Thursday, June 07, 2007

Final Thoughts on Women and Sports

I wasn't intending to revisit my series from last week, but I've received some feedback that I want to address.

1) I am not saying that all women who play contact sports become brutish or unmanly. I don't think you'll find that assertion anywhere in my writing. I have made the point that sports can have that effect. There is a key distinction there. It is happily true that there are Christian women out there who have played high-contact sports and who have retained femininity and cultivated it. I see that as a sign of grace.

2) When I spoke of the Detroit team being "big," I was meaning in a muscular sense. I was not meaning "tall" or even what some might call "big-boned." We can't help our natural build. For example, I'm short and thin. The typical masculine ideal is tall and strong. I can't help that I don't naturally fit in that category. Of course, I am responsible for how I steward my body. But there is nothing inherently wrong with a girl being tall--nothing at all. With that clarification stated, I stand by what I wrote.

3) In response to Jed's question from last week about the Supreme Court regarding separated parties being inherently unequal, I would have to say that that has little bearing on the matter at hand. We're not talking about enforced segregation. We're talking about gender roles, and what we train our daughters for. In addition, men and women play sports separately, and I don't hear anyone complaining about that. So I find the question interesting but not that tangential.

4) The Bible does not say very much about sports. Paul uses sports as a metaphor, and we're told that physical exercise is of little profit. There's not a great deal said about sports, then. With that said, we are responsible for applying biblical principles and ideas to our present situation. The Bible says little about lots of things, but that doesn't mean that we don't attempt to fashion an approach to them. One of the primary things I'm trying to do on this blog is to think through areas that I don't see other Christians considering--sports, gender, etc. As I do so, I'm trying to speak humbly and to avoid presenting my conclusions as explicitly scriptural. However, I am trying to apply biblical ideas to all of life. I also attempt to speak directly. Academic-speak with its endless nuances and qualifications frustrates me. Noone says anything with such speech. Spinelessness reigns. I attempt to challenge readers of this blog to think through stuff with me, and I try to do so by taking definitive stances on issues after thinking them through. People are welcome to disagree, and state that disagreement--I want that, in fact. But folks should never think that because the Bible doesn't mention something there is nothing to say about it. That's a very common mistake, and I'm trying to avoid it, even as I'm trying to avoid presenting my statements as divine. They certainly are not.

5) It's not all sports I was talking about, but contact sports. Women are weaker than men and are not made for contact like men are. I thus would encourage women not to play high-contact sports but to play other sports that allow them to have fun, exercise, glorify God, develop teamwork, and other things, but that do not place them at risk of injury and pain. There are lots of sports that accomplish such aims--in fact, there are far more lower-contact sports than there are higher-contact. I'll push my daughters (if I have any) toward those, and discourage them from rugby, hockey, football, and others I've already mentioned.


Blogger Jed said...

"In response to Jed's question from last week about the Supreme Court regarding separated parties being inherently unequal, I would have to say that that has little bearing on the matter at hand."

Would I ever waste your time by making a comment that has little bearing on the matter at hand? :)

Here's how it relates: At the heart of the issue you about coed sports is the issue of fairness. Some people would argue that it is not fair (unjust) for you to keep a girl from doing activity X or job Y ONLY because of her gender. How to respond? Well suppose we posit the following principle of justice (conceived as fairness): 'treat equals equally and unequals unequally'. I suppose that both egalitarians and complementarians (though not perhaps certain political philosophers) would agree with this Formal principle of justice. However they agree because this principle IS formal; that is, it doesn't say what determines what is equal in any given circumstance. Hence, we need to add a material principle of justice to supplement the formal principle. Here's where the disagreement takes place. The egalitarian, in a move much like that of the supreme court cited above, argues that because equality implies identity (in every morally significant quality or attribute, gender can never be a morally relevant factor in setting out a material principle of justice. Gender is much like baldness, weight, or race and not like, say, merit or need. Where does that leave the complementarian? Is gender a morally relevant quality or not? Presumably sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't. For example, I suppose you would agree that it is when one is making the cuts for the college football team but isn't when one is choosing which patient in need of a transplant to give an organ. If so, what is the principle that allows you to determine when gender is morally significant and when it isn't?

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, I randomly came across your blog today and this post caught my eye. I only skimmed your posts on the subject of women in sports, but I thought I'd leave a comment. I am a woman who was an avid multiple sport athlete in high school and played Division II collegiate basketball. A couple of years after college I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ and accept Him as my Lord and Savior. Shortly after, during pre-marital counseling with my now husband (also a former collegiate athlete) we had to work through some of our struggles finding that they led back to a major competitive streak in both of us. I do actually credit some of my tendencies to be competitive and aggressive to my athletic background. So at one level I think you are right. That said however, I don't know how we will handle sports in the future with our daughter. She is only 8 months old, so we've got time! But I tend to think we won't draw a line and say 'no contact sports for you' as I don't think the Bible draws that line. I do hope however to be developing in her a desire to be a feminine woman by biblical standards who seeks to bring glory to Christ (lord willing) while she plays whatever sports she choose to play if she chooses them at all. In Christ, Kris

1:16 PM  
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7:25 PM  

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