How Julia Child and Tim Keller Schooled Me In Femininity
In the series, Keller illustrates how God's purpose for marriage is tied to his purpose for two genders. We are built to need relationships that complement our characters, passions, and ways of thinking. As each of us are created as complex yet incomplete reflections of God's image, our genders play a critical role in displaying that image.
In Genesis, God intentionally creates Eve with unique strengths that help Adam understand life from a different perspective. But in case we think that "helper" makes women somehow weaker, Keller points out the original Hebrew word, 'ezer, is most often used in the Bible to describe God himself; where humans are weak, God is our helper. In the same way, a woman's call to help and submit is a God-given, feminine strength that Christ himself models. Men, through their masculinity, likewise play a Jesus role in the marriage when loving unconditionally and giving sacrificially.
Keller says that husbands and wives combine their strengths to achieve things they never could without their counterparts. More than this, the husband and wife relationship is to be that of best friends, tied together through a covenantal relationship. The intensity and intimacy of such a friendship not only reflects that of the Trinity, but, as Keller says, also gives us a foretaste of heaven. Through our gender differences—not despite them—marriage helps us better bear the image the God who, as a helper, giver, and sacrificing servant, epitomizes both masculine and feminine qualities.
Learning about the complementary nature of the sexes as played out in marriage suddenly gave shape to the commitment I was about to make. But I still wondered: what does it look like in action? Here, it was Child who provided a pinch of clarity, but not because of her gastronomic fame. Julia's relationship with her husband, Paul, gave me—dare I say—an appetite for my upcoming role as a wife. Although Noel Riley Fitch's biography of Julia, Appetite for Life, suggests that the couple did not believe in God, their marriage in many ways serves as an exceptional, godly model for mixing deep friendship, teamwork, passion, and fidelity.
Julia and Paul were the best of friends. And in many ways, her femininity and his masculinity added to their deep companionship. Julia might seem an odd choice for describing feminine ideals, considering she towered over most women and many men (including Paul) at 6-foot-2. Despite this, she demonstrated bold feminine qualities—helpfulness, wisdom, and magnetism—and was admired for them, especially by Paul. "Julia is a splendid companion," wrote Paul just before their wedding, "uncomplaining and flexible—really tough-fibered…She has great charm and ease with all levels of people without in any way talking down to anybody. . . . Quite a dame."
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