It Cuts Both Ways

Some people think men and women aren't any more different than a three-letter word is from a five-letter word. And it strikes me as odd that something written into our genetic code is being treated like an accessory. Because DNA is just as annoying as an Apple product. It's not open source. So no matter what drive you partition or what piece of hacked code you append, a Mac will always be a Mac.

And I will always be a man. Sometimes I wish this wasn't the case. Not my being a man, but the static nature of my physiology. It must sound like I want to be a trans-sexual. But no, I have no great desire to spend countless dollars on anything that involves an IV and scissors. Rather, all I want is to be understood.

Everyone wants different things, has different needs. Some people desperately need affirmation. Some people need attention. Some people need adventure. It's called having a personality, and it's what makes all of us distinct creatures. My need to be understood comes from an inability to fit into the norm. A co-worker recently told me that I'm a great balance of masculine and feminine characteristics. Of course, she said this to me as a compliment.

photo credit: Leo Reynolds via photopin cc
Now, as much as I appreciate her observation, it only serves to reinforce my own "gender confusion." I don't think I'm the only one who feels this. And it doesn't help that most people view misunderstanding unilaterally; as in, emanating from the source, or the confused person. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I'm not the one with the problem.

It's kind of like the classic high school movie scenario. If you don't fit in with the jocks, or the cheerleaders, or whoever is popular at the time, that makes you an outcast. And for decades, the church has presented a very polarized view of gender. Men are strong, militant leaders who eat red meat and fix things by yelling at them or smacking them. Women are meek, submissive cooks and maids who can't think for themselves and can't throw.

Well, I suck at sports and I prefer chicken. So I guess I don’t "fit in." You'd be surprised what feeling like an outcast can drive a person to do—the money they'll spend and the surgeries they'll undergo. The church should be proud. Now, even more of their patrons are "cutting."

"Christianity has an image problem," according to David Kinnaman. And he's right. But the church just sits there dumbfounded wondering why its views are being misunderstood. Just like gender stereotypes have made many normal people feel like outcasts, so extremist stereotypes have confused Christianity's image.

No matter how hard The Manhattan Declaration tries, "traditional marriage" will always be associated with the picket signs of Westboro Baptist. The church will scream that I'm, "abandoning truth!" To this I ask, what truth do we hope to communicate through an image as clear as mud?

We don't like the notion that what other people think we mean matters, but it does. This doesn't make truth relative; it just recognizes that we process everything subjectively. And I think Christ will hold us accountable for not taking our neighbors' blind spots seriously, whether the stereotypes are intentional or not. Besides, I don't really want to hijack an iPhone. I like my Android just fine.