As a kid, I remember watching an animated film depicting an island populated with men who hunted and built things and women who cooked and sewed. One day, an earthquake split the island in two, stranding the men on one half by themselves and the women on the other.
At first, each group thought all was lost, until a few brave women tried their hand at hunting and building and a few brave men tried their hand at sewing and cooking.
Once they’d all grown accustomed to this new way of living, another earthquake pushed the two islands back together. But from then on, both men and women did all the tasks that needed doing.
And they lived happily ever after.
The explicit message, of course, was that women can do anything men can do, and vice versa.
I grew up on the tail end of the sexual revolution, so I heard regularly how people (mostly men) in previous generations had wrongly limited other people (mostly women) based on their sex.
And as a sensitive boy, I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to be a man who would hold women back from their full potential, any more than I wanted to be held back from mine.
But something was missing in these lessons. Something was being lost.
That something was that even while men and women can do a lot of the same things, and while we’re alike in really important ways, men and women are different.
And not only are we different, our differences are good.
Consider our most basic (but by no means our least important) difference: Our bodies. Our bodily differences are beautiful, functional, glorious, and vital. On a sexual level, if men would cease to be men and women would cease to be women, it would literally be catastrophic to the human race.
Christianity teaches that to be human is to be both spirit and body, affirming that our bodies (including our maleness and femaleness) are essential to our personhood. In other words, our bodies are not addendums to our identities. They are an integral part of who we are.
We are living in a culture that teaches that our bodies are just vessels to be cared for or to take pleasure through, but otherwise they’re relatively inconsequential, and so too is gender. The culture teaches that to be a man or woman has little or nothing to do with identity. This is a version of the ancient heresy of Gnosticism.
In stark contrast, Scripture reveals man and woman as unique creatures on the earth because they bear the image of their Creator in their maleness and femaleness.
An honest look at men and women physically, emotionally, and relationally shows that in many ways, where men are weak, women are strong, and where women are weak, men are strong. God created man and woman to live, love, serve, and esteem one another as complements to the other. But in a fallen world, these differences have become a threat to one or both groups. But we must not confuse the differences with the real problem: Sin is the problem.
God meant male-female gender differences as gifts. I’m convinced this is part of what Jesus had in mind when He said, “I have come to seek and to save that which is lost.”
God’s solution isn’t to downplay male-female differences or to insist we all act the same, do the same jobs, or express ourselves the same. God’s solution through Christ is to restore the gift.
Together as men and women, let’s open ourselves to this kind of restoration.
Also, if you are a woman 18 – 25(ish), we hope you’ll join us in Towson on Thursday, May 4 from 6:45 – 9pm for One:One | New Conversations about God and Sex! You don’t want to miss it!
Question for men and women alike: From your experience, what’s one thing you love about the other sex? Leave a comment here.