The Opposite of Masculinity

Posted on June 18, 2013 | 50 comments

Femininity is not the opposite of masculinity. They are complements.

The opposite of masculinity is passivity.

Passivity waits to be acted upon. Masculinity initiates.

Passivity avoids. Masculinity enters.

Passivity enables. Masculinity leads.

Passivity backs away. Masculinity stands firm.

In the garden, men and women were both giving the image of their Creator. They were created differently; they were created to be complements; they were created for oneness. (see Image Part One)

Yet, in relationship, men tend toward passivity. It is the pattern of male brokenness started in the garden by Adam, who backed away to let his wife – bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh – face the temptations of the serpent alone.

He was not the bearer and handler of truth, so his wife succumbed to the lies.

It the sin of looking away from God – in fact, just looking away and choosing not to see. And God spoke to Adam’s sin first.

Passivity is not the complement of femininity. In the presence of a passive male, women are allowed (or encouraged) to live out of sync with their own design, leading to anger and resentment toward their spouse.

A friction that creates shame and thus ingrains the passive pattern more deeply.

Passivity is a manifestation of the false self. It is a covering that is apart from God.

It provides the false sense of comfort, security and protection that the false self craves to cover shame and prove “I’m OK.” (see Justifying a Diminished Masculinity)

Passivity says…

 If I don’t risk, then I cannot feel the shame of failure.

If I don’t initiate, then I cannot feel the shame of rejection.

If I avoid, then I don’t have to expose my vulnerability.

Passivity is about a lack of trust. Distrust of God as the true source of wholeness, and distrust of the spouse as one who will provide love.

Jesus enables masculinity. When a man has an identity rooted in Christ, he can be masculine without fearing a loss of value through failure, rejection or vulnerability.

In what other ways are passivity and masculinity opposites?

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  1. and trust is where the rubber meets the road!

  2. This is so powerful. My husband is leading around 90 men building an apartment building in Bismarck, ND. The issues he is having here with younger men vs his usual crews in Minneapolis are centered around the passive behaviors you described here.

    I’ve never seen this in the story of Adam and Eve. This I will hold in my heart and share for encouraging others. Rich revelation!!! Praise God!

    • Kathy and Laura,

      A great book on this is Larry Crabb’s The Silence of Adam. But, maybe this is something I’ll build out a little more here in the future. Thanks for joining the discussion!

  3. Thank you for your very interesting take on the opposite of masculinity. I can see your point and have also noticed this in the marriage of friends. Perhaps we all tend to be passive at times instead of going forward as God has instructed us to do. Our will says, I am tired, (lazy) busy with other things. May we adjust our attitude to go forward and not hang back when the light is green. Thanks for sharing at “Tell Me a Story.”

  4. Very interesting, Scott. I did not see that one coming but I do agree that the women I’ve been mentoring and coaching in their marriages complain most about how the men in their lives do not take initiative. So they feel they must lead out but then feel guilty when they do–realizing it hurts their husbands and marriages. Thanks so much for sharing this!

    BTW, your link wasn’t working for some reason, so I fixed it. 🙂 Thanks so much for linking up with Wedded Wed. Your wise words being represented there are always a treat!

  5. Fantastic post!! I’m stopping by from Adorned from Above blog hop.

  6. Great viewpoint! I think you described it quite well.

  7. Great stuff here! We aren’t static. When husbands step back in passivity they leave the authority in leadership wide open; wives step up. It takes an enormous amount of strength to resist this temptation as it’s our desire to overtake in our power. Yet, it is possible through Christ.

    • Someone will always fill an absence of leadership. Thanks for reading.

  8. I agree with Kathy–I’ve never quite seen the story of Adam and Eve this way. It makes a lot of sense though. Thanks for the food for thought.

    • Kathy and Laura,

      A great book on this is Larry Crabb’s The Silence of Adam. But, maybe this is something I’ll build out a little more here in the future. Thanks for joining the discussion!

  9. Scott,
    I am fascinated studying this. My husband is a natural leader and I am thankful for that, but he is also a ‘command man’ and having to learn to be gentle with a wife and daughter…the Lord is working miracles right now! Praise God!

  10. Hi Scott! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog on masculinity. You said many things that I have thought but have not seen it that concisely written before. Even a man who seems “feminine” in personality could learn to do those things you said above that sadly were failed by Adam in the garden… the leading, the initiating, etc. Thank you for posting on my blog so other readers can find your blog. I really appreciate your writing and hope you post regularly on my Wed. Link-up, In Christ, Juana

  11. Amazing post! Very insightful! Thank you for linking up on my blog. I so appreciate it and look forward to perusing more of your blog.

    Blessings – Julie

    • Glad you are here. Hope to hear more from you!

  12. Very wise!

  13. Great post!!! Thank you for sharing at the hop xo

  14. This is excellent – what a great teaching and our sons so need to learn this nowadays. I was sort of watching a show on TV the other day while on the computer and there was a guy who had no clue whatsoever on how to be a man, how to initiate a relationship – Wimp? Nerd? I don’t know but with so many boys today without Father’s its a worry. Bless You!

    • Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation.

  15. Great post, thanks for sharing. I never thought of the masculine/feminine thing like this before.

  16. Interesting take. Thanks for linking up at Thrilling Thursday!

  17. What a fabulous post! I’ve read a lot about the differences between masculinity and femininity and the strengths of both. But never have I seen it described this way. Very cool.

  18. I didn’t think of the two as opposites before but the way that you explain it makes sense to me.

  19. Interesting! I hadn’t thought of it that way before.

  20. Love what you shared here. I think passivity is definitely not a fruit of the Spirit for either sex… Men are called to lead, and women are called to help and support. Neither role is very passive, is it? Jesus would never be called passive, and neither would the early church leaders.

    Great post

  21. This is awesome! I’m not sure how I got here via Five Minute Friday, but I’m glad I did. I love how you pointed out that both male and female are created in God’s image – both embody His emotions, heart, etc in a complimentary form.

    I often wonder what would have happened that day had Adam stepped in and stopped Eve – or maybe he tried – who knows. But every time I read that story I’m drawn to the fact that he sat back while the serpent addressed her.

    Interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing!

    • I’m glad you stopped by too! Looking forward to checking out your site. God bless.

  22. I find the teachings of the conservative, evangelical church on men and women to be almost impossible to accept. To me they assume that women are vastly inferior to men. I know the “party line” is that they are not inferior but rather complementary. However, if one group of people is never qualified for leadership, never qualified to be the one who is responsible, always following, always submitting – in my mind that group has to be inferior in some very significant ways. I think some people in the church hold a sincere belief that lead/submit/love/respect is the ideal for marriage, but others use it as a way to keep women “in their place” and assure men their customary power and authority. That second point of view seems to lead fairly easily to statements such as “Christianity has a distinctly masculine feel” and “a wife may have to endure abuse ‘for a season’ ” and to the attitude that the husband’s authority in the home trumps everything else, including possible physical or sexual abuse of the wife and/or children.

    • Thanks for dropping by. Glad you read despite how we differ in perspective. The conclusion that being created differently implies abuse is a very large leap. Obviously some have used scripture in an abusive way for their own gain or power. That is fruit of the broken condition of mankind rather than a problem with the teaching though. Again, thanks for reading and I hope you stop by again.

      • I didn’t mean to imply that the teaching that men and women are different, in and of itself, leads to abuse. What I have observed is that the teaching that only men can lead/only men can have authority/women must always follow/women must always submit creates an environment that is ripe for abuse (spouse abuse, child abuse, child sexual abuse), and that such abuse is not isolated or rare. I don’t think it’s a coincidence, for example, that recent cases of institutional child sexual abuse occurred in institutions (e.g., the Catholic Church, Penn State football, SGM) in which women have no voice and no power. So that makes me question whether the teaching is wrong, or whether people are applying the teaching in a sinful way.

        What are your thoughts on the idea that, if an entire group of people can never lead or take a position of responsibility, that group must inherently be considered inferior? That is the real point of contention for me. When I look at the way Jesus treated and interacted with women, and then look at the way many segments of the church treat and interact with women, I see a very large disconnect. I just can’t get past the idea that “women must always submit/follow/be quiet” is either about a view that women are inferior to men or about men maintaining their position and power, rather than it is about a Christ-like view of men and women.

  23. I appreciate your excellent perspective on masculinity. Would you allow me to share it (or re-post; not sure of the lingo!) on my blog?
    Thanks! I’m visiting from the linkup.

    • Feel free to repost. Thanks for dropping by, hope to see you again.

  24. Excellent post! I love how you brought out the TRUE opposite of masculine. It is very thought provoking.

  25. Well, well. Glad I stopped by. Let’s see, where to start…I do agree that men and women were designed as complements. So far, so good. This is where I am wondering at your logic. If men are the masculine partner (they obviously are) and women the passive partner, then what are we to do with women who have giftings to lead (not their men, but in other contexts), or to teach, or to achieve and to DO?

    I agree that God did not make men to be passive, but do you really believe that He made women to be?

    • Now that I think of it, what would you say is the opposite of femininity?

      • That is a great question, which I’m going to think about. I’m working right now, so I’ll answer your comments a little later. Thanks so much for stopping by.

    • One thing I want to say on this comment now…I stated that masculinity and femininity are complements. My post does not equate femininity with being passive. The woman is the submissive partner. Submission is not passive, not being a doormat, not being abused, it indeed should be very active.

      • I thought you probably meant that. It’s no news to you that submission is a hot button for us gals for this very reason. Some of us have gifts and desires, too, that need exercise in active and sometimes public ways. And, for their parts, our husbands do not want wimps for wives. Keeping a balance, however, between all of this is very difficult. I know that I have erred on the side of Eve, have retracted, and erred on the side of passivity. I cannot ever attempt to emasculate my husband, but neither can I undo myself. And, of course, all the while we both must obey God. Sin made life very difficult. I cannot trust my own instincts, not hardly ever. Fortunately, I can always, always trust my God.

        You were bold to bring this up. Thanks for making me think.

  26. Excellent insights—thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

  27. Very interesting! I’ve never thought about it quite like this. I too am wondering what the opposite of femininity would be?

    Thanks for sharing at the Babies and Beyond Link-Up.

  28. Thanks so much for linking up at Home Sanctuary! I had not considered passivity as a lack of trust…you made me think!

    “Passivity says…
    If I don’t risk, then I cannot feel the shame of failure.
    If I don’t initiate, then I cannot feel the shame of rejection.
    If I avoid, then I don’t have to expose my vulnerability.”

    I hadn’t taken those statements to the next step about trust. Great food for thought!

    Blessings, Rachel

  29. Hey! would love for you to join this hop in which I’m the co-host so come link up.

    • Great, I’ll head on over! Thanks for hopping over here.

  30. Hi Scott,

    While I agree on some of your points, I do think we need to consider the terms we use when describing masculinity and Femininity, I do believe as men and women are made in the image of God, we need to be careful how we then relate to this truth with the words we use such as submissive. When you look at the New Testament for example, Jesus spoke through a number of women, who then led the way for others to come to know Him. I believe that as we complement one another, we can also lead together; where one struggles in an area the other helps. Two cords bound together with Jesus at the centre. Both of us together submitting to the will of God and each other for His glory.

  31. Hi. I’m glad to see this, and it’s interesting that passivity is a symptom of lack of trust, which I’ll have to think about how to apply personally.

    I’ve been trying to initiate and lead – but can anyone tell me what to do when you intiate, and she doesn’t respond? Then she interprets any criticism as a personal attack, and all communication stops dead?

  32. Great post! If there’s any message I pick up from society and those around me, it’s that men, and their roles as men, are irrelevant and a threat to women. Women can do everything that men can–and better to boot. Men and fathers are portrayed as idiots or simpletons, incapable of doing anything right (this has crept in since the 1950s–watch most any episode of “Ozzie & Harriet” or even “Father Knows Best” if you doubt that). More balanced shows are “The Dick van Dyke Show” or “Leave it to Beaver”.

    I admire and respect women a great deal. But frankly, even as a believer, lately I feel even more confused and intimidated by the attitudes, messages, and expectations I’m seeing than I ever have.

  33. Scott,
    I have seen the “fruit” of my own passivity all too clearly. Your thoughts are absolutely right on the mark and I appreciate your ability to write these truths eloquently enough that both men and women are able to read and think on them instead of throwing up barriers. Great stuff!

  34. Found your post on your commet at Foundation Restoration. Very intersting article. Great points and many I have never heard, even though I was raised “in the church”. I can overlook your “team” I suppose!

    • I’m glad even Seminole fans feel welcome at Choose to Trust! Thanks for coming over.

  35. I never saw my passivity as a lack of trust before. But I have known for a while now that I don’t trust women’s game playing sexualities. I am supposed to be my best but be strong enough to endure women’s worst. When I was 14 and knew nothing about women, I wanted to be a great gentleman. As time went by, each trick and tease made trust harder which made me more shy and passive. Now I really don’t know what to do except watch all of the jerks break women’s hearts and wonder if women are ready to quit playing with the hearts and sexualities of nice men. I guess I’ll get back on the horse after 30 years. Any thoughts before I take the leap.?


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