Recently my neighbor told me about a widower living in double jeopardy. With no homemaking training in his past and no wife to clean up after him, his house was piled high with junk, dirty dishes, and soiled clothes. In addition, he had to share that house with a virtual stranger: his child.
We Lutherans all want to argue on the basis of God's revealed truth in the authoritative Scripture. Yet all of us come to this debate with our own personal history and agenda. My own history includes aversion to women in the public ministry as a result of experiences, first as a teenager, then as a student in Germany. More recently, I have developed a growing understanding of the just claims of Christian women who have been disempowered and marginalized in the church and a horror for what has been perpetrated in the name of male headship. A re-examination of the texts and another (this time happy) experience of having a woman as my pastor in the United States about a decade ago led me to abandon my previously held view that the ordination of women is not the Lord's will for his church today. I am now convinced to the contrary, although I do not like using the broad term feminist. My own personal pain is not only that close friends and relatives hold an opposing view, but that I fully understand that view as one who once held it (this is not said in any spirit of superiority).
Countering prevalent views on masculinity requires intentional action. While there are many ways to foster connection and emotional health, there’s one tool that has worked especially for us: storytelling.
Women were considered physically and emotionally frail and in constant need of men’s care and protection. These were the values that I grew up with, but I always considered them to be demeaning of women.
My dad showed me that a great father, like a good man, is defined not by strength, but by tenderness. A great father doesn’t run from his feelings, but knows and communicates them. He is fully invested in the nurturing of his children.
When asked what we, as regular people, can do to prevent sex trafficking, a Minneapolis police officer who works with both victims and perpetrators on a daily basis had only one response: “We need to reinvent what it means to be a man in our society.”