In God, Sex, and Gender Adrian Thatcher covers a number of topics under the enormous umbrella of God, Sex, and Gender.
He discusses “desire” in general and how it pertains to our sexuality and our desire for God. “You may have just agreed with me that desire has an object.”  Following Taylor and Luhrmann, can we consider God an “object” of desire when God is an invisible Spirit? Thatcher says, “God cannot be held, possessed, bought, or discarded.”  But determining HOW we are to love God with all our heart, soul… is the adventure of our lives.
He stirs up the controversy over same sex love. He states, “Only recently has a revisionary interpretation of biblical teaching ‘come out,’ and into the churches, where it is causing consternation.”  Revisionary is the operative word: as in revisionist history, which I distrust as academically suspect.
But because we have been trained to read key portions of books rather than the entirety of a book, I am choosing to focus my brief remarks in one application of gender and power.
Reflection about Gender and Power
A few years ago I had reason to ponder the question, “What is a man?” This arose regarding how my wife’s 7th grade boys treated one another. So what turned out to be a kind of “power” question did not consider relations between genders, but within one gender. (I was anticipating needing to mitigate cruelty between boys while on a field trip to Washington D. C.)
After some pondering I finally answered my own question with one word: “PROTECT.” (I later added the word “provide,” but including that word in this discussion would muddy the waters.)
What is the essence of being a man? It is (I concluded) to protect. My subjective inner processing of this possibility opened an awareness of how powerfully I “feel” this instinct within myself. During the Viet Nam war I considered registering as a conscientious objector, and in that process thought I needed to consider whether or not I was a pacifist. After lengthy interior deliberation I concluded I was not a pacifist because if anyone attempted to harm my mother (or one day a wife and daughter) I would do anything to stop that, even if it meant taking another life. Ergo my drive to protect overrules my desire to avoid violence.
“Protect” also incorporates the question of why (traditionally) men go to war. Four hundred thousand American men died to protect (or deliver) Europeans from Hitler. I conclude that whether it is one man protecting his home or quantities of men protecting nations, the principle is the same.
In God, Sex, and Gender Professor Thatcher challenges us to consider the use of power as “over” or “with.” Those who have power can use it to enable others or to dominate others. Power-with values mutuality. I think it is safe to say that Jesus exercised power-with.
Further, Thatcher writes, “‘Power-over’ in the gendered sense can protect women from predation…but protection comes at a very high price. It reinforces women’s vulnerability and their need for protection. Worse, this causal power has historically been used against women to deny them legal and moral rights, and to coerce them into submission, as in cases of domestic violence and rape.” 
These sentences challenge my “instinct” to protect. It forces me to wonder if my desire to protect is appropriate. Might the unintended consequence be to foster a greater vulnerability.
I conclude two things. First, as Thatcher admits, men are often physically stronger than women. Therefore I do not feel the need to apologize for a desire to physically protect my wife and daughter from predators. Also, laying aside gender relation issues, the same would hold true protecting children of any gender.
Second, given Thatcher’s legitimate concern that protection can inadvertently create a further kind of vulnerability in women, I want to use power to protect my wife’s and daughter’s right to voice and freedom of expression and equality in the workplace at in church. I hope I could figure out how to use “power-with” for equal rights in every area of life. So, if real men protect, that must include protecting rights and voice and freedom.
Soon after January 20, 2017,when there was a women’s protest in our state capital, I wish I had gone to it WITH my daughter and wife, to participate with them exercising their power of voice. I hope that would be an exercise of power-with.
Having said all of that, I am still compelled to admit that I do exercise “power-over” at times in my family. I make jokes about being a control freak, but if that results in my wife or adult children being repressed, then I need to learn how to scale that back considerably.
Finally, a reflection on Ephesians 5:23-25. There the Apostle writes, “ For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
Without a full exegesis of this passage, I will simply say to my fellow males, “Men, power corrupts, and we must be aware that human nature is prone to misuse power.” If there is a power differential intended in this passage (which I know has been hotly debated), men need to remember that Jesus used His power to perform the most costly and self-sacrificial acts in history. Jesus used His “power-with” to set captives free and to equip for ministry. We men need to highlight and underline “just as” in verse 25. Men love to be the “head” as long as that means commanding. But we shy away from using power to enable us to serve and sacrifice. If we are to lead, it is “just as” Christ loves and leads His Bride.
1. Adrian Thatcher, God, Sex, and Gender (Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), 66.
3. Ibid., 157.
4. Ibid., 26.