April 9, 2014

him and her

(How do I begin a post in which I tell you about the man I love? It's a risk, perhaps, to whisper into this open space that my heart is taken with someone. But I rest in the arms of a greater Beloved and know that "the plans of the Lord stand firm forever". So with quiet joy, I can share with you some lessons I'm learning in this season. If you could see my eyes, I think they'd be shining right now. [If you are hoping for many details about him, this post may disappoint you—except that you may know that he is both godly and gentlemanly]).

Last year, God sovereignly brought into my life a person who is like me. He has a similar heartbeat and his dreams move in the same direction as mine—something I had thought I might never find. We can talk about anything and nothing and almost everything, and somehow our minds meet and ultimately agree. I smile inside when I remember our first dress-up dinner date. After he pulled out my chair for me (much to the confusion of our local waiter, who thought it was his job to help me with my chair), we almost ordered the same thing off the many-paged menu—we truly do have so much in common, to the point that we like most of the same foods.

We're alike—in the important things, and in many of the inconsequential things, too. Every once in a while, though, there's a moment when I think, "Wow, we're actually really different." And next the thought that crosses me is, "Was I wrong, I thought we were so alike?" Then I realize that the biggest differences I find between us are often because (surprise!) he's a man, and I'm a woman. (Yes, we have one of those old-fashioned, Garden-of-Eden type relationships: one male and one female). Anyhow, those "wow-we're-different" moments require a bit of a perspective adjustment, to remember that we're supposed to be different. That it's OK. Then I remember that indeed, I like him very much, not only in spite of our differences but because of our differences.

I am not the first or the last to find gender differences confusing at times. When we talk about gender, 1 Peter 3 is one of the passages of choice. You know at least the female side of the script. It says that submission, inner beauty, gentleness, trust and quietness are qualities of a holy woman. But less often do I hear commentary on 1 Peter 3:5-6, "Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror."

Why this mention of fear? That fearful heart is the opposite of a quiet, trusting one. The opposite of submission to God (which then entails submission to a husband, should God give you or me one) is a rebellion that comes out of a heart that is fearful. Because of falsely-rooted fear, women abandon that gentle and quiet spirit that submits "as unto the Lord" and seek to rule over their men. They live with...
Fear that this creature's differences will cause me grief.
Fear that if I don't show him how it's done, it won't get done right. 
Fear that if I don't speak my mind, every time, he'll never learn.
Fear, fear, fear that is finally rooted in doubting God's design. 

It's the clay questioning the potter's workmanship: why did you make us this way? So different?
 
Compatibility is the supposed be all and end all in romantic relationships. We have this idea that our life partners should be as alike to us as possible. As I've watched the same-sex attraction crowd grow bigger and more boisterous, I think: these ladies want someone who is more alike to them than different. They don't value the difference like God does.  It doesn't surprise me that what would follow on the heels of a vehement feminist movement is a growing group of women who would seek long-term marriage-like partnerships with other women.  

When you spend your days imbibing doctrine that says that...
women are better than men, 
women are more capable than men, 
women can do anything that men can do....
remind me why you'd ever want or need a man? Let alone a man who (unlike your lesb!an partner) could leave you in the vulnerable position of motherhood, dependent on him for provision and protection? In this way I can see, through their perspective, why lesb!ans seek out female partners for themselves. Because they don't trust that God made men different for a reason, or that His creation was very good when it left His capable hands. They doubt man's capability because they firstly doubt his Maker.

Most of our problems come from Eden, from a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of what happened at Eden. 
Fear says our man-woman differences are a flaw.
Trust says our man-woman differences are by design.

Elizabeth Elliot tackles women who want their men to be women, too, in Let Me Be a Woman.
Strange how easy it seems to be for some women to expect their husbands to be women, to act like women, to do what is expected of women. Instead of that they are men, they act like men, they do what is expected of men, and thus they do the unexpected. They surprise their wives by being men and some wives wake up to the awful truth that it was not, in fact, a man that they wanted after all. It was marriage, or some vague idea of marriage, which provided the fringe benefits they were looking for.... But somehow marriage has also insinuated into their cozy lives this unpredictable, unmanageable, unruly creature called a man..... Anything he does which seems to her inexplicable or indefensible she dismissed with 'Just like a man!' as though this were a condemnation or at best an excuse instead of a very good reason for thanking God. It is a man she married, after all, and she is lucky if he acts like a man....

Know your man. Know that there are things that make him different from you. His masculinity will help to explain some of them."
Even in our creation, we were literally made differently. Each man still bears the image of Adam, constructed of clay. Every woman was, thousands of years ago, whittled from the bone withdrawn from man's side. A part of him was removed to make her, and later woman was rejoined to man to provide that which was missing in him. He sang a song when he saw her; he knew she was exactly what he lacked.

Our gender differences are more than OK. They're good. Sure, they're thoroughly tarnished by the Fall (again, we must properly understand Eden's events, curses and consequences), hence the chaos that often ensues. I've had more than a few bewildering "man moments" in my life, when a man's actions or words (or lack thereof) confused me. But the gentle, quiet woman puts her trust in God in these moments. She keeps listening, asking, sharing, and treading kindly particularly in the areas she cannot understand.

There are lots of questions to ask if you are considering dating, engagement, or marriage. Questions of similarities in viewpoints or theology or plans. But there is never any question of the chain of authority in the marriage relationship: God, then man, then woman. "Should I marry within my gender, or marry another gender?" was also already answered in Eden, no need to ask that again. We all face that same test the first pair faced: will we trust His Word?

Somehow together we reflect His image in a way that we could not have, if we were all one gender. We are "heirs together of the grace of life"—"and that life is in His Son."

This man who pursues my heart and seeks to understand me is like me (in more ways than I can count), but he's also different. And you know what? That's a good thing. Actually, after God surveyed the land, the sea, the sun and the stars, He called them "good". But on the day God formed humankind, "male and female He created them", He declared his work "very good." 

A woman freed from fear is able to quietly trust in His very good design.


"Man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man....Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God." —Paul

4 comments:

  1. I appreciate how you tackle this whole issue with grace and truth. Another post that makes me think. Thanks.

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  2. I like this article. *thumbs up*
    What's neat is that God made mankind in His own image (physically and immaterially (soul)). So male and female both represent Him, even though the genders are so different in many ways. I think it also says something about God, like that He Himself is also diverse among the Trinity.
    Thanks for writing. :)

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  3. Nicely written on this today-controversial subject, with just the right support.

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  4. Parabéns a nossa filha!
    Congratulations on a great presentation of this topic.

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