In a meeting with two young people asking for my advice about whether they should pursue marriage, I asked each of them to share what it was about the other that they appreciated and valued.
There were some very nice exchanges between them. Then when the young man tried to express appreciation for his girlfriend’s domestic strengths, he stammered and struggled for fear of sounding chauvinistic or sexist.
I appreciated his sensitivity, but also encouraged him not to feel that this kind of commendation is inappropriate. How sad it is that the battle for equality between men and women left us feeling inarticulate in expressing appreciation!
I am not suggesting that domestic work is exclusively a woman’s role. It’s not. But I have little doubt that women are much better domestic managers than most men.
However, I find it a bit troubling and somewhat revealing that a young man would feel hesitant to even praise his potential mate for such abilities out of fear of sounding chauvinistic.
It was a red flag telling me that while we accomplished some really good things in the battle for equality, we’ve also suffered some loss in the process.
A primary loss appears to be the ability to articulate and celebrate the distinctions between men and women.
Perhaps there is fear about focusing on distinctions possibly reversing the gains in equal treatment. But this fear must not be allowed to obscure the amazing diversity that strengthens us as male and female.
It’s not without significance that the same era emphasizing equality of the sexes also witnessed soaring divorce rates. Perhaps our failure to respect gender differences has contributed to an inability to relate peacefully with each another.
If a man and woman walk into marriage without understanding and discussing the differences between men and women, they’ll have a more difficult adjustment.
The loss of a clear vision for distinctive womanhood has led to confusion for many young women and men.
- Is it possible that an increasing number of women have become inarticulate concerning what they intuitively know about themselves in their uniqueness as women?
- And are men less likely to understand and honor women if they lack a clear appreciation for their unique distinction as women?
- In our determination to celebrate cultural diversity, let’s diversity between male and female.
- We should be able to do this without losing respect for either male or female.
We can build the right vision for this by recalling the fact that God created humans in his image and likeness— both male and female. And God gave them co-regency over the created order: “God blessed “them” and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it” (Genesis 1:27-28).
Marriage (in the Christian view) is a relationship between two spiritually equal human beings (see: Galatians 3:28). But it’s not a relationship without roles. And the different roles in marriage are not meant to diminish equality and mutual respect.
Roles are intended to provide order and security for a beautiful relationship of diversity and unity.
When two people understand and receive the love God has for them through Jesus Christ, they will choose to serve each other in love (see: Romans 5:8; II Corinthians 5:14-15; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 5:25).