For the week of October 25, 2008 / 26 Tishri 5769
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 1:1 - 6:8
Haftarah: Isaiah 42:5 - 43:11

Gender Matters

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Bereshit / Genesis 1:7; ESV)

Some months ago I read the book, "Why Gender Matters - What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences" by Leonard Sax, MD, PhD. In this book Dr. Sax explores several physiological differences between males and females as the basis for teaching boys and girls differently. This is something that most parents and teachers tend to understand intuitively, even though for many years so-called experts have tried to convince us that these differences are learned.

In the name of equality we have been encouraged to think of boys and girls, men and women as simply generic humans as if our sexual differences are on the same level as differences in hair color or height. It is as if being male and female is like two identical gifts differentiated only by each one's wrapping paper. The outside is different, but the essence of the gift itself is identical in every way. To conclude that there is anything distinct about the gifts based on the wrapping would be considered absolutely silly and rightly so. But today, in spite of Dr. Sax's research, there are still many people who claim it is silly to think of males and females as having essential differences apart from our external ones. This view of human beings, according to Dr. Sax, has had detrimental effects upon the development of both boys and girls.

The Torah is clear that sex differences are intentional. When God created man (meaning the human race), "male and female he created them." The complementary nature of human beings is fundamental to our design.

Some of you reading or listening to this may be wondering why I am discussing something that seems so obvious to you. The reality is that, for whatever reason, it is not obvious to everyone. The fact that males and females are intrinsically and intentionally different simply on the basis of God making us male and female is denied outright by many.

Even among those who recognize these differences, there is great resistance to speak of any of their implications. Dr. Sax, for example, doesn't deal with the implications of our innate differences. He just provides practical guidelines to help parents and teachers deal with these differences in order to help both boys and girls succeed academically. It is illogical to me to not conclude that there most likely are certain tasks or roles more suited to each sex. The resistance to arriving at such a conclusion is at least partly due to the notion that equality of persons must be based on sameness. Restricting opportunity to someone on the basis of sex has become most distasteful and in some places illegal.

The insistence for sameness in human experience partly stems from a rejection of God's plan and purpose for our lives. Whether it is a resentment of women's exclusive ability to bear children or the special call upon men to lead in the home and the congregation, we want to be the sole determiners of every aspect of our lives. We don't want to accept that we enter life with certain unchangeable factors established by God, such as who our parents are, where we were born, or that we are born male or female. We would rather live in a land of imagination that thinks we can build our lives from scratch so to speak. But we can only pretend. We enter life with specific limitations assigned to us, including our sex. The notion that we should be able to do anything and everything we want instead of submitting to God's will for our lives is the essence of our rebellion against he who made us.

Being made in the image of God is more than just being generic people. It is being male and female. Accepting God's purposeful design in our sexual distinctives is an important first step in our becoming all that we are meant to be.

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