have used their strength to either shout down, belittle, intimidate, out-last or otherwise out-argue them.  There are painful feelings of being bullied and disempowered associated with the words of men.

Don’t men have similar experiences of being silenced by the words of others?  Yes.  Are they painful?  Yes.  But my contention here is that women experience those pains deeper and more sharply.  I could be wrong  but that’s my contention.

Something that’s confirmed my suspicions has been hearing three different women speak about conversations with men.  All three conversations happened in the last month.  And all three women said that the words of the man stronglyreminded them of encounters with their fathers.  “And it didn’t seem to matter what I said, he just kept on making his point… It reminded me so much of my dad – he was clearly in the wrong but he just kept going, bullying me with words.  I was powerless, it made me so angry…

And men for their part use words for their own benefit – not to give life but to self-please.  This weekend I was away with a group of teenagers and youth leaders.  My ears pricked up every time an older male ‘teased’ a younger female.  There was a war of words (all in jest of course) and a truce was called only when the girl was exasperated, silenced and everyone had a good laugh.  That was the dominant form of male-female communication over the weekend.

Which means, men can be horrendous abusers – and often are – without ever touching a woman.  But when both kinds of abuse come together, the results are devastating.

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From a letter to an American woman, 31.7.62

I have a notion that, apart from actual pain, men and women are quite diversely afflicted by illness.  To a woman one of the great evils about it is that she can’t do things.  To a man (or anyway a man like me) the great consolation is the reflection “well, anyway, no-one can now demand that I should do anything.” I have often had the fancy that one stage in purgatory might be a great big kitchen in which things are always going wrong – milk boiling over, crockery getting smashed, toast burning, animals stealing.  The women have to learn to sit still and mind their own business: the men have to learn to jump up and do something about it. When both sexes have mastered this exercise, they go on to the next.

A clarification written 03.09.62

[this] is simply my lifelong experience – that men are more likely to hand over to others what they ought to do themselves, and women more likely to do themselves what others wish they would leave alone.  Hence both sexes must be told “mind your own business” but in two different senses.

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I think that’s very incisive.  By the way – how serious do you think he is about “purgatory”?

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jesus gun

Three pictures of manliness in the gospels:

ONE.  Jesus, pictured as the father in Luke 15, (seriously the father is Jesus.  Just straightforwardly and obviously Jesus.  There’s no question in my mind).  Where was I?  Oh yes, Jesus, pictured as the father, is turned in his stomach with compassion, hitches up his robes, runs to his good-for-nothing son, flings his arms around him, falls on his neck and smothers the boy in kisses.

Here is the most poignant picture of Jesus’ love for sinners.  And Jesus chooses a patriarch to show it.  We might think he looks pretty motherly and not fatherly.  We might question the masculinity of this scene.  We’d be dead wrong.  Here is a picture of total Jesus-shaped manliness.

TWO.  Jesus gets up from the evening meal, downs his drink in one, belches and then challenges Judas to a cage fight.  No wait.  That’s not John 13.  In John 13 He gets up from the table, takes off His robe, picks up a towel, and He gets down on His hands and knees to wash and pad dry the dirty, naked feet of His friends. 

Was this a detour from His otherwise robust masculinity?  No, it was the expression of it.  Here was Jesus showing the full extent of His love (v1) – the Bridegroom washing His bride in sacrificial service. 

THREE.  Gethsemane: Jesus, overwhelmed with sorrow, actually lets His friends in on His distress – inviting Peter, James and John to watch with Him.  The Passion of the Christ gets this wrong – Jesus does not say ‘I don’t want them to see me like this.’  The only reason we know about this episode is that Jesus must have told them all about it.  Desperate praying, sweating blood, heart poured out, never has Jesus looked weaker.

I’ve heard Driscoll repeatedly describe Gethsemane as a portrait of femininity – Jesus in submission to His Head, the Father.  Of course both men and women need to look to Christ as Model.  But frankly I think Driscoll is avoiding something that ought to challenge his macho-man masculinity. Here is Man in submission to God.  This is what man is made for.  The Ruler under God, in the garden, obeying submissively in total dependence and willing to die for His bride – here is the Last Adam, the true picture of manliness.   

Of course it doesn’t look very macho.  It isn’t.  But it’s what Jesus-shaped masculinity looks like.

To be a man like the Man doesn’t look manly to men.  A man must be man enough to reject men and follow the Man.

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Some more posts on gender here.

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