By Katie Fischer
We live in confused times. Not only is the secular culture in which we live confused about what marriage is and when life begins but it also is confused on what it means to be male and female.
The fact is that our culture is secular. While we may be frustrated or beaten down by its narrative we must stand for what we believe, what our words mean, regardless of what others say. Our words are of the Church and of the Bible, and we must speak in ways that guard against the words and meanings of the world.
This is why we need to hold fast to Biblical gender so we don’t lose sight in our troubled times.
That does not mean holding fast to 1950s middle class gender roles. That does not mean burly men who chop wood and shoot guns while bejeweled women make meals and do the laundry.
In fact insisting that a boy needs to play trucks, dinosaurs, sports, and cops and robbers to be masculine or that a girl needs to play Barbies, do nails, and sew buttons to be feminine can feed into the idea that boys aren’t always boys or girls aren’t always girls.
As an aside, this is not in relation to gender dysphoria, that is a verifiable clinical phenomenon seen even in brain scans, it is speaking to the social pressure girls and boys and men and women are under to confine themselves to cultural standards of behavior.
Trucks, dinosaurs, sports, Barbies, sewing – they are all inherently ungendered. Generally, boys gravitate towards some and girls towards others but they have nothing to do about what makes a boy a boy or a girl a girl.
Telling children that the toys they play with or how loud they are or how much they move is what makes them girly or boyish also falls into our current fallacy about what gender means. A little girl who hears she can’t like comic books because “only boys like comics” hears that she is not being a girl but society says that’s okay, she can be a boy. A little boy who likes to play dolls with his sister hears “only girls play dolls” to mean he’s not actually being a man, but that’s okay he can play with dolls and be a girl.
That’s telling them that their play time or interests are what makes them masculine or feminine instead of their God-given bodies and vocations.
Because that’s what Biblical gender roles are – living in a vocation.
You want a really manly man of a son then teach him how to lead his family in prayer. Teach him how to sacrifice for others and listen to others needs. Teach him how to work hard and when to put aside his pride and ask for help. That is a Godly, biblical man.
You want to really feminine woman of a daughter then teach her how to receive love and return it and to give it to those under her care. Teach her to pray and ask for forgiveness. Teach her to work hard and that’s it’s okay to ask for help. That is a Godly, biblical woman.
Understanding femininity and masculinity outside of ideas based on our current cultural mores is impossible without Christ of the Church.
Because to be a man is to be like Christ, sacrificing himself and teaching the faith, and to be a woman is to be like the Church, receiving love and forgiveness and receiving her strength from it. Everything else is cultural everything else passes or changes with time.
Katie Fischer is a wife and mother and enjoys being able to stay at home with her three children in beautiful Wisconsin. Her favorite things are: filling notebooks with random thoughts, answering her children’s questions, reading in any form, and eating cookies. She blogs sporadically in her own space at Lutheran Theology and Unpolitics.