Recently, Bill and I were with a group of men and women as speakers for a relationship enrichment weekend. Over the few days we were together, we noted some comments from the group pointing out differences between men and women.
For example, one of the female leaders announced over the microphone, “I want to thank the men who helped women with their luggage as we were checking in. Chivalry is not dead!” Even though every woman in attendance clearly had the ability to transport her own luggage, many in the audience spontaneously cheered.
The men didn’t make any announcements, but I overheard one man saying to a group of friends, “The ladies here obviously spent more time thinking about what they were going to wear than we did. They look way better than any of us!”
Both of these people were making what may seem like an obvious observation: Men and women are different. Some gender differences are related to cultural norms, expectations, or even superficial stereotypes. Other gender-specific traits—such as biological characteristics or even psychological patterns—may be tied more closely to nature rather than nurture. Despite our differences, we have much in common, so one of the most important things men and women must do—particularly in marriage—is figure out how to understand and relate to one another.
Accept One Another
Gender is God’s idea, as we see from the creation account: “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27). This verse depicts our creation prior to sin entering the world, indicating that God intended the differences to be, like the rest of the created world, a good thing. In marriage, one of the keys to meshing our lives together is to recognize the inherent goodness in our differences and to truly “accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory” (Romans 15:7).1