I've read books about women's roles & identity. I've heard teachings about gender differences & gender similarities. I've run to gender stereotypes for their familiar safety & simultaneously resented them for their limitations.
This past year I have vacillated between whether or not this topic is really worth the Church's mental, emotional, & spiritual efforts; and being sure that the concepts of femininity (& masculinity) must be discussed and pressed into within the bounds of the Bible and the Body, because the world certainly isn't hesitating to define the strengths and weaknesses of both, and at precious cost to many, many souls.
I choose to focus on femininity not because I think men don't matter OR because women have suffered from lack of attention, but rather because I am a woman; and, the journey the Lord has taken me on to become the creation He intended has caused me to ask what the loaded word, "female," really means.
What does it mean in a world where fallen humanity's thirst for power and control has caused men and women to abuse each other, to leave each other in the dust, to wash our hands of the other half of the population and write them off as "weak," "insensitive," "neanderthals," "illogical," etc.
What does it mean in a world where the level of sexual exploitation is horrific, from nine-year-old girls being forced into sexual slavery to seeing advertisements & media that I resent as a woman and a wife.
I look to the character of God, and am left knowing that somewhere (the Garden?), something (the fall?) went deeply wrong in the souls of men & women, because what I see in the world cannot be what He intended.
And if I, as a Christian, believe that we are experiencing a partial fulfillment of His Kingdom; that one of my key roles is to be a witness that living in this Kingdom brings freedom; that God created both male and female to simultaneously celebrate their differences and find rest in their similarities; and I realize that this vital aspect of His creation is under attack, than why wouldn't I care to do something about it? To be moved to protect and be a faithful steward of femininity and masculinity in the ways the Lord has called & gifted me to?
One reason for this passion is that I've experienced a community where respect & honor of both genders are thriving and active. A community that doesn't claim perfection, but approaches this topic with humility and seeks the grace of God as they try to figure it out. The Lord has brought much healing to this woman's wearied heart through them. I have this passion because I've experienced the hope of what men & women living under Christ really looks like.
And in all this, my heart arrives at a place of humility, where I go before the One Creator of both male & female, and ask what He intended for His daughters.
That, as His daughter, I may continue to press on to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of me, and ask to be allowed the grace to help others do the same.