Monthly Archives: September 2017

Being a Man, Being a Woman…

This is a warning.  This post will probably be politically incorrect.  There is a bit of Bible talk in it.  You have been warned.  Read at your own risk.

As I was decluttering in my office recently, I ran across a book that I had forgotten I had purchased.  I bought it at a used book store for two reasons, first, because I liked the book – “Captains Courageous”, by Rudyard Kipling, and second, because of the edition it was.  Classic Press put out a series of books, really for kids, I think, of some classic literature.  They were heavily illustrated, but what I really liked about them, even as a kid, was the fact that in the margins they had notes of interest and definitions for some of the more obscure things that were mentioned in these classic books, that might be less known at the time of their printing, which, for this book, was 1969.  The other thing about these editions was that they also included more information at the back of the book, in this case, a brief bio of Kipling, and a brief discussion of the history of sailing boats.  My parents had purchased me some of the books from this series when I was a kid, but I did not have this one, so when I found it at a used book store, I bought it.  It had gotten buried on a bookshelf, and when I uncovered it, I read it.

If you have never read the story, the basic plot centers around a spoiled millionaire’s son who falls off a luxury cruise ship.  He gets picked up by a fisherman, and the captain of the fishing boat doesn’t believe him when he says his father will pay him good money to take him back home.  So, he spends the fishing season on the boat, and learns to be a man.

While reading the info section at the back of the book, I ran across a couple of sentences that I have been pondering over and mulling over ever since.

“Modern man usually jettisons the baggage of the past, only to find later that he has lost something of value that he cannot replace.”

and

“By pitting the best in a boy – his wits, his courage, his strength – against the mightiest forces in nature – the wind and the sea – the boy soon is made a man.  That journey into manhood is as lost to us today as are the men who were made that way.”

Now, I consider myself somewhat of a feminist – in the sense of “Why would I want to be equal to a man?  Why should I give up my superiority?”  That is somewhat of a joke.  But men and women are NOT the same, and in some things, we should NOT be treated the same way.

In others, we should be treated the same.  I believe in equal pay for equal work, for example.  But if a male firefighter has to be able to carry a 200 pound man out of a fire, a female firefighter should meet those same requirements – and they should not cry “discrimination” if they don’t get the job because they can only carry 150 pounds.  If a particular job has a specific requirement for men, that same requirement should apply to women – it should not be made a lesser requirement just because of gender – or race, either, for that matter.

I am somewhat of a feminist who believes in Women’s choice – but who is against abortion.  I just believe it should be the woman making the decision, not the state.

I am somewhat of a feminist who believes that a woman’s place does not have to be in the home – but that the full time job of HOMEMAKER is one of the highest callings a woman can aspire to.

I am somewhat of a feminist who believes a woman should be allowed to do or be anything for which she is physically and intellectually, but who always wanted to be June Cleaver, with the clean house and cookies and milk for the kids after school. (I never achieved that particular dream)

I am somewhat of a feminist who believes that daddy can and should take care of babies – but if mommy doesn’t want to actually breast feed, I certainly hope that she is at least willing to express her milk for a minimum of six months to give her child the best start in life that it can have.

I am somewhat of a feminist who believes that a nursing mother should be able to nurse her baby anyplace, anywhere – but please use a nursing blanket out of respect for those who believe that the sight of a milk-engorged breast is either immoral or sexually arousing.

And…

I am somewhat of a feminist who believes the men should be in “touch with their feminine side” but should stay completely masculine at the same time.

Some of the past standards of behavior need to be demolished.  The ideas that “real men don’t cry” for example, is a bunch of hooey.  Real men cry – but they pick themselves up and go on.  Real men have emotion – and are not afraid to show it, in a healthy way.  Real men are strong – but are not afraid to ask for help when they need it.  Real men are leaders – but are not afraid to ask for suggestions and even change their mind about things.

I see lots and lots of stuff in the news, comments from friends, about victims – and how we are creating a society of victims.  I am not sure if we are creating a society of victims or not.  There are lots of things that are out there that do “victimize” people, whether we want to admit it, or not.  But what I do think is and has happened is that we have created a society where men are not allowed to be men.

We have a society that teaches men, not to be assertive, in a good way, but to be aggressive.

We have a society that teaches if you don’t agree with me, you are stupid, and shouldn’t be alive.

We have a society that teaches if something is wrong, the best way to fix it is with violence.

We have a society that has turned men, the ones that should provide comfort and strength to those in need, into either violent aggressive malefactors who brutalize those around them, or passive wimps who are not willing to stand up for or to anything or anyone.

I am aware that this is a generalization.  I am aware that not every man falls into the aggressive or passive category.  And I know that there was plenty of brutality from men of the past.

But still – something is wrong with this society.  And I think that part of the problem is that we have lost the proper (here it gets religious) Biblical ideas of what a man and a woman should be, and how their relationships should be.  This is from Ephesians 5.

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

A lot of people have used verse 23, Women are to submit to their husbands, to justify abuse of  women, or to justify men as the absolute rulers of the home.  That is NOT the intent of that verse.  Husbands are the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church.  What did Christ do?  Let’s see, he healed.  He forgave.  He died.  They totally ignore verse 22 – where we are told to submit to each other.  Verse 22 sounds a lot like the men are supposed to do as much submitting as the women.   And they also ignore verse 25 and 28.  Love your wife as Christ loved the church?  Are you willing to die for your wife? Love your wife as you would your own body?  Do you hit your own body?  Do you insult it?  Do you ignore it?  Do you yell at it?  Betray it?  I hope not.  I hope you care for your body, feed it, do the things that it needs to be healthy.  And notice verse 33 – men are told to love their wives.  Wives are told to respect their husbands.

Now – what would happen to society if all the men were to love their wives?  And what would happen to society if all the women were to treat their husbands with respect? And if both men and women submitted to each other?  And most importantly – what would happen to our children, our sons and daughters – if that was the role model that they had? If a boy saw his father treat his mother with love and honor, how do you think he would treat women as he grew up?  If a daughter saw her mother treat her father with respect, how would she treat men?  And how would that influence their choice in a partner?

Personally, I think that if that were to happen, a lot of good things would start happening in society.

So – why did those quotes from that book get me to thinking about this?  Because there was a time in the past, when many men were taught to treat women with consideration.  There was a time in the past when many women were taught to show respect to men.  There was a time when certain family values were important – it didn’t matter what your race or nationality was – certain things were taught, like respect for your elders, consideration for others, reflection before action…

I am somewhat of a feminist, who believes that men should be taught to be real MEN, and women should be taught to be real WOMEN.  We need to be taught that we are different, and because of that difference, we are not and should not always be treated equally.  But we should always be treated fairly.

We all need to be fair, to be considerate, to be respectful to others, to speak up for the abused, to be assertive, without being aggressive.  We women need to respect our men.  We men need to respect our women.  And both of us need to learn when to submit “out of reverence to Christ.”

Well, these obscure thoughts trailed along paths that I didn’t know I would travel when I started.  Maybe some other day I will follow the path that I thought I was on…hope you enjoyed the thoughts, anyway…

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Church – is it the building? Or the people?

I went to church today.  It has been a long, long time.  While I pray daily, and read and study scriptures regularly,  I have only been to church a handful of times in the last two to three years.  I think that today was only the second time that I’ve taken communion since the day before my dad died.

It has been over a year since I attended the church that I still think of as my “home” church. It has been closer to 3 years since I attended any church at all on any kind of regular basis.  I have not been out of fellowship with God.  But during the last few months of my father’s illness, I did feel abandoned by Christian leadership – an elder that I had turned to for help, and was refused.  And when my father died, and I no longer had the responsibility of weekend care for him – I thought “ah – I can start going back to church” – and I didn’t.  For over a year, now, save the rare visit to another congregation, I have not attended church.

I didn’t understand why I wasn’t going back to church.  I enjoyed church.  My home church had an awesome preacher.  I had friends at church.  But I found it so much easier to simply not go.  To sleep late.  To allow the headache to keep me home.  Even on days that I actually got up, got dressed – I would find myself listening to a sermon on the radio, rather than get in the car and go.

I simply didn’t want to go to church.  And as I pondered this, I realized that I felt hurt, abandoned, and angry over the fact that the elder that I had asked to arrange – not to do it himself, but to put up a sign-up list – to bring me and my father communion had turned me down.  At the point in time that I asked this elder, this church leader, about arranging communion, my father and I had not been to church in almost a year.  My father had reached the point in his illness that he needed someone at the house all of the time.   Unless I was out of town on business, I usually was at dad’s house on Saturday afternoon, Saturday night, and Sunday, plus other times during the week.  When he felt up to it, I would drive him to his church.  He had not felt up to going to church for nearly a year.  We both missed communion.  My father’s congregation was very tiny.  Some services, less than 30 people in attendance, and mostly female.  My congregation was much much larger – hundreds of people.  So I asked an elder if he would set up a sign-up sheet for people to bring us communion.  I said “Once a month, even, is better than nothing.”  And he said no.

As I pondered why I wasn’t going back to church, I realized that this sense of betrayed trust from a person whom I respected as an elder and leader of my home church, had resulted in a deep hurt and hidden anger that I had not allow myself to acknowledge.  And this hurt and anger was a huge reason why I felt no desire to return to services.  So I started working on it.  I prayed about it.  I talked about it to my counselor.

And finally, today, I went back to church.

The singing was great.  The sermon was inspirational.  The announcements…

Well, some things had happened, that I hadn’t even noticed.  One of the things that I had always liked about this congregation was the fact that it has tended to be a little more casual in some ways.  People could bring water bottles in with them.  Or travel cups of coffee.  Little snacks for their children.  I’ve always thought that was rather nice.  But today, one of the announcements was that the church had replaced the pews and the carpets recently, and in order to keep them looking nice for as long as possible, do not bring any food or drink into the sanctuary.

I looked around.  I had seen the new decorations on the wall behind the pulpit.  I had not even noticed that the carpet and pews were different.  I had been more interested in people, rather than in furnishings.  When I looked around at the new carpet and pews, I saw several water bottles that people had brought.  And the thought crossed my mind…

Is church the building?  Or is it the people?

And that thought reminded me of another congregation in the area, of the same non-denomination as my “home” church.  Several years ago, I saw that they were putting barriers up over the driveways into the parking lot.  Now, I thought at first that maybe they were going to be sign posts.  But no signs appeared on them.  After pondering what they might be, I actually called the church to find out if my supposition was correct.  To my immense sadness, it was.

They were putting up barriers to prevent tractor trailer rigs from coming onto their parking lot.  They were afraid that such heavy vehicles would tear up their parking lot and they would have to spend money on repairs.  My first thought was “What a wasted opportunity for evangelism.”  My second thought was “I wonder if that is what Jesus would have done.”

Jesus ate with publicans and sinners.  Jesus took opportunities to teach.  Jesus gave us a law of love – to love all people, everywhere, to do good to those who harm us.  He spoke on beaches, hill-sides, in people’s homes, in the synagogues, by wells…where ever he was, he taught and he healed, body and soul.

Is church the building?  Or is it the people?

If church is the building, then by all means, let’s spend money on decorations.  Let’s spend money on carpets and new cushioned pews.  Lets spend money on barriers to keep out people that we don’t want in.  Let’s put rules and regulations into place designed to keep things looking pretty.  Let’s build huge churches, so everyone will know we are there.  Let’s ban water for those who are thirsty, and food for those who hunger.

If church is the people?  Let’s meet their needs, whatever they are, in the best, most loving, Christ-like way that we can.

Is church the building?  Or is it the people?