The Bible says God made men and women in His image (Genesis 1:27), from the dust of the earth, and then God breathed life into man (Genesis 2:7). Science tells us that the human body is completely made from elements of the earth, mostly the elements oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and calcium. The rest of our body is made up of other trace elements found in the earth. There is no way 'in the world' that the author of Genesis could have naturally known that in his time.
As the world advances and we become smarter, we uncover a deeper understanding of human nature and even specific individual behaviors. This increased awareness can lead to becoming more sophisticated and sensitive to others, which is good, until it starts to confuse and complicate the truth. I would submit that choosing a spouse is the second most important decision in life, right behind belief in God and Jesus (choosing a worldview). If we continue to learn and improve our emotional intelligence and perseverance, with a growth mindset, we could have the same spouse our entire life. Imagine how well you could get to know each other, the momentum in life that you could both create, and ultimately the positive impact you could have on the world! I believe compound interest can be applied to relationships and knowledge.
It's my understanding that science says men are naturally and generally more achievement oriented and women are naturally and generally more connection oriented, this is neither good or bad, it just is. The Bible seems to have told us about this a long time ago, and has a lot to say about relationships. But first, let's look at what some very educated and experienced relationship experts have to say about it. Consider the next four paragraphs are based on books written by relationship experts who have spent decades successfully helping people improve their relationships.
John and Stasi Eldredge have built a successful life around helping men and women better understand our differences from a biblical perspective. John's book Wild at Heart explores the masculine heart and talks about men's desires for "a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue," which all seems to revolve around the key question, "Do I have what it takes?" John and Stasi's book Captivating explores the feminine heart and talks about women's desires that revolve around their desirability, a key question being, "Do you delight in me?" Their book Love and War provides priceles insights to help couples thrive in marriage. John's short book, Epic, is a great explanation of Christianity and the world we live in.
Dr. Emerson Eggerichs' book, Love & Respect, is rooted in the verse Ephesians 5:33, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. After many years of trying to help couples strengthen their marriage Dr. Eggerich noticed a pattern evolving from the couples he was helping, "without love from him, she reacts without respect; without respect from her, he reacts without love. Around and around it goes. I call it the Crazy Cycle." He also points out an important insight, even though the words we say can be absolutely right, our tone of voice can often convince others to not accept them. Love and Respect also references Dr. John Gottman's earlier book Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, written about 20 years before his bestselling book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (based on the work from his "Love Lab").
Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott have counseled people for decades to improve their relationships. In their book Real Relationships, there is a chapter titled Bridging the Gender Gap, where they lay out how science has proven men and women are different. "Men are more interested in the 'report' of what has happened and where we are going, women are more interested on building 'rapport' right now." "Men are more independent." "Men are not as in touch with their emotions." "Men are more abstract." "Women are not as competitive." "Women focus on the here-and-now more than [men] do." "While [men] are scheming plans and solving problems for a better tomorrow, most women are asking, 'What's going on right now and how do I (and others) feel about it?'" "While [women] are more likely to talk about [their] fears, feelings, and experiences, men are more likely to talk about ideas, concepts, and theories. Men want to tell you what they know."
Dr. John Gray wrote the book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, after studying and helping many couples improve their relationship. "As a result of questioning more than 25,000 participants in my relationship seminars I have been able to define in positive terms how men and women are different. As you explore these differences you will feel walls of resentment and mistrust melting down." Arguably the most important consideration of our differences is how we communicate differently. "Without understanding how men and women are different it is very easy to get into arguments that hurt not only our partner but also ourselves. The secret to avoiding arguments is loving and respectful communication. The differences and disagreements don’t hurt as much as the ways in which we communicate them." "When a man neglects to honor a woman’s hurt feelings he invalidates them and increases her hurt." "Women start and escalate arguments by first sharing negative feelings about their partner’s behavior and then by giving unsolicited advice. When a woman neglects to buffer her negative feelings with messages of trust and acceptance, a man responds negatively." This book has great content, proven to help couples, and could save relationships if couples read it together.
What does the Bible say about men and women? God made man first, in the wild, and woman second, in the garden of Eden (Genesis 2). The Bible lists our God given spirit of power, and love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Wouldn’t it take more power to survive in the wild, and wouldn’t it be easier to love in a protected garden? I offer the idea that, in general, men naturally reflect more of God's power, and women naturally reflect more of God's love, during most of our lives. Isn't this evident in the sex hormones of testosterone and estrogen. No wonder the Bible later tells husbands to love their wives, and for wives to respect their husbands (Ephesians 5:33).
I read about a study that claimed in our later years some men focus more on connection and some women focus more on power. We can choose to focus on either spirit in any given moment, and I offer the idea that each moment has a perfect combination of power and love, the question is how can we get that right combination? Our spirit of a sound mind is probably meant to balance the two and keep them from being misused. Think of a sliding scale with power on one end and love on the other, and we all have a baseline or natural resting position on the scale. We can also move our position on the scale through deliberate development.
While every human has a spirit of power and love, the focus on either can change in each moment. What kinds of movies are men and women generally drawn to? Job recruiters have found a job posts with words like, we are looking for a go getter, will attract more men, and a job post with words like, we provide a nurturing environment, will attract more women. The book Why Men Earn More by Dr. Warren Farrell (who was elected to the board of New Yorks National Organization for Women) explains how studies show men are more willing to take jobs with more physical risk and more willing to sacrifice time with family and friends for work. His latest book, The Boy Crisis, is an eye opener.
Gender studies on the big five personality traits show very little difference between the genders, with the biggest differences in agreeableness and neuroticism (being anxious or worried) where women score significantly higher (depending on your definition of significant). This would explain why over 90 percent of workplace fatalities are men, and over 90 percent of people in prison and jail are men. Unfortunately, in America, there are currently over 6 million more women than men, and take into account over 2 million men are in prisons or jails, that means there are more than 8 million free women in America than men. This isn't good for either men or women.
· Is it a coincidence that God held Adam responsible first and foremost for disobeying Him even though Eve was the one deceived by the devil and took the first bite of the forbidden fruit then gave it to Adam (Genesis 3:1-9 and Romans 5:19)? The Bible doesn’t say men are over women, it says husbands should lead and love their wives well, as Christ loved the church, and as is fitting in the Lord (Ephesians 5:22-25 and Colossians 3:18).
· Is it a coincidence that only the woman can carry and conceive babies, and have the ability to physically provide nutrients for the baby for it's first years? A very important scientific study tells us during these first two years it is very important for infants to receive a healthy supply of love because it will affect their future emotional baseline. Who better to provide that necessary love than the person made to reflect more of God's love?
· Is it a coincidence that the Bible gave us key insights about emotional intelligence over two thousand years ago? The Bible says be quick to hear and slow to speak and slow to anger (James 1:19) and whoever is slow to anger has great understanding but who has a hasty temper exalts folly (Proverbs 14:29). Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). Know how to answer each person (Collosians 4:6). Modern science has proven emotional intelligence is a key factor to being successful in anything anyone does.
· Is it a coincidence that there is evil in the world? The Bible says it is because of our fallen nature that created our desires of the flesh, and we have a spiritual enemy. Because there is evil in the world proves there is good, it doesn't disprove good. There can’t be evil if there wasn’t good to begin with. “To be bad, he must exist and have intelligence and will. But existence, intelligence and will are in themselves good. Therefore he must be getting them from the Good Power: even to be bad he must borrow or steal from his opponent” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity).
Here are some good books and websites for relationships and marriage.
If you want some more links to sites with family resources, check the Church Resources page.
There are guarantees in life, including change, opportunities, and choices.
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With grace and truth, the better our lives will be.
Individually and collectively, apply them and see.
With courage and compassion, the more we know.
Individually and collectively, employ them and grow.
Through technology comes power.
Through humanity comes love.
Both are needed to rise above.