by Valorie Quesenberry
I grew up hearing the common jokes from the men in the church about their women, and generally, they were good-natured and gentle. Yet, as I have gotten older, I’ve observed that, often, we actually don’t understand or appreciate each other in many ways. In fact, we often let our differences pull us apart instead of letting them bring us closer together.
Different by Creation
In marriage and church life, we need to be aware of how we, as men and women, reflect God’s image on earth.
And this difference goes so deep that it is encoded in our DNA. Every cell in the human body has either an “XY” pattern or an “XX” pattern, male or female. The Creator saw to it that His design could not be changed with mere outward tampering. We are either man or woman down to the chromosomal level.
Different in Design
For instance, God created men to be able to laser-focus with all their abilities on a specific task, and He designed women to be able to manage multiple tasks at the same time. Men have the ability to block out distractions and put themselves fully into what is before them. Women have the capacity to engage in several tasks at the same time.
Is one right and one wrong? No, just different.
Admittedly, there are exceptions to every standard. There are men who are better at multi-tasking and women who excel in unemotional thinking. But for many of us these generalities are close to reality. And can you see why these differences are planned by a wise Creator?
Men can go to work and focus on getting the job done; they can block out the leaky faucet at home and give themselves fully to the task at hand. Then when the day is done, they can move from that “box” into the one for home and family and fully be there.
A woman, on the other hand, can manage well the multiple responsibilities of the household and mothering without forgetting where she put the baby or that the laundry must be switched from washer to dryer because her spaghetti brain is constantly aware of all these details. She can stay fully engaged in the lives of her children and her husband throughout the day.
God didn’t make us differently in this way as a joke or to cause us irritation but for our good. When we understand this, we can respect the abilities of each other and appreciate the beauty that can come from our living together with understanding.
Our differences explain the challenges we have in making our relationships work. We must respect the abilities of each other and appreciate the beauty that can come from our living together with understanding.
Women and men differ in their verbal activities. Basically, women use more words than men. Men prefer facts, bullet-points that give precise information. Women like rounded-out conversations, giving details and explanations. I noticed this early on in my children. While my daughters were more talkative as toddlers, my son at the same age would point or use one-word requests. Were my girls superior to my boy? No, just different. Made that way by God.
Women and men often engage the journey of life from differing points of view. Men generally long for conquest; women desire security. Are there then no female adventurers or male nurturers? Not necessarily, but as a rule, there is a basic rhythm to each gender. Why else would women long for commitment in romantic relationship and men be much more drawn to “playing the field” and keeping their options open?
Women and men have different emotional triggers. Men respond to admiration of their abilities and judgement, to respect. Women respond to confirmation of value and delight, to cherishing love. The old guy in the beginning vignette is off to a very bad start with his bride. She needs ongoing statements of his affection and joy in her just as a man needs his wife’s continued trust and esteem. (For more on this, read For Men Only and For Women Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn, Multnomah Books.)
Women and men are different in so many ways that to list them all would be an exhausting exercise. The ones here give just a basic foundation. They are enough to demonstrate the genius of our Creator and the challenges we have in making our relationships work.
Different as a Symbol
These roles are not interchangeable on earth, as Elisabeth Elliot states, for that would destroy the beautiful picture of the divine Romance. They are designed and assigned by God who saw that everything He made was good.
Male and female roles are not interchangeable on earth, for that would destroy the beautiful picture of the divine Romance.
This is not to say that a man may act in any manner he pleases and still expect adulation from his wife. Such behavior does not represent our God and is certainly not commended by Him. It is to say that a wife needs to understand that respect for his place in this marriage symbolism does not have to be earned; it is due him because that is where God placed him. Of course, a man who is following earnestly after God will try to love his wife as Christ loved the church and thus, in many situations, will give her reasons to look up to him.
The human wife is commissioned with the role of response, reflecting the joyous receiving the Church demonstrates in its relationship to Christ. She is called to exude delight in being cherished and an attitude of trust in his leading. Her husband is exhorted in Scripture to adore her, listen to her and do his best to understand her so he may care for her just as Christ looks after the needs of His Bride, the Church. He is to give her sacrificial love, not because she does everything he likes but because of her God-given role. He is to lay down his life for her in thousands of little ways as he reflects Christ who gave up so much for His church.
Of course, a wife must not exploit his sensitivity to her for her own self-serving or control-seeking ways. The true Church does not respond in this way to Christ. A woman who is seeking to honor the Lord by the way she honors her husband will do her best to admire him and trust him and keep herself devoted to him.
A man’s headship is not up for debate but rather a sacred trust placed on him by God Almighty. Likewise, a husband is exhorted to adore his wife, listen to her and do his best to understand her so he may care for her.
A spirit of humility, a determination to forgive and a daily choice to keep our vows will be invaluable. And the Creator who designed human marriage and calls us to it will give us grace and help us to grow in our relationship to each other if we will choose ongoing submission to His plan.
Different For His Glory
First, Choose to applaud our differences because God does. Often in the church we are vocal about affirming outward gender distinctions but silent about the relational differences which hit us right where we live; we should view these “inconvenient” differences with the same passion and acceptance. Both are very important.
Second, Decide to value the design even if you don’t fully “get” the differences. Some things must just be accepted as the way they are. Of course, you will never fully comprehend the opposite gender. If you could, you would be that gender. There is mystery involved in manhood and womanhood. It’s a good thing.
Third, Determine to learn more. Knowledge is power. Be a lifelong student of gender and relationships and how God made us wonderfully different. You will be more awed and less irritated.
Finally, Commit to being a godly role model for your gender. Our world needs men and women who are delighted to be who they are, who accept their divine gender assignment with attitudes of joy and surrender. Relationship with Him polishes our reflection of Him to a watching world.
In the 21st century, with gender confusion mangling our culture, there may be no more powerful witness than godly men and women who celebrate their God-ordained differences in the way they interact with each other and with the culture. This, after all, was the first mission given to humankind – to be male and female. From it, all other assignments flow. And God thinks it’s very good.
About the Author
Valorie Bender Quesenberry is a pastor’s wife, mother, musician, speaker, author and editor of The Ladies’ Companion. She has a passion to communicate God’s truth, especially as it relates to women’s issues. You can connect with her on Facebook and at valoriequesenberry.com.