Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cultivating Femininity in Our Daughters: Coed Sports

Everyone loves a good cookout volleyball game. Or a fun coed wiffleball or ultimate frisbee game. Those sorts of activities can be really enjoyable, and I've personally had alot of fun in such settings. Coed sports can be fun when they're relaxed. But when one wants to play seriously (an amusing phrase), the benefits of coed sports plummet.

In our egalitarian age, guys and girls often compete seriously together. I, for one, almost never enjoy this. When I want to play seriously, I want to play hard, physically, and without worrying about contact with the opposite sex. Playing with girls changes the whole feel of the game. One goes from enjoying the game to worrying about how the girl is doing, or whether or not one should make contact with her. I've played basketball now in several leagues in which girls played with guys, and I've always strongly disliked it. Girls should play with girls, and guys should compete with guys. Men are almost always stronger and rougher and they most enjoy playing with fellow men, who they don't have to worry about hurting or embarassing. Even in Christian circles, though, the sexes play together. This shocks me. Egalitarianism has truly taken hold of our culture.

This is not an issue of incredible importance, but I am trying to point out one small way in which a larger system--egalitarianism--manifests itself in our society. I am also attempting to say that most Christians, I think, don't even think this matter through. They simply assume that the way the society works is the way it should work. This is a poor assumption. We need to question everything our culture puts before us. We need to examine it, and to examine the Bible, and then approach the culture. We do not simply assume that what secular society promotes is a good thing. Often the ideas and principles it puts forth are antithetical to conformed Christianity, yet few of us realize this. I'm going to do a larger series on sports later (I've done little ones before), but for now, I want to hold up the example of sports. How many of us really think through how much time we should devote to them? And, once we've committed to sports, how much do we think about how we participate in them? I fear that the answer for most us is this: very little.

With that said, then, I want to encourage Christians to keep the sexes separate in matters of serious competition and sport. Egalitarianism is not a good thing, and neither are its trickle-down effects. When I exercise or play, I don't want to have to worry about a woman boxing me out. I don't want a woman to whom I am not married making any more physical contact with me than is absolutely necessary--and the contact found in pickup basketball, for instance, is certainly not necessary. I don't want to have to take it easy, or not play as hard, or be worried about a woman's feelings while I'm exercising. I propose that we return sports and lots of other areas in life to their former place of non-complication (to invent a word) and reclaim sacred spaces for men and women. Though egalitarianism speaks loudly to us, we don't have to listen. We can instead focus our attention on cultivating biblical masculinity and femininity, a discipline for which most of us need far more "practice" than we receive.


Anonymous Fanny (from Bowdoin) said...

In dealing with the issue of racial segregation, the Supreme Court argued "Separate but equal is inherently unequal." If this statement is true, how--if at all--should this impact the way in which we think about some of the gender issues you've been raising?

12:33 PM  
Blogger Stephen Newell said...

It shouldn't impact it at all, considering we're talking about Christian parenting. The Supreme Court doesn't get to determine what is "equal or unequal" in Christian parenting -- God does.

6:07 PM  

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