I am sure you don’t need to read this post in order to learn that men and women are different! Nevertheless, a biblical examination of those differences is valuable, because so often we overlook them or find them to be stumbling blocks to maintaining successful relationships.
One of the most wonderful aspects of God’s diverse creation is that He created a number of differences between the sexes, yet we are one humanity. In Genesis 1:27-28 we read,
“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”
Equal but different
Notice that when God created man (as it’s translated in the NKJV), He created man male and female. A better translation might be, “So God created humanity” or “human beings” because the word “man” in this verse doesn’t mean male as opposed to female; it means “human”. God created “people”, made in His own image, male and female, and these two are equal but different.
Equal in dignity and worth
Men and women are totally equal in their dignity and worth. Both were made in the image of God. Some Bible scholars used to teach that it was the man who carried the image of God. I want to suggest that no greater liberation has ever come to the female species on this earth than through the Word of God, which reveals the true equality of men and women!
The truth is that all of us, men and women alike, bear the image of God, and what is important is that each of us reflects that image. As distinct yet complimentary sexes, we are ultimately to reflect the heart and purpose of God within the covenant of marriage. The only exception are those to whom God has given the gift of singleness – a unique gift of God that blesses an individual with an extraordinary ability to reflect the glory of God and the completion of God as a single person. It’s beautiful when it happens and it’s tragic when people miss it.
Equal in call and commission
Men and women were also created equal in call and commission. Both have been called to be fruitful and have dominion in the earth, especially together in partnership. God’s command was, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Try and do that on your own if you’re a man!
Different in gender and role
So men and women are equal in their standing before God, but different in their gender. The first difference that is obvious about gender is that men and women have distinct anatomical and physiological differences. God designed the bodies of men and women to be compatible. It is obvious that sexual intercourse between a man and a woman is a natural joining together of two complimentary bodies; and that sex between two men or two women is therefore unnatural. While members of the same sex can engage in sexual activity, surely no-one would argue that homosexual activity is anatomically or physiologically compatible.
The fact that God designed sexual intercourse to function as it does, is, I believe an amazing picture of the call upon the lives of men and women. God designed sex so that the male must penetrate the female. It is a picture of the male and female roles in life: the man has been called to lead and take initiative and the woman has been called to be a receptive helper.
Sex goes far beyond a mere function designed to perpetuate the human race, enticing us to continue reproducing. God has blessed us as men and women to be equal, but to have different roles – different roles in producing children; different roles in life, which are an extension of what we discover about ourselves anatomically and physiologically.
Men and women are also very different emotionally – we have very different needs which need fulfilling and different emotions which need to be expressed. And I believe that there is also a spiritual difference between men and women. Some might find that a controversial statement, but I simply mean that each has a distinct spiritual role and function. Men are called to be loving leaders and women are called to be submissive helpers.