If you look up strong in the dictionary, the first definition is having or marked by great physical power. The second definition though is having great moral or intellectual power. When I was young, I would have always thought of the first definition as the one that mattered. But as I age I ask myself, what type of strength really makes a lasting difference in this world?”
Samson was the person in the Bible with the greatest physical strength. But he is seldom uplifted as a model of behavior, even in the church. And when the Olympics come on TV today, the weight lifting competition (which requires the most physical strength) is not nearly as interesting to most folks as other sports where far less muscle is needed.
I am not saying physical strength is unimportant. We spend millions upon millions both watching athletes and trying to get in better physical shape ourselves. We could probably do our planet, our nation, our families, and ourselves a favor if we all exercised a bit more. But, in the end, is physical strength our primary measure of power? As important as our military is, it isn’t that type of strength in my book which makes America a strong nation. When the Nazis controlled Germany, they had lots of military hardware and yet they surely were not strong in so many ways.
Males have traditionally been accorded the tribute of being the ‘stronger sex.’ And, there is no doubt, the median male usually has more physical strength than the female. But, what is inescapable to me as a pastor is noticing the different trends in spirituality between the two genders. I also noticed in school growing up that the median girl usually outperformed the median male academically.
So, does all this mean it is time to turn the world upside down and put women in charge? Should we just make them our our intellectual, political, and spiritual leaders and relegate males to jobs more attuned to physical strength? Of course not. Some of the greatest minds and some of the greatest political, academic, and spiritual leaders we have encountered in human history have been men (and there are and have been some women who possess incredible physical strength as well). Men seem to have a greater ability to focus in on problems to solve them. Women seem to see “the big picture” better than men often do. Both have tendencies to benefit all of us.
I point this all out to say – we need each other and we need to broaden what we think of as “strong.” Men, in general, need to be more open to receiving spiritual insights from women. It should not be lost on us, even those who strongly support women’s ordinations, that denominations that ordain women seem to have less participation than ones that ordain only men. My gender seems to pull back from female leadership (particularly spiritual leadership). And that is a huge mistake. Accepting women leaders does not mean men will be relegated to the ‘back row.’ We might just find our sisters will be far more equitable than men have been toward women over the years.
And women should not be so comfortable in gathering in institutions where just women predominate. We need both genders. Both of us have the image of God within us. That means we need each other to get the full picture and perspective that God reveals to us. I believe some women are very comfortable that there are less men in the church which, in the end, is to their detriment as well as ours.
The truth is there is no weaker sex (or stronger sex). We both just have different tendencies. We both need to realize that the other sex has something that we need in all aspects of life. God made us to need each other. God gave us different characteristics with a reason and a purpose. We tend to understand this more on an individual level, but we need to see it on a societal level as well.
And especially as Christians, if we want to follow Jesus, there is only one way, to do it effectively and that is together.
What do you think?
Until next time,