Saturday, July 09, 2005

Men & Women

Yes. Men & Women....

The preeminent topic.
The primary source of debate.
The focal point of so much misunderstanding.

And I, being a single male, am going to attempt to talk about this. "Why is this?" you might ask. "Where do you think you're going to get the information and experience to actually discourse upon this topic? You're a single guy!"

Exactly. I'm a single guy, so I feel more than entitled to discuss such a heavy & weighty topic, because, as Derek Webb states so well, single guys probably talk/think about women more than any other possible group. They might not be talking about getting married to women, per se, but they talk about women. And more often than not, the following topics (amongst others) come up: why they can't understand them, why they wish they could understand them, how they often feel unprepared for marriage, how they wish they could figure out what a woman would want from them/in their lives, what they can do to attract a woman, how they've failed to attract a woman, how they've failed in past relationships, and so much else. Suffice to say, I feel able to talk about men and women because I'm a guy and I've talked with other guys fairly often about women.

"What brings all this about?" you might again ask. "What is the cause behind this conversation you seem to be having with yourself and others?" Well, you see, I've been reading this excellent book entitled "Men and Women in the Church". The author is a woman named Sarah Sumner and she holds the distinction of being the first woman to graduate with a doctorate in systematic theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. The book takes a fresh, honest look into the debate between Complementarians and Egalitarians -- the two schools of thought in terms of women's involvement in the Church. Complementarians say that women should "complement" and not serve in any leadership roles in the church, specifically those where a woman would be in leadership over a man. Egalitarians say that women and men are equal and should be such in terms of church leadership. Granted, there are nuances within each group and both are representative of major sections of conservative evangelicism. However, as I'm about halfway through the book, I'm still in the middle of absorbing her material, but I am rather excited and intrigued by the book so far.

But on top of this, her book has caused within me some serious reflection concerning my maleness, my manhood in a fairly good way. In my attempts to be a non-stereotypical male and to not be misogynistic, I have stunted and retarded my maleness. I have lost sight of what it means to be a man, though I'm getting a better picture of it through her book. Being a man doesn't mean that I'm to dominate women; however, my reaction to those kinds of guys should NOT be that I subserviate myself, my emotions, my feelings in order to not be a jerk of a guy. I have to create a balance in my manhood and I'm still trying to figure that out. Dr. Sumner's book is giving me much food for thought, though I'm persuing conversations with friends of mine on this topic in order to better faciliatate a quality understanding and application to these revelations of mine.

(Side Note: Just don't ask me to read "Wild At Heart" by John Eldridge. From what I've read of that book, as well as reviews on it, it seems that he has an overly romanticized view of what manhood looks like. I don't deny some of his statements and conclusions, but not every guy is so "wild at heart" as he says they are.)

Any thoughts? I hope that we can get some relational conversation going on this....

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