Why Men Fear Intimacy and Women Fear Separation

The argument goes like this: since mothers, for the most part, are the primary caretakers of young children, issues of identity formation are different for boys than they are for girls. Female identity formation takes place in the context of an ongoing relationship in which a girl can continue to think of herself as like her mother. Attachment-1

Boys, on the other hand, sense from early on that they must separate or differentiate from their mother to find their gender likeness. It is in their father that they can identify most strongly with.

Thus, separation is critically tied to masculinity, while femininity does not depend on the achievement of separation from the mother to discover likeness.

This makes sense. Sons leave, and daughters are given (Genesis 2). “A daughter is a daughter all her life; a son is a son until he marries a wife.”

The conclusion, of some, is that this explains why men fear intimacy, and women separation.

“Since masculinity is defined through separation while femininity is defined through attachment,” Carol Gilligan concludes, “male gender identity is threatened by intimacy while female gender identity is threatened by separation.” Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982), pp. 7-8.

What do you think?

Open the Door to Rest

Blaise Pascal, the remarkable scientist, theologian and Christian of the seventeenth century, remarked in his Pensees (section 136) that “all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own room . . . Hence it comes people so much love noise and stir . . . IMG_2535hence it comes that the pleasure of solitude is a thing incomprehensible . . . and always to fancy that the satisfaction which they do not have will come to them if, by surmounting whatever difficulties confront them, they can thereby open the door to rest.”

I spent time with the Lord in this sanctuary off the noisy streets of Medellin, Colombia in order to enjoy silence. Just as air is to us to breath, so silence a “door to open into rest.”

As I write this, I am in a noisy airport in Amsterdam en route to Delhi, India. If you want a silent place here, one must purchase it in a lounge where only an occasional clink of a spoon on a cup is heard. Silence is sold these days, but in large cities we may still find sanctuary in beautiful, old churches.

Pascal quoted in Ruth Haley Barton; Dallas Willard. Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence (Kindle Locations 45-46).

Pondering Gospel Quotes

Personal-library-of-Richard-A-Macksey“We may dare assure ourselves that eternal life, of which He is the heir, is ours; and that the Kingdom of Heaven, into which He has already entered, can no more be cut off from us than from Him; again, that we cannot be condemned for our sins, from whose guilt He has absolved us, since He willed to take them upon Himself as if they were His own. This is the wonderful exchange which, out of His measureless benevolence, He has made with us, that, by His descent to earth, He has prepared an ascent to heaven for us; that, by taking on our mortality, He has conferred His immortality upon us; that, accepting our weakness, He has strengthened us by His power; that, receiving our poverty unto Himself, He has transferred His wealth to us; that, taking the weight of our iniquity upon Himself (which oppressed us), He has clothed us with His righteousness.”

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, John T. McNeill, ed, Ford Lewis Battles, trans, Library of Christian Classics (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960 [1559]), 4.17.2. p. 1362.


You Don’t know You Have a Culture until You are in Another One

1658373_10203805851767842_3006123471894547401_oWhenever I go and teach pastors around the world on Identity in Christ, the material transcends all cultures. Embracing our glory as image-bearers, our gender glory and particular curses (Genesis 2-3), our central condemning thoughts that aim to name us, our righteousness in Christ, our adoption in Christ, and our being saints give us rest from trying to establish a righteousness of our own.

Our culture and ethnicity, however, becomes more clearly differentiated. Hearing these dear pastors from India share their genealogies and stories of tragedy and redemption taught me so much about the importance of a father both in India and the USA.

There are ethnic and cultural ways we were shaped, which Christ has redeemed with a worth that shall come to light when every tongue, tribe, and nation meet together to see Christ in glory.

A Cosmic Orphan, who Still Asks: “Who Am I?”

A human being without God the Father, writes Loren Eiseley, is the Cosmic Orphan. He is the only creature in the universe who asks, “Why?”  Other animals have instincts to guide them, but people learned to ask questions. “Who am I?” a person asks. “Why am I here? Where am I going?” 34530007 Since the Enlightenment, when our culture in the West threw off the shackles of Christianity, people have tried to answer these questions without reference to God. But the answers that came back were not joyful, but dark and terrifying. “You are the accidental by-product of nature, a result of matter plus time plus chance. There is no reason for your existence. All you face is death.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th ed. Propaedia, s.v. “The Cosmic Orphan,” by Loren Eiseley; cf. William Craig http://rintintin.colorado.edu/~vancecd/phil3600/Craig.pdf

I’ll never forget how God made use of a 1960s musical in my heart called Oliver, wherein the orphan sang: “Where is love?” It was my prayer for three years until I was made poor in spirit and entered into the home of my Father.

Solitude: Spring is Dawning

“All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays.”

IMG_2863It is almost springtime and summer is coming, when God faithfully brings renewed expressions of new life in every thing we see. Everything living thing receives from His gracious involvement exactly what was waited for, and then expresses praise to the Lord. The trees, corn, and beans of the field show colors. The birds, squirrels, and rabbits make their sounds. Everything is shot through with glory. Creation relinquishes control to the One whose presence is the bedrock of its being. How shall we join in the chorus of praise?

I met an unhappy man, who could not sit quietly in his living room—a room with a view. He could not sit in a park without being diverted by a gnawing sense that he was wasting his time, so he constantly turned to diversion to keep himself from solitude. Hence it was, for him, that the pleasure and joy of solitude was a thing incomprehensible. Every true Christian is strengthened, not weakened, by solitude with God.

For those who do not understand our evil age and desperate situation, the spiritual discipline of solitude may look strange or too simplistic. To those who discover rest for their souls by practicing of solitude with a Bible and journal, however, these true believers find it absolutely necessary.

Solitude, waiting and trusting for God’s grace to transform and shape us into those created for His praise, can produce the springtime of spiritual transformation. Solitude is the springtime of transformation in which our souls are watered with God’s Word and Spirit. It is where we feel safe to no longer form layers of bark around our souls for protection against the world’s elements and diversions. It is the place of great gospel encounter, where a new sense of the light and warmth of the Son rises upon us with healing power. There in the warm and safe presence of God, Jesus awakens new life to a dormant saint after a long, wintery season.

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;

Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the Son of above.

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; Drive the dark of doubt away;

Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!