Recap and Reflection: Biblical Manhood & Womanhood Talk – Part 2

Last week, a group of men and women from my church came together to continue our discussion of biblical manhood and womanhood, this time focusing on women. The group included both men and women, though we hope to have more men in attendance at the next discussion (August 16).

We began with a review of our previous discussion, which focused on biblical manhood and mature masculinity. According to the definition we have been studying of mature masculinity, one aspect of masculinity is taking initiative. Those in the discussion group agreed that today’s men have been doing a poor job of that. After all, out of all the men in the church (or just the church’s young adult group), only two came to the discussion. Women, therefore, need to invite initiative. The definition of womanhood we’ve been studying includes nurturing as a major aspect of a woman’s responsibilities. By inviting initiative, we nurture and encourage men in their responsibilities – we strengthen strength. That was one point we kept returning to during the discussion: it is the woman’s responsibility to nurture the men in her life.

As we began to discuss womanhood in more detail, we were reminded to listen to “The Genesis of Gender,” a message by Mary Kassian. We turned to the book of Genesis and the creation of Adam and Eve to gain a bit of understanding about men and women. Adam, made of dirt, was created somewhere out in the world and then was brought into the Garden of Eden. When a suitable helper was not found in any of the other creatures God had made, Eve was created from a rib pulled out of Adam’s side. Eve – woman – was created as a helper. This is not a helper as in, “Woman, make me a sandwich.” Rather, woman was created to help man glorify God.

Looking at the creation of Eve, we noted the parallels with the creation of the Church. Adam, with his side a bloody mess, gave of himself – his rib – for the creation of Eve. Jesus Christ, a crucified and pierced bloody mess, gave his whole self in sacrifice for the sins of the world, and out of his sacrifice was born the Church. We use this image as a gauge for our relationships. How healthy is a relationship? Well, how much does it look like the Gospel?

We also noted that women were created always with someone to relate to. We talked about how women are greatly affected by the loss of a relationship, because from the beginning, women were relational beings. Likewise, a man is greatly affected when he loses his job, because from the beginning, men were created for work. Similarly, women tend to focus on conversation when they are together, whereas men tend to focus on activity. Of course, this does not apply to all men or all women.

During our discussion, we also talked about qualities that characterize immature and mature femininity. Under immature femininity are qualities like slavish, flirtatious, moody, catty, manipulative, and complaining. Under mature femininity are qualities like compassionate, empathetic, gentle, hospitable, supportive, perceptive, and quiet. We spent a good deal of time talking about “quiet.” One of the men questioned why “quiet” would be on the list of qualities for mature femininity. He can think of women whose outspokenness allows them to be supportive or demonstrate wisdom. To him, quietness in some women might actually keep those women from living out the other qualities of mature femininity. We decided that maybe “calm” or “quiet in spirit” was a better term, though I wonder if that was the true intention of the men who compiled the list (John Piper and Wayne Grudem, authors of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood).

Again, I left the discussion with more questions. This time, I wonder about personality and uniqueness. According to complementarianism, gender roles were created by God but corrupted by the fall. Men and women were created with specific design and unique gifts. For example, women are uniquely gifted to make a home in the sense of providing a welcome and hospitality. It is my understanding of the discussion that the corruption of our gender roles is what causes someone to deviate from God’s design and gifting of the separate genders, and we are to strive to fix this brokenness. Someone in the discussion also added that personality is shaped by the world and not given by God. I found this comment particularly interesting and thought-provoking. If personality is not God-given, what has God given us – other than our physical bodies – to distinguish one individual from another? And if someone who does not reflect the God-designed roles and gifts is just broken, is there any difference between being unique and being disobedient against God?

Obviously, I have more questions now than before, and I don’t think I have gathered any answers yet. I think I will create a separate post for the questions I have and the questions that have been raised by friends throughout this discussion. As always, I welcome your feedback.

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Single Sunday: Final Question Response

How can single people effectively support each other?

Akirah commented on the last post, saying, “Thinking about women, I think a lot of us would benefit from friendships where men are not the sole focus. Supporting each other in all areas of life remind women that there’s much more to living than finding a husband. So I’d say, find friends who affirm you in all areas.” I think many women are guilty of having a one-track mind, and that carries over to their conversations and relationships with other women. Perhaps we become the people whose first question is “Are you dating anyone yet?” though we dread when parents, clergy, or non-single friends do the same to us. It’s important to express interest in the lives of our friends and not just the love lives of our friends. Show your friends that you care about them as a person. Your friend is not just a “single person” but also an employee (or not – also an important part of their life), a child, maybe a sibling, perhaps a model train enthusiast – many things aside from their relationship status, which describe who they are at this point in time.

It’s easy enough to have a one-person pity party. I’ve had nights where I just laid in bed listening to every unrequited love song in my music library. And when we do talk about relationships with single friends, it can be easy to compare sob stories. We must try not to indulge bitterness toward singleness, though. Some of the earlier response posts mentioned other ways to think about singleness, none of which require bitterness or a negative attitude. Encourage other single people to take advantage of the unique opportunities that singleness offers, whether they are interested in picking up a new hobby or need to discover their value as an individual. Read Redefining Singlehood for an example of having positive and encouraging conversations with friends about being single.

This is the final post in the Single Sunday series, but I doubt it will be the last post on the topic. I encourage everyone to continue the conversation and to think about how you view singleness in your own life. If there is a question you would like this blog to address, post it to the Facebook page or as a comment on any of the previous posts. Continue to share the series with friends and continue talking about these questions. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this series and participated in the conversation!

Single Sunday: Question 9 Response

 

Do you have any other anecdotes/stories that speak loudly of your experience as a single adult?

I have always been “one of the guys.” As YouTube’s Rhett and Link would say, I’m in the “Friend Zone” (check out the video below for Link’s advice on how to escape the friend zone). They greet me with side hugs. One friend consistently calls me “Buddy.” The guys often talk to me about girls – problems with them, crushes on them, engagement rings for them. They talk about girls they are interested in, but I am never one of those girls.

For example, I remember sitting next to Kevin and Jeff in 6th grade. We would joke around and talk when we weren’t working, and one day the conversation was about Kevin’s recent break-up with Ali (Yes, in 6th grade. I know). He and Jeff were trying to find a rebound girlfriend, and when my name was suggested, Kevin said no. My experience as a single adult seems similar to this childhood experience. I have good relationships with guys, but they wouldn’t consider being more than just friends. I had one guy insist we were just friends when a mutual friend asked him if anything more than friendship was going on between us.

My roommate has had quite the opposite experience as a single woman. She tries to pursue friendship with guys, but they always seem to want something more. She also has a childhood story that bears similarities to her adult experience. When she was 11, she had the rare opportunity to attend summer camp. As usual, there was that one boy at camp that all the girls pine for. He was the typical blond-haired, blue-eyed, all-American boy. All the girls had a crush on him – except for my roommate. One day at the camp swimming pool, Mr. All-American’s friends approached her. “Do you like him?” they asked. She didn’t know what to think. She was afraid they were setting her up to be the butt of a joke. “No,” she flatly told them. After they walked away, her friends ran up to her saying, “What did you do? He was going to ask you out!” But she just wasn’t interested. Even though that experience was years ago, things are still very much the same for her. She just wants to be friends, but the guys want something more.

After my roommate and I shared these stories with each other, we decided to watch a movie. It seemed fitting to end our conversation with When Harry Met Sally, which I had not seen until tonight. In the movie, Harry and Sally are just friends, they talk about relationship problems and bedroom conquests, and spend lots of time together. But the movie asks the question: can a man and a woman ever be just friends? Here’s what they discuss early in the movie:

So can a man and a woman be just friends? I do have guys who are just friends, but I’m sure that the existence of their girlfriends/fiancées helps to keep things strictly platonic. But that’s pretty characteristic for my experience as a single adult – just trying to escape the friend zone. Others are content with being just friends and would prefer to keep it that way, but some people in their lives are making it a little difficult.

What anecdote characterizes your experience as a single adult?

Link’s Golden Advice for Single Guys