Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"Men and women have obvious...differences"

In response to my post on March 30, “On the dignity of women”, bloggers exchanged some very interesting ideas. For example, Anon wrote, “But didn't Paul say 'there is neither slave nor free, Greek nor Jew, Woman nor Man but all are one in Christ Jesus' so how exactly does one's gender make a difference?” I greatly appreciate the answers of two of our female bloggers:

1) Kelly: This passage (from Gal 3:28) does not remove the fact that men and women have obvious physical, psychological, and social differences. The physical differences are the most obvious, but there is also overwhelming evidence that shows us that the male mind is created and operates differently than the female mind.

Why would any one not want to enjoy God's very unique creation of men and women? Our unique female and male natures do not negate equality. I would like to add a little personal experience here:

I was raised with three brothers (no sisters). My best friend was raised in house of all girls & she is now raising all sons. I am raising a son and 2 daughters. There is absolutely NO denying that God created male and female persons VERY differently. This is not stereotyping either. I am blessed with many friends raising boys & girls. We have hilarious conversations about the differences in them.

2) Mindy: (Gal 3:28) is true, and I understand how one could infer, based on this, that to St. Paul gender is meaningless, but that's not in keeping with his later writings about what each gender should do and even wear in church. St. Paul is saying that there is one Christ, and we all reach God through him, so these differences become unimportant. He isn’t saying there is “sameness” between the sexes.

Additional questions came from an Anon: “Why would a loving God teach some of the things taught in the OT about women? The church doesn't currently support these same teachings- in fact, Jesus even condemned some of them. Did the writers of the OT just get God's word wrong, or were these actually God's teachings?”

Anon, this reminds me of the question (Mt 19) the Jewish leaders asked Jesus about why divorce was legal under the Old Law. Jesus responded by saying that it was because of their hardness of hearts that Moses allowed divorce, “but from the beginning it was not so” (v.8). As with divorce, the mistreatment of women in the OT was a result of the hardness of heart of man. In other words, it was a result of the sinful nature of man, and not God’s design. God allowed it as He allows all evil. As you indicated, He has condemned it in Christ and the Church continues His teaching.


At 11:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since you brought up the topic of divorce…

Are we to believe that the Bible forbids divorce or believe that God calls us to examine our hearts and follow His guidance? I believe God wants us to live fully in His blessings. Are we called to stay merely to uphold an institution, for I doubt the institutions of a loving God are more important than the people within them.

I think God's idea of a marriage is an active thing of love and giving, where both people support, nurture and cherish each other (most importantly- in Him). What if that doesn’t happen? What if you keep praying for it, but it doesn’t look like it’s ever going to happen? And what if a spouse seems actually threatened (even jealous) by the other’s love for God? I know it sounds awful to say- was even worse to realize and seems insurmountable.

If we are under grace, as Galatians says (not under law), isn’t it wrong to contend for a marriage on the basis that it is the religiously correct thing to do? Instead, shouldn’t the greatest reason to contend for a marriage is a love relationship? And what if THAT relationship doesn’t exist?

When is it the time to say, "I wasn't listening to God but myself in choosing this person. I made a mistake."

At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is OT?

At 2:59 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

“There is absolutely NO denying that God created male and female persons VERY differently.”

What a true statement. My parents divorced when I was young, and I grew up in a house of all women. However, during their adolescence, several of my male cousins were temporarily “thrown out” of their house only to arrive at our doorstep. That short-lived time of testotrone was eye-opening. To this day, when when of them is standing next to me and moves very quickly, memories of the Vulcan Death Grip resurface (and they were in their late teens & early 20’s then!). Now I am raising sons of my own, and in comparison to my daughters- yeah, very different creatures. In my home, my girls are mothering multi-taskers, while my boys are much more one-thing-at-a-time people. My sons talk, while my daughters ask (and ask, and ask, and ask…). I can’t tell you I’ve enjoyed raising daughters to sons more or less than raising sons to daughters, for I’ve definitely enjoyed the opportunity to parent both. So often in our society we talk about equality, with the implication that equal means same. It simply doesn’t. My sons and daughters are equal in my eyes and in my heart, but NOT the same, and I thank God for that!

At 3:23 PM, Anonymous Kelly said...

Mindy- your post made me chuckle. Growing up with 3 brothers created quite the lively household. Let me tell you it was quite an experience. This is how I acquired defense mechanisms during sibling disputes (i.e. expert use of silly string). What memories come to mind? Arm wrestling, leg wrestling, baseballs accidentally thrown through a window, brother pouring cold water from second story window on me (while I was sunbathing), brother taking dad's car out for a test drive, trips to the er from skateboard ramp fiascos, always action.

When mom and dad aren't around - who can belch the loudest? Lots of bathroom humor.

Raising 2 girls now - totally different. Raising my son-bringing back a lot of memories.

I am enjoying the differences in raising a son and daughter as well! Raising a family is quite the adventure.:)

At 9:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Old Testament

At 10:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off topic, but my last thought (and a nice one) before going to bed:
Fr. Mike gave a good homily that I’ve been thinking about. It also reflected what that FG always stresses about the importance of frequently receiving the Eucharist. Fr. Mike talked about forgiving of our enemies, and how “we” really aren’t capable of this. The Lord, however, is. When we receive the Eucharist, we are receiving Christ and all that he is. All “that” is put to work for us. I have been going to Mass daily for the past several weeks, and my life has been changing. No outwardly miraculous things anyone else could see, but definitely changes great enough that I’ve noted them. Mostly, it’s been about letting go of anger. I was so angry for a good while over some pretty serious issues, and I was really self righteous in that anger. I wanted to let go of it, but just didn’t know how. “I” still don’t know how, and I firmly assert that Christ is doing this for me (in me and through me). For the first time in so long, I have this sense of relief in my life. I’ve been asking for peace. I think I am finally receiving it, and I understand why and how. The issues in my life still stand, but my perspective, and the emotion I give to the issues, have changed. I’m appreciative that both FG and FM talk so much about the Eucharist, for if they didn’t, I wouldn’t have this.

At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon #1,

If I may ask, how long have you been married? I have been married for a long time. Although we both know that Christ is the center of our marriage, we do not always and have not always lived it day in and day out. That is because we are sinners. Married love is all about sacrifice. Sometimes one is called to sacrifice a great deal more than the other. God gave us grace to always move back toward forgiveness and unity. We actually as newylweds had rules (after our first argument). Rules like we will never raise our voices to each other, never keep secrets, complain about each other to anyone, no name calling. It wasn't that official sounding but we have never strayed from them. Oh of course we also agreed that Sunday Mass was our first and foremost priority over family/friend/ functions.

Over the long haul, we have found that life has taken us through many valleys and peaks. Sometimes one partner carries more weight(more sacrifice) so to speak. Yet we have never been scorekeepers - that will lead to big trouble.

Since we have been married a long time, I can tell you that I have witnessed my spouse grow immensely in his faith. He will testify the same about me.

Here is interesting thing, if you had told me 5 years ago or 10 years ago where God has led my husband spiritually, it would have been hard to believe. Yet it happened. Also, hubby is a convert and grappled with much Catholic doctrine before converting. Now he fully embraces the Catholic faith and he is a great witness for other husbands and fathers.

Also it is really important to remember that God is a God of order. Love Him above all things, next love and honor your spouse above all others, next love and raise your children in the faith.

You may want to express to your spouse that your closeness to God will only help you to be a better a spouse. That God gave you this vocation - marriage - and God will give you many graces to love your other half. Your relationship with GOd does not diminish your relationship with your married partner - it should strengthen it. Your spouse may feel left out if he does not understand or think about it this way.

Sorry to be so long winded. It is very important to share your spiritual growth with your partner. This is some thing that I have done over the years and it eventually turned into mutual sharing.

Yes God wants us to live fully in His blessings! Amen! Yet blessings flow from sacrificial love and service.

Your last statement - it is hard to respond to that since I don't know you personally.. I can only tell you that don't place limits on God. You knew what you knew at the time. Through your own conversion/prayers/love/sacrifice, your spouse may start his or her journey to Christ. Praying for your marriage.

At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We've been together for 17 years. There have been problems throughout those years, and I now know the extent to which certain actions have damaged me and the relationship. I can forgive, so that's not of issue, but I can't seem to move forward with my spouse. I need to move to a better place but my spouse wants to live in the past. The problem with the past is that's the place where fraud lives. I often wonder if, when vows were said, were they understood? In one sense, I hope not, for if they were, it was with blatant disregard that they were dishonored.

I don't know the answers. I do understand sacrifice and am willing in that regard. I still can't help but wonder if I ever really had a marriage. I really don't think that union ever existed, at least in the way that I define a marriage union, and definately NOT in the way I want it to exist.

I'm not an advocate of divorce, for a number of reasons, but isn't it possible that one could have made a mistake? And if so, do you honor your vows out of that sense of duty alone? I guess that's my question.

At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems our society seeks to minimize the role of the other gender. One way of doing this is by refusing to acknowledge and appreciate our differences. For all the feminists, the thing is this- the empowerment of women can only be achieved when our differences are appreciated and understood to be complementary to each other. So, gender equality in our culture is misunderstood in its popular context. The church has been committed to women, understanding the need to increase social, political and economic strength. The church understands that women must be involved in making decisions, for women bring unique insights (as a result of differences from men) to the process. I believe that women will prove to be key in resolving many of the most pressing issues of our time, but it will only happen through their empowerment and the understanding that we, men and women, are created with unique talents and qualities. We are meant to embrace those differences- not deny them.

John Paul II: "The link between culture and faith is not only necessary for culture but also for faith. A faith that does not become culture is a faith not fully embraced, not fully appreciated and not faithfully lived."


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