"Guyishness vs. Biblical Masculinity" and "Girliness vs. Biblical Femininity"

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Theoretical

Puritan Board Professor
As the title suggests, I'm trying to address and form into coherent ideas a host of points about these issues at hand.

Basically what are our cultural stereotypes, and what is the Biblical approach to these stereotypes? What, in short, are masculinity proper and femininity proper, particularly from a Biblical perspective. I guess I'm looking at the actions and attitudes from both.
 

Gregg

Puritan Board Sophomore
Yesterday I was struggling a little bit with guyishness, but today I'm feeling a little better.:lol:
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Well, I don't think that to be masculine you have to be loud, belching, unintelligent, like country music (actually I will go ahead and make you all mad by saying that country music seems rather feminine to me), do sports, or pick your nose.
In other words the equation: guy=gross does not seem to me to be Biblical or Arthurian.
 

LadyFlynt

Puritan Board Doctor
Country Music is feminine?! GASP! Heresy! (okay, I married a former headbanger that likes country...maybe he's just getting old)

Is the question what we should do about effiminate men or masculine women?
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
There are two distinct but related problems.

1. The Post-foundational shift of the culture has disassociated the name "masculine," from the nature of the thing named, i.e., men or males. It raises questions about the very existence of nature or natures. Ken Myers (Mars Hill Audio) has been very good about probing this matter.

2. The dominant form of American Protestantism is revivalist evangelicalism. Historically much of revivalist evangelicalism has been highly "feminized," with feelings and emotion or the affective faculty dominating the rational faculty.

It might be that the post-foundational suspicion about nature as an arbitrary convention imposed by someone else is coalescing in religious circles with feminized Christianity.

I tried to address one aspect of this question briefly in

"Of Nice and Men," The Nicotine Theological Journal 9 (October 2005): 6-8.

rsc

It is becoming more complicated.

As the title suggests, I'm trying to address and form into coherent ideas a host of points about these issues at hand.

Basically what are our cultural stereotypes, and what is the Biblical approach to these stereotypes? What, in short, are masculinity proper and femininity proper, particularly from a Biblical perspective. I guess I'm looking at the actions and attitudes from both.
 

KenPierce

Puritan Board Freshman
We need to be so careful here.

Can we make a simple distinction: ala Vision Forum, that to be a boy means to be like Teddy Roosevelt, shoot sling shots, and the like, and to be a girl must mean to like frilly dresses? frankly it strikes me more as Victorian sentimentality than Biblical manhood and womanhood, though they do have cool toys!

Now, my boy is all boy, and my girls are very feminine just in their constitution. Our nigh-three year old daughter wakes up from her nap and dictates what shoes she would like to wear --tell me that's not a gender thing!

But, I do worry that men who enjoy things like theater, classical music, playing the piano (guilty on all counts here) versus hunting, fishing, hiking, sports, are seen as less masculine. Maybe we are just more like Jacob than Esau?! :D

So, what is the essence of Biblical manhood and womanhood? It has to be more than man strong, woman soft, does it not?
 
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R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Hi Ken,

I quite agree that our image of masculinity and femininity are shaped by culture more than we realize.

Our current culture, however, tends to minimize distinctions (about which there have been other threads).

I'm suggesting that there are natural differences between males and females and that whatever we say about the sexes ought to be grounded in nature/creation.

We agree that here's nothing inherently feminine about the arts.

I think that part of the difference lies is the way the sexes relate to the world and to other persons. I'm hesitant to say what that difference is exactly because it seems like a difficult generalization, but I think it has something to do with males being oriented to accomplishing and females being more oriented to relating/communicating. Thus, I think leadership (goals, accomplishing) is inherently more masculine and bureaucracy (process) is inherently more feminine.

rsc

We need to be so careful here.

Can we make a simple distinction: ala Vision Forum, that to be a boy means to be like Teddy Roosevelt, shoot sling shots, and the like, and to be a girl must mean to like frilly dresses? frankly it strikes me more as Victorian sentimentality than Biblical manhood and womanhood, though they do have cool toys!

Now, my boy is all boy, and my girls are very feminine just in their constitution. Our nigh-three year old daughter wakes up from her nap and dictates what shoes she would like to wear --tell me that's not a gender thing!

But, I do worry that men who enjoy things like theater, classical music, playing the piano (guilty on all counts here) versus hunting, fishing, hiking, sports, are seen as less masculine. Maybe we are just more like Jacob than Esau?! :D

So, what is the essence of Biblical manhood and womanhood? It has to be more than man strong, woman soft, does it not?
 

Theoretical

Puritan Board Professor
We need to be so careful here.

Can we make a simple distinction: ala Vision Forum, that to be a boy means to be like Teddy Roosevelt, shoot sling shots, and the like, and to be a girl must mean to like frilly dresses? frankly it strikes me more as Victorian sentimentality than Biblical manhood and womanhood, though they do have cool toys!

Now, my boy is all boy, and my girls are very feminine just in their constitution. Our nigh-three year old daughter wakes up from her nap and dictates what shoes she would like to wear --tell me that's not a gender thing!

But, I do worry that men who enjoy things like theater, classical music, playing the piano (guilty on all counts here) versus hunting, fishing, hiking, sports, are seen as less masculine. Maybe we are just more like Jacob than Esau?! :D

So, what is the essence of Biblical manhood and womanhood? It has to be more than man strong, woman soft, does it not?
Yes - This is more the line of thinking I'm trying to strive after by my question. The issue has come up a couple of times in recent times, and I'm trying to evaluate my own way of thinking on the issues.
 

Philip A

Puritan Board Sophomore
Can we make a simple distinction: ala Vision Forum, that to be a boy means to be like Teddy Roosevelt, shoot sling shots, and the like, and to be a girl must mean to like frilly dresses? frankly it strikes me more as Victorian sentimentality than Biblical manhood and womanhood, though they do have cool toys!
You've nailed that one square on the head; Vision Forum is doing nothing more than putting people a little higher up on the downgrade; promoting Victorian sensibilities will only repeat the cycle once more. Even a feminist like Ann Douglas (The Feminization of American Culture) has enough sense to see through all the sentimentality.

As an aside, when our church/franchise began introducing the latest batch of contemporary praise songs, my wife, who has always loved singing and hates to cause any kind of a stir, finally had to quit singing them, and stand there silently with me. She later expressed to me her shock and dismay that grown men could sing those songs.

Dr Clark is right to attribute the modern slide to post-foundationalism; I also think that American culture made a huge mistake in reacting to industrialism as well. In effect, the Industrial Revolution took the production of household items out of the hands of women, and in return made them consumers of them. Ever since then, we've been trying to figure out what to give our women to occupy their time.

That relates to the first few questions of the Christian Provincialist's Shorter Catechism:

Q1: What is the chief end of woman?
A1: To have as many children as possible, and to enjoy them forever.

Q2: What rule hath God given by which she may enjoy them forever?
A2: The rule of Christian Homeschooling.

Q3: How doth Homeschooling aid her to enjoy her children forever?
A3: First, by keeping them with her at all times, so as to be more readily enjoyed by her, and secondly, by keeping them so fearful and ignorant of the world as to be unable to leave her side all the days of their lives.
 

staythecourse

Puritan Board Junior
Good book on Masculinity

What would you all recommend for reading that has opened you eyes for need for growth in masculinity and has proven results? This is for my personal benefit. Essentially I want to learn to love aright. Ideas? Need help here.
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
Briefly and not exhaustively: Men lack masculinity in the fact that they are so incredibly passive in leading their households in the manner which God has prescribed.

There are plenty of girly men's men out there who are to the uttermost feminine in their actions, but "appear" to be masculine because they act "tough", etc.

The greatest example of Biblical masculine femininity: Adam in the garden neglecting his duty of husbandry, then following the sinful actions of his wife.
Good post, Josh.

I would have to agree with what was posted about Vision Forum and others who promote similar views. Although some christians seem to think the world of them, I really think what they are promoting is conservatism mixed with some stuff from the bible instead of true biblical gender roles.
 

jaybird0827

PuritanBoard Honor Roll
Briefly and not exhaustively: Men lack masculinity in the fact that they are so incredibly passive in leading their households in the manner which God has prescribed.

There are plenty of girly men's men out there who are to the uttermost feminine in their actions, but "appear" to be masculine because they act "tough", etc.

The greatest example of Biblical masculine femininity: Adam in the garden neglecting his duty of husbandry, then following the sinful actions of his wife.
:ditto: And very sadly it is all too common in "reformed" housholds.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Colleen, I realized afterwards that I should have phrased it differently. After all, for women, being feminine is a good thing, and I wouldn't exactly encourage all the women I know to cultivate a fondness for country music. It doesn't seem to me like it's masculine in a good way; but the honorable name of feminine shouldn't be applied to it either.
But the whining and moping about losing my truck keys doesn't seem exactly like Biblical masculinity, now does it?
 

Theoretical

Puritan Board Professor
Now, what would a transcultural perspective on femininity be Biblically? What are some of the traits that should be defining in terms of actions and responses. I get accepting headship and respecting male leadership (even when it's bad at times). What else?
 

QueenEsther

Puritan Board Sophomore
If I could sum up actual femininity as opposed to girliness in one word I would say 'Modesty'. Not just in dress but in actions and speech as well. Not only does a feminine lady not show all of herself physically, but she has a sort of veil over her emotions and thoughts.
 

BJClark

Puritan Board Doctor
Okay, I know your looking for both Godly male and female qualities...and right off the top of my head I can only think of male qualities...Godly vs worldly.

In the movie Beauty and the Beast, The beast, at the end of the movie depicted Godly characteristics, whereas Gaston, exemplified the worldly view of maleness, with no Godly characteristics at all.

Gaston was willing to steal to get what he wanted, the beast, though he struggled internally, was willing to go through fire risking his life to get what he wanted.

Boaz is another prime example of a Godly man, in that He was the sheild of Ruth, he protected her physically, he provided security (food) for her, and was willing to risk losing her...by being accountable to the elders of the city to ensure that the right kinsman redeemer be given the opportunity to marry her.

Maybe it's the fact we as a society only look at the outside appearance of men and women to determine if they are Godly or not...when it is the inner person that makes the distinction, between the two.

There is a book Restoration of Men, by Karl Duff, it's not the most well written book, but it describes these things:

He describes a woman as a breast...and men as the breastplate.

Women give life, they nurture, and are a source of nourishment, not only for their children, but for their husbands.

Men on the other hand are a breastplate, created to protect the breast from being hurt (emotionally, physically, mentally) He goes off to work and arrows are thrown at him all day long...when He comes home he needs to be restored...who restores him? his wife, she feeds him and encourages him, and nurtures him, so that he is prepared to go back out and do battle against the world again.

Now, as the sheild, He is the source of physical security, economic security, and emotional security not only for her, but his children.

The man has been designed to provide shelter, food, the things needed for a successful home. He is responsible for her emotional security, to take on to himself things which can destroy her peace of mind, her perceptions of insecurity in him, her reputation in the community and the home. He is to be the emotional shield, taking on himself the things which would threaten her.

She prepares the food, feeds his eyes, senses, and body with the things that delight his soul. She arranges the home, determines the diet, clothing, hygiene, health--basically the wellspring of the families life.

So in those two things...they work together...she provides him with the nourishment needed to perform his job as her protector.
 
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KenPierce

Puritan Board Freshman
Books:

The Gold Standard is Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, ed. Piper and Grudem.

The Family by BM Palmer and JW Alexander (Sprinkle).

The Family: God's Weapon for Victory (with some reservations) by Robert Andrews.

These are great places to start.
 

KenPierce

Puritan Board Freshman
Further thoughts:

WHere do we go for models of godly manhood? The lives of the patriarchs almost read as a manual of how NOT to be a husband or father: the foibles of unrestrained male sexual desire, absentee parentism, laziness, drunkenness, favoritism, and the like. We just don't have an archetypal male that I can see in the OT! But, maybe that's the point. The Bible is not a manual for fatherhood --it is a story of grace, and a caution against sin. So, we learn how to be godly men both from the mistakes and triumphs of David.

Biblical manhood is not a function of sports, hunting or fishing or waging war, though there is nothing wrong with those things in and of themselves. I think the prevailing image of manhood in the Scripture is that of shepherd --one who protects and provides for, who leads and guides, who is tender towards his flock (though he may have to use the staff to jerk one of the lambs into line!), but fearsome towards those who would harm them. This can be true of the man whose tastes and hobbies are more refined, or those that are more "manly." The image Paul gives is of nourishing (feeding) and cherishing (tender, attentive care). Both of these militate against what men WANT to do. Men are the most selfish, solitary creatures there are, by nature. But, by grace, that can be changed.

IT occurs to me that the image of Biblical womanhood we are given in the Scripture, particularly in the Old Testament, is one that is more earthy and sensuous, without sacrificing modesty. There is a toughness about Biblical womanhood that is joined to tenderness. One thinks about the bravery of Esther, the bravery of Deborah or the holy boldness of Abigail, for instance.

There certainly wasn't the Victorian false modesty, , or the medieval ideal of romantic love or the unattainable woman on a pedastal. Both of these tend to exalt both laziness and cowardice in women, In my humble opinion. The Biblical model of womanhood is industry and bravery, coupled with tenderness and submission.

The Scriptures are incredibly frank about natural bodily functions (that we tend to regard as "gross"), for instance, without such being a violation of modesty: that is what I mean by earthy. No-one would have been offended by females in the family not being able to go to temple because of uncleanness, for instance, or by the presence of someone breastfeeding in public. Such things are just "natural." Children who grow up on farms, even today, tend to be far more comfortable with human functions as well, because they have observed them as part of the natural order. There is something wrong with a society that puts breasts on every billboard and in every movie as objects of lust, but is somehow offended by a nursing mother, but I digress.

The sensuous part of the Hebrew ideal could be seen in Song of Solomon, for instance. Modesty restricts the boundaries of that sensuality to marriage, but it is far removed from the Victorian ideal that sex is a necessary evil (which I am sure was not universal, but can be rather humorously demonstrated from some of the Victorian marriage manuals).

I would say the Hebrew Biblical ideal of womanhood would be far closer to the American pioneer ideal than the Victorian parlor and fainting couch. It is far more Laura Ingalls Wilder than it is Pollyanna. (or even, perish the thought Jane Austen or Little Women, which, entertaining and somewhat profitable though they may be, exalt the Romantic ideal). The SCriptures are frank and realistic about human love, they do not exalt romance, nor do they put romance as the primary attraction between men and women. Here, I think Fiddler on the Roof presents us a better ideal than Beauty and the Beast: Tevye and his wife got married, not even knowing each other. But, love grew through commitment and shared hardship. That, romance can never do. Romance fades when beauty fades or newness wears off. That is the last thing we need to teach our young men and women. Love can be exciting, but, at root, love is commitment (chesed is the model for marital love, is it not?)


Therefore, I must take issue with Mrs. Clark. Beauty and the Beast exalts the hopelessly unrealistic romantic ideal, and, as my wife noted while watching it with our eldest daughter last week, Belle is just plain rebellious and far from submissive (as are most Disney heroines)! If submission is a godly female virtue, than she can hardly be an ideal.

I like what was said above about a certain level of demure behavior characterizing Godly womanhood. That is something I hadn't thought of before, but I think it needs to be taught!
 
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BJClark

Puritan Board Doctor
KenPierce;

I would agree Belle is not someone to look at as a Biblical example to follow, except in that she learned to see past the 'outward appearance of Beast' and seen inside his heart...and what He was capable of becoming..

And as far as Beast is concerned..What I was refering to was not the 'romance' aspect but in how we can see him struggling to overcome his own selfishness, and his fear of being 'different' and not being conformed to how society says we should look on the outside or even in how we should act..and in the end He stopped caring what others would think about Him being different and overcame those fears and was willing to die to protect/save Belle.

However, if that is romantic, then God is certainly romantic, as Christ was willing to die for us, and didn't care what others thought of his actions towards those society thought were 'less desirable' in looks or actions.
 
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a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
It is helpful to me to look at the church's role with regard to Christ for an example of femininity, and Christ's role to the church with regard to masculinity.

One glaringly obvious thing there is that the feminine role is primarily that of response. That has been very helpful to me, as I think a lot of women feel responsibility (or the fatal urge perhaps) to take the lead in many things.
 

QueenEsther

Puritan Board Sophomore
It is helpful to me to look at the church's role with regard to Christ for an example of femininity, and Christ's role to the church with regard to masculinity.

One glaringly obvious thing there is that the feminine role is primarily that of response. That has been very helpful to me, as I think a lot of women feel responsibility (or the fatal urge perhaps) to take the lead in many things.
That's good Heidi! I hadn't even made the connection there as far as femininity and masculinity is concerned. I'm glad you brought that up :)
 

Theoretical

Puritan Board Professor
Well, this thread was of a lot of help to me, and I thought I'd bump it to perhaps provide some of my (and my best friend's) major conclusions about the issue of gender in particular.

There is danger with both over-emphasizing narrow gender differences (as with the Victorians) and reducing gender differences to sex organs (as the moderns do). Modern society is in fact a terribly narrow, warped mix of these two, and it is from these that we think also explains increasing homosexual expressions as well.

Defining masuclinity as that of macho, outdoorsey "jocks" and feminity as that of fashion-obsessed, makeup-loving, "girliness" [narrow cultural constructs] starves our definitions of those terms. Properly defining and striving to increase the spectrum of masculinity and feminity better creates a functioning society where one can indeed feel a part of his/her gender.

After all, it should not be a surprise that our cultural poverty in regard to gender traits in many ways leads male artists to be identified as "gay" and tomboyish girls to be identified as lesbian. Flattening the differences between genders merely makes the rich, sweeping colors of each gender into bland grays.

A proper understanding of gender will be able to enable parents to affirm and praise the masculinity of a man having skills in the creative arts, and to affirm the femininity of a tomboyish girl who likes cars and technical things (strictly as examples).

Both genders are better off with the richer tapestry provided by a proper worldview of gender differences.

What are the thoughts of the board about these generalized musings?
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
If a man is supposed to lead his home and have dominion over the earth, this would require some good rough play in the dirt as a kid. If he is supposed to be ready to die for his wife and family, then playing such and even play fighting seems perfectly appropriate.

It seems to me that cowardice and failure to act, even if that means killing or dying, is often sin. An active opposition to evil is very manly and often very costly.

And yet, King David, though he killed a lion and a bear an a giant, also bawled his eyes out and sung sappy songs.


The women in the Bible seem (at least the good ones) seem to be modest, submissive, but also often wise and even crafty. One of the wise women of the Bible even drove a tent peg through a fellas head... Too, in Proverbs 31 this idealized woman does quite a bit of work outside the home and is an independant woman, running the house without need of her husband, though in the New Testament the ideal women is to be a quiet, meek, keeper at home.


..So stereotypes are hard to come by sometimes if we stick to Scripture.


Although bad women are always mouthy and unsubmissive at seems, and bad men are often weak and indecisive and proud...
 

Staphlobob

Puritan Board Sophomore
Given the number of responses, it's obviously a significant topic. In fact, just this morning (Friday, March 16) I happened to run across a news article on something called "Godmen." It's a movement aimed at countering the feminization of Christianity and Christian men.

I really don't know if Godmen is good or bad, but it strikes me as a significant issue when people here and other places are bringing it up.
 
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