Gender (or any other) Equality

District Fellowship News

May, June 2006

I’ve been reading the headlines lately, and I’m amazed at the apparent facts that are coming forward. Boys are not doing well in school. Apparently, they are not made to be stuck in a chair all day with only a few minutes to walk between classes. They can’t handle paying attention for long periods of time, and they hate to follow the leader. They want to be independent, free spirits who don’t have to abide by the rules enforced by their teachers a majority of whom are women.

Of course these are only generalizations that apply to a few students but isn’t it interesting how things change even in a few years. In a study done at Harvard in 1985 the researchers found that female students were less likely to speak out in college classes than male students if the teacher was a man. If they were interrupted, they wouldn’t continue to participate in the discussion. In other arenas there were issues that caused young women to be intimidated when it came to learning. It wasn’t “cool” to be smart. Something needed to be done to make young women equal. So apparently, we overcompensated.

We live in a world where we are always trying to fix inequalities, make them better. Although this can be a noble cause, our methods usually don’t work because we believe that in order to even things up we need to over adjust. And so we come to one of the new solutions for this problem of guys not staying in school and not going to college? Gender separate classes; this allows each group to learn in their way. Now there’s a thought, a real back to the future moment.

But the issue here isn’t about the method, it is about the fact that “maybe men and women are different.” Please don’t say that too loud or you’ll have half the activists in the nation writing you letters. But there is truth in those words, God made men and women different. He didn’t clone man and make a separate Adam. He made a helpmate for him, someone of the same kind but different. Then he designed the two to come together to be one, to complete each other, to bring different strengths to the union. “But you don’t understand, if we are different, we cannot be equal.” Actually that’s not true, it just depends on what you want to be equal about. Equal is not identical.

We have many ways to lower or raise people in culture. We do it by place of birth, by ethnicity, by gender, by skin color. Men and women have usually found some way to make themselves better than the next person. Our solution to this injustice is to treat everyone as if they were exactly the same, but that isn’t true or right. The Bible tells us that in the eyes of God every person has the same (equal) opportunity to know him and the love He has for them. There is no difference between ethnicities, cultures, social position, or gender in knowing God. But God also clearly celebrates the differences in the man and the woman, the Jew and the Greek, the owner and the worker. They don’t have to be identical to be valued as people. Throughout God’s word there are differences celebrated in position, in gender, in physical makeup. Christians should be free from a false demand of equality in everything to understand that under God we are all His creation and we can celebrate how we are different without jealousy. We don’t need to be exact copies.

Maybe separate classes for boys and girls can be an answer to this current educational issue. But the reason we separate students cannot be because boys or girls are trying to get ahead of each other. There is no place for the old “men are better than women”, and there is no place for the new “everyone is exactly the same”. We cannot and should not deny our differences, but we cannot and should not lift ourselves up over those who are different. Let’s celebrate the inequality of the genders, the good and the bad, and understand the truth of God’s creation. That He has made us, male and female, in His image; That His love covers all of us and that our differences can make us stronger together in Him.