Men VS Women
I’ve long suspected that the first two chapters of Genesis, written some thirty-five hundred years ago, had the right take on male-female relations.
In our modern Western world, the battle of the sexes is all too often just that, a battle, an antagonistic competetion. Too often in human history women have been treated like second class citizens and sometimes far worse.
Today in the West, where women have a level of affluence, freedom, power, influence, and comfort few people in the world and in all of human history could imagine, we’re still finding ways to get it wrong. Current feminists have taken an antagonistic and dismissive stance towards men (do a search for “Men are Obsolete” or “War on Boys/Men” just for fun) and there is a growing movement of men who are to varying degrees consciously giving up on women, sex, marriage, and fatherhood (search for “MGTOW” or Men Going Their Own Way” for one expression of this trend).
Other people are getting this wrong through an ideological, anti-scientific insistence that there is no difference between men and women beyond superficial physical characteristics and artificial, socially created, gender roles. Failing to recognize and appreciate the differences between men and women isn’t simply operating under a harmless false paradigm; it’s another way of injecting damage and destruction into male-female relationships.
None of this will lead to the world and society we all hope to create and be a part of. In a battle of the sexes, everyone loses.
So how do we start getting this right?
Leaning into the incredible assertions of the first two chapters of Genesis is the best place I know to start moving in the right direction.
Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are two different creation narratives. In Genesis 1, at the end of creating all things, God created human beings. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created humanity in God’s own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Here we learn several good and beautiful things. We learn of an incredible foundation for valuing human life – we are all created in the image of God, to uniquely reflect God’s presence and personhood into the world. Also, we learn that God wants that image expressed uniquely and collaboratively in both human maleness and femaleness. The genders are different, and God created each gender to express the presence and personhood of God in a unique and important way.
Now let’s look at the second creation narrative in Genesis 2. Here God makes humanity or mankind by forming some clay into the shape of a person and then God breathes God’s breath or God’s Spirit into the clay and the first person comes to life. God brought this first person, named Adam, into a beautiful garden God had created for him to live in and take care of. But then God noticed that Adam was alone. So God took him and showed him all the animals of the forest until Adam too realized that he was alone. Then God made Adam go to sleep and out of his side, God took a rib and made a woman. When Adam woke up and saw her, he was so excited, and declared, “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!” Rough translation: “Wow! We belong together and to each other. I’m not alone anymore!”
There are two really special things from this Genesis 2 story that I don’t want us to miss. God refers to the woman as Adam’s “ezer.” This is often translated as “Helper.” It might be better translated as “Rescuer.” Every other time in the Bible that the Hebrew word “ezer” is used, it is used in reference to God and God as a rescuer or savior. I think Adam felt every bit of that when he first saw Eve – that he had been rescued by her very existence.
The second special thing to notice here is that significantly God made Eve out of Adam’s rib – not his foot, or his hand, or the crown of his head, but his rib. The rib is the side, a place of equality. It is also both a protecting place – protecting the vital organs – and a protected place – under the shelter of the arms.
In this second origin story we are once again taught that men and women are unique creations and the relationship between men and women is special, that we are made to complement each other, support each other, and make life good for each other.
So how do we use these valuable insights to start healing the world and the relationships around us? We start treating everyone like a valuable and unique image-bearer of God. We drop the battle of the sexes recognizing that it is a fight where there is no winning and only losing. We put effort into learning about and appreciating our differences as male and female – as unique image bearers of God. We oppose any sexist or demeaning language or actions against either men or women for the self-destructive sacrilege that it is. And last, but not least, we commit our lives together to trying to figure out and live into what it means to be image-bearers of The One who made us.
I think if we begin with this very old advice, we’ll be off to a great start.
[For no extra charge, here is an amazing video from a woman named Julia explaining some of the differences between men and women discovered by science.]