While we're on the subject of controversial thoughts on gender roles and other things that upset the fruit basket, I want to talk about something that might hit a nerve today (whether you're a guy or a girl).
The comments on that Wall Street Journal to which I linked the other day contained some telling commentary on the reasons that some very good men may not step up to the plate (and not only concerning marriage, I think this is applicable in many areas, with many people). "Why should we," one comment read "step up, when we know that [women] can buy their own house, have children through other methods, provide, and fill all the needs you say you want men to fill?"
While I don't agree that simply because one person went beyond the bounds that scripture lovingly places on us (Psalm 16), another person ought to shrug their shoulders and abdicate, I hear the angst in this man's comment. Even the guys who want to be a husband and a provider feel unnecessary on the trajectory of a woman's life! I think this raises two points that may seem contradictory, but I believe if lived out in gospel centrality, will result in a kingdom life.
1. Because of the age of many singles these days, individuals are forced to be the primary breadwinner in their "family" units like never before in history. While this may look different for some singles, ultimately the cost of living falls primarily on their own shoulders. As single women in particular this can feel very counter-intuitive to the created order: we know we are built to be nurturers and home-makers. (And by home-maker I don't mean that if you are not at home full time, you are not still making a home wherever you are. We do this naturally.) God calls it a Helper and I love that--I am created to help!
But because of my age and station, a single young woman on my own for a decade, I am in a situation where feeling like a nurturer and helper feels beyond my control. Who am I helping? It feels sometimes like the only person I'm helping is myself! I pay my bills, make my own food, drive my own car, etc. I'm not sharing this burden and no one is sharing it with me. This can cause resentment to grow in my heart as I might feel that the most (literally) fruitful years of my life are being wasted. I hear this time and time again from my peers, "Why would God create me to desire this and leave me feeling incomplete?"
I want to draw you back to Genesis again, the original mandate on man and women was not to be fruitful and multiply, but rather an implied mandate, spoken by God to God: Let us make man in our image. Your primary role is to reflect God. So when you cast blame for what you feel is a misguided calling on your life, please remember that first and foremost we are called to be image bearers. The delight of this is that as image bearers we are also helpers and nurturers and providers and all these things that God is innately.
He didn't mess up when he made you--he made you perfectly designed to reflect all of who he is. And in your singleness you are not gypped of that whole calling; it is there, in your life somewhere. Find it. Find the areas where you can bear that image and fulfill the whole calling of God.
2. The second point is directed toward the Church. In the uprising of secular feminism, there was an unfortunate drop of femininity and the Church did not remain unscathed from that blight. I am not making excuses for any identity crises that a single woman may deal with, but one of the difficult things about having to embrace the side of feminism that has us working and providing for ourselves, is that it becomes more and more difficult to feel feminine. This might be due to the lack of a man who appreciates the natural beauty of every woman, it might be due to a prolonged season in which we feel unappreciated, etc. I don't know exactly. I know that married women who do get to fulfill the calling of a woman in a more practical and tangible way may feel this as well, but I don't think we can deny that for a single woman, the cost of femininity is a bit higher.
Church, you are a bride! You know intrinsically what it feels like to feel under-appreciated and unloved, unbeautiful and overworked. Surely if there is anything we can understand as a body, it is the angst of a bride whose groom has not yet come to take her away! So I challenge you, Church, to step in and be the fathers and brothers, mothers and sisters, to single women. I'm not only talking of car issues and home maintenance issues, I'm talking about valuing and appreciating the unique calling on every woman's life to be a woman and a nurturer (as well as an image bearer).
Men, do not think for one minute that simply because we single women may "have it all" in terms of living in American culture, that we are not still lacking in your unique ability to be a guard and hero, a rescuer and fixer! Do not be afraid to bear the image of God to the single women in your life, afraid that she will suppose there is something behind your actions (A proposal must be in the works because you walked her out to her car once!). Women struggle with the hope of something more all the time, the fix for that is not to abdicate, but to show her what a true man is and does so that her standards are raised and not limited to crushing on every guy who does something kind for her. Get your hands dirty on her behalf!
Women, do not think for one minute that God is unable to fill that position in your life through the body of Christ. Do not begrudge the care of the Church and her desire to guard your femininity while the world is trying so desperately to wrestle it from you. Not every man is showing kindness to you because he is in love with you--appreciate his efforts to be an image bearer as well, without placing your hope for a future with him based on his simple kindness. Do not limit yourself to work minimum wage jobs "waiting on the Lord to bring the man of your dreams." What are your dreams for today? What is God putting in your heart today? Do that! Pursue that wildly and confidently. His word does not return void!
Finally, we live in a broken world and we are broken people and we are doing broken things to fix broken things. Pursue the Lord. What is He calling you to do today? How can you best reflect Him today? Pursue His kingdom radically and with your whole heart, receive His word and the Holy Spirit, serve and be served, show grace and receive grace.
day nine of 30 day challenge put down by one Jason Alan Churchill Thorburne Morris.