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5-4-18 Do Men Owe Women a Special Kind of Care?

Do Men Owe Women a Special Kind of Care?

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Egalitarianism tends to obscure the deeper differences between Manhood and womanhood. This has not served us well in the last fifty years. It has instead confused millions and muted a crucial summons for a distinctly masculine care.

Unanswered Question

What average man or woman today could answer a little boy’s question: Daddy, what does it mean to grow up and be a man and not a woman? Or a little girl’s question: Mommy, what does it mean to grow up and be a woman and not a man?
Who could answer these questions without diminishing manhood and womanhood into anatomical structures and biological functions? Who could articulate the profound meanings of manhood and womanhood woven differently into a common personhood created differently and equally in the image of God?
How many articles have been written about the meaning of being a “real woman” or “real man” that leave us saying, “But all of those wonderful things apply just as well to the other sex — maturity, wisdom, courage, sacrifice, humility, patience, kindness, strength, self-control, purity, faith, hope, love, etc.”? By all means, these mark true womanhood. And they mark true manhood. So, they do not answer the little boy’s question: What does it mean to grow up and be a man and not a woman? Or the little girl’s question: What does it mean to grow up and be a woman and not a man?
For decades, Christian and non-Christian egalitarians have argued, assumed, and modeled that roles among men and women in the home, in the church, and in the wider culture should emerge solely from competencies rather than deeper realities rooted in how we differ as men and women. This means that, from the side of egalitarianism, very little attention has been given to the questions of our little girl and boy. Apart from physiological and anatomical features, the questions seem to have no answers. And today, even those features are pliable.

When Nature Won’t Yield

Way back in 1975, Paul Jewett, who taught me systematic theology at Fuller Seminary, conceded as an egalitarian his uncertainty about “what it means to be a man in distinction to a woman or a woman in distinction to a man” (Man as Male and Female, 178). He did not mean the anatomy was ambiguous. He meant that, whatever deeper differences there are, he didn’t think we could know them.
“The stubbornness of God-given nature creates the need for the egalitarian message to be even more forceful.”
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Egalitarians seem not to have been alarmed by this confession of ignorance. Instead, it seems they have been confirmed and emboldened by it. It fits the half-century-old gender-leveling current of the culture. But current is too weak a word. Torrent or avalanche would be more accurate. One need only sample the movies and TV shows of recent years to see the increasing passion with which women are portrayed as being just as physically strong, harsh, impudent, violent, arrogant, vulgar, two-timing, and sexually aggressive as any macho male hero.
One wonders if this passion for the portrayal of Annie Get Your Gun on steroids is perhaps owing to the rising sense that there is something in nature that won’t adapt to our egalitarian portrayal. The stubbornness of God-given nature, then, creates the need for the egalitarian message to be more forceful, even preternatural (Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Superwoman). Such are the trials of those who try to recreate what God made otherwise.

Alarming Sexual Agnosticism

But it really is astonishing that Paul Jewett was unable to identify the deeper meaning of manhood and womanhood. The reason it should astonish us is that he confessed,
Sexuality permeates one’s individual being to its very depth; it conditions every facet of one’s life as a person. As the self is always aware of itself as an ‘I,’ so this ‘I’ is always aware of itself as himself or herself. Our self-knowledge is indissolubly bound up not simply with our human being but with our sexual being. At the human level there is no ‘I and thou’ per se, but only the ‘I’ who is male or female confronting the ‘thou,’ the ‘other,’ who is also male or female. (Man as Male and Female, 172)
He cites Swiss theologian, Emil Brunner (d. 1966), to the same effect,
Our sexuality penetrates to the deepest metaphysical ground of our personality. As a result, the physical differences between the man and the woman are a parable of psychical and spiritual differences of a more ultimate nature. (Man as Male and Female, 173)
After reading these amazing statements concerning how essential manhood and womanhood are to our personhood and how sexuality “conditions every facet of one’s life,” it is all the more stunning to read Jewett’s agnosticism about the meaning of manhood and womanhood,
Some, at least, among contemporary theologians are not so sure that they know what it means to be a man in distinction to a woman or a woman in distinction to a man. It is because the writer [Jewett himself] shares this uncertainty that he has skirted the question of ontology [what actually is] in this study. (Man as Male and Female, 178)
All human activity reflects a qualitative distinction which is sexual in nature. But in my opinion, such an observation offers no clue to the ultimate meaning of that distinction. It may be that we shall never know what that distinction ultimately means. (Man as Male and Female, 187)
Surely this is a great sadness — and an important clue to how we got where we are today. It is not a great leap from Jewett’s agnosticism about what manhood and womanhood are to the belief that those differences (unknowable as they seem to him) have no God-given, normative status in the nature of things, but only a social status chosen by individuals.

From Unanswerable to Unaskable

The decades-long disinclination to ask the question (using Brunner’s terms), What are the “psychical and spiritual differences of a more ultimate nature” between manhood and womanhood? has morphed from Jewett’s agnosticism into today’s antagonism. The question is not only unanswerable; it is unaskable.
“Men, everywhere, all the time, bear a burden, under God, to care for the well-being of women.”
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But not asking the question about the essence of male and female personhood confuses everyone, especially our children. And this confusion hurts people. It is not a small thing. Its effects are vast.
When manhood and womanhood, for example, are confused at home, the consequences are deeper than may show up in a generation. There are dynamics in the home that form the children’s concept of manhood and womanhood, and shape significantly their sexual preferences. Especially powerful in forming sexual identity is a father’s strong and loving affirmation of a son’s masculinity and daughter’s femininity. But how can this kind of strong, fatherly affirmation be cultivated in an atmosphere where deeper differences between masculinity and femininity are constantly denied or diminished for the sake of gender-leveling and sex-blindness?

Suppressing a Needed Summons

Under pressure to shun the question about deeper and differing inclinations that may define the God-given natures of manhood and womanhood, mainstream Western culture has suppressed one of the realities that God put in place for the flourishing of both sexes. While affirming the importance of mutual love, respect, honor, and encouragement between men and women, there is in our day a resistance against the biblical summons for men to show a peculiar care for women that’s different than they would for men — and a strong disincentive to women to feel glad about this.
But in Colossians 3:19, the apostle Paul told husbands, “Love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” That is not the same as saying, “Neither of you should be harsh.” We can tell from 

This post first appeared on ARE WE LIVING IN THE END TIMES, please read the originial post: here

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5-4-18 Do Men Owe Women a Special Kind of Care?


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