Gender and Expression: What Does It Mean For Christians?

This is a spontaneous blog post of what’s going through my mind yesterday and I’m posting this at midnight in my time zone. Bear with me, if you will.
polarised expectations of what it means to be a man or woman in the secular world.
The usual expectations about having long hair and makeup aside, there are also subliminal messages to females about how their character and/or demeanour should be like, for example, in the latest remake of Cinderella, to ‘be courageous and be kind’. While I recognise that movie may be upholding the values of good, clean character, the message minimises the need of standing up for one’s self when the situation warrants it.
It does not escape my notice that if any woman were to follow this piece of advice in real life, she would more than likely to be walked all over on in many aspects by unscrupulous people, maybe even more deeply than Cinderella’s stepfamily themselves.

Just like life itself, a certain set of verses in the Bible definitely runs counter to the message of Cinderella. In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 it says,


There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

It’s all glory to God when we reflect His love and grace, but nowhere did I find in the Bible that we have to accept ill treatment of our ownselves.
As of recently, my mind has been turning around gender-related issues and evaluating them from both a secular and biblical perspective as well as distinguishing between the two.
Right now at this timing, my brain is wondering if the church is doing anything to be counter-cultural towards these expectations, character and godliness aside.
Another reason besides university involvement for my interest in gender-related topics is that I have these issues playing themselves out in my own life. Back when I was eight and my mother stopped me from playing with toy guns with my male cousins, to when I was a teenager and my mother would point out how not-feminine I was.
Heck, in terms of gender expression I already identified as ‘gender neutral’ even before the term itself and Ruby Rose came along. Though having The difference between then and now is I’m more resolved and feel empowered in my non-conformity to traditional expression of femininity now, as a proverbial middle finger to societal and familial expectation.
That’s not to say I have problems playing up a feminine persona if I wanted to, wearing makeup and dresses if I ever wanted to. Recently, I’ve had a renewed interest in eye makeup particularly, but that’s a whole other post for another day.
So for someone who identifies as female in the biblical sense but prefers a more gender neutral kind of expression, gender issues tend to be more loaded, somehow. I do know a God-fearing woman is to be praised and that what God sees as beautiful is her inner strength, values and beliefs, but it does not stop me from wondering about gender expectations and behaviours in a church setting amongst humans, and if the church itself is doing anything about it.
The bottom line is as far as all these aspects are concerned, what does it all mean for me?
It’s no fresh news that what God thinks and what man thinks will always be on different levels after all. (PS: I think I’ve just found my ‘research gap’ in university terms.)
For now, I’ve found it quite difficult to get personal opinions from people I know in my church community on media issues. Many seem to borrow viewpoints for answers, and it’s obvious especially when their words start with “I’ve heard…” Either that or I’ll get a red herring of an answer that definitely does not answer my question at all.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Hey, nice post! Thoughtful and symbolic of every female’s thoughts these days. I don’t know whether you would be interested but I have nominated you for an award at:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. wheremabelgo says:

      Thank you so much! Glad to know my post has connected with you. Thanks for nominating me!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. mez_blume says:

    Hi there! It’s a good question – how is the church responding to the cultural shift in gender identity/expression. It is a difficult one to answer, because there’s a vast range of responses even within my sect of the church (Church of England)- everything from just jumping right onto the cultural bandwagon & throwing out God’s Word as it describes his design of male & female as two separate & complementary identities, to still expecting all the ladies to bake cakes for the church picnic while the men play rounders.

    I don’t have an answer for what the church is doing, but I do agree with you that there’s often a discrepancy between God’s eternal mandates in Scripture, & our limited human responses to our ever-changing culture. But certainly I want to be a part of a church that recognises & celebrates the differences & unique gifts & strengths God has given men and women, & that encourages us to work together rather than trying to one-up the other gender… but also a church that doesn’t, like you said so well, get hung up on externals when God is clearly concerned with our heart’s submission to him & love for one another (the two greatest commandments according to Jesus). I guess in a nutshell, if a church is over-concerned with self-expression, it’s a probably not spending enough time expressing Christ. He is the ultimate neutraliser, because in him we are made equal, adopted children in God’s family. I hope that my church makes expressing that truth so central, that a non-churched person struggling with gender identity issues could come in, feel welcome, & find freedom & identity in Jesus. He goes straight to the heart.

    Thanks for a great, thought-provoking post!


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