Thursday, June 14, 2012

On feminism, masculinity, and courage

Summer break has been fabulous so far! We've made some new friends and were reacquainted with old ones. My kids are thoroughly waterlogged after two visits to the beach and swimming in three different pools... all since Monday. This weekend we will be watching some paddle board competitions, and next week Michael and Olivia are signed up for surf lessons. With the extra flexibility that the summer affords, it is my full intention to immerse ourselves in our new surroundings. We have been here less than a year, and there is still so much to explore and experience. By the end of the summer I want us to have a greater level of familiarity with the place we now call home.

I sit here content after a fun day, and thankful for modern conveniences like the dishwasher and the washer and drier. The pleasant sounds of kids playing with their dad in the living room provides me with some time to sit and journal for a bit. I can hear them excitedly bidding for a property in Monopoly... the property goes to Olivia for $490.

Jon has been intent on educating the kids in the area of finances. I'm thankful for this because the best I could do would be to teach them to live within their means, to give and to save. Just the basics, really. There is so much more to being good stewards of our resources and opportunities, and I'm thankful that Jon is much more educated and astute than I. Apart from explanations in the course of conversations, and occasionally letting the kids listen in on choice biographical or instructional audio books as they ride in his truck, his main approach is through the use of board games. They are catching on to some pretty advanced concepts; at dinner the other night Jacob asked about "assets."

Funny thing is, I've never liked board games a whole lot. I try. I really do, but I quickly glaze over and my mind drifts off. It's kind of like when Jon starts talking about shares and positions, and blah, blah blah... I try, but I can't focus.  Who am I kidding though? I'm so thankful he knows his stuff, which has been a great benefit to our family, and I'm super glad he's taking on the task of teaching the kids in this area. 

Incidentally, I've been thinking more of Jon's role in teaching our kids. It would be fair to say that I am primarily the one who teaches our kids in most areas of life, not only because I school them at home, but also because of time, ability, interest, choice, etc. Not surprisingly and by design, mothers tend to place greater emphasis on certain areas of a child's education (I'm not speaking of academics here) than a father does simply because a feminine perspective is different than a masculine perspective. This is simply by default since every one's view points is limited. Obviously God intended for two parents-- a man and a woman-- to be involved in the raising up and nurturing of children. If I give the best that I have to my kids, it will still be inadequate. The masculine or the feminine perspective are inadequate on their own.

It is my observation that we women don't often recognize this. As Christians, we may be quick to say we aim to follow biblically defined gender roles and that we refuse to accept the cultural definitions of femininity. We have laid aside dreams of a flashy career to raise our kids, and we have embraced our position in marriage as one beautifully designed by God for His glory and our good. In short, we have made a choice to be obedient to God and to live differently than the world around us.

Yet we want to be in charge. Speaking for myself, at times I believe I know what's best for our kids, and I can undercut what and how my husband teaches our kids if I'm not careful. I may disagree with his method or his emphasis.

The feminist message is strong, and it's subtle. I, for one, have had to fight hard against what I once accepted and believed to be better than what the Bible teaches. The feminist movement has done much to damage and confuse women. In addition, it has greatly afflicted masculinity.

Men have become weak. Not all men, of course, but effeminate men are not uncommon. Maybe in the process of attempting to respect and support women (not a bad thing on its own), they have stepped aside entirely and allowed the lies of the feminist agenda to erode away manliness. Generations have passed, each generation becoming less and less masculine. There is a huge problem of men who don't know how to lead, whether that be in the community, at work, or in the home. They have become passive, and they have suppressed their God-given desire to subdue. And with each passing generation, they don't know how to regain their masculine role and there are few real men left to teach. 

These are just some observations and general conclusions, and perhaps I've overstated slightly here tonight. However, as I listen to young women speak, as I try to understand questions and concerns, it would seem to me that young ladies are now yearning and praying for the men in there lives to step up. Wives, daughters, sons... we need strong, loving leadership. The church desperately needs it. The world needs to see it.

I think about these things often, probably because I have three sons, and one daughter who will need to recognize a strong, loving leader. I can teach them what to look for, I can encourage them to look to their father, and I can step aside and let Jon lead in his way. Of course, and most importantly, I can pray that the Lord will teach and lead them through His Word.

One aspect of masculinity that is greatly lacking is courage. Recently, one of my living missionary heroes gave an update at our church. She is a single woman serving in one of the most dangerous and wicked places on earth. Her very life is in constant danger daily. She shares the gospel to career murderers, and they ask her to teach them the Bible. The needs are great, and the spiritual hunger is evident. She needs men to come and serve in that place with her, but there are no men willing to go.

In Asia, in the underground church, there is another serious lack of male leadership. The risks are high, and the men willing to lead are few. Women are stepping up, often for the simple fact that the men are lacking in courage.

Courage. It only exists if there is a legitimate danger or risk. How is courage taught? We cannot teach one to be courageous while making sure there is no danger. I am pretty sure that ultimate courage only comes with conviction.

Can courage be nurtured? I think so. Here's when over-protective, well-meaning mothers need to step aside. Or better yet, mothers need to manifest courage and emphasize it in the lives of her children. Without a doubt, a mother needs to allow her sons to learn manly courage, even when that conflicts with her desire to protect and maybe coddle. Men, primarily, will be the teachers of manly courage in their sons.

This all leads me to ask the questions, "For what am I raising my boys?  For whom am I preparing them to live for?" 

Am I raising them to bring me happiness? Am I preparing them for a life of ease and comfort? Or do I really desire them to be soldiers for Christ, maybe marching into harm's way for the sake of the gospel?

Does my mothering serve me, or am I raising boys to love and serve the Lord with their very lives?



Phew! If you have read to this point, I'm sure that by now you are thoroughly confused with my train of thought! Somehow all of these points come together for me and have given me much to think about recently. I don't want my desires for security to come in the way of training up God-fearing, masculine, courageous men.

~

A month or so ago, just at a time when these things had been running through my head, I had an opportunity to practice stepping aside and letting Jon teach in a way that rubbed against my desire to protect and coddle the sons I love so much.

We were visiting a foreclosure. The agent and I were chatting when I noticed some commotion from the corner of my eye. The little boys were perched on a rock, standing from a safe distance where they could see. Jon and Michael were mostly out of my view, crouched behind a rock. In my gut, I knew this was the type situation where I wanted to rush in and stop Jon. 

Here's what happened: Andrew heard a rattle where he and Jacob were standing. Sure enough, a large rattle snake was coiled in the spot where they were playing. Andrew rescued Jacob from impending doom, and from a safer location alerted Jon. Jon-- in his fashion typically different than mine-- pinned down the snake's head, and called Michael over to cut off its head with his pocket knife.

Jon and Michael triumphantly carried the snake over to us, its head severed and still biting, its body slithering and writhing. I'll spare the details following since I am sure we won't ever forget. "Gross" is all I can say! You have to understand that I vehemently hate snakes. They are the horrid creatures of my worst nightmares!

Later, Michael confessed his fear to me and his trust in Jon.

They boys came home and researched how to skin a rattle snake, and we now have a snake skin the garage. I'm glad it didn't end up becoming a coin purse presented to me for Mother's Day.

Since we had already come this far, I googled a dissection guide so that we could double dip on this experience, making it educational as well...

I'm not exactly hoping for more snakes to produce courageous boys, but I am praying that together Jon and I will have the courage to lead our family in a way that honors God first of all.

~Katherine


2 comments:

  1. Katherine! I can see myself becoming tempted to coddle and not let Isaiah learn to be courageous for the sake of being safe which ultimately leads to the question, "For whom will he live?". I enjoyed reading your poignant thoughts! I squirmed looking at the pictures of the snake. You are a brave woman to take that snake and make it an educational teaching moment! Much braver than I!

    On another note, will you all be at Resolved?! =)

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  2. When Jon told me about this,I remember thinking "crazy" not "courageous".I ,like you,would have wanted to run,kids in tow.Yet David would have done exactly the same thing with Jon and Michael.To this day,I shudder when I think of David taking Jon (or maybe it was Jon taking David)to shoot while you were at Liberty.As a woman,my thinking was "why teach your children to shoot"while David who had loved to hunt (albeit not often after we were married) wanted the boys to have an appreciation for the power of what was in their hand and the wise and CORRECT use of that tool.Yes,children need the influence of both a mom and a dad.That was always God's perfect plan.Thank you Katherine for sharing your heart.I am so proud of all of you.Love Carol

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