Equal is not the same. Read that again. For many this sentence is an oxymoron. How can something be equal yet not be the same? It’s simple, because they’re not the same! Many books have been written over the past years describing the differences between men and women, with one of the more popular books using the picture of coming from different planets. While this idea seems funny to think about, the reality is we are not from different planets. In fact, we aren’t even from different sides of the same planet. We are both created from the same One who created everything around us. Males are created with very different skill sets, abilities, physiques, and desires compared to women. In turn women have physical abilities, emotional characteristics, and desires that men do not posses. We are not the same. Ask any child if boys and girls are the same and they will tell you the honest truth, “No”. Why is this such a hard concept to grasp for so many people today, especially women? Could it be that the desire by certain women to be “the same” as their male counterparts has blurred the lines between men and women? Men have been feminized, softened, and in many cases emasculated while the power and role of women in the workplace, leadership, sports, and other traditionally masculine arenas has redrawn the line between the obvious differences between men and women. So, when did all this begin? Was it a few decades ago when women’s rights were being championed by highly visible and outspoken women? Did this all start with the emergence of successful women like Oprah?

In order to see the root of this battle between men and women for power and control one needs to start at the very beginning. Genesis chapter 1 specifically. In the book of Genesis the Creator God makes a perfect world and creates a man and women to live in it. Their task was to take care of the garden created specifically for them. As chapter 3 begins we are introduced with the beginnings of the battle. Satan presents Eve with a temptation and she falls for his trap. Don’t worry, Adam is not getting off the hook easily here. God had given Adam the privilege of having Eve as his help-mate and companion and that privilege also included helping lead her in truth. He is responsible for his wife as the leader of his family. Yet, when Eve is tempted by Satan Adam does not step in and lead as he was called too by God. When God is walking in the garden later on He talks with Adam and Eve and ask them what has happened and why they made their sinful choice. Adam, being the strong leader and responsible man God created him to be steps up and takes full responsibility for his actions and those of his wife. To bad that’s not what happened, instead Adam immediately puts his hands up and and tells God it was the women He gave her that made him sin. Wow, talk about not stepping up to the plate and being a leader! With the attention now on Eve she follows suit and side steps by blaming the serpent (Satan) for tricking her. As a result of their sin both are given temporary and long-term consequences.

For Adam his consequences are that he will toil and labor to work the earth and it will be hard work. The earth was also cursed because of Adam’s sin. Whenever drought, famine, floods, or death occurred in nature it was because of his sin. For Eve’s part in failing to resist temptation God caused childbearing to be filled with pain and agony. Then God does something that illustrates for us the beginning of the power battle between men and women. God tells Eve that her desire will be for her husband and that her husband will rule over her. If a woman wants to avoid the first part of the consequences of Eve’s sin they can refrain from having children, but God in His wisdom and knowledge adds this final piece. John McArthur explains it this way: (read/listen to the whole message by John McArthur for a deeper understanding of what he is explaining)

This means something else. This means that her desire, her desire is going to be something negative, something that reflects separation and alienation. Up to this point everything does. Enmity was put between the serpent and the woman. Enmity was put between the man and the ground. And enmity is put between the wife and her husband. She can’t do what she wishes. She isn’t going to live her own life totally independent like the feminists demand because her husband rules over her. Whatever she wishes, whatever she desires is subject to his will. She won’t always get what she wants. She won’t always have what she desires. She’s going to have to bear the sorrow of unfulfillment. She’s going to have desires and dreams and ambitions that aren’t going to be fulfilled because her husband does not have a perfect love for her, does not have a perfect understanding of her, or even might say an imperfect understanding of her. And he’s going to rule her in ways that lack compassion and sympathy. This is how it is in the world. This is how it is.

Because a woman can no longer have her needs met perfectly by a man she will then try and usurp his power and leadership by minimizing the importance of men in their lives and society. The battle for leadership and control is obvious and everywhere. Men are told to be sensitive toward women and let them do things even if he thinks it best she does not. Woman are told to go get what they want no matter the cost because it’s a “man’s world” and they need to fight for everything. Maybe God created it to be a man’s world so He could show men how to be the kind of leaders women around them wish they were. Most wives want their husbands to be leaders who step up and take the initiative in their relationship but less wives are willing to let go of the controls and allow their husband to take over.

When appropriate roles and responsibilities are held in a relationship the ability for peace and harmony to exist greatly increases because there is no longer an intense battle between the man and woman over who “wears the pants”. Men need to step up and love their wives and women need to recognize that God has created man with the ability and desire to lead and serve. By women stepping into that role they are acting independently of God’s best plan for themselves and their husbands.

According to Webster’s Dictionary the word “equal” means “like in quality, nature, and status”. Our value as human beings, as children of God is not reduced or change at all by the fact that we are different in skill, ability, and gender. A man is no more or less valuable than a women and visa versa. The challenge is to separate your value and self worth from what you are able to accomplish and do in this world. A stay-at-home mom has no less value in life than a woman who works 40 hours a week. A woman who holds a high position in a large corporation does not have any more value as a person than young girl or boy in school each day. Most people do not look back on life and wish they could have worked more or been away from their family more because we know that work and careers are not what make us valued or important in life. Relationships are what bring us happiness in life. And ultimately a relationship with the One who created you and gave you life is what gives us the most happiness. Our value is found in Him because He loves us and wants to have a personal relationship with Him.