The War Between the Sexes
The “war between the sexes” is a common motif, idea, and joke amongst both Christian and non-Christian circles. Think of all the classic episodes of your favorite sitcoms that put the men vs. the women in some wacky game. (One of my favorite episodes of Friends, for examples, involves Monica and Rachel competing against Chandler and Joey to see who knows whom better. It’s a classic, people.) While this “men are from mars, women are from venus” discourse is often a harmless idea, I think that we can (and often have) let it seep into ministry in destructive ways.
The question of how men and women interact is given a whole other messy layer when thought about and discussed within Christianity and the Church. We live in a current Christian context that is obsessed with the question of proper male and female roles. Think of Mark Driscoll, Wild at Heart and Captivating, John Piper’s trumpeting of the doctrine of complementarianism, and many other examples of Christian leaders trying to tell men and women how they are supposed to live out their faith in very specific ways.
I don’t want to get too in-depth to these discussions, as they are obviously touchy subjects that many feel passionately about. Instead, I would like to tell my own story that relates to these questions and the issue of how men and women interact to communicate why I think Christian culture needs a shift in mindset. I believe, desperately, that men and women need to learn how to see each other as spiritual equals, that we need to begin standing up for the value of women within the Church, and that men and women need to work together in unity.
My Own Bitterness
I will admit, readily, that I have a lot of bitterness towards Christian men. I am a feminist (now, before you conjure up images of bra-burning and man hating and shut out the rest of this article, let me tell you that you that there are many different types of feminists and certain types of feminist ideologies fit beautifully with the gospel). Because of my passion for women to understand their value and worth, I have a well trained eye to see how women are often devalued within the church.
I have often felt hurt by Christian men. I have felt ignored. I have felt like my spiritual worth is seen as less important than the spiritual value of men. I have felt angry in how even Christian men position themselves, care about, and comment on my beauty/physicality/appearance as well as the physical appearance of other women.
These are deeply felt hurts and issues that I very much know are destructive. This bitterness is something that I am currently working through with the Lord, something that I pray about almost every day, asking that the Lord would heal me and restore me from. My bitterness towards Christian men is just as destructive to the Church as the devaluing of Christian women is. Because it separates, it destroys, it keeps my heart locked up and afraid. This bitterness is a way that Satan lies to me and it is a way that ministry is stalled.
Moving Towards Reconciliation
We are often told, both within and without of Christianity, that men and women are incredibly different. I think that’s probably true. I think we probably are different. But why I am saddened and angry is that this difference has been used as an excuse to keep men and women apart in ministry. It has been used as an excuse to put up a wall and discourage unity. And this separation creates destruction.
I certainly see the value in same-sex Bible studies and prayer groups and I am not arguing against them. But I also know that I have learned from men and that men have learned from me. I think there are moments, spaces, times in which it is good and healthy for men and women to engage in spiritual conversation with one another. I think we need to learn how to embrace what it means to truly live as brothers and sisters in Christ. I think we need to stop living in fear of each other.
I believe that God deeply cares about His children and that He deeply cares about our reconciliation. I believe that God has created both men and women for a reason. I believe that He has great plans for our ministry and I think He wants us to work together in these plans. Because of this, I believe that we must commit ourselves to working towards a restoration of this great men vs. women divide and we must learn to value each other as the Lord values us.
I leave you with a passage from Joel that I think is a beautiful picture of the vision God has for how his sons and daughters will work together and will be unified in His ministry:
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” – Joel 2:28 – 29
He has poured out His Spirit on both of us, men and women, so let’s walk daily in the unity of that Spirit.
Annie Paige is a media intern for Campus Renewal Ministries. She is a Senior at the University of Texas, studying English and Radio-Television-Film. She is also involved with Sigma Phi Lambda, an all-female campus ministry.
Trish Tipton9 years ago
I want to start by saying how much I appreciate how open and honest you are about your feelings. It saddens me when young women today feel the need to compete to be recognized.
I grew up in the 60’s when feminism had its start and I’ve spent my whole life fighting to be recognized and valued for who I am as a person. It’s not been until the last 10 years that I realized it’s not a competition and never was intended to be one.
When Adam was created, he was taken from the dust of the earth. Inside of him was what became Eve. She was not formed as Adam was, separately, but separated from Adam. I believe God did this on purpose to show us the equality we share and the significance or importance Eve’s role is.
Society in general tries to make us compete. But the truth is we are two very different beings. How can two very different beings try to compete for the same thing? Our God designed role is to compliment each other. What a man needs a woman fills and what a woman needs a man fills.
That being said I also recognized that no two men are alike and no two woman are alike either. The key is finding a specific piece of the puzzle that best suits you. In a relationship or in a work environment.
Recognizing your own value doesn’t come from what others think but understanding what God thinks of you. Because nothing else matters. It’s understanding the love He has for you, not the love you have for Him. He sees you through what Jesus did for you. If ever you find yourself lacking in any area just think about how perfect God sees you. That’s what it means when it says, ‘As He is, so are you.’
Sure we mess up and when we look in the mirror we see imperfections, but God only sees you as flawless. As far as He is concerned you can do no wrong because you are “in” Christ. To believe otherwise is to say Jesus died for nothing.
I know this is easier said than done but give yourself the gift of today. It’s called the present because it is a present. The past is gone and to live there with bitterness and resentment will rob you of this gift.
Start each day with a clean slate and have a constant expectation of good everyday. I guarantee you’ll never be disappointed.
Romans 8:1 says there is therefore NOW no condemnation. The ‘now’ part of that deals with the future. Each moment becomes the future and to live each moment without condemnation, worry or fear frees you from the past.
God’s Son has already healed you from your past and your future. Embrace it as it was meant to be by grace, his undeserved, unmerited favor, freely given as His gift to you.