There was a very popular book written in the 1990’s, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Although I have not read it, I have heard enough about it (and read the Wikipedia post) to understand the premise. Essentially the author reminds us that the two genders have fundamental psychological (his word, not mine) differences that need to be reconciled in order for any relationship to succeed. OK, I can get that. I mean, from the time you start shaving that becomes fairly evident. But here’s the rub. Most of our inter-gender conflicts are less a result of knowing we are different, and more a result of not willing to use those differences to our mutual advantage. Each side seeks its comfort in what it knows best – itself. We miss our greatest opportunities when we avoid cooperation.
Take for instance this example. I have been in the design business for about 40 years now. Over that time I have see a marked shift in our design sensibility. Over the past generation or so there has been an explosion of women joining the work-world, at least in the western work-world. Now, you may have your own opinions about the pros and cons of this movement, but one thing that is for certain is the impact women are having in the corporate work environment. For centuries men worked in fairly stark four walled rooms, and had meetings around oblong tables. (Notably with a ‘head of the table’) Now most ‘progressive’ work forces occupy open, light-filled spaces with a multitude of ‘collaborative’ areas designed to foster impromptu exchanges and more interaction. And, isn’t that just like women! Had we been a race of the single male gender, I am pretty sure that our design innovation would have likely climaxed around the middle ages, with castles, towers, dungeons, and motes. Things like the chair and table would have likely been deemed unworthy of invention in a male only world, especially with all those big rocks and tree stumps to sit on. Women have feminized the world and I say – thank God! I guess we men could have continued to use brute force to bring women into line with our personal design preferences, but when you are trying to ‘go forth and multiply’ it normally helps to cooperate with the baby-maker. I also like to think of it all in this way.
God’s desire was to create a being in His own likeness. A being that He would be able to commune with, a being that would in many ways reflect His divinity, a being that would also understand the relationship that exists between He and the Son. So, the differences between men and women are not so much differences, as they are complimentary attributes. Like when you mix the right amounts of hydrogen and oxygen you get H2O / water. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.
So it is when a man and a woman join together in a loving relationship, something divine is created – a unified being whose complimentary attributes fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. More contemporary descriptions of God are non-gender descript, but a divine combination of the male and female being. And to me that makes more sense than the earlier male dominated imagery of Michelangelo’s white bearded patriarch. It also helps me to see God’s intent: to demonstrate how through relationship we gain insight into the power of collaboration and the benefits of subordinating our own singular will to that of the unified entity which is man+woman.