For a bit of humor value cum good points, here is a fun piece by Douglas Wilson on gender roles. He is replying to this piece by Michael Horton. As Wilson points out, the target(s) of Horton's piece is/are a bit obscure, but I surmise that Horton is using an exaggerated "niche marketing" portrait of those who advocate traditional gender roles in the church (the position sometimes called complementarianism) in order not-so-subtly to advocate the alternative position, known to the trade as egalitarianism.
Here are a few enjoyable quotes from Wilson:
(This first one's a real zinger.)
Some of the things said in the citations were pretty bad, but why were there perfectly reasonable points lumped in with them? Maybe the bad quotes are only bad taken out of context, and we are not given a context to look up. Looking things up might ruin the party. Maybe citing your opponents would look too masculine, and Horton didn't want to undercut his central point.
My second problem is that the whole critique appears to rest on a confusion about the role of "gender stereotypes from our culture." He tells us that "a lot of gender differences are cultural." Okay. Of course they are. This particular zombie appears in every last one of our discussions of this topic, and it always wants to eat our brains. Let us arise therefore, with the machete of truth, and decapitate this one for good and all.
There are certain creational differences between the sexes, which God intended to be operative from the begining of the world to the end of it. Women bearing and nurturing children would be something in that category. Men protecting and providing for their families would be another one. But these creational differences have a deep need to find, discover, and apply a wider vocabulary. They want to express themselves further. That is why there are other differences that do not fall into this category of creational difference, but which are roles assigned to the two sexes by societal expectation. And (cue the zombie) it is facilely assumed in discussions like this one that if it is not a creational given, scripturally assigned, with black ink on white paper, we need not pay any attention to it. It is only "a gender stereotype," and what a relief to us all!
Here Wilson attacks the kind of hyper-nominalism to which, many and many-a year ago, I used to be tempted myself--the idea that we can just pretend that meanings of words, customs, and the like are instantaneously malleable and have no claim on us if they are a result of human decision:
Suppose you overheard one of the kids from your church telling one of the sweet little church ladies to "eff off." Suppose you confronted him about it, and he defended himself by saying that the meaning assigned to those particular sounds were assigned by our culture, and not by the Holy Spirit speaking in Scripture. Suppose further that he scoffs and says that the whole thing is "linguistically arbitrary." And, you know, he's right, and I suppose you also know that he is entirely and completely in the wrong. It is linguistically arbitrary, and he still doesn't get to speak that way.
The Bible never tells us that men should take out the garbage, or that a gentleman holds a seat for the lady, or that opening a car door for your wife is a class act, and so on. Never. But that is irrelevant. Our culture gives us the vocabulary of honor, but the Bible tells us how we must do something with that vocabulary.
When I am told in the Scriptures to love my wife, I am told nothing about what I must do on our anniversary. But the anniversary gives me an opportunity to do what the Holy Spirit commanded me to do. And recovering male sinners should never waste such opportunities. I am told that I must do something, and a great deal of the raw material for obeying Scripture is given to me by my culture. That's the way it is supposed to work.
And last, Horton makes the standard mistake of confusing an attack on effeminacy (inappropriate softness) with an attack on femininity (glorified responsiveness). When a man acts girly, to object to this is not to attack the girls. "But you used the word 'girly' in that previous sentence, did you not? Why would you use the word girly in a pejorative way if you didn't have a deep misogynistic streak, a thing about girls, hmmm?" The answer is that words derive their meaning and intent from an old-fashioned thing that our ancestors used to call "context." If you tell your teen-aged son, who is driving you all to church, that you "need a little less Dale Earnhardt Jr., son," this is not a slam on NASCAR. Dale Jr. is just fine in his place, in context. Just not turning down Maple Ave. Sunday morning on two wheels.
I have only one hesitation about Wilson's column. What he says here could be taken to mean that I shouldn't be blogging, or perhaps only blogging for women, or at least not criticizing theologically confused men:
[The women] don't do these dissections [of theological bloviators] in public because they don't think it would be fitting, and prefer that the menfolk do that stuff.
As a matter of fact, I think it's perfectly fitting for me to dissect theological bloviators in public. But I'll try not to worry too much about the fact that Doug Wilson might not approve. He's written a column that is both right and enjoyable.