Monday, March 24, 2014

Retaining Honour--Post 5

Yesterday I wrote about identity.

If we (conservative/Christian folks) are going to insist that:
a)      Gender is intrinsic, and
b)      There are only two genders and
c)      Your gender was given to you by God
d)     Denoting both gift and purpose and
e)      It is not to be changed or altered. . .

Then: it is a serious –dare I say—sin! to challenge someone’s birth identity as male or female.

And: we have to make room at the male/female tables for all men and women, regardless of their talents, size, interests, giftings, choices, or behavior.

To imply that someone is somehow less male, not quite a woman, a bit off, not quite sure, unworthy, or not enough is to say that you don’t really believe that gender is a God-given trait, but that it has to somehow be chosen and earned and maintained.  Like you did.

We could all think of fifty examples of potential or actual troubled identities.  My sister’s big, raw-boned friend who enjoyed farm work and somehow landed in a batch of charming, flouncy-skirted Southern girls in her youth group, and who always felt like she wasn’t quite the right gender.

The small, shy man who never married.

The woman who hates to shop and feels out of place at Tupperware parties.

The man who is terrified of spiders and snakes.

You're thinking of a few right now, I'll bet.
If you have issues with cultural identity, as my dad and brother did because of being studious Amish, and a shaky gender identity as well, maybe by being a Mennonite woman who hates to sew and bake but likes to study forestry,  then God have mercy on you.

If you really believe the Bible on this, then the woman I met who worked for her brother and fixed small engines in his shop: she is fully a woman.

The guy I know who enjoys decorating for events and making rooms beautiful: he is fully a man.

We who believe in gender as God-given and unchangeable need to affirm the men and boys in our lives as fully male and the women and girls as fully female.*  No arched eyebrows, no nudges, winks, implications, hints, closed circles, suggestions, exclusions, or faintly-innuendoed jokes and comments.

This is not to say that you can't more fully realize your potential as a man or woman.  But first you are what you are.
Tomorrow: surprising Biblical women

*to the inevitable anonymous commenter: transgender issues are outside the scope of this post and this is not addressing how—beyond being kind--you should or should not treat people who wish to be identified as another gender or none at all.


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  2. I'm really enjoying these posts, Dorcas. God bless you :)

  3. Wow! So right! Really really love it.

  4. This series is such a blessing to me! Thank-you for saying the things I feel but can't express so clearly!

  5. I LOVE this series! Thank you for speaking the truth with such grace. People tend to react like a "pendulum" in these issues, taking the extreme sides and being defensive, so I appreciate your balance and wisdom!

  6. Really good perspective written in a way I had never quite thought about before. It's truth we need to hear.

  7. I really appreciate the comment that you aren't talking about transgender issues. It's a different thing to say "I should have been a guy, my talents and interests are all better suited to men than women!" rather than "I am a man, I have always been male, and somehow there was a biological error and my body is female." I wasn't sure how I felt about transgender issues until I cared for a young transgender child and I learned that it was something very different than I initially thought. I think you post about the gender boxes that we put talents and interests into is very needed. There are many ways to deny someone their God-given identity and telling a boy to quit being "such a girl" is one of them.

  8. I love this article, it gives you something to think about after reading. Thanks for posting.