Why did God make us male and female? This is the conclusion of my sermon last Sunday. My thought was helped by J. Budziszewski, On the Meaning of Sex and Abigail Favale, The Genesis of Gender. Both are excellent and provocative books.
The world that God created requires hard and soft power. Life doesn’t work without equal parts of both.
Have you walked into an unfinished house? The roof is on, the doors and windows are hung, but there’s no carpet or furniture. It’s not yet livable. You’ll need beds, couches, and a love seat—at least a beanbag chair—to make this house a home. The house’s hard structure must come first. Shingles hammered onto sheeting nailed into trusses screwed onto studs bolted into a plate cemented into a foundation. But curtains, accent lamps, throw pillows and cushy blankets on comfortable beds must follow, or you wouldn’t want to live there.
And think about that bed. What makes a comfortable mattress? A firm foundation supporting solid coils that are wrapped in foam and covered with a pillow top. You need both the hard coils and the soft cushion or you’ll awake with a back ache.
Consider your own body. Everything hangs on the hard bones of your skeleton, the backbone of your body. A spineless person would have no place for his organs to attach. His heart, lungs, muscles, and even his head would fall at his feet in a heap. What a mess. We need our bones! But a person who is only skeleton would be scary to look at. He’d only come out on Halloween. A skeleton must dress in soft tissue and skin. Then she can be a thing of beauty, a wonder to behold.
What’s true of houses, beds, and bodies is also true of sex. God created us in his image as male and female. Each contributes something the other lacks. We complete each other. The difference is inscribed on our bodies and buried deep in our hearts. We think, feel, and act differently. Men are built for the hard side of life. They must protect, provide, and lead. A man with no one to fight for and no task to accomplish doesn’t know why he’s here. He’s unnecessary. Women are built for the softer side of life. They must nourish, love, and support. A woman with no one to care for and no person to befriend doesn’t know why she’s here. She’s unnecessary.
I’m not saying that men don’t love and women don’t lead. I am saying that men love as men, with more attention to tasks and objects. What are we accomplishing? Are we done yet? And women lead as women, with more attention to relationships and the human element. How does everyone feel about what we’re doing? Are we good?
The difference between men and women is obvious when they are free to choose as they please. Look at who they date, and who they marry. Men look for an attractive wife who is easy to love and who will nurture their children. Women look for a strong husband who is easy to respect and who will protect and provide for their children. She wants a house. He wants a home.
You may wish this wasn’t the case, but how you date shows you know it’s true. If you’re a girl, you care more about how you look than he cares about how he looks. This isn’t fair, but it’d be weird if wasn’t the case. Guys should not have more shoes than girls, unless, in my defense, you hit the jackpot at the Wolverine Tent Sale. If you’re a girl, an ideal date is dinner and a long talk about people and your feelings about them. If you’re a guy, you’re tempted to interrupt that conversation with self-serving remarks about your latest accomplishments. A high score on Super Smash Bros. A basket you made in last night’s intramural game. Anything that might make her think you’re legit. A man who gets things done. A man who someday could hold a job.
Men and women bring their differences into marriage—that’s actually the point—and they’re never more obvious than in the act of marriage. Every natural born human is the joint creation of hard and soft power, of one active and one passive partner. The man leads and gives. The woman receives and then nurtures the fruit of their love for nine months.
The parents’ roles don’t end with procreation. We’re humans, not guppies. The hard and soft power that creates children also establishes the home in which these children thrive. Boys need a dad to internalize who they will become. They need a mom to learn how to love, respect, and protect their future wife. Girls need a mom to internalize who they will become. They need a dad to learn how to love, respect, and nurture their future husband.
Children need the hard and soft elements that each parent provides. They need the firm structure, protection, and leadership of the father and the loving support, nurture, and compassion of the mother. If they only have a dad, they’ll be pressed to set and reach new goals but they may miss the unearned support of their mom. Someone who’s proud of them, no matter what. If they only have a mom, they’ll be snuggled in the warmth of unconditional acceptance but may miss the motivation for achievement. Someone who will tell them they’re loved, but they can do better.
There’s so much more that could be said, that maybe ought to be said, but this is enough to make the point. When God brought Eve to Adam and commanded them to “be fruitful and increase in number,” he knew what he was doing (Gen 1:18). God made us men and women for a reason. He made us husband and wife for a reason. He gave us moms and dads for a reason. Some might quibble with my descriptions of men and women. But if only half of it is true, what are we doing to our kids?
For the first time in human history, a society—our enlightened society—is saying that two dads and two moms are as good for kids as one dad and one mom. And maybe the dad can become a mom, or the mom can become a dad. We are the fulfillment of Romans 1:22: “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.” They worshiped idols and slid into outrageous forms of sexual debauchery. Our children are confused and extremely anxious. What did we think would happen?
The current attack on marriage and on man and woman is a jackhammer to the foundation of our civilization. Our walls are crumbling. Our society may fall. It might be too late to save the west, but maybe we can help the rest. We can build strong and loving families in a strong and loving church that can show our neighbors a better way. When it comes to men, women, and marriage, the darkness in our world has never been greater. That means the light of Jesus has never been brighter. You don’t have to be The World’s Number One Dad or The Best Mom Ever to make a difference. Just love your spouse. Be present for your children. Pray and read the Bible with your family and bring them to church. Then your life, your marriage, your family will stand out. It’s never been easier to point people to Jesus.
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