There’s a lot of talk about being a “real man”. Not much talk about being a “real woman”, and any attempt at that discussion brings a wall of hatred. But we’re going to do it anyway.
So what is the essence of masculinity and femininity? These, I believe, are character traits. Platonic ideals that one should strive for. And it’s what the other sex is most attracted to, so it’s something you should pursue. Androgyny should be considered a horrible sin. The Bible has no shortage of direct prescriptions for what men and women should be like. For example, Titus 2:
1 But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. 6 Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, 7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, 8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you. [NKJV]
Notice there is not one standard for all adults. The young men are taught one thing, and the young women are taught something else, which includes discretion and home-making (“home-watching” in the original Greek).
So clearly the Bible has different roles for men and women.
As for creating definitions, masculinity is about power and femininity is about beauty, in the broadest sense of those terms. These are not merely external traits but internal as well.
A “real man” is a man who is able to control things, whatever that may be like. All women adore a fascist, as Sylvia Plath said.
Women don’t have beliefs — only contexts. It is the men that St Paul says to have integrity and incorruptibility, not the women. The best advice about women I can give to young men is that they do not care at all how much you agree or disagree with them or what you believe — only that you believe something. They will adapt accordingly. It’s not women’s job to philosophize, and they will resent you for forcing them to.
A “real man” is someone that people trust to take control of the situation. He is someone who can go to a mess and say “I’ll take care of this” and the women and children will walk away as though it is already solved.
Any marriage where the man is less than 51% in control will fail. “Equal marriages” don’t exist — they are always where the woman dominates the man and the man lets her because he’s afraid of losing access to sex, which only makes her resent him more. Someone will wear the pants, and if the woman isn’t allowed to be the woman, she will resent her husband for making her be the man.
A “real woman” is beautiful. This includes that kind of grandmotherly charm that comforts and heals. The feminine is tied to the home, because it is at the home where the heart is. Thus St Paul says that women are to be chaste, obedient and domestic. It’s not that these are bad traits for men to be, but they are especially important for women.
Men are the head, and women are the heart. Men are the gas, and women are the brakes. Men are the creators, and women are the nurturers. This balance is absolutely necessary for society to function. These boundaries are not an accident of society.
Another good example is 1 Peter 3
3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. […] 7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. [NKJV]
If men and women were equal, then women wouldn’t be weaker. Clearly women are weaker because they are not supposed to seek power. They are supposed to nest and trust the men to wield the axe.
Notice also St Peter’s connection of beauty to the inner disposition. This isn’t the liberal “real beauty is on the inside” platitude — this is saying that women should aspire to be gentle and patient. Liberals are anything but gentle, quiet or patient.
The “hidden person” and “quiet spirit” are especially important for women when you consider how destructive their gossip is when unrestricted. Now we have men being thrown in jail on false rape accusations or denied access to their children through divorce courts, which is nothing more than society having no restraints on women talking. It’s not that women should never talk — just that they should be extra careful when they do so.
Yes, men should have discretion as well, but it is extra important for women because of their nature. Or at least, it’s a different kind of discretion. In the same way, all the virtues St Paul says for men also apply to women, but they are extra important for men due to our own weaknesses.
None of this is perfectly definable. I’m not writing a legal treatise. Just general patterns. This isn’t plug-and-exchange philosophy.
Once again, masculinity is about power and femininity is about beauty in the very broadest and most whole sense of power and beauty.
Any Christianity that does not teach these basic principals will fail. There will be no reversal of the divorce rate until Christians return to a Titus 2 model of men and women. Without a biblical model of the family, any talk about “family values” from the religious right will fall on deaf ears, and the gays will have free reign to molest our children.
I will not compromise on this point. This is the hill I will die on.
Read More: Sexual Complementarianism As Platonic Ideals