Yesterday, in one of my son’s high school PEP classes, the teacher discussed an ancient culture. When asked how this very old society viewed women, my son answered correctly, that the culture looked at men as superior because they were physically stronger. He didn’t say he agreed or disagreed with this position, he just simply stated the beliefs of that society.
The girls in the room, however, took offense.
The teacher intervened, saying something to the effect, that “Yes, that IS what they thought, and by the way, men ARE physically stronger – God made them that way.” She went on to give an example about how in military training, men will singlehandedly carry 100 pound ammunition boxes while running, but the women are allowed to walk, and it takes two of them to carry the same box.
But, as recently as 15 years ago, I fully understood those young girls’ frustrated response.
And while I could look at men and visibly see they are bigger, somehow, I had bought a cultural lie that “bigger was better.” Or at least I thought people thought men were better, and I was “fighting for equality,” even within the church.
While I can intellectually understand that men are physically stronger, what has been missing from the discussion about the Biblical roles of men and women is this: women have a strength that men typically do not…
Think about it.
Without going down the opposite extreme road (“women are better than men”), let’s remember what is true: 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
Women are shorter, less muscular, and more communicative and relational than men. Women are swimming in the bonding hormone, oxytocin. Women can make friends in 5 minutes with a bazillion different ladies and typically have a whole host of female friends. Men average 1-3 friends, and they desperately want one of them to be the girl they married. Men have tiny amounts of the bonding hormone oxytocin, and that’s only after prolonged physical contact. Men are physically stronger and less emotional than women and will actively choose to put their lives in danger and choose dangerous careers because of the way they are hormonally wired.
Neither are “better than” the other.
We’re just different.
And together, male and female, we make the image of God.
However, if a man abuses his power of risk taking and physical strength, he is negatively thought of – instead his gender prizes respect and honor and the self-control of physical discipline – in other words, they think badly of another man who is a wife or child-beater.
But for a woman to misuse her power of communication or relational strength is neglected in modern culture. Instead, we’ve feminized the culture such that it’s perfectly acceptable for a woman to abusively “stand up for her rights” by verbally assaulting anyone who would oppress her. Check American sit coms. Men are mocked, fathers are losers, and women have to do it all and are sarcastic and nasty to deal with half the time.
In the Christian culture, we’ve frequently set wives up to be doormats by insisting their gifts are not to be used, that their husbands must have the full say on everything, in an effort to be Biblically submissive and that “help” looks like ironing shirts and being the Barefoot Contessa. We’ve been told not to say “anything remotely contrary,” as it’s not “respectful.”
I would post that if we aren’t helping our husbands see the relationship implications of decisions, we are not fulfilling the primary role God created us for: to help our man. And through both of our strengths, the marital math works out … 1 + 1 = 1 and Christ and the church are well represented. Having said all that, also know I fully believe that if our communication tone ends with a non-verbal “you idiot” or we are contrary or argumentative (or sarcastic – when has that form of humor ever built anyone else up?) frequently or much of the time, well, that IS disrespectful.
And think about this…
There can’t possibly be any great privilege in being asked for advice from a wife who is a doormat, one passive, and weak. One who leaves every decision to her husband, because she’s been taught she should not have any voice and she’s somehow “less” than him.
Should I use the blue plates or the red for dinner tonight? Hmmm…
But to be earnestly asked for advice from a strong woman, one who is highly regarded, one who accomplishes much, one who walks with strength and dignity and smiles at the days to come, well that makes her man go, “Wow, she’s so capable, so competent, so intelligent, so together – and she wants advice from me? I must matter immensely if she is seeking my opinion…”
In other words, be a dame worth rescuing. He’s wired to take risks to do so. But he won’t take relational risks with you, if you aren’t a safe place for him to fall. If he tries and is met with criticism instead of encouragement, you can bet he’s going to stop trying.
The fear of failure outweighs the risk.
A wise woman builds her home by helping her husband be the man God intended him to be. And when he hurts her, which he will, because he doesn’t know intuitively how to love any better than we intuitively know how to respect, she knows how to respond such that he is motivated to try harder, to delight her, because she brings out the very best in him.
Proverbs 17 tells us that a “joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Which are we to our husbands? Are we helping him be strong? Or tempting him to be weak?
One of the biggest mistakes we make is trying to change our husband by criticizing him, often wishing he were more spiritual, more of a leader, less of a loser, more like us, etc., and often we try to be our husband’s Holy Spirit. We should instead be so comfortable in our own relationship with God such that we know who we are and Whose we are. And then we can allow our husbands to be who they are.
Dare you to accept the fact that we both (husband and wife) need each other’s help.
And that need doesn’t make us weak.
Can we recognize that we are both on the same journey, sometimes in different places, but the same journey nonetheless? This man is our brother in Christ – we’re not married in heaven – and while we are here on the planet this side of heaven, if we can figure it out, we get the privilege of “one flesh” and intimately knowing someone at a level of friendship that runs deeper than any ocean.
I confess I haven’t always been a “safe place to fall” for my husband. But now that I am, it is my greatest privilege to share his struggles with him, to know him on an intimate relational level that is deeper than I thought it possible to fully know anyone…and I want that great joy for you, too.
I can’t even begin to explain the depth of fulfillment that comes from knowing this is returned to me from him…I am content.
I would love to help more of you wives start figuring this out – dare you to pray about whether or not you should join us for a very special Daughters of Sarah® class… the information meetings are December 11 and 18th (come to one) at Faith Church in Milford, Ohio, (5910 Price Road), from 9:15am-10:30am in the Life Center Multi-Purpose Room. This is the class that makes it available to churches everywhere… we’re so excited about what God is doing. Please join us. J
There’s more information on our Facebook link here. Double dog dare you to bring friends…Triple dog dare you to share via email or on your Facebook® J.
Thanks so much for being on the journey with us!
Love to you,