My sister has three boisterous boys under the age of ten and, in conversation, she sighed and said: “Having boys is real hard work; they keep me going twenty-four seven.” I believe, though, what she really wanted to say was ‘Boys are hard work, and girls are much easier to deal with.’
I have a wife, two daughters and a son; four sisters, seven nieces and a mother, so her statement made me begin to reflect on the subject. She was right about her boys – they have unbounded energy – but I wondered if she was right about the differences between male and female.
There are the obvious things we think of, like the physical strength of a man and the tenderness of women. Some say women are more emotional and loving, and some say men lack emotion; are not very sensitive, and only think about ‘one thing’. However, this is generalising on both accounts, as we know that women give birth, which requires the body to work extraordinarily hard, and men are known to be sensitive and tender with their children.
I have been married for thirty years, and I could say that I have obtained a doctorate in ‘Understanding the Fairer Sex’. The women in my family, though, would vehemently argue that I’m still learning, and that everyone is different – regardless of whether they are male or female. There’s that well known phrase: ‘Men are from Mars and women are from Venus’, but are we really that different?
To understand and find a real conclusion, I decided to consult the Bible. The Bible is our life manual, and holds all the specifics for our design.
Scripture points to the differences between men and women; we read that God gave distinct curses to Adam and Eve after they ate of the forbidden fruit.
To the woman, He said: “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
To the man, He said: “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you must not eat of it, cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:16-19).
Harsh, painful, but isn’t that how it is today?
We should also note, however, that women are not independent of men, nor men independent of women. The Bible says: ‘For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God’ (1 Corinthians 11:11-12). ‘So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them’ (Genesis 1:27).
The Bible does say that God made man to be the provider and the woman the encourager. Adam was to “dress and keep”, to cultivate the Garden of Eden. Eve was to be his fitting helper, to encourage him and stand by his side. Genesis 2 says: ‘Then the LORD God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.”’
As I stated earlier, the Bible is our manual for life, and you will find many other stories in it that show the distinct differences between the sexes. So, regardless of our culture or background, our basic make-up will not change.
God made men and women equal, but with different functions; He created the man to be the protector: to lead, guide and protect, and the woman to be the nurturer: soft, gentle and tender. Both are made in the image of God. One is not superior and the other inferior. One is not greater and the other lesser. The Bible says: ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise’ (Galatians 3:28-29).
Whether you are male or female, God created you for a specific role and purpose. It’s time we embraced who we are, and appreciate the differences between manhood and womanhood because ‘we are that different’!
Pastor Bryon Jones is the Senior Pastor of Eden Christian Centre.