when i was about 16 years old, i volunteered at a youth camp with a makeshift construction crew that was doing work on some dorms. not knowing the first thing about anything having to do with construction, i was partnered up with two older men who were experienced carpenters. these were manly men. you know, the kind who have to shave every day, drive beat-up worktrucks and have farmers’ tans year-round. real men.
throughout the day, they poked fun at me for not knowing how to build things or use the tools, but it stayed pretty light. it took a turn, though, as the day came to an end and one of the guys asked me to move his truck. i took the keys, hopped in his truck and fired it up. and then, i saw that it was a stick shift. naturally, us city boys don’t know anything about driving a standard, so i trudged back over to the guys and hesitantly informed them of the reason i couldn’t move his vehicle.
as you might guess, they mercilessly mocked me. i tried to brush it off, but admittedly, it bothered me. the most bothersome part, though, was how the conversation concluded. one of the guys took on a serious tone, looked at me and said, “listen son, god made men to act like men and women to act like women. choose which one you wanna be.”
yesterday, on her blog, rachel held evans had a post titled, will the real complementarian please stand up?. as could be predicted, it caused quite a stir and i suspect that today we’ll see a handful of responses from her critics. in the post, she poses a question to said critics (and so-called complementarians in general): what is biblical womanhood (and/or manhood) and who gets to define it?.
the question is born from so many of her critics (mainly from her book, a year of biblical womanhood) having differing points-of-view about what exactly defines complementarianism (from which flows so-called biblical womanhood and manhood). she says,
My point is that, despite insistent claims that they simply follow the “clear teachings of the Bible,” complementarians themselves are not in total agreement on what those teachings are. And despite all these references to a patently obvious and consistent hermeneutic regarding biblical manhood and womanhood, complementarians have failed to produce it. This should call into question the premise that Bible presents us with a single, straightforward blueprint for womanhood and that women who deviate from this blueprint are outside the will of God.
to be clear, i hold to the same view of gender roles as rachel held evans: that men and women are both equal in being and in function. obviously she writes from the perspective of a woman and feminist, but i join her, as a man, in the same quest for clarity from those who have differing views. the likes of mark driscoll (among others) have not only been vocal about subordinating women, but in asserting that there is, conversely, a model of manhood clearly defined in the scriptures. i don’t find that evidence and it’s time for those who do to be held to an account.
i left the youth camp that day feeling dejected and shamed by those two men. but even at that age, i knew they were wrong. something stirred within me that day—call it reason or common sense or some guiding spirit deep within me—and put into motion my journey toward a deeply held core conviction that god’s design was that men and women are equal and that the bible isn’t hard-coded with models for manhood or womanhood.
so, if you’re a complementarian, feel free to chime in and offer a clear definition for both biblical womanhood and manhood.