Made Rich by Our Differences

Genesis 1:27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Twice over he repeats our nature—that we are made like God—and then he explains that this likeness is manifested in male-female.  Whatever differences lie between men and women, they equally share in the image of God, so that each difference is a reflection of some aspect of God himself.  There is no possible way to suppose that what makes a woman inherently different from a man is somehow inferior, to be avoided or less valued.  It is a reflection of God himself, and to the extent that men lack these characteristics, they come short of the image of God in that attribute.  The converse is also true, men have unique gifts that should not be denigrated, but that is much less common a fault in our paternalistic societies.

To what extent the differences are cultural versus genetic is hard to untangle, but it is deeply unfortunate when society sees any of God’s unique gifts to women as weaknesses rather than as a reflection of God himself.  Women are dismissed for being “too emotional,” when they should rather be admired and emulated for their awareness of and openness to their feelings and allowing those to inform their views and decisions.  God is intensely emotional as we read in Scripture, so that far from this characteristic being a problem, it is a picture of God to us.  Certainly every positive has its shadow side and must be refined and matured, but to denigrate this attribute in women is to denigrate this attribute in God.

Women are devalued for being “too soft” (God’s gentleness), for being “too talkative” (Jesus “the word may flesh”), and for being too focused on relationship (the very essence of God’s nature and ours).  They are called “illogical and irrational” which are just pejorative terms for intuitive, which is to say that they are tuned to a frequency of insight that is often lacking in the male psyche.  These are all attributes in which we men are able to grow with some effort, but unless we value them, we will truncate our own spirituality, skewing us away from the character of God himself.  A man’s strength is a gift, but if it skews him away from gentleness, it becomes harmful, not helpful. 

God made us intentionally different so that we might learn to value and depend on others to compensate for our weaknesses.  It was a masterful plan to build community in which each member needs every other member, fitting together as interlocking pieces.  This is the very heart of grace which is grounded in our needs being met by the free gift of others, but we can only live into this well if we value rather than belittle the differences of others—their insights, viewpoints, abilities, and even their hesitations.  We are surrounded by a world of teachers and helpers if we are only humble enough to receive it.  

Lord, I am not good at valuing those who differ from me.  I think they are wrong or misguided or somehow faulty.  The world only seems to make sense from my standpoint, not theirs.  Teach me to be humble in evaluating myself and generous in viewing others.

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