Gender Sameness and Difference

Throughout the history of this blog, I’ve certainly wavered some on my view of sexual/gender differences.  At times I’ve focused on what men and women have in common and ruthlessly attacked unhelpful gender stereotypes of our culture, and even pointed out how such stereotypes contribute to the problems of crossdressing and transgenderism.  At other times I’ve focused on the fact that men and women are distinct, created differently by God for a reason.   I guess I shouldn’t call this wavering.  I’m striving for what I see as the true middle ground.  Some in our culture are turning to the error of denying gender altogether, and some in our culture go to the opposite error of purporting a huge gulf of great difference between the sexes, stifling people who are different from the norm, causing them to question their true sex.

Men and women are indeed created differently, with different roles, different biology, different bodies, and different temperaments.  The differences are complementary and beautiful.  On the other hand, the gender stereotypes of our culture are often too rigid and don’t allow for individual differences and uniqueness.  Men can be generally like a,b,c,d, e, and women generally like f,g,h, i, j.  But pick out a specific man and he might be c,d,e,f, g.  Pick out a specific woman and she might be a,g,h,i, j.  And men and women have many more traits in common than traits of difference.  We are all humans called to follow Christ and exhibit the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  To ignore our differences is an error, as it is equally an error to forget that we are mostly the same.  We must stay on this middle ground to avoid the gender confusion and pain in our culture.  Such middle ground will help to avoid the errors of crossdressing, transgenderism, transsexualism, sexism, abuse, and gender dysphoric pain.

I was recently reading an interesting book by the author Tim Keller called, “The Meaning of Marriage.”  In it he has this quote about gender difference that I found very helpful and fitting with my view above:

This means that single people within a strong Christian community can experience much of the unique enrichment of cross-gender relationships between brothers and sisters. It is my experience that it is nearly impossible to come up with a single, detailed, and very specific set of ‘manly’ or ‘womanly’ characteristics that fits every temperament and culture. Rather than defining ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ (a traditional approach) or denying and suppressing them (a secular approach), I propose that within each Christian community you watch for and appreciate the inevitable differences that will appear between male and female in your particular generation, culture, people, and place.

Wait for them to appear, and know them. Talk about them among yourselves. Notice the distinct idols women have and men have in your generation, culture, and place. Notice the strengths women have and men have in your generation, culture, and place. Notice communication modes, decision-making skills, leadership styles, life priorities, and the balance of work and family. Once you see them, respect and appreciate them. Without the gospel, people often turn temperamental, cultural, and gender differences into moral virtues. This is one of the way we bolster our self-esteem – a form of ‘works-righteousness,’ a way to earn our superior status. And so men and women scorn and mock the other gender’s distinctive traits. But the gospel should remove that kind of attitude.”

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4 comments on “Gender Sameness and Difference

  1. I am continously learning to accept that I don’t fit the typical masculine mold that is the societal norm. God has built into me a more sensitive side through my experiences in life. This has at times been categorized or purported to be weakness. I know that it has contributed to my bend towards CD in a perverted form in my past, but as I am being freed daily by the work of the Cross and the Holy Spirit within me, it is now being seen as a distinctly valuable part of who I am!! God’s mission for me in this life is distinct, and as I walk in the Spirit, He has used this sensitivity to be mindful of where others are at in their journey. This makes me so thankful that I am uniquely created!

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  2. thorin25 says:

    Amen to that! You are a sensitive MAN of God

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  3. Thank you for your post. I try to forget what stereotypes and just focus on what I want to define myself as. By the way, things did not work out with the woman I thought was interested in me. She was just playing me on, and this made me feel mad at myself.

    What are the gender differences between the ways men and women handle dating? How can we as people who fight crossdressing recognize these differences and date in the correct Christian way?
    How can I learn to trust that God has a woman out there for me?

    I come from a divorced household and feel like I am destined to “screw up” with women and be like my father. I am currently a very pushy person. I currently believe I have to go out and find a girlfriend, but this has not worked one bit. The women I try to ask out on a date respond in way way or another like this: “things are moving to fast….” I feel like I am one of those bad-guys in a dating movie that always makes women feel uncomfortable.

    How does a divorced household change the way a person looks at dating and gender differences?

    This is Jonathan (the one from California) from the prayer chain. I made this blog a while back, and its name does not match my current prayer chain name. Sorry if this comment is off topic.

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  4. thorin25 says:

    Those are important questions. I was always a failure at dating as well, until things worked out with the woman who is now my wife. I don’t have any easy answers for you. Maybe others can give you some good tips about it. I will only say two things.

    1. You have to put yourself in a position to meet lots of people, joining groups, organizations, volunteer places, church, school, clubs, activities, etc. And then if you find someone you like, take time to get to know them before you start speaking very seriously. If you just stay at home, you won’t meet people.

    2. Trust God and try to learn patience and contentment while you wait. It may be that God wants you to learn those lessons before he brings the right woman into your life. So use the opportunity to learn what God wants you to learn. Perhaps after you learn to be content being single, he will bring that woman to you.

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