In 2007, I met Luke, the man I would marry, and began my first deeply close relationship with a male peer. Our personalities could not be more different. Luke is naturally laid-back and “go with the flow.” I am intense, passionate, and tend to go against the grain.
Luke is sort of interested in almost everything, and I am hyper interested in just a few things. Luke enjoys small talk for hours; I enjoy deep talk for hours. Luke is a “jokester” and I am more serious. Luke likes to serve and I like to lead. Luke hates confrontation and I don’t normally mind it.
We even look completely different. Luke has light hair, blue eyes, and fair skin; while I have dark hair, brown eyes, and olive skin. Who knows what our future kids will look like! Further, we are from opposite sides of the United States. Luke grew up in Northern California and I grew up in Western Pennsylvania. I am a meat and potato type of gal and Luke is a fish and avocado type of guy.
The point is, my husband and I could not be more different; yet, even with all of our differences, I have discovered two things that I did not know, about men and women, prior to marriage.
- Most of our differences have nothing to do with our genders.
- Our likeness is much more measurable & provable than our differences.
Now, there are some ways in which Luke and I fall into typical gender stereotypes. For example, I cry a lot more than Luke does, which undoubtedly has to do with hormonal differences. However, there are many ways that we both defy gender stereotypes.
Luke tends to enjoy homemaking and crafts more than I do. He is much more likely to buy and water plants or make a meal from scratch. Luke also enjoys chatting after a long day at work, and I tend to need time to zone out. It seems pretty clear that specific gender attributes are simply unrealistic in our home, so we don’t buy into them no matter how intense the social or religious pressure is.
There is no doubt that Luke and I are opposites in many ways, but our humanity makes us more alike than different. Firstly, our bodies are almost exactly alike, except one thing, of course. Why wouldn’t they be?
Though woman was made in the image of God, she was made out of the material of man.
“At last!” the man exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.'” -Genesis 2:23
There is some serious theological speculation that female was literally inside of male prior to God creating Eve. In other words, Adam (human) had both sexual organs and represented both male and female before God essentially “split him/her in half.” Some scholars have flat out rejected this view, but the truth is that we were not there, so we can’t be sure either way.
What we can be sure about is that male and female were cut from the same cloth and are more alike than different.
Studies used to show that there were drastic differences between the male and female brain, but more updated research suggests that the male and female brain are not as different as we once thought (Source).
Could it be that Science is catching up with the Bible? Of course the male and female brain are more alike than different; woman was taken out of man. She is bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.
I am not saying that men and women are exactly alike. I think it is pretty obvious that we have some general differences, but it is also clear that our sameness is more quantifiable and more biblical. “Gender roles” or specific “gender attributes” are impossible to prove, unless they are physical & tangible, and without tremendous exception.
For example, the moment we claim that women are “nurturers” and men are “providers,” the many exceptions will come along and disprove this theory. My husband is a great provider, but he is also a great nurturer. It is not uncommon for him to hold our 6 pound chihuahua like a teddy bear all night long. Does this make him less “guyish?” Of course not!
Further, it is often said that men are “protectors,” but I am much more protective than my husband tends to be. Yet, this “protective nature” comes in the package of a 5’2, “girly girl.”
Men and women who tend to naturally fit stereotypical “gender roles” should not teach that these roles are “God’s way,” or “biblical truth,” because there are many men and women who don’t naturally fit these constructs. While much of the Church frantically attempts to define what a man is and what a woman is, we must resist the temptation to be dishonest.
If there are too many exceptions to the “truth,” we should seriously question the theological research that is being taught to us.
The Scriptures do not focus on gender differences and neither does God. I believe that the reason for this is because humans tend to respect those whom they see as “like them,” and we thrive best as the Church when we are in unity.
All humans, despite gender, were made in the image of God.
“So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” -Genesis 1:27
There has been a great attempt to dehumanize girls and women throughout world and church history: oppressing them, calling them the weaker and less intelligent sex, degrading and objectifying them, and taking away their authority and power. The Church continues to limit girls and women based on wrong interpretations of the Bible and gender roles that are based in hierarchical control.
A hyper focus on gender differences is never good for girls and women. In fact, history has proven that a hyper focus on differences between any people groups always turns out badly for the group who holds less social power.
The truth is that both men and women have many of the same basic needs and attributes. My husband and I both need sleep, food, water, shelter, respect, and love. We both laugh and we both cry. We both have a mind, emotions, and breath in our lungs. We both have a spirit and we both need God. As people, we both need companionship and community.
The Church is not loving women well by limiting our potential. The Church is not loving women well by interpreting the Bible in a way that emphasizes men as the leaders and women as the followers. The Church is not loving women well by focusing on male and female differences, rather than all the things we have in common.
Women and men thrive when all of women’s gifts are recognized and embraced.
How sad would my marriage be if my husband did not value my mind as just as capable as his, or my opinions as just as important as his? How tragic would my life would be if my husband did not see me as the leader and minister that I was born to be?
My husband has enough sense to view me as his equal partner – the same in both value and authority – bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. We make final decisions together, we work through our differences, and we recognize the many ways we are alike and see the image of God in one another. Yes, we are male and female, but above all, we are human – created to rule the earth together. We are like each other, in that we are both like God.
“Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. THEY WILL REIGN over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” -Genesis 1:26