Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sunday Sermon Notes 1.10.10

What's the difference between a male and a female?

And no, it's not the opening line of a bad joke. It's an honest question. What if we could do some digging and discover more of the real differences between male and female?

What if what we discovered not only explained what made the relationships so difficult but also so enjoyable? And what if we discovered that most of the differences that we attributed to maleness and femaleness was mostly personality styles, fight/flight styles of dealing with conflict, and traits inherited from family and other life experiences?

Here's the text we're starting with, the Scripture that is shaping this whole conversation. It's important.
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline.

Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness.

Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God!

Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

What's it take to be in tune with someone of the other gender? What's it take to stay in step with your spouse, with your kids, your folks, your family and friends of the other gender? Knowledge and understanding go a long way towards being in tune, being in step.

Without being too simplistic, but trying to avoid too-much data, here are three differences between male and female that directly affect the kind of relationship they can have.
* physical anatomy
* brain usage
* hormones

For the sake of this message, we'll focus on the differences of brain usage to help explain some common situations that can often be "unhealthy" between males and females in a family.

Here's a little quiz for you to see how well you know gender differences and brain influence:
Who is more logical, men or women?
Who is more emotional, men or women?
Who is more creative, men or women?
Who is more intuitive, men or women?
Who is more analytical, men or women?
Who is more objective, men or women?
Who is more subjective, men or women?

What's unique about women is that they have so many connections between both sides of the brain compared to a man. Both genders use both sides of their brains, and both genders tend to have one side of the brain dominate over the other. But since women can access both sides of the brain almost simultaneously is worth considering when it comes to interactions with men.

Left Brain
Right Brain
Looks at parts
Looks at wholes

Click here for more info. And here.

How does this play out in a day to day scenario? A woman can more easily multi-task than a man. Especially when it comes to verbal and spatial tasks. A woman can cook dinner using a recipe while talking on the phone and take in the news program. The man can cook dinner, or talk on the phone, or watch the news-program. A woman can think about her emotions easily, a man has great difficulty analyzing how he feels. Either he analyzes, or he feels. Women tend to be detailed oriented, but they can also easily keep the big picture in mind. Men have a very difficult time doing that, it's either the forest or the trees while in a conversation. You're not ignoring your wife talking to you, it's just that you're reading the newspaper and you can't discern words from the noise coming from her mouth. You're not saying "I don't know" because you are trying to avoid answering the question, but it's very difficult to analyze an intuitive decision.

Why is it worth knowing this information? It helps when a woman knows that a man doesn't communicate like other woman, and that what seem to be to her normal relationship questions aren't to the man. And it helps for men to understand why their experiences are often misunderstood by women, and why they don't intuitively understand women like they do other men.

Did you know that the hormone testosterone affects the connections between the brain. The testosterone decreases the connections between the two-halves of the male brain, thus a man uses just one side at a time, whereas a women can go back and forth easily since she has so little of that hormone in her bloodstream in comparison to a man. 

All of this to say, the differences between male and female are to be celebrated and understood. According to Genesis 1, males and females are essential to each other to accomplish in this world what God intended. Neither difference makes one better than the other, and the emphasis isn't on equality either, but about male and female fitting together to accomplish something more beautiful than if alone.

My hope is that this basic research will prompt you to do some of your own, to do some reconsidering, to make some changes in your attitudes or stereotypes of the other gender. And may it lead you to celebrate the great gift of male and female. We're made in the image of God to bless the world. And whatever our differences are, no matter how well we understand them, we're still called to love, to be in tune, to stay in step.

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