Cross-dressing Words: When Being a Man Means Being a Woman

Something was nagging at the back of my mind while researching the growing acceptance of gay Christians among conservative and Reformed communities. The stories, the books, the argumentation, but especially the sentimentality, was too, well, effeminate.

Now we live in such an age that these opening words may likely turn off half my audience. If only I made the proper caveats such as “when I use effeminate, I do not mean to impugn wide-swaths of women.” Certainly, while I was growing up and expanding my vocabulary to include effeminate, that definition never came with a caveat.

The caveat is demanded because more and more Christians seem uncomfortable with the sex that God made them. Now, that does not mean that Evangelical men will be buying skirts any time soon. Nor will Reformed women start wearing combat boots (well, not most).

Cross-dressing, presumably, is still wrong.

But cross-dressing words not so much.

In an article surprisingly published in the Aquila Report, the author, one Dr. Valerie Hobbs, has valiantly donned her gear to purge the church and society of “toxic masculinity.”

Her zeal in eradicating this amorphous, ubiquitous and invisible toxin has brought her to recast how we today might hear a familiar passage (1 Corinthians 16:13):

“Consider therefore how Paul’s metaphor might translate to all our ears today:  Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like women, be strong’ ” (emphasis original).

Why would someone write that? What is wrong with “act like a man”—a common and acceptable translation of the Greek word behind it?

What is wrong with it is that it is not egalitarian enough. Hobbs’ stated goal in this fiery essay is replacement of toxic masculinity with “equality and fraternity.”

This equality does not (I think) extend to the physical realm but certainly to the realm of character:

“Men and women have their differences, but what I’m arguing is that a Christian’s strength of character isn’t derived from their sex but from the object of their faith.”

And this strength of character is so consistent, so obvious and so powerful that men ought to follow it: “men would benefit not from ‘manning up’ but from looking for inspiration in an overlooked place: the sacrificial strength of Christian women.”

We know that women not only have strength of character in general but courage, that “inner warrior” found in “those who have fled dangerous homes and faced poverty and great uncertainty, at great risk to themselves and their children; to the women who have put their bodies between an abusive spouse and a child…”

In short, if Paul were to write that verse today, he could have easily written as Dr. Hobbs imagines effeminate listeners today would admire: “act like women”!

I did it again. I used that word effeminate.

But why? Why do we have man up and effeminate?

Because language is supposed to express reality. And for thousands of years among thousands of societies the collective experience of humankind is that men and women not only look different but act different because they think different.

And it turns out modern science has verified many of those observations that we took for granted until the last fifty years.

Even the progressive-minded Stanford has to admit there is something to the age-old observation of personality and behavioral differences in the 2017 edition of Stanford Medicine and their blog. Strong cross-ethnic and cross-national studies have shown that the personality differences have become more pronounced in advanced societies where men and women are free to be themselves.

Recent digging into the personality (characteristic) differences indicates greater differences than scientists realized. And the differences are not reducible to social conditioning. Society makes a difference to be sure but biology is stronger. Brain analyses show differences between men and women in emotional and reasoning control and that men (typically) regulate emotions differently.

Hobbs admits women are different but offers non-scientific reasons for such.

There are social differences being unearthed as well, revealing that men and women approach cooperation differently, with women tending to be more cooperative in mixed-sex pairs.

This sampling is enough to show that men and women are different and the differences (although statistical) are real enough to impact social relations in all spheres of life. And although courage is not a specific quality often investigated, the studies that do exist suggest (again) that there are sex differences.

Courage is going to be differently manifested in the sexes because men have greater upper body strength, more muscle mass, etc. That gives them some ground to stand against an assailant in a dark alley. Whereas the typical female should run under similar circumstances. This points to the fact that “strength of character” is a relevant term, depending upon the circumstances and the persons involved.

And this is a clue to understanding how confused Hobbs is on this topic. She absolutizes what is relevant. When God calls us to be courageous, does He mean that children of the covenant should manifest the same type of courage as an adult? Would Hobbs flatten the differences between adults and children in the name of fraternity and equality?

Then why flatten them between men and women? The reason suggested is because the object of faith is the same for men and women: Jesus Christ. But so what? This is a non sequitur begging to be unpacked and explained and defended not assumed.

Such reasoning would lead to full-blown egalitarianism, a capitulation to the Liberals of old.

How? Consider: “what I’m arguing is that a Christian’s qualifications for office isn’t derived from their sex but from the object of their faith.” Being a Christian does not change the character of being a man or a woman. Hobbs has to prove and not assume that sex differences do not affect character.

It should not be overlooked that Hobbs specified “leadership, strength and courage” as masculine qualities, complaining: “For some complementarians, these verses and others like them demonstrate that leadership, strength, and courage are primarily masculine, that is, they are qualities God designed men (and not women) to have” (emphasis original).

But who makes such claims? Even the science I offered above does not deny that women have courage as such. Rather, the use or quality of such courage is different depending upon the sex. In other words, man up makes sense given that the vast majority of men can and do courageous acts when many women would not in similar circumstances (like war).

On the other hand, the courage that women display is different insofar as women and their circumstances are different. Almost all the examples of the “inner warrior” offered by Hobbs are female examples. Sure there are men under similar circumstances who would wither under the pressure. But the bulk of men would likely not wither. That is what a statistical reality means: the average of one sex is different than the other.

This essay could end here. The science has collaborated what we see by the light of nature and witness every day: men and women are different, even in extent and usage of specific character traits. And being a Christian who trusts in Christ does not change biological reality.

But even if we had no science and no universal observations, the mere fact that God created male and female in two different ways for different purposes should be enough.

Adam was created first. This is why he leads. Eve was created second. This is why she follows.

“And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:12-13).

But the order is not only significant, how they were created is significant as well. God made man out of the earth. And He made woman from man’s side. Why from Adam’s side? Because Adam needed a helper fit for him.

Would God make man a body that is geared toward strength (muscle mass, upper body strength, etc.) but not gear his personality to use the body for its design? Would God make woman a body that is geared toward nurturing but not gear her personality (character) to use the body for its design?

Did God give roles to the sexes on a whim? Or did he create them, male and female, such that he equipped them for their roles?

Woman can be and are courageous. Men can be and are nurturing. But the bulk of either sex is not relative to the other. Being made in the image of God or remade in the image of Christ does not change that. And neither does cross-dressing language.

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7 thoughts on “Cross-dressing Words: When Being a Man Means Being a Woman

  • January 15, 2018 at 5:21 pm
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    Ideas have consequences. As liberalism infiltrates the church and society, everything becomes confused. What do liberals mean when they say, “He is not acting Presidential?” Are they saying, “He is not acting liberal?” What does it mean to be Pastoral? Passively listen to people complain and whine about their problems, then softly lead and nurture them, so as not to damage their sensitive spirits? Gentle Jesus, never snuffing out a smoldering wick. All pastors must now be mother hens. Liberals all act like sissies, until you disagree with them.

    Liberals are trying to change the meaning of words and destroy the foundation of language and communication. If there is no difference between “man” and “woman”, and no difference between “he“ and “she”, then why does a guy who dresses like a woman suddenly get all upset when someone calls him a man, or refers to him with the “he” pronoun? Does he act like a sissy and run off crying to his mommy, or does he forget his act and start threatening you with violence and lawsuits?

    How about Dr. Valerie? Why change the text to exclude men? Shouldn’t the text be changed to, “Act like men, like women, like LGBTIQCAPGNGFNBA?” Shouldn’t we be more inclusive? Shame on Hobbs.

    God is furious with the wickedness in this world. His wrath is coming. If we don’t do something to stop this evil disgusting liberalism, then God will. And the fury of God will be poured out on both the wicked and those who sat idly by ignoring or permitting it. We have done nothing for generations, and now it’s out of control as proved by Mrs. Hobbs. A snowball has a better chance.

    Reply
  • January 16, 2018 at 6:21 am
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    I continue toquestion why anyone connected to the Church honors one like Hobbs with consideration of their errant ideas and any point beyond first consideration where deviation from Scripture is easily detected.

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  • January 27, 2018 at 8:10 am
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    One of the editors of the Aquila Report is Rachel Miller who appears to be in league with Barbara Roberts, Persis Lorenti, Valerie Hobbs, and Aimee Byrd. All of these women have a big problem with men. William Smith has written some good rebuttals to these women on his blog “Just a Curmudgeon.”

    Roberts’ schtick is that women aren’t listened to enough in Reformed circles and ought to be able to divorce “abusers” and almost any man could qualify as an abuser. Persis Lorenti is Chinese-American (as far as any hyphenated American can be an American) and likes to complain about white Americans and men. She also believes women aren’t listened to enough and thinks abusers should divorced. Both Roberts and Lorenti are so tone-deaf to the reasonable rebuttals they’ve received that I’ve come to realize the men in their lives just gave up and started ignoring them. I want to hear the side of the story of the men in their lives or who have left their lives (Proverbs 18:17).

    Aimee Byrd’s thinks men and women should be friends based on the fact that men and women were platonically holy kissing(!) in the early Christian church. Of course, men are biologically prone to be friends with women they find attractive in rank order of their attractiveness. Women maintain two ladders of men they keep in their orbit: men they find useful but aren’t attracted to and men they are attracted to and – in the case of married women – value their attention. In general, Christian people have avoided the pitfalls associated with these truths by being “friends” with the opposite sex only in public settings such as church. Mostly, we’re friends with people of the same sex. I would never, for example, be friends with a Christian woman in the same sense or with the same degree of intimacy that I would a Christian man. Or really at all. How would it work? “Hey, Bob, your wife and I are going out to get some coffee and discuss theology?” How does Aimee Byrd’s husband feel about her friendship with Trueman and that other guy on “The Mortification of Spin?” Also, women don’t go on hunting and fishing trips, so we don’t have many common interests.

    Valerie Hobbs doesn’t like men at all, especially not Christian men running the Christian patriarchy known as the Christian church. Hobbs’ body of writing consists of investigative reporting from England on the American Presbyterian church based on occasionally flying over and attending some presbytery trials. Were there no such thing as nature (men and women) and the Bible, her writing might have some point. Your article handles this perfectly.

    I actually responded to the second link in your article about Piper two years ago in the comments as follows,

    “Aimee Byrd says,
    “”[A]s long as she can pass all of the education, physical, and background requirements for the job.””

    I think we can take most of our cues on vocation from nature. Women have no problems saying what is in a woman’s nature, therefore we ought to be able to say what is in a man’s nature by looking at him in his natural state.

    I’ll put the police officer question to you, and I ask in an average sense, “Can women pass the education, physical, and background requirements for the job?” On average, men are 2-3 times stronger, larger, and much more violent making them much more suitable for dealing with the violent criminals and psychotics they deal with on-the-job. There may be one in 1,000 women who, through strength training, can lift as much as some partially-trained men, but you wouldn’t fill a police officer training pipeline with women because of this. Even if a small fraction of women meet the physical requirements, they usually don’t meet the psychological requirement of dealing with the dregs of society. By nature, they like to find consensus, cooperate, and nurture. Men by nature fight and protect.

    I hesitate to say things above since gender roles are so distorted in our society, but I hear women complain all the time about the lack of ‘real men’ in our society and their complaint is always towards their failure to act out their (God-given) natures.”

    I think the problem is that most women – including Christian women – don’t realize or care that the physical requirements of physical jobs are dumbed-down to allow more women. They work backwards from this to, “Be strong and act like a woman! Women are allowed to be strong and courageous too!” The reality of women in physical jobs is laughable. Reportedly, the USS Cole almost sank pierside because the women officers froze rather than provide damage control leadership and participation. Women firefighters are a joke. Martin Van Creveld has written about the destruction of Western militaries by integrating women. Additionally, women entering a male-dominated profession causes men to leave it. Men and women communicate entirely differently. Women seek consensus in communication; men seek order and progress. When women enter, it disrupts men.

    All this is to say that the Aquila Report has a big problem. Aside from Simonetta Carr who reminds me a bit of Barbara Tuchman, the women writers are disruptive and the men are adding caveats to their writing so as not to offend women, who are encouraged to be perpetually-offended in Western societies.

    Sir John Glubb knew where this was all headed,

    An increase in the influence of women in public life has often been associated with national decline. The later Romans complained that, although Rome ruled the world, women ruled Rome. In the tenth century, a similar tendency was observable in the Arab Empire, the women demanding admission to the professions hitherto monopolised by men. ‘What,’ wrote the contemporary historian, Ibn Bessam, ‘have the professions of clerk, tax-collector or preacher to do with women? These occupations have always been limited to men alone.’ Many women practised law, while others obtained posts as university professors. There was an agitation for the appointment of female judges, which, however, does not appear to have succeeded.

    Soon after this period, government and public order collapsed, and foreign invaders overran the country. The resulting increase in confusion and violence made it unsafe for women to move unescorted in the streets, with the result that this feminist movement collapsed. The disorders following the military takeover in 861, and the loss of the empire, had played havoc with the economy. At such a moment, it might have been expected that everyone would redouble their efforts to save the country from bankruptcy, but nothing of the kind occurred. Instead, at this moment of declining trade and financial stringency, the people of Baghdad introduced a five-day week.

    – Sir John Glubb, the Fate of Empires, page 15

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    • January 29, 2018 at 10:20 am
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      That Sir John Glubb quote is amazing.

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    • February 2, 2018 at 8:07 pm
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      Walt–reading your response was wind for the sails: I really often wonder if anyone sees the things you said so plainly. Thanks. Encouraged to hear someone say what I’ve been trying to.

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    • February 12, 2018 at 9:11 pm
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      When God gives people up to a debased mind, it is not only for sexual sins. May the West repent before its too late.

      Reply

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