I felt motivated to write this because I see many people who have adopted cultural mindsets about gender that are extremely negative towards the opposite sex. I think that it is very important for the church to have God’s mindset about everything.
Oftentimes, men and women are described in terms of opposites or yin/yang.
“In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang (also yin–yang or yin yang, 陰陽 yīnyáng “dark–bright”) describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.” Source
This excerpt above describes most people’s idea of the sexes – they are opposites who attract each other, but also repel each other. This is not what God has in mind for the sexes.
These ideas of man and woman as polar opposites originates from ancient times and is deeply ingrained in our society and cultural mindset.
The History of Gender
Many of our ideas of gender originate from the ancient Greeks. In the western world much of our culture stems from European influences. We often forget that Europe was birthed out of the fall of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire was deeply influenced and kept much of Greek tradition alive. The Greek influence in our modern culture has caused us to have a Hellenized view of gender and thus a distorted view of the Bible and how it relates to the sexes.
“Aristotle’s views on women influenced later Western thinkers, as well as Islamic thinkers, who quoted him as an authority until the end of the Middle Ages, and are thus an important topic in women’s history. He saw women as subject to men, but as higher than slaves. In Politics 1.12 he writes, “The slave is wholly lacking the deliberative element; the female has it but it lacks authority; the child has it but it is incomplete”.” […] “Aristotle believed women were inferior to men. For example, in his work Politics, Aristotle states ‘as regards the sexes, the male is by nature superior and the female inferior, the male ruler and the female subject’. Another example is Cynthia Freeland’s catalog where she quotes “Aristotle says that the courage of a man lies in commanding, a woman’s lies in obeying; that ‘matter yearns for form, as the female for the male and the ugly for the beautiful’; that women have fewer teeth than men; that a female is an incomplete male or ‘as it were, a deformity’. Aristotle believed that men and women naturally differed both physically and mentally. He claimed that women are “more mischievous, less simple, more impulsive … more compassionate … more easily moved to tears … more jealous, more querulous, more apt to scold and to strike … more prone to despondency and less hopeful … more void of shame or self-respect, more false of speech, more deceptive, of more retentive memory [and] … also more wakeful; more shrinking [and] more difficult to rouse to action” than men.” Source
They believed in something called the “one-sex model”. The ancient Greeks and Romans viewed woman as an aberration of the male form or a deformed man. In other words, there was only one gender – male. Although these ideas about women no longer exist (we now follow a two-sex model for gender in which we define men and women as separate), some of the underlying currents do. What do I mean by this? The idea that men and women are eternal opposites – Venus vs Mars – stems from the loathing of female kind. It stems from men wanting to separate themselves from woman. This is a part of the curse. Let’s explore the very beginning…
“Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.”
Let’s take note that Adam was given dominion over the animals and then named them.
“The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man”
We can see that the man identified the woman as himself.
Let’s now jump to Genesis chapter 3 verses 6-7
“When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.“
Once sin entered the scene everything changed…
“Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.”
Do we see how Adam named Eve as though she were one of the animals that he had dominion over? This is when man separated himself from woman and no longer saw her as an extension of himself. This is the foundation upon which the hatred of woman was produced in the ancient Greek and Roman world.
Two Sides of the Same Coin
When we see men and women as opposites we lose the God prescribed function of gender. The purpose of gender is for God to reflect different aspects of Himself through mankind – it is to use these two different images of Himself to have dominion over the earth in both the physical and spiritual realms. You could think of man and woman as two sides of the same coin. They are the same coin yet they represent a different image of the coin but they functionally serve the same purpose. When we say man and woman are opposites that are juxtaposed to each other inherently, we are saying in essence that the man is a quarter and the woman is a dime; we are saying that they are separate entities when they are not – and most importantly when God says they are not.
When we view the opposite sex with hostility and as an enemy we are operating under the curse that began in Eden. When men and women do not work in conjunction with each other and instead are at odds, it is marring the image of God and the way that God has chosen to represent Himself. God chose to represent Himself through the genders respectively called man and woman.