I posted this a couple years ago. It has come to mind recently as I grit my teeth and try to get through the day.
I decided that for men to love and respect a woman as Christ loves the Church takes more than holding the door, or serving her the first piece of food, or telling her how nice she looks. All of these actions are good and usually received with gratitude.
However, it’s too easy to only do these things, and do them in the name of drawing a line between the sexes so that a man can also distinguish himself from a woman unjustly – foregoing her company among friends when it suits him (even if she happens to be present), dismissing her contribution because of the enigmatic communication style, circumscribing areas of interest and achievement as though they belonged only to his sex, not valuing elements of her personhood that are unfamiliar to his own experience, etc.
It seems to me that the way a man can serve a woman as Christ in this age is to include her, to listen, to respect her manner of communication and leadership, her vision, understanding and foresight – to allow the mystery of complementarity to penetrate society in such a way that its development is characteristically human, not masculine. This is too dynamic an interchange to be a matter of quantifiable ‘equality.’ This seems to be possible only with the tremendous humility and self-scrutiny of both sexes.
I would rather not be served by acts of chivalry that are really a facade for the preservation of a male-dominated environment. I would rather be served by being heard (perhaps even asked, “What do you think?”) and included.
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