Believe it or not, I enjoy wading through controversy about as much as I enjoy snapping a wasps’ nest down my gym shorts. That being said, I think we could all do with some good ol’ fashioned plain speaking now and then, especially when those [issues] that must not be named keep emerging from the forest to scratch their names on the door.
If we’re honest, most of us will admit an inherent ‘grain’ to the universe – that, even without a road map, things seem to veer in a certain direction. Thus, whether we’re referring to the prevailing hair on a badger or the inner grain of an aspen tree, we can expect them to generally run the same way. Certainly this is partly because our experience has proven it to be so, but there is also something inside of us that instinctively squirms when we try to run against that grain. Not even to mention the consequences of stroking a badger the wrong way.
What is this something? The modern mind has many names for it – “cultural constructs”, “conservative nurturing”, or what I like to call “progressaphobia”. I would argue however, that these apparently involuntary inclinations find their generation not only from our environment, but in the fractured but inherent remnants of God’s image within us. We cannot escape from it – nor, if we knew the potential for its restoration, would we want to.
When these remnants observe phenomena in the world which correspond with this preloaded design, they secretly high-five – which is why beholding a straight line or a perfectly round circle are among some of life’s truly great pleasures (I don’t get out much.) However, when these same remnants encounter something which was clearly made to do one thing, being forced to do something else, they inwardly revolt. The natural grain is subverted – the ax kicks back, the badger hisses.
You might have felt this inward revolt during the latest gruesome spectacle of the “new and improved” Star wars saga. Here the age of the female war hero has truly blossomed into a spectacle all its own. Here you have men who are almost uniformly corrupt, cowardly, conflicted or cracked; and women, who are nearly always wise, winsome, whole and weighty. There is a definite agenda here which I won’t enunciate, but that I will tell you rhymes with “sheminism.”
The propulsion behind much of its modern expression is the assumption that men and women are essentially the same. So now when someone even raises the possibility that certain occupations tend toward certain poles on the gender spectrum, a ramshackle false dichotomy shack is immediately thrown up. Either you let women do all the things men do, or you can sit in the corner and wear the misogynist cap of shame. Case closed.
But still this inner turmoil remains. You might feel it rise up upon viewing a massive, muscular, female bodybuilder or a male in tights pirouetting across front and center stage. Of course, even as you read these things you are inserting me somewhere amidst the ninth circle of hell – but you can’t deny the uneasiness.
There is, of course, fluidity to these qualities. Women can, and do, exert tremendous strength and courage; and men can, and do, evidence tender, domestic qualities. But there are also undeniable differences (beyond the obviously biological of course.) If a couple wake up suddenly to a bump in the night (perhaps it’s that badger you rubbed the wrong way), you will think pretty poorly of the man who stays trembling in his bed while his wife goes to investigate with the nine iron. She may be capable, but we are all inherently aware that it is the man who should take the initiative to protect his family.
Now Scripture is clear about two things: 1. Men and women are different. 2. They are both wonderfully made. The important thing to remember here is that differences do not not infer the inevitable inferiority of one party – somewhere along our culture’s winding path to nowheresville that fact dropped out of someone’s pocket.
It is interesting that a culture which so prizes itself on diversity can so despise it in its simplest, most observable form. But in our fury to enforce homogeneity, we are in danger of losing that compelling unity which emerges from disparity.
Important Note: Though these thoughts are my own, they would not have been possible without the help of this important lecture by Joe Rigney.