Masculinity & Femininity | Where They Overlap


I read Mirriam's response, and then the original Open Letter to Rey.  Out of order, but that's how this topic flashed across my dash.  Odd thing was, I'd already been meaning to tackle this topic in some manner.  I guess now is as good a time as any.  And I'll tell you what, at first I had NO IDEA how to handle this subject.  It's a massive topic split in two ways with lots of cracks that formed from the split.  But as I was making and uploading my post image, it came to me.

the problem is the split

There is a huge-big kick-up about how men and women ought to behave.  The author of the Open Letter to Rey was one-part despairing because Hollywood/hardcore feminism makes women too manly; he also did point out that men have too often abdicated their role as MEN QUA MEN (yes, I used "qua" XD ), and, in my words, are basically emasculated in this society.  Neither position is correct.  BUT IT'S SO HARD TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THE BALANCE IS.

And I think a major problem is that it ISN'T cut and dry.  It's not black and white.  It's not BOOM, man, you stand over here in the glittering corner office and BAM, woman, you put your pearls on and work in the kitchen.  Woman, don't you start wishing you had an outlet for your creativity besides baking apple pies.  Uh uh, man; don't you start hankering after a quiet day at home puttering on your own turf away from the daily grind.  The natures of men and women are CUT and D - okay, I can't keep this up.  This is ridiculous and a total strawman.

The natures of man and woman are mingled from BEFORE the beginning.  They both have their origin from the same God, whose nature is itself perfectly combined masculinity and femininity.  God reveals himself as the powerful king, the ruler of mankind, the judge, the redeemer, the champion - masculine.  But all through the grain of those qualities there are immense and shining strains of the shepherd, the caretaker, the provider, the one jealous for his own glory and dignity and splendour, the boundless, tender heart, the ineffable love - feminine.  Created from that, men and women, living as much as they can to their full potential within their times and spheres, are going to exhibit BOTH aspects of their divine maker.

the balance will not be in the middle

EVERYONE is in some way different.  Some men are naturally more tender-hearted than others; some women are naturally more tough-skinned than their compatriots.  This is not a case of measuring out exact portions of masculinity and femininity and doling them out to everyone so that we're all cookie-cutter impressions of an infinite God.  NO.  Our souls and our lives are uniquely our own.  We will find the balance in Christ.

For those men who are strong and bluff, remember how Jesus wept for Jerusalem and LONGED to gather her under his wings as a hen broods lovingly over her chicks.  For the women who are meek and poor in spirit, remember that wisdom is portrayed as a woman clothed in strength and dignity and a pillar in the household of mankind.  REMEMBER THE ROCK FROM WHICH YOU WERE HEWN.  You bear the mark of God on you.  You will be both strong and tender.  You will be both meek and zealous.  You will be both masculine and feminine.  The balance will not be in the middle.  That is as it should be.

I know there is so much more that can be said on this topic.  The floor is open.  Please chime in!  In both life and writing, how do you find these two aspects of man's nature playing out?

image via pinterest

10 ripostes:

  1. Even among the genders there are different kinds of strength these are a few men that popped into my head all who are my heroes and all who have very different kinds of strengths:

    Jeremiah was a prophet---who by the way did not fight when they decided to kill him like a warrior would fight.

    King David was a warrior.

    Aaron was a priest unto the LORD and served in the Temple killing animals and upholding all the laws

    Nehemiah was a cup bearer (elected official) and strategist who directed the people to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem

    Baruch was a scribe that wrote down what the LORD revealed to Jeremiah

    General Lee was an amazing strategist and commanding officer

    William Willberforce fought to end slavery in England by using his place in Parliament

    Eric Liddell won the gold for Scotland and went on to be a missionary in China---he died in a Japanese internment camp having given his prisoner exchange slot up so a woman who was pregnant could leave the camp

    Casper Tenboom hid Jews in his house and refused to stop giving strangers safety from the Nazis and died in a German concentration camp.

    Chiune Sugihara saved 6,000 Jews from the Nazis using his position as the Japanese Diplomat in Lithuania.

    George Washington Carver taught any farmer who came to him, helped people save their farms no matter the color of their families, and made serious breakthroughs with his teaching about the legums and crop rotation in the deep south.

    EVEN AMONG A SINGLE GENDER THERE ARE SO MANY KINDS OF STRENGTHS. STOP MAKING GENERALIZATIONS. PLEASE STOP MAKING GENERALIZATIONS AND POSTING SHALLOW STEREOTYPES. IT ROBS US OF HEROES WHEN YOU DO THAT.

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    1. Considering how infinite God's aspects are, it shouldn't surprise us to see a single aspect displayed in such varying and potent degrees, even within a single gender. Also, instead of trying to crush genders and fit them into boxes, it's probably a good idea to build them up and encourage them to live MORE fully, to express the image of God even MORE, and to always strive to be like Christ!

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  2. Your comment "the balance will not be in the middle" is a really important point. I first became aware of it from GK Chesterton's Orthodoxy. In eastern philosophy/religion balance is conceived of as the middle point between two extremes. So love is balanced by hate so that you neither love nor hate. That would be the balance point in the middle. In Christianity, balance is not this muting of all things towards the center, but it is each thing in its proper place and degree.

    The balance between love and hate is that we love those things which should be loved, to the degree that they should be loved, and we hate what should be hated, to the degree that it should be hated.

    Another important point is that our society often creates false dichotomies between things which are not really opposites. This is because we often times don't rightly understand what virtues actually are.
    Strength, for example is not the opposite of tenderness, nor is it the opposite of meekness.

    Strength, rightly understood, is the ability to do the good that is difficult, and not to do the evil that is easy.

    Seen in this way, tenderness and meekness both actually require immense strength. For many men, the ultimate measure of strength is to be truly meek and allow others to put themselves forward at your expense, or to be willing to suffer the taunts and insults of the world without responding in anger, and defending yourself.

    To open yourself through tenderness and meekness is essentially to say, I can allow you to hit me and to hurt me, because I am strong enough to take it.

    Humility is much stronger than pride.

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    1. I hear God tell Cain, "Sin is at the door, and its desire is for you, but you must master it." And it is SO HARD to master sin. It's so easy to express the selfish sides of strength, the egocentric pride, the "love" that will expect something in return. To be tender, to walk humbly, to be just and to love the Lord our God - those things require superhuman strength. And - thank God! - we have that in our champion Jesus. Whoever we are, male or female, we find ourselves in him.

      And then we have each other, the men to make up in the women what they lack, and the women to make up in the men what they lack. As Mirriam pointed out in her post, we're HELPMEETS: we come alongside and help each other. We CAN do it alone, but we're not MEANT to, and the other sex is an invaluable aid in forming the coherent image of God that we were created in. :)

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    2. Yes, gender was created so that there could be complimentarity and the image of God more perfectly shown forth in relationship. Each sex makes up what is lacking in the other by giving their own self to the other. This is the essence of love and it is the image of God, who is love.

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  3. *stands up and cheers* *sits down because head rush* *keeps cheering*

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  4. I love this! Because people always see masculinity and femininity as such a black and white line when really it's about the individual. Each person, man or woman, is different and we ought to be who God created us to be, not just in a general sense but also on a specific, individual level. He didn't make us all different so that we could all be the same. I always think of God as the Great Author. And He loves to create a myriad of complex characters.

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  5. (Wow, did I not comment on this either? #fail)

    "This is not a case of measuring out exact portions of masculinity and femininity and doling them out to everyone so that we're all cookie-cutter impressions of an infinite God. NO. Our souls and our lives are uniquely our own. We will find the balance in Christ."

    Perfectly, beautiful said.

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    1. *beautifully

      (*insert comment about typos literally ruining my life here*)

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  6. Came here via Goodreads and just had to say.... YAAAASSSSS. PREACH.

    I read An Open Letter to Rey and was considering doing my own response post (because to say I was LIVID would be a GROSS UNDERSTATEMENT) but I think you and Mirriam summed it up PERFECTLY.

    THANK YOU.

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