So I have said that I think men and women are different and that the difference is not so simple as our cultural stereotypes try to make it.
But the question remains, what is the difference?
As I write this, I am waiting. My son will be born any minute now. Sometime in the next week, he will be here, and then begins the task of raising that child to be a man in this world. I have already begun trying to raise a little girl to one day be a woman.
I wonder how different that will look.
This brings us back to the original question: Ultimately, isn’t the Catholic view of men and women an unfair one? Don’t they view men and women as unequal?
No, it’s not unfair, and yes, they do view them as unequal.
As I prepare my heart to raise these children, I’m preparing for a battle. Almost every value that our culture holds dear is opposite to what I want my children to believe.
And that includes equality.
The modern concept of equality is different than the ancient idea of justice. Justice is the idea of giving all people (and God) what they are owed. Naturally, we owe people different things. I owe my wife a greater duty of care than I owe my next-door neighbor. I owe my mother more gratitude than I owe my coworkers. I owe my daughter more attention than my four blog-readers.
I have built my life on the premise that I owe no two people the same thing.
Of course, our cultural concept of equality isn’t really a bad thing. It came from a very good and necessary place. We are all equal in dignity; the Catholic Church has always championed that premise. The Church says that no person is subject to use: God has made each of us for our own sake, an end unto ourselves, a reflection of the divine and infinite Persons.
But He never meant us to be the same or to treat each other the same (when we separate truths from the Truth, it tends to go wrong at some point…)
How could He? If He wanted to share Himself, an infinite communion of persons, with us, terribly and frustratingly finite individuals, wouldn’t He have to make us different? Wouldn’t He have to paint His tenderness into this soul and His strength into that, His sense of justice into her mind and His love of freedom into his?
God made us different so that we could all speak of Him, just by being who we are, so that we could know Him more fully.
But what He does at the micro level with each of our souls, He has done at the macro level with our race as a whole.
The Catholic Church is founded on one astonishing claim that flies in the face of both polytheism and monotheism, that contradicts the heathen and the Jew, that believes in oneness and universalness: God is Three-in-One.
It’s a bizarre idea on paper: How can someone be three and also one, be separate but the same, be many persons yet one being?
But in reality, when we stop worrying about doctrine and distinctions and just awaken ourselves to the universe He has immersed us in, we see this Truth of Truths as the most natural thing in the world.
Because nothing makes more sense than family.
Family, when done right, is the one place we feel most at home, most alive, most ourselves, most at peace. And family, when done wrong, is the greatest tragedy we know of, the most terrifying of collapses, the inflictor of the deepest wounds.
We believe God is a family. We believe He is One Person who loves Another so much and so completely that Their Love is Another Person, and together they are something altogether greater and more mysterious than their individual parts.
God is family, and that’s what He built us for. That’s who He meant for us to be. A family. And in my family, no two persons are the same. It wouldn’t work if we were.
My wife is the beautifier, the planner, the saver, the practical and strong one. I am the dreamer, the playful and passionate one, the man of faith.
And as we live this life together, we start to become more alike. I have become more practical and strong. She has grown in faith and remembered how to play.
And our daughter is a little of everything, and something all her own at the same time.
But we are not the same, and we never will be.
I will now (finally) state the difference between men and women, and will expound on it in the next post. But if you don’t come back, just look at a family, your family, and see if you don’t see at least a hint of this truth:
Man is built to give. Woman is built to receive the gift and then return it in abundance.
Our understanding of ourselves must be founded on this idea. We must be rooted in family.