This is going to get interesting…
As you can see, I survived my last post regarding American Christianity and wasn’t burned at the stake for heresy (smile).
For years, this was the norm of the family and gender roles in the West. A married heterosexual couple with children. As you can surmise in the above image, a patriarch brought home the bacon and his word was law. The wife was “submissive” and stayed home tending to hearth an offspring. The kids? They were perfect little angels! You can also see they all went to church! This image could also be other races as well-not just Whites.
This “idealized” image of the Western family has been a part of culture for ages; setting the norms for family and gender roles. This dynamic has also had the blessings of our religions as well-especially Judaeo-Christianity.
As aforesaid, gender roles were spelled out. The male/husband/patriarch was the wage-earner who provided for his families needs (and wants if possible). He went to work and put in a full day for his wages. The female/wife/mother tended to the home as maid, cook, childcare, and bed-warmer for the male. In earlier times, a career-woman was a curiosity. These roles were played out in front the children so they too can learn to be just like their parents when their turn at matrimony and parenthood came.
Heterosexuality was the norm. Yes, homosexuality existed for ages, however it was kept “in the closet” and out of the mainstream. Based on the creation stories of yore, God “intended” for any romantic and/or marital relations to be between a man and a woman. Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual relations were not considered legitimate-or “natural”. And God forbid you had a working wife and a househusband who took care of the kids!
Single-parent households were not part of that “norm”; although in reality they were quite common-especially female-headed households. Despite the fact that well-rounded children were raised in these homes, single parents (no matter how they became single)-especially women-were encouraged to marry.
Today, you see many here in America-especially within “fundagelical” Christianity-trying to keep the tried and true dynamic alive, and as the only legitimate dynamic. Groups engaged in “protecting” marriage and “family values” have come out into the public square to defend their positions.
However, that is changing. Soon-if not sooner-we’ll be mourning the passing of the traditional gender and family roles-passing away like a fog when the sun comes forth. We’re seeing a rise in single-parent homes where the parent was never married to begin with. Plus, many of these single parents are white-collar, college-educated professionals; not all are in dead-end jobs or on Welfare. Single parents that are divorced or widowed are not making as quick a return to the altar as it was once.
You also are seeing many couples foregoing children-“childless by choice”-whether it’s due to finances, the current world situation, or just don’t have time for kids. Plus, couples are having children later in life. With more women having greater career choices than their mothers and grandmothers; plus with advances in fertility medicine, motherhood can be delayed.
We’re also seeing an increase in adoptions, and not just among those who cannot biologically have children. We’re seeing the return of extended families living under one roof (thanks to the economy). We’re seeing also “families” created via social media/networking, where people of common interests, etc come together. Polygamy has become a topic of interest outside the Mormon and Islamic communities.
We’re also seeing the rise in Gay and Lesbian marriages in the US. You hear in the news of states legalizing marriages for Gays and Lesbians (as we speak a bill is being pushed here in New Jersey). Plus, Gays and Lesbians are having children and building households just like their heterosexual counterparts.
We’re seeing more and more “stay at home dads”; where the gender roles have been reversed: wife’s the breadwinner and hubby stays home and tends to house and kids. And from what I’ve heard, these men feel no less manly than their working counterparts.
The gender/family world’s a changin’. Fortunately there are those in the community of Faith that are positively engaging these new and diverse (no pun intended) dynamics. There are denominations in the US of A that are welcoming this new dynamic as a viable part of their church community.
Yet, there’s still work to be done. Many denominations in the Christian church still frowns upon these diverse dynamics and want to take us back to the “good ol’ days” where the old dynamic was en vogue. It’s time for us to grow up and get to work and begin to embrace and accept these new gender and family roles. The church can lead the forefront by retiring antiquated scriptural “rules” from a bygone era, quit trying to reverse things, and embrace the openness of Christ as seen in the Gospels. Plus
I enjoy seeing the changing gender roles and family dynamics. This will enrich the human family in many ways that will only benefit us. Maybe one day in some future age, we will become multigenerational/multisexual/multicultural extended families living communally.
It’s time to mourn the passing of these “traditional” gender and family roles. Prepare for changes ahead!