This past Thursday night we had a discussion at the Inversion Fellowship about the nature of gender in our culture and how God's Word instructs us as to what it means to be male and female.
The paper I wrote to accompany our discussion is available here. In the paper I examined the state of gender in western culture, discussed the affects of feminism, good and bad. Finally we looked at the ontology of gender in Scripture and how our lives are lived out in home and church.
Also, I concluded the paper with some encouragements I gave to the young men and women of Inversion. I have included them here as well.
As we bring this rather lengthy journey to a close I wanted to offer a bit of a charge to both the gentlemen and ladies of Inversion. I know these titles are a bit Old School, but we just roll that way. I offer these thoughts to you as both a father of daughters and a son, as a pastor and a fellow pilgrim in the way of Jesus. I have gone to lengths to wrestle with these issues because I passionately love the glory of our God and I passionately love you his people.
May God encourage you as you walk with him, growing, learning, failing, hurting, achieving, striving, and moving forward in grace to be more like Jesus our great covenant King. And yes, do read the exhortations to the opposite sex. Yeah, I knew you would anyway.
For the Gentlemen
I stand with you guys in longing for God to do more in me than I see in myself today. Our progress is slow; we are at times selfish and lazy and there are so many responsibilities before us. I want to encourage you to turn your hearts to Jesus as your model and means to godly manhood. See his cross when you think of what you are called to do for others. I want you to reject fear and stand for honor and virtue in the world. I want you to look out for your sisters in a world populated by wimps and barbarians. I want you to be men that people feel secure with, feel honored by, and feel respected and cared for in your presence. I want you to reject male superiority and take the form of a servant like Jesus. I want you to call each other forward towards holiness, learning, and the many kingdom battlefronts in this world. I want you to be gentlemen, but not in a nostalgic sense, but a Christ-centered one. One that sees needs and meets them, one that sees the hurting and comforts them, one that has broad shoulders because there are burdens to bear for the sake of the gospel. I want you to quit being AWOL from the church and give of your time and leisure to serve in Kingdom purposes. I want you to thank God for the faithful service of your sisters in Christ, but they should not be bearing the load disproportionately without you. If someday God grants you to marry, I want you to take to your knees in dependence. I want you to love your wives deeply, wildly, and gently. I want you to handle her with care and compassion, but I want you to lead. Anticipate her spiritual needs, guide your family through the troubled waters outside of Eden, and do not passively sit by while she wrestles alone with life’s major decisions. And if children should come, oh man, embrace your role as Father. Your little men will need you to show them how to love and respect a woman. They will need you to focus their restlessness, passion, and strength. They will need a leader, a warrior, a mentor and a friend. And if the crowning grace of little girls comes to your home, breathe deeply your sense of dignity and wildly love your princesses. Protect their hearts, teach them about God, and honor their mother in full view all the days of their lives. I will close with an exhortation from Dr. Meg Meeker, a girl who had a strong man in her life that she called Dad:
Most of you out there are good men as well, but you are good men who have been derided by a culture that does not care for you, that, in terms of the family, has ridiculed your authority, denied your importance, and tried to fill you with confusion about your role. But I can tell you that fathers change lives, as my father changed mine. You are natural leaders, and your family looks to you for qualities that only fathers have. You were made a man for a reason, and your daughter is looking to you for guidance that she cannot get from her mother.
For the Ladies
I have two young daughters so I have many many dreams for young women today. If I could give a tiny bit counsel to them and to you it would be this. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength. Put his honor above all things and do not be ashamed of the Word of God. Take every advantage of your educational and career opportunities. Serve the community with skill, leadership, and the grace that God places in your soul. Do your best, but don’t sell out to the myths of careerism and don’t give yourself or your bodies to men who do not honor you, make you better, and love you in the way of Jesus. Continue to show patience in God’s plan for your life, be it in singleness or marriage. While you are single serve, connect, and do not be so busy you cannot spend time with families. If you do marry, love and respect your husband. Believe in him, he will be so much a better man because of your standing with him. Submit to his leadership because of what can be seen in your marriage to glorify the Lord Jesus. And if by God’s grace you are given children, pray long and hard about the person(s) you most want loving and shaping their tiny souls. No man or worker can ever be a mother, God has granted this gift only to you. Do not be embarrassed by your unique feminine urges to love, connect, nurture and bond deeply. Do not fear being strong for those around you – it is part of your calling. Do not trivialize or treat Proverbs 31 as a cliché, it is a beautiful picture of holistic femininity given to you by your God. Remember, you always have and will continue to shape the men of this world. Your belief in, encouragement, and esteem of the guys will go a long way making them all God wants them to be. Your belittling of them wounds deeper than you could know. You are unique, you are a woman, and you are a wonderful cameo of the image of God. In the Lord, woman is not independent of man or man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. Yes, all things were created by him and for him. Including you – you are one of the most striking, beautiful, creations of the Almighty God. Reject this image based, sex crazed culture and see yourselves as daughters of the most high, prized possessions of Jesus, your great refuge and King. Let your adornment be the person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. Yes, very precious...