In Response to Masculine Christianity: A Letter to My Daughter

Dear Audrey,

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?”

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About Tim Owens

I'm a husband, father, and Christ follower. I also live in Albany, NY, where I work as a pastor.
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22 Responses to In Response to Masculine Christianity: A Letter to My Daughter

  1. Bekka says:

    Thank you for this beautifully written letter. I love your thoughts here, and the truth rings loudly in your words.

  2. Jessica says:

    What a gift you’ve given to Audrey in this letter. Thanks for sharing it with the rest of us.

  3. HopefulLeigh says:

    Absolutely beautiful.

  4. Dan Martin says:

    Excellent letter, Tim. Audrey is lucky to have a Daddy like you!

  5. Loo Zeta says:

    Good response, Audrey should grow proud and strong as a child of God as you are her Mum. My daughter has recently been a Cathedral chorister, and when she sang the Magnificat my soul too swelled, as she sang a solo of ‘My Soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my saviour’. I am of the opinion if men want to dominate the Church, God wants women to populate the Kingdom.

    God Bless.

    • Tim Owens says:

      I love your last line about women populating the Kingdom! Interesting that you assumed I was Audrey’s mum–I’m actually her dad. It is just so hard to escape our cultural biases. At first glance a tender, heartfelt letter to a daughter affirming her place in God’s design must have been written by a woman, right? 😉

  6. Laura Cavanaugh says:

    Thank you! May all little girls be surrounded by the loving support and example of men like you who are strong and secure enough to share power and allow the Spirit of God to move among the people of God without restraint. What an amazing woman your daughter will grow to be! I’m excited to feature your beautiful letter on my blog on Saturday. Feel free to check it out share share your thoughts! http://bodytheologyblog.wordpress.com.

    • Tim Owens says:

      I too am hopeful that Audrey will continue to grow and mature in her faith as she gets older. One of my biggest passions/fears, actually.

      Wow, thanks for featuring my blog next week. I checked it out last night, lots of great links! Thanks!

  7. Jim Fisher says:

    Ditto all above. I love “May you never mistake the pronouns of God with the character of God.” What a blessing you are to your daughter!

  8. Dale Fincher says:

    Good letter, Tim…

    It is an odd thing to assign gender to an idea or institution. “The other day I noticed that the plumbing in my house was feminine.” “Look at that masculine car, complete with reproductive organs!” “My, my that sunrise has so much gender confusion.”

    There are certain–small but wealthy and vocal–sections of the church that are growing more keen on being ignored. Let us hope that Audrey will have the wisdom to not only ignore those voices but to avoid those dehumanizing circles. It’s been a difficult journey for myself considering how often those voices will condemn you if you do not listen to them. All hogwash and poppy-cock (are either of those words gendered or just British?).

  9. Alise says:

    “May you never mistake the pronouns of God with the character of God.”

    Stunning. Amen and amen. Thank you for this lovely letter.

  10. Eric says:

    This is absolutely beautiful. My wife and I are both pastors who don’t have kids yet. But if I were to write a letter to my future daughter, it’d look a lot like this one. God bless, brother! Have a wonderful day.

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  14. Joni says:

    Mr. Owens, as a 55 year old “daughter”, this made me cry as I wished my dad had been able to say these words to me. Early on I “fought” instead of loved, now my goal is love and I pray for the faith and courage not to give in to the hurt that comes by this question. I surrender to the Spirit in order that I might love God and love people. Thank you for allowing God to speak to me through your letter to your daughter.

    • Tim Owens says:

      Joni, thanks for the kind words. It’s a helpful encouragement to keep on ‘beating the drum’, as it were. Sometimes it seems as if I’m not really accomplishing anything, so hearing things like what you said here mean a lot. Thank you.

  15. Joni says:

    Let me add that my dad did encourage me to be all God called me to be, just not so well.

  16. Faith says:

    Wow! this was great…what a treasure for your adorable daughter….I don’t often think of men writing letters like this but it’s sooo important for girls to see this truth from their daddy…..so they can learn about their heavenly Daddy…..Can I link this up via my blog so some of my followers can find you?? let me know! thanks!! LOVED this…..!!

  17. nicole says:

    this. is. soo. good. i might print this off and stick it on my mirror – esp paragraphs 5 & 7. “Your love must be stronger, your faith bolder, and your determination more rugged than their doubt.”
    thank you : )

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