I think it’s interesting to consider how public opinion on the topic of gender differences has shifted over the years. People have always recognized the physical differences between men and women, of course, but since the 1960s it’s been controversial to speak of non-physical differences between the genders. The reason for this is clear enough: some people feel that non-physical gender differences would imply, at some level, an inequality between men and women.
The Bible is bold enough to present what has been called a “complementarian” view of gender differences, though. Men and women, according to God’s Word, have distinct and complementary characteristics on the non-physical as well as the physical levels. When Scripture says that God created people as male and female (Genesis 1:27), it means just that: He created male and female people, not just male and female bodies. Besides this, men and women have distinct roles in relationship with one another. When instructions to husbands and wives appear in Scripture (see, for example, Ephesians 5:22–33; Colossians 3:18–19; 1 Peter 3:1–7), husbands never receive the same instructions as wives.
As a number of theologians have argued that the reason the complementarian view of gender differences is not demeaning to either gender is because differences in characteristics and roles do not mean inequality of essence. We see an analogy in the nature of God himself, who exists as a Triune being, three co-equal persons who have distinct roles. The Son submits to the Father (John 5:17–47; 1 Corinthians 15:27–28), not the other way around, but the Son himself is of equal value, dignity, and majesty as the Father (John 1:1; John 20:26–29).
What are your thoughts on non-physical differences between men and women? Have you been fortunate enough to meet people who are/were examples of biblical manhood or womanhood?
Beau Stanley and his wife, Stacey, both grew up in the Columbus area and have been part of Grace Polaris Church for most of their lives. Beau joined the Grace staff in 2007 after theology studies in the Chicago area and in Phoenix (Phoenix Seminary). Prior to that, he studied commerce (University of Virginia) and worked in the financial industry, including a role as an investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs in New York City. Beau is a fitness enthusiast and also enjoys music and learning about diverse topics. Beau and Stacey have two young boys.