Yesterday as I sat embroidering flowers on a winter jacket for Laurel, David asked me to sew some on his jacket. Horrors! But David loves all kinds of flowers, and has learned many of their names, so it’s logical that he would want some on his jacket. The occasion did start me thinking again about gender roles and my son’s personality.
Many of the traits we would consider masculine are ones I wouldn’t be sad to see in my daughter. I’d like her to have an opinion, be willing to stand up for what is right, take leadership when nobody is doing right. Maybe I’m not identifying the right masculine traits we see in the Bible, so I should try to consider what God says. I think it’s clear that God wants a distinction between genders (Deuteronomy 22:5); men and women have different roles defined biblically (Ephesians 5:22-33). Part of keeping these distinctions necessitates submitting to culturally-defined gender differences (a man would not wear the culturally defined clothing of a woman; in our culture, men don’t typically put embroidered flowers on their jackets).
Personality traits and interests are a little different, but we can see evidence in the Bible that can be helpful. King David in the Bible gives some helpful information. He was a protector and warrior, willing to kill to protect those in his charge, but he also loved beauty. If you look at the poetry and music that he wrote, you find many references to his awareness and appreciation of God’s creation. Poetry and music aren’t typical present-day “guy” interests, but because I see them used in a mighty way in and as Scripture, I’m not afraid of encouraging them, even if they seem to contradict our society’s concept of masculine. The fruit of the spirit sometimes reflects traits not considered masculine, either: gentleness, meekness, and so on. Obviously, then, it is biblical and right to encourage gentleness and kindness, it is acceptable to encourage an appreciation of the arts, insomuch as they reflect the glory of God. But I’m still feeling as though I’m missing the “masculine” side.
Perhaps it’s allowing room to push the limits physically, to compete, to protect, to lead. Maybe that’s why every boy needs a dog or vinegaroon to take care of at some point. Maybe it’s not that these opportunities should be absent for my girls, but I should give a different emphasis to reflect the different priorities of traits they need as wives and mothers. Maybe developing masculinity (and femininity) is about encouraging that which would be most helpful to appreciate and fulfill God’s defined gender roles for our children.
Still thinking on this.