I am writing this in response to a challenge by Rachel Held Evans. This challenge was sparked by a statement made by John Piper. He, and others have repeatedly stated that the God of Christianity is inherently masculine and that Christianity ought to be so as well. You can read the original article here
This got me thinking. If Christianity is inherently “masculine” and you are a woman where do you fit? What are you allowed to do? How do you “maximally flourish” in an environment where your gender alone excludes you from full participation? Are you less because you are “weak”, “effeminate” or “indecisive.”
Before I get into this I feel like I need to establish my credentials. Articles like this get easily dismissed by “manly” types because they see the writer as not “manly” enough. For some, defending the God given rights of women to be heard and treated with mutual respect is not a “manly” act. These “men” assume that there must be something inherently effeminate (like that is a bad thing) with a male writer who defends women. So I will clear some things up:
I am a man.
I like “manly” things like boxing, bowhunting and weapon collection.
I like women, especially my wife, Lindsay. We have a great sex life.
I have a big black dog that I have bent to my will....somewhat.
I happily and freely defend the value, calling and equality of women. This is a biblical, godly, and masculine pursuit.
Christianity is both masculine and feminine. All this talk about which should be emphasized more is missing the forest for the trees. Historically and biblically God has used both to shepherd Israel and minister in his Kingdom. We were designed to work together.
Genesis 1:27 “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
The image of God is masculine and feminine. Man alone is not the image of God. Woman alone is not the image of God. Man and Woman working together are the image of God. Hierarchy and domination, woman fighting man and man fighting woman are more products of the fall (Genesis 3:16) than part of God’s good plan.
Femininity is just as important as masculinity in the church. This seemed to be no problem for the community of the New Testament. Women were the first to witness/teach the resurrection (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20). Women were apostles (Romans 16:7), prophets (Luke 2:36-37), teachers and preachers alongside men (Romans 16:3). They even provided for Jesus’ financial needs (Luke 8:1-3). These men who preach “masculine” Christianity must be scandalized by the Bible.
Lets not forget, it was a woman who gave birth to God’s only son. God could have chosen to bless Joseph’s seed instead of Mary’s womb. This would have lined up well with Isaiah 10. The Hebrew word we translate “virgin” is actually not “virgin” but “young girl.” Like today it was assumed that a young girl was a virgin but just like today that is not always the case. I am not denying the virgin birth just pointing out that God did not have to chose Mary, a woman, to be the sole human to carry divinity into the world. If Christianity is inherently masculine, God’s choices don’t make sense.
Throughout time God has called men and women to serve him. While gender is important it is not a qualifier/disqualifier for human flourishing. Being more masculine or feminine does not bring you closer or farther from God. You are not out of touch with the “feel” of Christianity because you are effeminate or a woman. When the feel of Christianity is one of balance between the sexes we become better reflections of the God who created us. Obviously sexist hierarchy is easier and balance is more difficult; narrow roads usually are.