With all of the discussion and debate about masculinity and what God intends for men, I can’t help but point out the obvious: most of them are written by men, for men, and there is far less by and for women.
When I think of my daughters and their friends, of
me and mine, I long for us to grasp what God intended when woman was created. I long for us to bring a gospel-redeemed femininity to our relationships, our work place, our communities and our churches.
Because we are created male and female in the image of God this topic cuts to the core of who we are. Could we even extrapolate that our gender defines us more than our family of origin? More than our culture? More than our personality? I don’t know.
But I know that the evil one was quite brilliant to attack our gender during the fall and to continue to do so today. No wonder this is a battle. So here are a few points to consider:
1. Gospel femininity is bigger and broader than culture or roles.
The culture in which we live obviously impacts our roles both as men and women. But this does not need to define us nor imply that this is what God intended. Remember, the gospel transcends culture.
It would be as preposterous to define femininity by what we do as it would be to define an entire person by their current job. When we limit femininity to a role, such as mothering or marriage, we confine it to our status. That’s absurd. Does that mean we can’t reflect God’s image if we aren’t married? When we define femininity by our roles and our culture we run great risks. We fall on the side of either erasing gender differences, or focusing too narrowly on those differences.
On the one hand when we try to hide the differences or ‘do it like a man’, the very gift and essence of who we are is not offered. Everyone loses. But if we focus too narrowly on staying in a prescribed role we may limit the wild ways God may be calling us to join in his redemption.
So how does God himself define our gender differences? In Genesis God uses a phrase when he describes woman. However, the Hebrew word used in Genesis 2, ezer, has been so grossly misinterpreted in English that I’ve wrestled with what words to use. My friend and fellow blogger Felipe Assis has suggested the phrase “adequate rescuer,” which comes much closer to the Hebrew than other translations I’ve heard.
Ezer or rescuer is the same word used in other passages of scripture for God coming to our rescue. God saves. God rescues. God comes to our aid. It’s the same word God uses to describe woman. Describing woman as rescuer, God uses the adjective “suitable” or “adequate.”
Does this blow your mind? But wait, this isn’t all.
3. What does this have to do with the Gospel?
At the core of femininity lies the gospel story! There is a Redeemer who on our behalf has come and rescued us. As I look to Christ as my adequate rescuer, I in turn can bring suitable rescue or adequate saving as God designed me to bring to the many spheres of my world. Our temptation will be to fall to one or the other side of being an adequate rescuer. On the one hand we fall into the belief that we aren’t adequate for the task. That we don’t have what it takes. That it’s not our place. You know what I mean. We diminish who we are and think we can safely hide behind the cloak of conservatism. Have you ever hid with the excuse that your husband doesn’t want you to do something? Or maybe if you’re single you think you won’t be heard “in a man’s world” and keep silent.
On the other side of the fence, we may ride our bulldozers to the rescue plowing everything and everyone in our path. We come with our guns blazing feeling it’s our duty to put people in their place in the name of justice. It’s not suitable and its not rescue.
In both of the above scenarios the focus is on us.
Instead, what if our focus turned to Jesus who was and is our adequate rescuer? What if, as we looked for Jesus’s rescue on our behalf, we offered this image of the Godhead to our world?
This, my friends, is gospel femininity.