Monday, December 15, 2008

Dolphins, not Jellyfish

In an email message from Desiring God ministries that I read this morning, John Piper continues to boldly state that which many in the contemporary church are backing away from. Grabbing one paragraph from the middle:

"I encourage you to be like a dolphin in the sea of our egalitarian, gender-leveling culture. Don’t be like a jellyfish. The ocean of secularism that we swim in (including much of the church) drifts toward minimizing serious differences between manhood and womanhood. The culture swings back and forth as to whether women are mainly sex objects or senior vice presidents. But rarely does it ponder the biblical vision that men are called to humbly lead and protect and provide, and women are called to come in alongside with their unique gifts and strengths and help the men carry through the vision."

I know that this message will infuriate many of my friends, even those in the church. I am often viewed as "backward" because I have chosen to be a stay-at-home mother to my children. The homes of most of my friends are fractured into three segments... his, hers, and the children's. The children have spent the majority of their waking hours with someone other than a parent since they were a month old, because Mom is pursuing her own professional interests, and Dad is pursuing his. The idea of a woman who gives her life supporting her husband and training their children is looked at with disdain and pity. "What is this, 1950?" has become the usual mantra leveled as us "backward" types.

Consider this:
"But then she asked me if there wasn’t a way to make the book less sexist. I was surprised at this. It had never occurred to me that the adventures of a defiant little milkmaid would be considered anti-feminist.

But my friend said, 'You keep calling Lucy a girl and Wynston a boy. Why do you have to lock them into rigid boxes like that? It’s so conventional.'

I considered this ridiculous, over-the-top feminism. Boys are boys and girls are girls; I ignored her.

But then, when I was revising my second book, my editor had the same kind of comments. 'Why does the dad work and the mom stay home?' she asked me. 'What is this, 1950?'"
- Laurel Snyder, contemporary author of children's books


Or this one:
Paul S. says: "a skirt? what is this, 1950?"
- from a chat board post pondering "What to wear to the Capital Grille"


And this:
"These old, white men are fondly remembering June Cleaver, in the kitchen, in pearls and high heels, whose only purpose was to please her man and her family.

We are NOT going to step back into the shadows! We are NOT going to become submissive and obey (as the Fundies expect of their women) and we are NOT going to return to stressed out 'please don’t let me get pregnant this time' sex and back-alley abortions!

American rights have been devistated (sic) over the last eight years, and no one in this country is being targeted more than our women! It is time to defeat this attempt to 'enslave' us to our men, and we will NOT sit back and allow it to happen!

There should be no woman in our country willing to vote for McStain. What is this, 1950?"
-
one woman's post from the anti-Republican "Think Progress" website


So, in a world of women filled with anger and rage, resentful and trying in every way to become like men, I am filled with contentment and joy as I embrace being a woman.

John Piper's words
are encouraging to me:

"Not asking the question about the essence of male and female personhood confuses everyone—especially the children.

And this confusion hurts people. It is not a small thing. Its effects are vast. I agree with Dobson when he says, “Feminist resistance to making manhood and womanhood significant in behavior and role determination is partner to some of the most painful social and spiritual issues of our day.”(2)

When manhood and womanhood are confused at home, the consequences are deeper than may show up in a generation. There are dynamics in the home that direct the sexual preferences of the children and shape their concept of manhood and womanhood. Especially crucial in the matter of sexual preference is a father’s firm and loving affirmation of a son’s masculinity and a daughter’s femininity.(3) The father must be a man. But how can this kind of manly affirmation be cultivated in an atmosphere where role differences between masculinity and femininity are constantly denied or diminished for the sake of gender-leveling and sex-blindness?

What we all need is solid teaching from the Bible about the differences God intends between men and women.(4) But we also need stories. Great stories. We need to see manhood and womanhood in action - in real life and fiction and history."

* Original footnotes in John Piper's mailing:
(2) Focus on the Family, May, 1993, vol. 17, No. 5, p. 7.
(3) Gerald P. Regier, “The Not-So-Disposable Family,” Pastoral Renewal, Vol. 13, No. 1, July-August, 1988, p. 20.
(4) I have tried to think this through in a small way in What’s the Difference? Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1990). See also, John Piper and Wayne Grudem, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1991), and Wayne Grudem, Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Press, 2004). See also www.cbmw.org.

1 comment:

Gloria said...

I spent five years of my marriage trying to make sure I didn't step out of my gender's role and it almost ruined my marriage. I am convinced that when both spouses are drawing close to the Lord, this stuff just takes care of itself and we don't have to sit around making sure we're being feminine enough.