There's been a lot about gender in the church around lately - it seems to come up somewhere on every blog I read. And people like Mark Driscoll are at the heart of it, usually copping the flak.
I've tried to reserve judgement. I don't personally know the man, and I don't want to get caught up in vitriol. But some things I have heard - right from the man's mouth on videos or in his own blog posts, have just sat badly with me.
I just happened to have two links open waiting for the videos to load. First I watched Mark Driscoll talk about real men. 60% of Christians are female. And the men are kind of female too. According to him. The real men are off doing manly things, like shooting guns.
And then I watched the trailers for Women, War & Peace and Pray the Devil Back to Hell. The 'macho men' in Africa are shooting guns too - right at women and children.
There's something terribly wrong with that picture.
I don't think the debate on gender roles in Christianity is meant to be about prescribing behaviours - men drink beer, women like baking. Men are tough 'punch you in the nose' kind of dudes, and women are meekly touching up their make up. Is that what we are really arguing over?
When Peter called Women the weaker vessels (1 Peter 3:7), he was saying "Be a man!" - but following that was no prescription for being a beer-drinking, gun-shooting, sport-watching 'dude'. In fact, he was saying "Take a look at the others in your life - do you find yourself with more physical strength than them? With more political power? Don't abuse that! Take care of them, don't let them be walked over. Be understanding." That sounds gentle to me.
It's just common sense that on the whole, people with less physical strength and political power are often going to be women. That's not sexist. Men and women alike need to recognise it as a fact.
'Weaker' doesn't mean 'weak'. And being a strong man doesn't mean 'macho'.
We are heirs together.
Maybe instead of infighting on whether Christianity is masculine or feminine -- as if the big issue is whether wearing pink is manly -- we should be looking around us to find the people that are suffering under real gender inequality and real abuse of power and do something about that.