I’m a huge fan of marriage, and as I learn more about what a healthy marriage looks like, the more I realize that men and women need to work together. This is especially true inside of marriage, but it applies to all male and female relationships. When I see men and women fighting against each other, it frustrates me. We were meant to work together, to help each other, and grow together. How did we get here, and how do we stop fighting?
The Eternal Conflict Between Men and Women
It shouldn’t surprise us that there is conflict between men and women. Look at what God says after the Fall in Genesis 3:16. The different translations are interesting. God says to Eve…
- “Your desire will be for your husband.” (NIV)
- “You will desire to control your husband.” (NLT)
- “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband.” (ESV)
…and then every translation basically says, “but he will rule over you.” Before anyone jumps to conclusions, this should speak to both genders. You both screwed up in the garden, and as a result, your relational bliss will now have conflict. That beautiful relationship God created for men and women to enjoy is now marred by sin. Women, you’ll want to do one thing, and men, you’ll want to do another.
Just like God had a redemptive plan for our sin, I think he also has a redemptive plan for men and women. There is hope. We have two choices: to continue fighting in a downward spiral, or understand the redemptive plan God has for men and women. When faced with these two choices, why do we so often choose the first?
How Did We Get Here?
Donald Trump’s crude and demeaning remarks about women last year started a fire. His comments might have been the spark, but there must have been piles of dry tinder just waiting to be set ablaze. What he said was absolutely disgusting, and we should absolutely condemn such language. Then, shortly after the election, the women’s marches began. Some were marching for equality, others against Trump, and some for “reproductive rights.” Some people were supportive of the marchers, while others pointed out that if Hillary had won, instead of marches they would have been celebrations.
Men are guilty of mansplaining and manspreading. Our masculinity is dangerous, and creates a rape culture by objectifying women. Men hold women down, economically and socially. We cling to a patriarchal past that we’re afraid to let go of.
Women don’t know their place. They go to work to support their family, and then society ridicules them for not doing enough at home. Women are told they’re bad at math and science, and they should pursue careers suited for them. Their pursuit of equality is really a veiled effort to undermine men. A strong woman is a dangerous woman.
As a man, this frustrates me, and I understand that a lot of women are frustrated too. Why are we doing such a terrible job of understanding each other, and how can we start to heal those wounds?
When Men and Women Are Set Against Each Other
There’s so much blaming on both sides. We seem far more comfortable trying to point out what’s wrong with the opposite sex than we do in trying to understand them. How often do we stop and think about our own gender, the struggles we have, and what we can do to be a better man (or woman)?
In so many areas of life, men and women are set against each other. Our success is measured against each other with constant score keeping. This happens in all areas of life, from work, to education, to the media. Instead of celebrating each other, it feels like we’re in competition with each other. When taken to its logical conclusion, how does the men VS women battle play out? Do we really expect bludgeoning each other over the head to produce something beautiful?
We can either view the current cultural gender debate as a battle to be won, or as an opportunity to grow together in our understanding and love for each other.
Finding a Constructive Way to Bring Men and Women Together
Some people are straight up sexist and think their gender is better than the other. I’m not speaking to those people. Let’s condemn them when they say or do something hurtful, but spending a lot of time or energy on them will probably do very little.
I’m much more interested in discussing with men and women that love each other, but are maybe doing a poor job understanding each other. Or Christian men and women that know God loves us all, we’re all created in his image, but then we get to different verses and we divide. Or we’re trying to understand different views like egalitarian or complementarian, and in the process of trying to understand what we believe, our selfishness kicks in and our behavior gets ugly.
If you’re pushing the genders apart and not together, then you aren’t helping. If you’re not trying to reconcile the genders, then you’re driving a wedge between them. And this is hard, because sometimes we can feel like we have the answers, and other people just aren’t listening!
If you’re writing or talking about men and women, you have a responsibility to be constructive. Putting down the other gender to make a point might feel good, like a hero pushing back against a tidal wave of sexism, but it’s counterproductive. All the people on your side might stand up and cheer, but you’ve done nothing to bridge the divide. All you’ve done is push the genders further apart.
Speaking Truth With Love
Tim Keller says that we need to speak truth with love, and speaking truth without love is harshness. It won’t accomplish anything for the person you’re speaking to if you don’t speak it with love. I’ve absolutely been guilty of this. When you feel like you’re right, it can be so easy to make your point, go in for the kill, and feel like the victor. Hello Facebook and Twitter debates! I have to remind myself to watch for my selfishness. When I hear something negative said about men, does it bother me because it’s not true, or does it bother me because I selfishly want to defend my gender?
Speak truth when you disagree, for truth is important. Speak from a place of love, so it will be received. Make room for grace, so there can be reconciliation.