Feminine and Masculine in Left and Right – the Church in the gap

Just recently Angela finished a book called Crisis in Masculinity by Leanne Payne . It’s not a particularly new book but it’s still very timely. I just finished reading it myself today. I’d heard a teaching on the masculine and feminine by Gus Hunter about 7 years ago. The whole perspective of “masculine” and “feminine” is so pervasive when it’s fresh in your mind but when it’s not so fresh, it’s easy to miss.

So, the other day, I watched this TED Talk by David McCandless called “The Beauty of Data Visualization.” Totally cool stuff that opened my eyes to this new world of “Data Mining + Graphic Design = New Perspectives.” Anyway, one of McCandless’s visualizations is not strictly based on a data set but his own observations of Left and Right in the political spectrum. Though he’s obviously British, it seems that his focus is more on American politics. Anyway, I printed out the full graphic that you can find at: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/leftvright_world.html and was studying it when Angela walked up and said, “that’s the masculine and feminine.”


It’s as if a whole new perspective of what bugs me about American politics just descended from heaven to help me see better.

To understand why, you have back up a bit and understand a bit of what masculine and feminine is, and is not. For example, masculine is not male and feminine is not female. As C.S. Lewis states, “…Masculine and Feminine meet us on planes of reality where male and female would be simply meaningless…” Male and female are labels given to concrete objects or lifeforms which manifest predominantly masculine and feminine traits or characteristics respectively. So, to say, masculine is male represents a misunderstanding of the two concepts, whereas to say male is masculine would be an accurate generality. One “distillation” of masculine and feminine that helps me is: the masculine initiates and the feminine responds. This is a HUGE over-simplification, but I think it holds true as a foundation of understanding this concept. Probably the other foundational truths that are necessary in understanding masculine and feminine are:

  • God is both masculine and feminine
  • We are created in God’s image
  • Human marriage, as conceived in the heart of God, is the earthly representation of masculine and feminine coming into living, transcendent unity

So, back to McCandless’s (amazing – really spot on) diagram and American politics. Being geographically outside of American politics has helped me see new dynamics that I had difficulty discerning while on American soil and swimming (drowning?) in American culture. My changes in perspective after 10 years abroad have, I think, made my family back home think I’ve “gone liberal” on them. What I’ve rejected from my background is not a right-wing political perspective. Rather, it’s a rejection of a dualistic, antagonistic and confrontational way of “doing politics.” This has led me to rail against the 2-party system as inherently screwed up because of the need to choose half-truths and then justify your choice. The fact that this political malaise is so deeply entrenched in the American Body of Christ (on both sides) makes it that much more disturbing to me.

When Angela labeled McCanndless’s diagram as a manifestation of masculine and feminine, I began to rethink this issue of the 2-party system and the spiritual state of America in general. This quote from Payne’s book then began to take on new significance for me (strikeouts and bolds mine):

Invariably when a soul nation needs healing there will be an imbalance within of the masculine and the feminine. He or she It is tipping the scales too far toward one extreme of the continuum. This imbalance of the power to initiate and the power to respond can always be healed when a person people forsakes his their vision and will in separation from God (what the Scripture calls dying to the old man), comes into the Presence, and there unites with the incredible realities outside himself itself.

What makes the separation of the masculine and feminine work in humanity is when it’s brought together in a complementary fashion. The highest earthly form of this is human marriage. When it works, it’s because one is turned toward the other in sacrificial love and appreciation of the other. The result is transcendent! This requires effort and grace based on love. God is the one who empowers it, enabling us to manifest on earth a glimpse of the Trinity. Without this grace and love, we don’t expend the effort…at least not with any perseverance. The result is, as Payne suggests, a move toward opposite ends of the masculine/feminine continuum. Remembering our ultra-concise definition of “initiate” and “respond”, we can see that initiation becomes domination and masculine is twisted into macho. On the other side, response becomes rebellion and feminine is twisted into feminist. The result is the American political system as you see it today with the Left at war with the Right. The result is also how America is seen around the world depending on which extreme of the continuum is currently “manifesting.”

Well, if Payne’s quote is right, healing is available, but I for one, have a hard time imagining American halls of power ringing with the songs of worship from a gathering of legislators, judges and executive branch members as they “come into the Presence.” Where does that leave us? Well, I think this brings us to the Body of Christ and 2 Corinthians 5:16-20. Just as God has already provided through Jesus complete reconciliation for every individual, and the Church is tasked to announce and minister that reconciliation to all creatures, it radiates out from individuals to marriages, families, communities and yes, even nations and political factions within nations.

My question is, if the Church is focused on political realities and is deeply allied with various political factions, how can it broker heavenly realities and in intercession stand in the gaps created by those political factions?! It can’t!

It is the job of mankind to steward God’s creation during our time on the earth and by our place on the earth (Genesis 1:28, Acts 17:26-27). This job is distributed amongst people groups and nations who have this stewardship responsibility over particular parts of God’s creation. To put it another way, God holds the United States responsible for what transpires on its soil and how it comports itself among the nations. Is He looking to elected officials to actually carry this out? In a measure, yes. Ultimately, however, He is looking to His Body on earth to broker heavenly realities on earth so that the reconciliation that He died for would be manifested on every level and in every sphere. Jesus gave the authority to His Church to disciple nations. So, to restate, God is holding the Church in the United States responsible for what transpires on its soil and how the United States comports itself among the nations. The ability of the Church to do this in fullness requires a reconciliation of the masculine and the feminine at levels that the Church doesn’t seem to be realizing right now and for which it doesn’t seem to have a grid.

So, can the 2-party system work? Yes it can work, if those two sides “marry” and become one (Genesis 2:24). I think there is a “prophetic possibility” that is tantalizing here to see the masculine and feminine really complementing each other in this context. Can this happen if the Church doesn’t understand its role and responsibility to “minister” reconciliation and facilitate this “marriage”? I don’t think so. If it did, it would be glorious, and the greatest miracle would be that the Church finally understood its calling!

Technorati : , , , , , , , , , , ,
Del.icio.us : , , , , , , , , , , ,

Groping in the culture

Recently I posted an article for the Daywatch blog. I’m posting it here and adding the French translation which was done for me by Samuel Rhein for inclusion in his regular French-language prophetic bulletin.

This month’s post is bit of a departure perhaps to what you’ve become accustomed to in Nightwatch/Daywatch materiel. First off, to set the stage, I’m an American living in Europe, which has afforded me some rich fodder for cultural perspective. As an adopted son of Europe, my “identity” as a European is not a “given” that runs as an undercurrent, woven into all thought and practice. No, for me, it has been a subject of ardent seeking, joy, consternation, purposeful reflection, frustration, etc. Add to that a call to intercession and I’m reminded of Paul’s discourse to the Athenians (Europeans), that God has carefully placed us at a specific time/space intersection in order that we might “grope” to find Him (Acts 17:26-27). The realities and implications of my adoptive cultural identity have often left me groping for God to assure myself that He’s still with me and to actively bring Him into my circumstances. Additionally, a bit of distance from the States also gives me new perspectives on the land where I spent the first 38 years of my life.

Consequently, I’ve come to think that there is perhaps a pseudo-command in the Athenian discourse with respect to our cultures…be they adoptive or native.

He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us

The culture and society in which we find ourselves is not simply to be a “given” in our lives to which we give little to no reflection, as if we were on a raft drifting inexorably with the current of a slow-moving but powerful river. According to this passage, its particularities should provoke us in some way so that we engage more deeply in our seeking (and finding) of God…who apparently is just waiting for us to start asking important, critical questions about our historical and geographical context.

Speaking of Jesus, Paul says in Col 1:18-20:

He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Speaking of us, Paul says in 2 Cor 5:18-19:

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

I like to re-phrase “gave us the ministry of reconciliation” as “appointed us to administer His reconciliation.” I think that shakes some of the religious baggage off the verse and gives us a scope that, in my opinion, is more in line with Paul’s intention and Jesus’ call.

When you put these passages together, you see that God has established our lives in an historical and geographical context (which equates, in fact, to a culture) so that we would find Him in it, and once having found Him would administer the reconciliation of all things to Himself in that context.

As intercessors working to pull the Church in Europe through to her destiny, I believe that we need to call out to the Church, in the Spirit, to:

  • Actively grope” for God in this particular historical/geographical context. This is in sharp contrast to living in our native cultures, simply assuming that all our societal interactions are “normal.” Rather to actively bring things to God’s Throne and seek His perspective.
  • Meditate on the intersection of our earthly and heavenly citizenships; again asking God what His perspective is and “actively groping” to understand the goal of this intersection in the administration of reconciliation. We see that Paul is neither ignorant nor indifferent to both his citizenships.

To bring this home, and spill the beans a bit more on my particular situation, I want to give an example. In French language school, our professor (a Christian) told us that whenever there is a problem in a French person’s life, one of the first reactions is to look to a government-supplied solution. According to him, this was the general reaction amongst Christians as well. Certainly this would be a broad generalization, but there is certainly some truth to it. This is an example of the French Church drifting on the cultural stream instead of hoisting the sail to see what the Wind of the Spirit might be saying. Certainly there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the government providing solutions to problems and certainly God can and does provide using many different agencies. There is something wrong, however, with the Body of Christ (individually or corporately) assuming that the government is their first-stop solution for challenges they face. A similar trap for the Body of Christ exists in the States with respect to tax-exempt status for charitable organizations. And in Canada for example, Christian Schools enjoyed government subsidies for a period. When the subsidies ended, a large percentage of those schools failed.

Our collusion with culture is extremely subtle but also extremely powerful. Now is the time for the Church to begin to earnestly ask the Lord for light to reveal where we are colluding and grace to walk a different path.

Tout d’abord, pour poser le décor, je suis un Américain vivant en Europe, ce qui a alimenté richement ma perspective de la culture. En tant que fils adopté de l’Europe, mon «identité» européenne n’est pas un “don” qui fonctionne comme une évidence, tissé dans la pensée et la pratique. Non, pour moi, cela a été un sujet de recherche ardent, de joies, de consternation, de réflexion utile, de frustrations, etc. Ajoutez à cela un appel à l’intercession et je me rappelle le discours de Paul aux Athéniens (les Européens), montrant que Dieu a pris soin de nous placer à une intersection de l’espace-temps, afin que nous puissions Le trouver en “tâtonnant” (Actes 17:26-27). Les réalités et les implications de mon identité culturelle d’adoption m’ont souvent laissé tâtonner en cherchant Dieu afin de m’assurer qu’il st toujours avec moi et de Lui faire une place active dans mes circonstances. En outre, un peu de distance avec les États-Unis, me donne également de nouvelles perspectives sur la terre où j’ai passé les premiers 38 ans de ma vie.

Par conséquent, je suis arrivé à penser qu’il y a peut-être une instruction cachée dans le discours d’Athènes à l’égard de nos cultures … qu’elles soient natives ou adoptives.

« Il a fait d’un seul sang toutes les races des hommes pour habiter sur toute la face de la terre, ayant déterminé les temps ordonnés et les bornes de leur habitation, pour qu’ils cherchent Dieu, s’ils pourraient en quelque sorte le toucher en tâtonnant et le trouver, quoiqu’il ne soit pas loin de chacun de nous. »

La culture et la société dans laquelle nous nous trouvons n’est pas simplement “don” dans notre vie auquel nous accordons peu ou pas d’intérêt, comme si nous étions sur un radeau dérivant inexorablement sur le cours lent mais puissant d’une rivière. Selon ce passage, ses particularités doivent provoquer en nous d’une façon ou d’une autre un engagement plus profond de notre recherche de Dieu (Le chercher et Le trouver) … qui est apparemment en attente en nous et qui commence par se poser des questions importantes et critiques sur notre contexte historique et géographique.

Parlant de Jésus, Paul dit en Col 1:18-20 :

« Il est la tête du corps de l’Eglise ; il est le commencement, le premier-né d’entre les morts, afin d’être en tout le premier. Car Dieu a voulu que toute plénitude habitât en lui ; il a voulu par lui réconcilier tout avec lui-même, tant ce qui est sur la terre que ce qui est dans les cieux, en faisant la paix par lui, par le sang de sa croix. »

En parlant de nous, Paul dit dans 2 Cor 5:18-19 :

« Et tout cela vient de Dieu, qui nous a réconciliés avec lui par Christ, et qui nous a donné le ministère de la réconciliation. Car Dieu était en Christ, réconciliant le monde avec lui-même, en n’imputant point aux hommes leurs offenses, et il a mis en nous la parole de la réconciliation. Nous faisons donc les fonctions d’ambassadeurs pour Christ, comme si Dieu exhortait par nous ; nous vous en supplions au nom de Christ : Soyez réconciliés avec Dieu ! »

J’aime réécrire la phrase « nous a donné le ministère de la réconciliation » comme ceci : « nous a désigné pour administrer Sa réconciliation ». Je pense que cela débarrasse le verset de son bagage religieux et nous donne un champ d’application qui, à mon avis, est plus conforme à l’intention de Paul et de l’appel de Jésus.

Lorsque vous mettez ensemble ces passages, vous voyez que Dieu a créé nos vies dans un contexte historique et géographique (ce qui équivaut, en fait, à une culture), afin que nous Le rencontrions, et que L’ayant trouvé nous administrions la réconciliation de toutes choses à lui-même dans ce contexte.

Comme intercesseurs qui travaillent pour tirer l’Église en Europe vers sa destinée, je crois que nous avons besoin d’appeler l’Eglise, dans l’Esprit, à :

  • « tâtonner activement » pour chercher Dieu, dans une tel contexte d’histoire / de géographie. Ceci est en frappant contraste avec le fait de se laisser vivre dans la culture où nous sommes nés, en supposant simplement que l’ensemble de nos interactions sociales sont «normales». Travaillons plutôt activement à amener les choses au Trône de Dieu et à chercher son point de vue.
  • Méditer sur l’intersection de la citoyenneté de la terre et du ciel ; demandant à Dieu ce qu’est Sa perspective et « tâtonnant activement » pour comprendre l’objectif de cette intersection dans l’administration de la réconciliation. Nous voyons que Paul n’est ni ignorant ni indifférent à ces deux citoyennetés.

Pour s’approprier cette réalité, et ‘secouer le cocotier’ un peu plus dans ma situation, je veux donner un exemple personnel. En école de langue française, notre professeur (un chrétien) nous a dit que chaque fois qu’il y a un problème dans la vie d’un français, l’une des premières réactions est de se tourner vers une solution fournie par le gouvernement. Selon lui, cela a été la réaction générale parmi les chrétiens aussi. Certes, ce serait une généralisation trop hâtive, mais il y a certainement une part de vérité à cela. Ceci est un exemple de l’Eglise de France se laissant aller à la dérive sur le courant culturel au lieu de hisser la voile pour voir ce que le vent de l’Esprit peut dire. Certes, il n’y a rien d’intrinsèquement mauvais avec un gouvernement qui fournit des solutions à des problèmes et certainement Dieu peut utiliser et apporter l’aide au travers de nombreux organismes. Il y a cependant quelque chose de mal si le Corps du Christ (individuellement ou collectivement) présuppose que le gouvernement est le premier guichet, l’unique solution pour les défis auxquels il est confronté. Un piège équivalent pour le Corps de Christ existe aux USA en matière d’exonération fiscale pour des organisations caritatives. Au Canada par exemple, les écoles chrétiennes bénéficient de subventions publiques pour une période. Lorsque les subventions s’arrêtent, la plupart de ces écoles ferment.

Notre collusion avec la culture est extrêmement subtile, mais aussi très puissante. Il est maintenant temps pour l’Eglise de commencer sérieusement à demander au Seigneur de la lumière pour révéler l’endroit où nous sommes en collusion et la grâce de marcher sur une voie différente.