Drinking Deeply

Monday, March 19, 2007 at 10:01 AM

Serving one another

A sister in Christ left a comment in response to my previous question, "How now can we serve one another?"

Here it is in it's entirety. I found it greatly encouraging, not to mention a bit convicting as well.

M. Z. Ahern said...

The question put to girls is, “Does this make you feel awkward?” Perhaps the phrasing should be re-thought. Should it matter whether or not a guy doing things for us that we are physically capable of doing for ourselves -- like carrying our luggage or opening a door for us or helping us with our chair -- makes us feel awkward? Should we not rather be asking, “Has he done a good thing?” If we know he has done a good thing, yet we feel awkward about it, we need to keep our feelings to ourselves and pray that God would bring those feelings in line with reality. And we need to focus on expressing appreciation, as Hannah did, for the goodness of what he has done… right?

And I would say, yes, he has indeed done a very good thing, and in doing what did he is serving and honoring women in general (not just this particular woman) in a manner that points to the glory of Christ. Keep on doing it, men! You exhibit godly, Christ-like, servant-masculinity when you do.

For most of history, these gestures would have been understood to be a way of serving and honoring women. Royalty had servants to open their doors and carry their luggage even though they were physically capable of doing these things for themselves. We are a confused people. A few have chosen to impute back-handed insults and demeaning intentions: that men do these things chauvinistically, as a way of asserting their superior strength or power. Others just wonder why it is traditional for guys to do these things that women are perfectly capable of doing for themselves.

Consider the following excerpt:

Respecting Women

A two-year-old boy should be taught to respect his baby sister because she is a girl. A five-year-old boy should be required to say “yes, ma’am” to his mother simply because she is a woman. Young boys need to be taught to stand when a woman enters the room. They should be taught to hold open doors for women. They should seat their mother at the dinner table. These are not arbitrary or random cultural practices which have no meaning. They are a constant daily reminder to males – whose lusts when unmortified always degrade women – that women must not be degraded, but rather honored. Manners are therefore a form of sexual discipleship; they are a sexual discipline. A boy who has learned to honor women everywhere will have difficulty in despising one in the back seat of a car.

…The impulses to dishonor in sexual desire are strong – our earthly members tend toward sin, Paul tells us – and so we need constant rebukes and admonitions. The cultural discipline of honoring women is very important. It is no accident that feminists have succeeded in getting women treated “equally” with men, and now that women are no longer singled out for honor, that men around them just go with their lusts. The results have not been at all favorable for women. After decades of established feminism, the end result is that far more women, in their relationships with men, are treated like dirt.” (Douglas Wilson, Future Men, Girls and Sex, p.136)

Girls, the most important reciprocal service you can give guys is graciously and appreciatively affirming them in this masculine honoring of your sex. Our cultural climate does not make this sort of honoring an easy thing for them to do. Christian men often want to do the right thing but get conflicting messages.

Thanks to the several generations before you, your generation is coming at this discussion with so many ill-founded assumptions that you may not realize just how enormous and life-encompassing the discussion is. As you think about how to practice your faith in these matters, remember to always take your questions back to First Principles, which generally means look to the Creator’s design, order, and purposes. He made us male and female. Why? Male and female do not equal each other. Genesis tells us we complement -- complete, perfect -- each other.

Remember that manners are a very tangible practice of your faith, of “theology coming out your fingertips”; remember that good manners are a matter of the Christian virtue of esteeming others more highly than oneself: being considerate of others, being kind with tone, words, gestures, and deeds.

And remember that just because several generations before you have fumbled the torch and not passed on the reason behind most Christian traditions does not mean that very good reasons for them do not exist. One generation gets lazy and lukewarm and passes on only the doing of a tradition without any explanation of the reasons why; the next generation then loses all connection to meaning and within a generation or two, the tradition which once was a visible sign of an invisible reality, is now dropped and one more chunk of Christian capital is lost.

--Peggy Ahern

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