There is such a word.  Merriam-Webster online defines it as follows: with “womanly constancy or spirit.”  I couldn’t find the word at all in my 1973 Macmillan Dictionary or in my 1983 unabridged Webster’s.  Methinks this is another word made up by the feminists under the banner of equal rights, but the closest synonym in these dictionaries to womanfully is womanish.  Most women would consider it an insult to be called womanish. To be described as womanly or feminine or ladylike is not. But if you call a female “a princess” or “a girly-girl” you crossed over again to the insulting.

This is all to say that most everyone knows what these words mean, and you can’t say for example “manfully or womanfully” the way the egalitarian spirit of our age demands you say “he or she” to be inclusive. Why not?  Because not only are male and female not interchangeable even words referencing them are not.  Why? Because there is a difference between masculinity and femininity.  One is not better than the other. But you can only pretend there is no difference between them, and pretending doesn’t make it so.

I couldn’t find the Greek on this, but in Chrysostom’s Homily 50 on Matthew 14: 23, 24, he says, “For, ‘in the fourth watch,’ so it is said, ‘of the night, He went unto them, walking upon the sea;’ instructing them not hastily to seek for deliverance; from their pressing dangers, but to bear all occurrences manfully.” This is how it was translated in the 19th century. A 21st century translator has this. “For it is written that ‘in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea.’ He was instructing them not too hastily to seek for deliverance from their pressing dangers but to bear all challenges courageously” (Ancient Christian Commentary, NT, 1b, 13).

Can you see how this “translation” cuts both men and women?  By avoiding the word “manfully” men aren’t reminded that courage is expected from them.  By translating “courageously” that makes it a synonym for “manfully” as if women can’t be courageous only men can be.

I suspect the Greek word used here is andrizomai which means literally “to show oneself a man” (andros male is part of the word) or “be brave.” Masculinity is connected to courage in a way that femininity isn’t.  Likewise fear is connected to femininity in a way that it is not connected to masculinity.  Hence the expression “scream like a woman” isn’t really a reference to shrillness but to fearfulness.

This is not to say that woman can’t be courageous and men aren’t fearful. It is to say there are characteristics that especially belong to men and others that especially belong to women.  To deny this is to deny reality and to live in a socially engineered world where everyone wears one piece jumpsuits and women scream like men and men womanfully bear things.  It’s to live in the world of Flatland where the male-female dimension is missing. What a monomaniac, colorless, boring world.

Welcome to the 21st century.

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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