This post is my own response to my last post in which I say to myself, “That was an interesting idea, but it needs to be developed,” and I answer myself saying, “Here’s a sharper version of the thought.
Gender differences and roles and expectations are largely shaped by culture. Culture includes religious traditions because religion cannot exist separately from its culture. Religion can at times participate in promoting unhealthy gender types and should be closely scrutinized.
That said…gender roles, being masculine and being feminine, are highly spiritual. Spiritual because we are spiritual/physical beings that are made to carry the image of God. Our gender and how we express ourselves ought to reflect a part of who God is and how He relates to us.
So then. Here’s my attempt to sharpen my thoughts on gender.
Physically, masculinity is manifested by a man’s particular role in conception. Logicaly and ideally, the man becomes the supportive birth partner, then the proctector of nursing momma and baby, then provider, protector, teacher. Tangible lifestyle actions that support and facilitate the growth and learning of a child and the safety and support of the mother.
Spiritually, then, Masculinity is the capacity and degree to which a man conceives and brings about life and better living in others. Apart from physically conceiving a child, a man is masculine when he creates, supports, and facilitates life in others. Life could be better living, healthier living, more abundant spiritual life in pursuit of God. I’m thinking of Jesus, who by all reports had no physical children, and the way He brought about life “and that more abundantly” in everyone around him.
Being masculine means causing others to grow and live better and more fully. This takes support, nurture, teaching, leading, compassion, being responsible, dependable, and serving, even to the point of self sacrifice.
As I’ve said before, self-sacrifice is not my favorite concept to think about because of how it can be abused, however I do believe it plays a significant role in masculinity. Again, going back to the physical as a reflection of the spiritual, the man who conceives a child should logically and ideally lay down his life, if necessary, to protect said child and child’s momma. The ability and willingness to put others first and keep them safe is a primary function of masculinity.
Being masculine means living with others in mind. None of this careless, hedonistic, un-mindful, pursuit of pleasure and glory. Masculinity means being aware of how your actions impact others and taking responsibility for those impacts.
The anti-masculinity then would be anything that destroys or hinders life or growth. So all those brawny fellows who are into guns and war do not actually meet the definition of manly.
Again though…these sorts of masculine traits can exist in any body type, any profession, any hobby, any clothing style, any personality type. I believe these traits can exist in any relationship dynamic as well. Parent-child. Partner-partner. Mentor-mentee. Friend-friend. There are no limits.
Those are the thoughts.
A post on femininity will follow, though I will have to consult with feminine people for proper perspective.