In the past two weeks i have watched two full seasons of Everwood. (the number of wine bottles consumed and pounds gained in that time period will remain unmentioned.) Everwood was a TV show that somehow managed to stay on the air for four seasons. It reminded me of that girl who only looks "pretty" because she wears too much make-up. The WB's Thursday night hit blushed and mascara-ed and covered up real life with scripted, pristine, need i say unrealistic conversations between characters to depict normal relationships. there would be a fight between a father and son, and both of them would say exactly what real people think about after the actual argument. While the Everwood fakers get to hear cheesy piano music when making amends and saying something profound, real people are alone in a heap of anger thinking over the conflict and say, "oh dang i should have said...."
yes, i am pathetic. but don’t judge, your ‘between college and real life’ story could be just as lame.
i am embarking on a time (which many of you can relate), of having a degree and not having an income. obviously a bad combination. so this afternoon between completing mind-numbing job applications and receiving the occasional brief but polite rejection from job prospects; i will attempt to amuse my brain by tackling a question that has haunted me for some time.
Why is it that knowing God has become a gender specific pursuit in contemporary Christian thought? I walked into Christian Supply and found books like, "Bad Girls of the Bible", "Lipstick Grace-- Glimpses of Life, Love, and the Quest for the Perfect Lip gloss", and "Wild at Heart-- Discovering the Secret of a Man's Heart." The idea that women and men understand God in different ways is not a new thought. That fact, however, doesn't provide any comfort when I find three rows of bookshelves dedicated to how Annie Dugas, a woman, must know God.
Oddly enough, there weren't any shelves advocating men's discipleship. Apparently they don't need any guidance. or they have their wives to fill them in on all the details. Don't forget to pick up a copy of "Reading your Male-- an Invitation to understand and Influence your Man's Sexuality."
despite my frankness, i do not claim to possess the answers. but these are the facts: these books are selling because they hit a deep, real part of the human (not just Christian) experience. they are attractive because they seek to make us happy. And sadly, many of them do not preach the gospel.
I decided to put my money where my mouth is. I read through John Eldredge's best seller, Wild at Heart. I did not set out with any specific agenda. i did not go through it only to find where it sucked, how men suck, that women are just as good as men, etc. that was not my point. many people have already done that and it is simply annoying, useless, and well, cheap. i read through the book to understand it. i wanted to know why it is so important for men (in this case i say men, i would've used women if i was talking about a book directed towards females) to be able to love Jesus in a way women cannot.
Eldridge asks, “”Where are all the real men?” is a regular fare for talk shows and new books. You asked them to be women, I want to say. The result is a gender confusion never experienced at such a wide level in the history of the world” (7). I don't know where he did his preliminary research, the extent of his academic background, (specifically in theology and/or psychology) etc. He continually makes bold statements that amount to his own personal perceptions of truth, and lacking any outside, evidential support. His claim that men need something special and distinct from women to be able to truly be themselves derives from something other than the gospel. He had a bad relationship with his father and is processing through that tragedy by watching too many Hollywood films and writing a testosterone-filled self help book.
As for me, when scanning the female books that try to "meet me where I'm at", i confidently conclude that i don't want to read about lip gloss. i don't like lip gloss. my hair gets stuck on my lips and then my hair becomes greasy. More importantly, i don't want to hear a gospel where men cannot be active participants. The message of Jesus and the life that he calls all his disciples to lead, male and female, is the same. the notion of separating the understanding of the men and women is dangerous and misleading. it assumes that men and women cannot relate to Christ on the same level, thus making true community, the church, more complex and challenging than it already is.
Yes, men and women are different. it is great. one has a penis and the other a vagina. being a women does have an affect on how i understand relationships and the world around me, but it isn't the defining factor. Jesus himself seemed to spend more time bridging the gap between men and women rather than dividing them further apart. i believe the attractive aspect of this book, and other gender specific books is that they give men and women something to grasp. A formula drenched in scripture that is easy to hold onto and clearly defines their identity. We all want answers, encouragement, and bullet proof knowledge explaining who we are. it seems as if Genesis 3 is repeating itself all over again.
Jesus simply asks people to follow them. By obeying Him and putting faith in Him they get to know his or her heart. being a male or female holds little weight under Christ's redemptive pursuits.
if you think I'm full of bull and you stand by Elredge's view of difference between men and women, fine. But here is one example that i honestly pray we can say together that this message is in no way pointing to the gospel. John Eldredge is talking to his youngest son, Blaine:
"'What's wrong, Tiger?' i asked. He wouldn't say, wouldn't look up. 'What happened?'... Finally the story came out-- a bully. Some first grader poser had pushed him down on the playground in front of all his friends. Tears were streaming down his cheeks as he told us the story.
'Blaine, look at me.' He raised his tearful eyes slowly, reluctantly. There was shame written all over his face. 'I want you to listen very closely to what I am about to say. The next time that bully pushes you down, here is what I want you to do-- are you listening, Blaine?' He nodded, his big wet eyes fixed on mine. ' I want you to get up... and I want you to hit him... as hard as you possibly can.' A look of embarrassed delight came over Blaine's face." (78)
yikes. it is important to take every word someone says and compare it to the rest of their message. is the message pointing to Christ? then listen to it with everything you've got. real, constructive wisdom can be found, even in Christian Supply.
Eldredge, John. Wild at Heart-- Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2001. Print.
"Bad Girls of the Bible" by Liz Curtis
"Lipstick Grace-- Glimpses of Life, Love, and the Quest for the Perfect Lip gloss" by Nancy Kennedy
"Reading your Male-- an Invitation to understand and Influence your Man's Sexuality" by Mary Farrar