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Saturday, February 13, 2016

On Sacrifice


Absurdity

Something very precious is being lost in our country. The loss began happening with the advent of the women’s movement and has continued steadily over the past few decades. The notion that women are entitled to equal earning capacity due to their innate equality in brain power and inherent value has morphed into the idea that they are equal in every respect, including physical strength and protectorate capacity.

I recently viewed the latest Republican debate and was more than a little distressed that several key players ardently supported the mandatory conscription of women, should we revert to a draft. One candidate subsequently voiced his opinion that men should not expect women to protect them. Call me old-fashioned (and I’m sure some will call me worse than that), but I believe a woman’s willingness to nurture life from womb to adulthood should more than satisfy her protectorate requirements. Then again, many women these days are rejecting the former and haphazardly performing the latter, which perhaps has contributed to men’s lack of willingness to sacrifice for them.

Nevertheless, it used to be an insult to be accused of hiding behind a woman’s skirt or tied to her apron strings. Now this bearer of two X chromosomes fears that too many XY owners not only allow themselves to be carried by the women in their lives, but have come to expect it.


Masculinity

My dear friend, Cynthia, died several years ago. She was, in a word, brilliant. Her talents in drawing, music, writing, gardening and cooking were second to none.  Her wit was unparalleled. She could find wry humor in the mundane and, as a result, was a sparkling conversationalist. Perhaps Cynthia’s most remarkable feat was her evolution from an introverted, almost reclusive person into someone who forced herself out of her shell to the point where she came to know and love neighbors, perform at a music recital, and find love with an exceptional man named Bob.

Bob respected Cynthia’s independence and fought for it. When Cynthia’s boss mistreated her, Bob supported her decision to leave the position, even though she had no other employment prospects. He gallantly assumed the financial cares of the household, while she happily oversaw home projects. One of my most treasured possessions is a hutch he built for her. I assumed custody of this cherished piece after her passing, and found Bob had inscribed on the back the date of its completion, along with the date Cynthia approved its specifications – a tandem effort if ever there was one.

Possibly the quality which endeared Bob to me the most was his defense of Cynthia's honor. Among other things, my relationship with Cynthia was comprised of mutual barb-throwing. There was no truth behind the insults; it was all part of a complex relationship that spanned my entire lifetime and was based on raw humor and meaningless jibes. However, Bob let me know in no uncertain terms that assaults on Cynthia's character, even in jest, were not funny to him. He lived out his love for her, taking every opportunity to compliment her publicly and show his adoration for her.

When his wife received a cancer diagnosis, Bob joyfully cared for her body, soul and spirit, even in the midst of unrelated personal tragedy and his own health concerns. Although my friend had no health insurance when she fell ill, Bob drove her to appointments and assured his beloved they would find the money for her care. To this day, I suspect he’s still making payments on medical bills she incurred before they were even married.

To me, Bob is the epitome of what it means to be a man.

Maternity

The notion that women can and should gain as much education and career experience as their talents and pocketbooks allow is not only reasonable but essential in today’s society. The days when a woman’s primary concerns were the care of home and family are long past and, as a one who has had the privilege of being both a stay-at-home mom and a breadwinner, I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to spread my occupational wings a far greater distance than my mother did. HOWEVER, ability has brought with it a steep price tag. Many men have come to EXPECT their children’s mothers to give birth, fly right home from the hospital with barely a day or two to recover (sometimes less), and six weeks later be back on the job site pumping milk and rigorously performing  in their profession.

Since when did maternity become less a profession than teaching, ministering to the sick, or running a company? Last time I checked, motherhood required skills in all those areas, and many more. My parenting role has demanded more of me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually than any paid position I’ve ever held, and the monetary compensation was zilch. No, make that negative numbers. The hours were longer and the stakes higher than any job I’ve ever worked (including waitressing, which is saying something), but the rewards have been commensurately exorbitant. My children’s successes have given me greater joy than any raise I’ve ever gotten, and lasted far longer than any paycheck I ever received.

Some mothers are horrors. I get that. I’ve seen it. Some are mediocre at best and abusive at worst. Should the lack of responsibility of a few denigrate the entire calling, any more than Kermit Gosnell should besmirch the whole medical profession? Should we not still do all in our power to heighten the prestige and purpose of so great a calling, even as we call to account the few bad apples in every bunch?

Sagacity

At the risk of incurring my younger son's ire, let me state unequivocally that my Christian faith informs and undergirds my views on this and every subject. About this, I am unapologetic. Indeed, the founders of this country, while not all practicing Christians, injected Biblical principles into the infrastructure of our democracy. Those same founders, not incidentally, fought for independence on behalf of their wives and sweethearts, who supported in ancillary roles. 

Women today, unlike their ancestors, have the choice to serve directly on the battlefield. Nevertheless, the difficulties of military service, horrors of war, blurring of lines between the sexes and blurring of gender in general all make the military an occupation that should be chosen by women rather than imposed upon them.

Profundity

"Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God." 1 Corinthians 11:11-12

"So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise." Galatians 3:26-29

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her... In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church..." Ephesians 5:25, 28-29