Differences Between Men and Women

I wasn’t sure what the subject of this post should be so I just made one that would get some Google hits.

I was looking at Suzanne’s Bookshelf to see what she’s been writing lately. (This post isn’t about her.) In a post called Jana Chapman Gates on Complementarianism she quotes Thomas Schreiner:

because of the different inclinations present in Adam and Eve. Generally speaking, women are more relational and nurturing and men are more given to rational analysis and objectivity.

— “An interpretation of 1 Timothy 2: 9-15: A dialogue with scholarship” in Women in the Church: A Fresh Analysis of 1 Timothy 2: 9-15 Eds. Andreas Kostenberger, Thomas R Schreiner and H. Scott Baldwin (Grand Rapids: Baker Book Houser, 1995) 145-6.

I like Thomas Schreiner a lot. I’m disappointed in this. It’s as bad as psycho-babble. I very much believe that any counseling done in a Christian setting should be based on the Bible, not the Bible plus… If we, especially Reformed people like Schreiner and myself, believe in Sola scriptura and that “God has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him” (2 Peter 1.3), then we shouldn’t need to rely on spurious descriptions like this or if we do use arguments like this, they should always be backed up by Scripture, not just human logic. (Sorry for the long sentence.) Maybe in the larger context it is, but I doubt it. If anyone has it handy let me know.

Some may say it’s obvious, but I don’t think so. Some people could see the terms used and think that men get the smart ones and women are just good with the children and being sympathetic.

What are some things that are in the Bible that show intrinsic differences between men and women other than any kind of roles which I don’t want to get into here? The only verse or passage I can think of is the “weaker vessel/nature/partner” (1 Peter 3.7) which I believe refers to physically, and being sexually and generally vulnerable to being dominated.

20 Responses to “Differences Between Men and Women”


  1. 1 Stan McCullars

    I think the key to the quote above is the qualification Generally speaking.

    The context of the quote, which I believe is from the first edition of the book, makes that clear:

    This is not to say that women are intellectually deficient or inferior to men… There is the danger of stereotyping here… But as a general rule… The different inclinations of women (and men!) do not imply that they are inferior or superior to men. It simply demonstrates that men and women are profoundly different. Women have some strengths that men do not have, and men have some strengths that are generally lacking in women.

  2. 2 Scripture Zealot

    Obviously that quote is a lot better. Thanks for the context. If he would have just said that it would have been a lot better. Interesting how people took out the quote that they did. And I shouldn’t comment on partial quotes like that but I still don’t like it.
    Jeff

  3. 3 Stan McCullars

    I think it’s safe to say that some people take quotes like that out of context because they have an agenda, namely to paint all things complementarian as demonic.

    As to the original (out of context) quote, I agree with it as a generalization. There’s a reason almost all kids cry out to their mother rather than their father. I did and my son still does.

  4. 4 Scripture Zealot

    I’m not a parent so I don’t get to see that in action but I don’t like generalizations like that because it’s difficult to see them as generalizations and not the fact of how everyone is.

  5. 5 Gary Simmons

    Yes, Jeff. The person you mentioned has a habit of taking non-egalitarians out of context. Three or four examples spring to mind already, one which accused me of frowning on Jesus’ career as a carpenter for saying that in a post-industrial society female-dominated professions like nursing are preferable and safer than male-dominated ones like carpentry. [My point is valid. Construction slows when depression hits, but people will ALWAYS need nurses/teachers.] Ironically, it wasn’t long after that that I started whittling spoons (photo album here). Now I am a carpenter. Off topic, I know.

    Really, I think that the distinction between women and men is something drawn from experience or natural theology rather than any particular biblical passage. In a world where there were no tampons (the woman sat on a rag), no bottles (you breastfeed), no pacifiers (have to use your real nipples!), and where babies didn’t crawl (people conventionally carried babies until they could walk), then it is plain as day that women are child-oriented. It was a no-brainer that women were equipped for not just pregnancy with children but also the rearing of children, at least up to the age of weaning/walking.

    After that point it would be theoretically possible for men to be seriously involved in child care, but until that point the responsibility falls completely on the woman due to biological necessity. Biology that God created, I might add.

    Only our technocratic society gives us the option of ignoring natural theology. But the question is: should theology change just because tampons artificially allow women to go out in public for a full thirty days out of thirty (and therefore participate in education or work on a regular schedule)? The question to me is not so much whether women are as capable as men in a post-industrial society, the question is whether alternatives to God’s blueprint (however defined) are allowable just because they’re theoretically possible.

    If we do allow technology to change our outlook on gender relations to the extent of full Egalitarianism, then what would we do if somehow we lose all our technology and our tech-level falls back to that of the Middle Ages? Would we then swing back to non-Egalitarianism?

    Off topic again. Sorry.

    Last thing: in response to the actual quote in context instead of being redacted to demonize: I would want to navigate away from the dichotomy of “rational” vs “emotional.” I don’t think that dichotomy really works. Perhaps it would be better to say that women, broadly speaking, seem to tend more toward concrete matters, whereas men tend more toward abstraction.

  6. 6 Scripture Zealot

    Thank you Gary. I agree with most of what you say and a lot of it is new to me. I can see how people will skewer you for it.

    I like concrete and abstract better than the other words but even if people say “in general” people often take it as this is how it is and when seeing a woman tend to think “they think more concretely” when they might not.

    I was going to say I try to stay out of it but then remembered I just wrote a post above on the subject, kind of.
    Jeff

  7. 7 Gary Simmons

    I would like to add a disclaimer. The reason I italicized “to the full extent of Egalitarianism” is because I do believe there is good in allowing women to participate in both getting an education and being part of the work force.

    Although I wish that the introduction of women to career goals didn’t lower their incentive to find witty, honest, single Bible majors to marry.

  8. 8 Sue

    I am very disappointed that the FULL citation from Schreiner has not been provided by Stan To think that you rip me apart in absentia and commit the same crime.

    Schreiner wrote,

    “Generally speaking, women are more relational and nurturing and men are more given to rational analysis and objectivity. Women are less prone than men to see the importance of doctrinal formulations, especially when it comes to the issue of identifying heresy and making a stand for the truth. Appointing women to the teaching office is prohibited because they are less likely to draw a line on doctrinal non-negotiables…. This is not to say women are intellectually deficient or inferior to men… their gentler and kinder nature inhibits them from excluding people for doctrinal error…. The different inclinations of women (and men!) do not imply that they are inferior or superior to men. It simply demonstrates that men and women are profoundly different. Women have some strengths that men do not have, and men have some strengths that are generally lacking in women…. Women are prohibited from the teaching office not only because of the order of creation but also because they are less likely to preserve the apostolic tradition in inhabiting the teaching office” (pp. 145-146).”

    He definitely says that women are LESS CAPABLE. DOn’t pretend that he did not write this.

  9. 9 Sue

    Okay, he says women are less likely to preserve the apostolic tradition. He is also cited here,

    http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=37130514565,

    “Scientifically, empirically, and experientially we know men and women to be different. Women tend to be more nurturing, better at forming closer relationships and are better than men at encountering life with both sides of their brain. Men tend to do better at abstract thinking – men can focus on singular questions well. Women are more intuitive, sensitive, and insightful than men – in general. Women tend to enjoy the process; men drive to conclusions. Men fixt things, women experience things. Women have more white blood cells and more endurance than men. Men have increased brute strength and higher ability for burst energy.

    When it comes to spiritual matters, articulating the biblical differences between men and women requires both courage and love.

    Both sexes are totally equal in Christ: co-heirs; both fully made in the image of God; both fully accepted in Christ. This equality, Schreiner says, is similar to the equal relationship of deity between God the Father and God the Son.

    Males are told to pray in 1 Timothy 2:8. However, Paul also acknowledges women praying in 1 Corinthians 11:5. Schreiner points to the cultural features of his text in 1 Timothy 2. The reality of the cultural features points to the centrality of the principle of prayer in Paul’s mind. Further Paul exhorts men against anger toward each other, especially in the local assembly.

    In verse 9 the women are exhorted to adorn themselves with proper adornment – behavior and dress. The principles are both modesty and sensible.

    Evangelical feminists hold to the view that women can serve as pastors. Some support their view from 1 Timothy 2:9 which speaks of women not braiding their hair, wearing gold or costly attire. Bible-reading feminists would say that conservatives are inconsistent. Conservatives forbid women preaching, but allow women to wear jewelry and fine clothing and sport hair-dos. This is however, not inconsistent, when we realize the point Paul is making: ostentation often reveals inward immodesty. Complementarians are therefore, consistent in 1 Timothy 2:8-10.

    Women learning in quietness and submissiveness means at least that Paul thinks it is good for women to learn. But the main point for Paul is the submissive attitude women must model. Verse 12 teaches the same quietness of verse 11. There is a quietness God requires and provides in women that quells any impulse to usurp spiritual authority from a man. Women can teach women and children. But the function is chiefly in view. Sunday school classes, small groups, seminary classes – wherever the Bible is taught to men – a woman should not be the teacher. Not because authority is bad. Both teaching and exercising authority are good things in and of themselves.

    Is the principle of women not teaching with authority overmen applicable today or merely cultural? Evangelical feminists often insert ideas of women teaching false doctrine or being uneducated. However, the reason for Paul’s command comes in verse 13, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” Paul appeals to creation. Not to the Fall, nor to sin. But to God’s design before sin.

    Schreiner concludes with a strong word of exhortation to men, in that Adam was held responsible for the sin of the garden. And he likewise exhorts women to give evidence of their salvation by their perseverance and faith.

    This sermon stands as a strong example of careful expository preaching on one the most important issues of our time, from one of the most difficult passages of Scripture, by one of the most gifted pastor/scholars of our time. I highly recommend it.”

  10. 10 Stan McCullars

    Sue,
    You should really let it go and submit to Scripture regarding men and women.

    I am very disappointed that the FULL citation from Schreiner has not been provided by Stan To think that you rip me apart in absentia and commit the same crime.

    Really, Sue? Did you not read what I wrote? I think the key to the quote above is the qualification Generally speaking.

    I thought I was clear. The FULL citation was not necessary to make that point.

    You consider my comment above as ripping you apart? Wow! Just wow! You may have demonstrated another difference (generally speaking) between men and women.

    Also, where does he say women are “LESS CAPABLE”?

  11. 11 Scripture Zealot

    Sue’s ‘less capable’
    “Women are less prone than men to see the importance of doctrinal formulations, especially when it comes to the issue of identifying heresy and making a stand for the truth.”

    Which also disappoints me.

    In defense of Stan, how was he supposed to know you’d be “in absentia” (gone for a while)? You didn’t indicate you’d be gone.

    Again for myself I want to say again I was disappointed with Shreiner and didn’t mean to drag Sue into it. I kind of wanted her to know I looked in on her blog because I was genuinely interested in what she was writing.

    But I don’t think Sue can accuse Stan of not quoting context given the original post.
    Jeff

  12. 12 Sue

    Sorry Stan. Gary is ripping me apart on TC’s blog, and he linked back here.

    I honestly don’t think that I was misrepresenting Schreiner. He has clearly said more than once that men are more analytical than women, and this was the point of my post about Jana Gates. My point was that some complementarian men do say that men are more analytical than women.

    You should really let it go and submit to Scripture regarding men and women.

    I put it to the test for 50 years. It is nonsense.

  13. 13 Sue

    Jeff,

    Here is the thing. Gary is saying on TC’s blog that I misled you. Given what Schreiner actually wrote, I do not think that I misled you at all.

    I am sorry for accusing Stan of anything. It is a legitimate discussion here, but Gary has said some pretty weird things about me on TC’s blog.

    I also take objection to his tampon remark. Why is the bibliosphere so much like a locker room?

  14. 14 Sue

    PPS Thanks for linking to me, Jeff. I didn’t mind your post at all or the discussion up until Gary used it for some bizarre reason. I don’t know what Gary is up to.

  15. 15 Scripture Zealot

    You’re welcome. I haven’t followed what’s going on at TC’s blog.
    Jeff

  16. 16 Sue

    It is not worth going into. I am sorry that I jumped on Stan, although I thoroughly disagree with him, I would like to keep that friendly, and you too. 🙂

  17. 17 Stan McCullars

    Sue,
    No problem. I’m all for keeping things friendly/civil. I know I fail at that miserably but I’ll keep trying.

  18. 18 Sue

    Thanks for that.

  19. 19 Scripture Zealot

    Sue, I found the thread you refer to. I know what Gary was saying about “leading me astray” but I’m a big boy and can learn to find context, which I didn’t do in this case. Although in seeing more context I was disappointed in Schreiner again. ha Regarding the part I was disappointed in–I see in women around me less interest in really “looking under the hood” and finding bad theology but to generalize women like that is almost akin to bigotry. When you meet someone new, you don’t assume things like that. When I encounter a black inner city boy/man, I don’t assume they’re a criminal, even though there are many, including one who mugged my wife. To assume a woman is “less” whatever is not giving them the benefit of the doubt. “Generally” doesn’t help a lot because it still causes ‘general’ assumptions.

    I’ve been wanting to write about my ‘brand’ of complementarianism, probably the only sense that I’m liberal (did I just say that?) within a context, which isn’t a whole lot different than TC’s, but I’m just too afraid to get into it and can’t figure out how to approach it.
    Jeff

  20. 20 Sue

    Thanks. I think there is a big difference between those who are culturally complementarian, and those who are deliberately teaching and persuading others of certain unsavoury aspects of complementarianism. Overall, I have tried to emphasize that I am against certain specific teachings in complementarianism.

    But in any case, I am not going to bring all that up here.

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