The difference between girly girls and manly men

In a recent conversation with a friend we broached the above topic. The gist of it was that he talked to girls and boys in the same way, like there was no difference between them, and talked to me specifically like I was ‘one of the boys'(Apologies in advance, not picking on you, I just studied the subject a bit more and I thought it provided an excellent opportunity for encouragement, edification and comfort).

I have heard various times from other friends that guys don’t like girly girls, but rather prefer girls who act like one of the aforesaid ‘boys’. While I can see their point, especially in pop culture, can I say I disagree wholeheartedly? Bear with me as I make my case.

Genesis 1:27 records that ‘God created man in His own image; male and female He created them’. This verse brings up two clear thoughts for me; First of all man (male and female) is the only creature with the privilege of having been created in God’s image, and in that respect both genders are equal, and valuable in God’s sight. According to John Piper, if God created us in his image as male and female, that implies equality of personhood, equality of dignity, mutual respect, harmony, complementarity, and a unified destiny when we accept Him. In the same vein, Wayne Grudem, in his epic book Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood says this record at the very beginning of God’s word bears a fundamental and irrefutable witness against the evil of male superiority celebrated by culture and many religions.

Secondly, God in His infinite wisdom, made the genders different for a purpose, He thought through our creation (Psalm 139:13-15). Genesis 2:20-22 records how God had created man, and then saw that he lacked ‘a helper suitable for a specific purpose’, and then created woman. In His providence, foreknowing that gender differences would one day be blurred, God goes to great lengths to show us that there are fundamental distinctions between men and women, differences in creation, design and purpose. Galatians 3:28 does say that there is neither male nor female once in Christ, but the thrust of this is that regardless of gender or station in life, we are all equally accepted through Jesus.

All I have said is probably not news to you, one look at a man or a woman confirms the fact that we are basically different. But my position is that our differences are not merely anatomical, God made us different on and with purpose and gave us different tools to fulfil our roles. (In theological discussions, this is called complementarianism; more information below*).

One of the consequences of the fall was the curse in Genesis 3:16 to the effect that the woman’s desire will be to control her husband, but he will rule over her (NLT). Another consequence was that mankind…’Refusing to know God soon didn’t know how to be human either—women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men'(Romans 1:26). We therefore established new definitions for ourselves and blurred the gender dichotomy. This has resulted in the gender conflicts that have marked history, with women wanting to be like men, usurp their functions and men wanting to dominate all women (as opposed to just their wives like scripture says; Ephesians 5:22, Genesis 3:16).Gender roles have been severely corrupted by sin, leading to rebellion against God’s design and exploitation of each other.

You might wonder how any of the above has anything to do with my subject.Although I am not trying to exegete on the origins and manifestations of gender differences, I am saying that God made us profoundly different and dictates our relations based on those differences. Romans 1:27 describes how men started to desire other men and women other women. While I am not saying that a man who prefers a non girly girl is homosexual, I think it’s the distortion caused by the  fall that causes a man to desire manly qualities in a girl, and a girl, feminine qualities in a man.

 If we were the same in all respects except anatomically, how then would we complement each other? If we could be treated the same, 1 Peter 3:7 would not instruct men to treat women differently, as weaker vessels. Jesus, our example, treated women with tenderness, He honored and accepted them, while being sensitive and affirming even where culture wasn’t . In 1 Timothy 5:2 men are instructed to treat women as sisters with gentleness and purity. Those are definitely not adjectives that feature in male relationships, men thump and slap each other on the back by way of greeting, if a guy greeted me that way, I’d be calling 911 and reporting an assault. I know that’s a bit of an extreme but I hope you catch my drift. I like a quote by Pastor Mark Driscoll which goes ‘A girl is not a guy, she does not want to be treated like a guy, spoken to like a guy, or do what guys do’.

We are different. For starters, a 50 year old woman still refers to herself as one of the girls; even 16 year old boys want to be called men. I don’t know if I’m stereotypically girly, I like frills but hate pink, i love a good rom-com but enjoy football and formula 1. I appreciate the Terminator/ Bourne movies as much as i enjoy Meg Ryan/ Jennifer Aniston soppy fare. I appreciate that we should be diverse in our tastes and interests, and be interested in what our partners are interested in, so husbands should watch rom coms with their wives, and women should go fishing or whatever it is men enjoy these days (just kidding).

I’m not drawn to a womanly or effeminate man, in the same way; I do not expect a man to seek masculine or tomboyish qualities in me. I think men should be men- strong, manly, able to pray, provide and protect but still able to cry at  human suffering and other effects of sin in this world. Contrary to what the culture calls it, this is not a man who is in touch with his ‘feminine side’. Another apt quote from Mark Driscoll is ‘men shouldn’t have a feminine side, same way dogs don’t have a cat side’ :-).  Jesus wept when a friend died, but He also endured a criminal’s death on the cross without as much as a tear, rather he asked God to forgive His accusers, if that does not define gracious masculinity, nothing else does.

 My whole point which it took 30 paragraphs to make is God made each gender fearfully and wonderfully in its uniqueness. We should therefore look to His word only to guide and govern our interactions.

As usual, I look forward to your comments or responses, and in this case, possible disagreements. I have included a list of helpful resources at the end. Thanks again for reading.

Shalom fam :-). 

1.       Recovering Biblical Manhood Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism book by Wayne Grudem. This and other resources available at http://www.cbmw.org/.

2.       Manhood and Womanhood Conflict and Confusion after the Fall- Sermon by John Piper, available at www.desiringgod.com and www.cbmw.org.

3.       The Council of Biblical manhood and womanhood has a myriad of useful articles and resources available on their website; http://www.cbmw.org/.

4.       * The complementarian position in summary is that men and women are equal in essence but with distinct roles. A good synopsis and comparison with the egalitarian position is called ‘Summaries of the Egalitarian and Complementarian Positions’; available at http://www.cbmw.org/Resources/Articles/Summaries-of-the-Egalitarian-and-Complementarian-Positions.

5.       Women and Femininity, Sermon by Mark Driscoll available at http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/proverbs/women-and-femininity.

6.       Jesus and Women by Doug Clark at http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200102/024_jesus_and_women.cfm

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