You’re too young to notice right now, and that’s fine. For now it’s as simple as our little prayers are–simple, honest, beautiful. You will spend a lifetime learning how to live what you are already being taught: love God and love people. As you grow you will add knowledge to your faith and words to your belief, alternating from joy to mourning to joy as your understanding grows.
And at some point, you will also likely begin to wonder. You will wonder as you listen to what has been said, read what has been written, and observe what is being done. Someday you will wonder, and one day you will want to know.
Is Christianity masculine?
You will ask because of so many who act and speak and teach, often quite convincingly, that it is! Audrey, first you must learn before everything else: they are your brothers. Love them as you would everyone else. You may find that it takes all the rugged resolve you have. Even so, you must always love your brothers, no matter how silly or condescending or even oppressive they may be.
Audrey, God has called you to more than this. And as you become the daughter you are called to be you will likely face the lash of criticism. And so every time a statement is made or a caveat given, every time an opportunity is denied or a perspective defended, every time you are left feeling smaller or told that you bear less Image, remember that you have been called to more than this. Your love must be stronger, your faith bolder, and your determination more rugged than their doubt.
Seize the courage that God has seared into your soul. The courage God gives you will enable you to always live a fully-0rbed, biblical doctrine. In the words of J.C Ryle, may you never succumb to a ‘jellyfish’ Christianity. And whenever doubt enters your mind, as I fear it might, may you always remember the irony behind Ryle’s choice of analogy: a species that he had absolutely no ability to distinguish gender. And may you always return his wink!
Audrey, you will face many heavy and painful realities in your life. God will give you these in part to prepare you to share the hope behind the heavy and painful realities of the Bible. Don’t let others steal what God has invested in you. You will be privileged to walk alongside others, and you will bear the responsibility of proclaiming the kingdom of heaven and exposing hell wherever you see it–both hell everafter and the bits of hell that those around you invite into their own lives. Never listen to the lie that says God cannot give you the strength to carry the load he has entrusted to you.
You’re too young today to know the challenges of tomorrow, to know where you will lead and where you will follow. To know where you will complain and indulge in self-pity, and where you will put yourself aside and carry the church around you into joyful fruitfulness. But even though I can’t know what path you will take, I pray that your steps would lead you in the type of faithfulness that one day can humbly declare, “After 40 years of Bible reading and praying, meditation, and theological study, I find myself clinging more tightly than ever to Christian religion, and more than ever satisfied with it.”
May you never mistake the pronouns of God with the character of God. May you never be so grateful for being created in the image of God that you seek to return the favor.
And with all the hope your father can muster, I pray that your sons and daughters may never have reason to ask you
“Is Christianity masculine?”