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It is now 17 years since Hugh Mackay published his book, "Re-inventing Australia". Hugh is probably the most informed and authoritative social researcher when it comes to examining the condition of our culture as a nation. I recall that Hugh made the observation that the most far-reaching change in Australian culture in the 30 years preceding the publication of his book was the shift that had taken place in gender identity and roles.

 

According to Hugh, what were, for the most part, clearly defined expectations and responsibilities of men and women in former generations has now become blurred and indecisive. That blurring of the nature of each gender has had an incredibly negative impact on the society in which we live. The impact is being felt right across every spectrum of society but nowhere more so than among the men.

 

It's not that long ago that men were clear in their own minds about their role and responsibilities. They knew that they had responsibilities as husbands and fathers, as mentors and friends. The same was true of women and their roles as wives and mothers. But with the blurring of the distinctions and differences between the genders there came an invasion of uncertainty. Men became ambivalent about who they were and what they were supposed to be and to do. The responsibility of fathers towards their children - their sons especially - to be role models became confused. The impact has been enormous in every area of life.

 

If one was disposed towards being a paranoid conspiracy theorist, he or she could be forgiven if they thought an enemy of some kind had infiltrated the structures of society and perpetrated a giant strategy of propaganda - a strategy of lies and misinformation that was designed to weaken and ultimately destroy the very fabric of society and culture.

 

Well, I'm not a conspiracy theorist but I have no doubt that such a strategy has been activated on Planet Earth with devastating consequences. Let me take you back to the very beginning where the unique distinctiveness between male and female originated.

 

Then God said, "Let us make people in our image, to be like ourselves. They will be masters over all life the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the livestock, wild animals, and small animals." So God created people in his own image;God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:26-27  NLT)

 

For those who accept the Biblical account of creation, it is evident that God deliberately purposed the distinctiveness of both the male and the female. The differences between male and female were indispensable if God's intention of a strong and complementary relational network or community was to be realised. From that time to this present day, there has been employed against God's very intention a demonic strategy that, if successful, would be the ruin of healthy, life-giving human relationships.

 

This conspiracy has many faces. It mostly presents itself in ways that look and sound plausible and desirable. Like most conspiracies it promotes itself with arguments that appear to plead for one thing but actually want to achieve the opposite. It calls for freedom but it's the kind of freedom that leads to slavery. It advocates the rightsof the individual but is silent when it comes to the responsibilities of that same individual.

 

This conspiracy calls for equality between the sexes - both a noble and desirable goal. But this emphasis confuses - deliberately or otherwise - the meaning of equality. This strategy champions the assumption that differences between male and female in their respective nature and function necessarily deny  equality. Once that assumption is embraced it quickly follows that anything which allows for differences between male and female must be challenged and eliminated.

 

Daily language must be changed to blur or remove differences. To give you a simple, everyday example, we used to talk about actors and actresses. Today that distinction is unacceptable. Both males and females are known as "actors". This, so the argument goes, emphasizes the equality of each gender in this field of endeavour.

 

In various parts of our society clothing trends and fashions have become much more unisex than has been the case in preceding generations. This is yet another area that seeks to blur the distinction between male and female. But these examples are virtually insignificant alongside those that reach deeply into our culture's psyche and seek to change the very essence of who we are as human beings and what it means to be male and female.

 

Homosexuality is a classic example. While this phenomenon has been with us probably from the beginning, it is only in relatively recent generations that it has emerged as a serious contender in this conspiracy. Same sex marriage is a natural extension of homosexuality.

 

While some aspects of the feminist movement have rightly exposed the evil agendas of some individual males or groups of males (e.g. husbands, employers), the movement has fallen for the deception that all differences must be eliminated if true equality is to become a reality.

 

I don't have the time or space to expand further. But there is one area in particular that has felt the impact of this conspiracy with devastating results. I refer again to the confusion that is rampant in the minds and hearts of the men in our society. Husbands are struggling to understand how to be husbands. Fathers, likewise, are unsure how to fulfill their role in the lives of their children.

 

How often do we see on the television news an interview with a mother and her wayward son but the father is nowhere to be seen? Without a male role model most boys will struggle for their identity as they grow through adolescence. Their mothers will do what they can to provide guidance (and I for one stand to applaud their endeavours) but the key male role model is missing. Because of their own insecurities and confusion, the husband/father will retreat into the world of work which often means they are little more than a shadowy figure somewhere in the background of the family.

 

If we can expose the conspiracy behind these social symptoms, maybe we can begin to recover what God the Creator originally intended. He created us male and female. He intended that there would be differences between us. But He did not intend that there should be divisions among us.

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