Devotions from Judy’s heart
Devotions from Judy’s heart
I read Glenn Stanton’s recent article in The Daily Citizen (Focus on the Family) entitled “Atlantic Magazine Science Writer: Men Don’t Have to Menstruate.” It got my attention. The article was “about how suffering through the end of their monthly cycle might now be a thing of the past for women.” But the shocker was, “that men need no longer to have their period either.” Stanton calls this confusion “a significant cultural indicator.”
The article demonstrated how an influential magazine like the Atlantic has in Stanton’s words bowed, “low to the new gender theory orthodoxy that yes, both men and women do indeed have periods and no one should think otherwise.”
The article highlights how menstruation is becoming an elective bodily process. One expert believes, “We now have the technology to make periods optional.” While reporting on a personal health issue for women, Stanton points out “the astonishing editorial choices” used in writing the article. “Her” is avoided, with the use of the gender-neutral “their.”
In order maintain that menses are not solely a female issue, phrases such as “people who have periods” is used, along with “people who have periods spend an average of 2,300 days of their lives menstruating.” Then their is this curious statement, “The cost of so-called feminine products can add up to thousand of dollars over a person’s lifetime.” Why not just say women or female. Because as Stanton point out the Atlantic, “is following a……wholly novel theory that a man can be as legitimately a woman as any other woman merely by declaring himself one.”
Stanton wonders why “the otherwise fine Atlantic piece didn’t specify whether ‘men’ were included in their analysis. He replies “it had to do with the difference between doing actual science and pushing a wholly creative ideology that is directly at odds with one of the most fundamental realities of what it means to be a human.”
You know there is confusion when Facebook has listed over 50 gender options to choose from when filling out a personal profile. This is sure proof that “gender” has become untethered from reality. The remedy is to go back to the original design, at the beginning, found in the book of Genesis.
Jesus was definite in telling us, “at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female'” (Matt. 19:4), going on the say that the two in marriage cannot be separated. The Pharisees questioned Jesus stand on marriage, saying Moses allowed for divorce. Jesus was saying in effect, “this is not the way God created it to be. Something has gone terribly wrong. This was not the way in was in the beginning.”
Christopher West uses the analogue of people driving with a flat tire as being normal when it comes to our sexuality. But Jesus is telling the pharisees that “in the beginning, they had air in their tires.” We need to go back to the beginning to see how distorted of view of sexuality has become.
Jesus came into the world not to condemn those with flat tires, but rather to re-inflate their flat tires. West observes, “We cannot actually return to the state of innocence; we’ve left that behind. But by following Christ we can receive God’s original plan for our sexuality and live it with Christ’s help.”
I love the analogue of “flat tires.” Men, turn to Jesus in humble dependence, asking him to fill the deep caverns of your soul, so that you might be affirmed in your fully alive masculine soul. Jesus can inflate your tires, giving you all the passion and energy you need to be “one” with your bride.
Recently I read an article in Mere Orthodoxy with the captivating title of “American Evangelicalism isn’t patriarchal or feminized. It’s matrilineal.” The article has got me pondering the criticism of the church being feminized. I have often written about the feminization of the church.
Matrilineal is a verb referring to behavior or characteristics that are based on kinship with the mother or the female. Anthony Bradley maintains that the Evangelical church is neither patriarchal, nor feminized, nor do they emasculate men in order to appeal to women’s sensibilities or desires. Evangelical churches are matrilineal.
“Matrilineal societies” notes Bradley, “are centuries old systems that organize community life so that the day-to-day activities of women are placed at the center of social thriving for successive generations.” In these societies “the outward-facing office does not determine which gender is socially dominant…..Men may hold an office, but women control the operations of community life….women are outward-facing representatives of the community.”
As a pastor, I often said without the organization of the women and their contribution, church life would suffering greatly. So Yes, I can definitely see where life in the church can be matrilineal.
Not only were the women the life-givers, but they were also the life sustainers. Mothers were revered in the community. Look at the emphasis on mother’s day in our churches and society. Without the mothers, much of family and youth activities would not happen. “Without women and mothers, life does not happen, ” observes Bradley.
“In reality” Bradley maintains, “many churches are simply a complemenatrian facade living a matrilineal reality.” That is why the “felt needs” in the church often reflect the feminine life in the church. He might be making a valid point.
The following observation from Bradley certainly holds true from my experience. “Matrilineal societies can exist while men are placed in outward-facing leadership roles (pastor or elder), but the community’s internal life would implode without women’s authority as mothers. Matrilineal societies are about who does what to sustain life rather than merely looking at who hold which outward facing title or role. Without women sustaining life, the community dies no matter who has what title in a matrilineal society.”
So what does this mean for the church? Here is Bradley’s challenge. [We] may want to make adjustments by reframing who does what to make life work at home, church, and school so that women are freed from the burden of sustaining the family and men move from being passive to becoming actively involved in the spaces that nurture children.”
This article does not do away with the criticism of the church as being feminized, but it does help to visualize why there is such a feminine emphasis? I would contend one word could nicely address the questions raised by the matrilineal influence in the church.
It is the word “nurture.” In the amplified we read in Eph. 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke our children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; not by showing favoritism or indifference to them], but bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
This passage challenges men to be nurturers. It is all about how men relate. Larry Crabb calls out our “relational poverty.” Men, it more than doing, thinking and organizing. It’s about getting down to the level of our children and relating to them from the heart. It is sharing our hearts with our wives. May God give men the courage and grace to release what is deep in them, to bring life to others.