Jo was a typical Year 12 girl in the 1970s. She was short with a great figure and had a smile you would die for. She studied, romanced, had her ideas about the world and had fun. Jo was unique though—when she left school she planned to become a “chippy” and one day wanted to run her own building company.
A dream like this, for a girl in the 1970s, was unique. Jo did carpentry at TAFE, eventually ran a small building company and was a wife and mother.
Since those days women can be found in almost any profession or industry. They are electricians, engineers and company CEOs. This has been quite a revolution in the workforce. With women permanently in the workforce in all types of employment, it has challenged what it means to be male and female. Many men have had to relook at themselves when not required to be the primary breadwinner and become Mr Mum.
John Gray’s book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus is a popular book that explores the differences between maleness and femaleness. In humans there are differences between men and women beyond the obvious physical ones. Men are more aggressive, women are more calculating and rule-oriented—that is how we are generally wired. I believe this occurs because of the way we were designed. The Bible has some fascinating insight into male and female uniqueness.
The first thing the Bible makes clear is that men and women were both made in the image of God (see Genesis 1:26, 27). Of all creation, God made humans special. They were equals as far as God was concerned. Maleness and femaleness were His design.
Second, men and women were both given the same task. This was twofold. First they had to procreate and populate the earth—God invented sex. They were also given the work of having dominion over the earth. They were the managers of the new world. Both had authority to work in the world and manage its vast resources carefully so it met their needs and was replenished. There was equality in work and purpose.
But Genesis 2 gives a different perspective of the creative acts of God as compared to Genesis 1. Among other things it gives the order of human creation. Man was made first and so his unique gender characteristics are noted first (see Genesis 2:4-7).
The location of man’s creation is important. Man was made in the wilderness, in the bush—before there was a garden. Man is wild at heart. The great outdoors are to be explored, are a challenge and provide a place of significance for most males. Men’s sports tend to be aggressive and outdoors. When traditional Aboriginal boys come of age, they are taken into the bush as part of their initiation to find their identity.
These same verses show that God created man personally. He gave him the breath of life. Men are thus created with a desire to relate to the great supernatural creative power—God. Men are spiritual beings and were made to connect with God. Often the grandeur and intricate detail of the bush enlivens this spiritual yearning. Men know there is someone behind and beyond the vastness of the earth and heavens.
The man, Adam, was given a specific task in the next few verses (see Genesis 2:8-15). He was put in the garden that God created to tend and care for it. This is repeated twice. Man has the ability to maintain structure and order in the natural world. He was given a home to look after. This required both planning and activity. Men tend to like these purposes. In Advance Australia Where? author John Smith suggests that a man’s self-esteem is intrinsically linked to his work. Man was made to work and thus unemployment for a man is personally devastating.
Man was created to live free—except for one boundary: “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ...” (Genesis 2:16, 17). Boundaries define important limits. Humans have always lived with boundaries that protect their freedoms. Adam was the only one given this command. His wife, Eve, had not yet been created. This suggests that a primary task of manhood is to model and communicate these boundaries to his family. Men tell the stories and design the rites of passage as a child matures in wisdom and knowledge. Men were made to communicate and teach the spiritual values of life.
The next activity we find the man doing is naming the animals. Man shows his dominion over the animals and responsibility for them by taking the initiative to name them.
But God also had another purpose in this exercise. Adam noticed that all the animals were in pairs or groups. Adam realised he was alone. So God said He would make a companion for Adam. God said that this person would prepare the food each mealtime, clean the home, bare the children and care for them, never argue with the man, always give affection and never have a headache.
Adam asked, “How much would that cost?”
God replied, “An arm and a leg.”
Adam said, “I can’t afford that! What can I get for a rib?” And, as the saying goes, the rest is history.
That’s not quite how the Bible tells it. Genesis records that Adam was put into a deep sleep and God took part of Adam’s side from which He personally created the woman. When the man awoke the first thing he saw was a perfect naked woman. For the first time in the Bible, Adam speaks and his words are poetry (see Genesis 2:23). He was overwhelmed.
If women desire to keep their husbands happy, allowing them the visuals of marriage is an important clue. Men like to look at naked women. Pornography is mainly a male problem; it is a perversion of the original design. “Sin” or basic human evil has turned a beautiful sight into a lustful addiction. The bottom line of the biblical text is that men and women were made for each other and were designed to have a close relationship.
In the beginning the woman was delighted to be the companion of man. Intimacy was the goal of this human relationship. Women enjoy the closeness of companionship and listening to the man’s appreciation of her. Verbally expressing delight in the woman as Adam did in the beginning certainly builds any love relationship.
There are some strange things that happen in relationship development. My youngest daughter has a favourite game she calls “Catch me.” I have raced around the house in hot pursuit with mats and even furniture flying.
However, I have noticed that both my teenage girls appreciate being chased by certain male peers. From the beginning, women have enjoyed the chase. Numerous Hollywood movies have men chasing women or coming to rescue the maiden in distress. It is a human theme. The next thing Genesis states is that man must leave his other relationships and be joined to his new wife (see Genesis 2:24).
A Sexual Relationship
The ultimate realisation of the marriage is the sexual relationship. Sex was God’s plan to bring two unique and distinct humans together. The two humans come together and become “one flesh.” This sexual analogy of becoming one flesh has powerful ramifications in a world where sexual intercourse often happens whimsically and with multiple partners.
If sex is “one fleshness,” then divorce is agony. Whenever my flesh is torn it hurts intensely. Imagine losing an arm or a leg or any part of your body—your one flesh! Ouch! Separating a couple who are sexually active is likened to that of tearing your flesh in two. It hurts—terribly.
Broken flesh does heal but there is always scarring. Scar tissue is not the same as the original—it has less feeling. Those who are sexually active with multiple partners end up with calloused hearts. The sexual act is belittled and becomes almost meaningless.
For sexual satisfaction to be high, Genesis urges that the marriage relationship must be honoured. Parents and friends can be respected but the main relationship of the new couple is each other.
The woman was made in the garden. This place of origin affects her outlook. Women tend to like things in order—in their right place. Most wives have a list of things for their husbands to do in the garden and around the house—to keep things in order. Women also generally have an understanding of matching colours and appreciation of placement and perspective.
Eve, like Adam, was made for a spiritual relationship with her Creator. Women function best when they are open to spiritual things. Their spirituality is based on community—they often prefer to share their faith in groups. In comparison, men tend to find it easier to express their spirituality privately.
Men and women, while both human, are certainly different. Genesis 1 and 2 have given us some important insight into these differences. It also shows how lasting relationships can be developed. God’s plan and desire is that the similarity and uniqueness of both genders be recognised and honoured.