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May 5, 2010 message by Pastor Rich Doebler

Last week, you’ll remember, we began a series of messages on marriage called Piecing It Together—making sense of the marriage mystery. We talked about what the Bible calls a profound mystery—that two distinct, separate individuals can join together to become one. And we talked about marriage being a wonderful picture in the Bible of the amazing mystery that God—who is holy and righteous—should choose to become one with us—sinful and unworthy—that he should to give us a marriage proposal, that he should invite us to become the Bride of Christ.

This week, we’re going to look more specifically at our marriages and relationships here on earth—and try to get a handle on the challenges we have in getting along—simply because we are so different.

Fifty years ago today, May 9, 1960, the “Pill” began a sexual revolution in this country. Before 1960, sexual activity usually led to pregnancy. And pregnancy took women out of the job markets—they couldn’t compete with men who could father children and still come to work.

Some saw the pill as a great liberator. However, I believe feminism used it to push an agenda that contributed to a moral erosion in our nation. The birth control pill for the first time allowed sexual activity outside of marriage without concern about consequences—they could stay at work.

To be fair, people had long argued for equal opportunity for women. In this country women weren’t given the right to vote until 1920—only 90 years ago! And equal opportunity—opening the doors to talented, gifted women has been good. Women have contributed to society in countless ways as business leaders, innovative researchers, educators, workers, dedicated doctors, effective CEOs…

Some disparities still remain in the marketplace in terms of salaries and opportunities, but women have fewer barriers and restrictions imposed on them today than ever before.

A few problems have come with these changes, however. One problem: an agenda pushed by radical feminists that men and women are the same. Radical feminists deny the differences and the natural, God-given roles of men and women.

If you’re married expect you and your spouse will be exactly alike, you’re going to have some serious problems! The reality is men and women are different.

Most know that. In fact, many marry because they like the differences. They’re attracted to them. But they discover later that they differences they found so intriguing and endearing begin to bug them.

I know it’s risky to make generalizations—there are exceptions to every rule—but let’s take a risk and look at a few of these differences.

John Gray wrote a book a few years back with the title, Men Are from Mars…[Women Are from Venus]. (My son was trying to remember the name of the book recently and he guessed, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Earth. That led to several other ideas: if women are from earth, they must be more down-to-earth than men… if men are from Mars, they must be aliens.)

John Gray says the differences between men and women are so profound, it’s as though we come from different planets! Not only do…

• We have physical differences. Physical and anatomical differences, but also different chemistry and hormones (estrogen and testosterone); a baby girl born today, on average, can expect to live to about 80—five years longer than a baby boy.

• We belong to different “clubs.” Can you imagine women moving their quilting circle out to the hunting shack? We rent different movies—what self-respecting guy comes home with a “chick flick”? Guys want adventure. Shoot-em-up.

• We see things differently.
The famed psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud said: “The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is “What does a woman want?”
Frank Sinatra said, “I’m very fond of women; I admire them. But, like all men, I don’t understand them.”
My wife and I see things differently—I see a problem as something that needs fixing; she sees it as something that needs discussing. I don’t want to talk about it. She says I’m in denial. The more we talk about it, the more agitated and depressed I get. Why do we have to look at the problem from every direction, turning it over and over? Meanwhile, the more we talk about it, the more focused and determined she becomes. We see things differently.
Over 70 years ago George and Ira Gershwin wrote a song that highlights differences in people:
   You say EE-ther and I say IE-ther, You say NEE-ther and I say NIE-ther.
EE-ther, IE-ther, NEE-ther, NIE-ther, Let’s call the whole thing off.
You like pot-Ato and I like pot-AHto, You like tom-Ato and I like tom-AHto.
Pot-Ato, pot-AHto, Tom-Ato, tom-AHto, Let’s call the whole thing off…
But oh, if we call the whole thing off, then we must part.
And oh, if we ever part, then that might break my heart…
So if you like paj-Amas and I like paj-AHmas, I’ll wear paj-Amas and give up paj-AHmas…

• We communicate in different ways. According to Connie Podesta, an expert in the psychology of human behavior, men speak about 3- to 4,000 words per day, but women say 10- to 12,000 words per day. Women are simply more verbal; they want to talk about problems. About everything. When you guys come home from work, you’ve already used up your quota of words for the day—but your wife still has about 6- to 8,000 more words to say.
Then add to that—some say the female brain has four times as many neurons as the male brain connecting the two spheres—the left and right side of the brain. So men tend to use only half their brain to solve one problem one step at a time. Women can multi-task better because their brain is wired better to tap both sides simultaneously. [Michael G. Conner, Psy.D, http://www.oregoncounseling.org/ArticlesPapers/Documents/DifferencesMenWomen.htm]
Men: These are good reasons to avoid arguing with your wife. She has more words to use; she can talk faster; she can think faster; she can multi-task. So just give it up! She’s much too complex for you to compete with.
 Picture: Women (many controls) are more complex than men (one single on-off switch).

• We do things differently. Picture: Shopping assignment: buy a pair of pants.

How men and women differ

So men and women are different! But this is not bad news; it’s good news!

 1 Corinthians 11:11-12 (NASB) 11 However, in the Lord [NLT: But in relationships among the Lord’s people] neither is woman independent of man… [NI-ther is woman independent of man], nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God. [NLT: although the first woman came from man, all men have been born from women ever since, and everything comes from God.]

Men and women originate from God. They have their origin in God. He made us male and female. He made us the way we are. He made us to be different.

Last week we said that God invented marriage. So now we see that in that incredible, mysterious relationship, God intended us to be different—God intended us each to bring different strengths and different characteristics to our marriages.

 There IS a difference… But differences are not bad; they are good! God intended us to be different. Differences are part of God’s plan! Why?

 Why God Made Us Different

 1. Differences make us stronger.

1 Cor 12:6-7 (NLT) 6 There are different ways God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work through all of us. 7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church.

Just as different spiritual gifts given to different people within the church benefit the entire church, in the same way, differences between you and your spouse are God’s ways of helping you each help each other.

   Your differences make you stronger. Your differences should complete each other. [Picture of circles with peaks and valleys…]

 2. Differences help us mature.

Maturity means learning to live selflessly, giving up our personal interests for another. It’s in close relationships where we are most challenged in this area! When you’re single, you make all the decisions, you decorate your place and fix it up the way you want. But when you’re married, you have to take another person’s opinions into account. You are not your own any longer.

You can’t be a baby and have a decent marriage. You have to grow up. And it’s in dealing with our differences that we learn to serve one another. These are tools God uses to bring us to maturity.

 3. Differences teach us humility.

The flip side of being mature by serving each other is to be mature enough to allow your partner to serve you. When your husband or wife has different strengths than you do, maturity means you will humble yourself enough to let your spouse serve you.

If your husband is better at math and balancing the checkbook than you are, let him help you out. Don’t be so proud and stubborn that you keep making mistakes and bouncing checks! If your wife earns more than you do, don’t compete with her. Learn humility.

 4. Differences expand our views.

We can be better people with broader horizons when we enjoy each other’s differences. We can learn from each other and break out of the narrow-minded perspectives and limited mindsets that hold us back. When we are comfortable with each other’s different views, we become bigger thinkers.

And bigger, broader thinkers are less likely to be bored and more likely to unleash creativity

 5. Differences reduce the boredom.

Just living with someone who comes up with something different than you would will keep you on your toes! If she keeps you guessing, that’s a good thing. If he’s unpredictable, at least he’s not boring! It can be more exciting and stimulating if we learn to celebrate the differences in our spouse.

 6. Differences spark our creativity.

Creativity is a “divine” quality—it comes from our Creator! When we see the incredible variety and endless diversity within God’s creation, our hearts should respond with thanksgiving for the experience and praise for the Creator!

And when we can enjoy the differences between us and our spouse, we should also be inspired to be more creative. Inspired to see new possibilities, new ways of doing things, new opportunities to honor God. God gives us creative differences in our marriages so we will become more like him—more creative.

 7. Differences can help us spiritually.

James Dobson has observed that women typically are more spiritually responsive than men are. Whether or not that is true, others have observed that women attend church more than men. A recent ABCNews poll found 44% of women and 32% of men attend church weekly in theU.S.Among Protestants the gap was smaller, but Protestant women still attended more than Protestant men—50% to 42%. [http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/dailynews/church_poll020301.html]

These differences, however, are not what’s significant. What is important is that each marriage partner—whether male or female—has an opportunity to encourage the other spiritually.

A wife who says, “He’s so different; we’re just not spiritually compatible; he’s out of God’s will,” misses an opportunity to impact her husband for Christ.

1 Peter 3:1-2 (NLT) [To wives] Your godly lives will speak to them better than any words. They will be won over by watching your pure, godly behavior.

For wives or husbands married to someone who is not their spiritual equal, the Bible gives you a mission:

1 Cor 7:14, 16 (NLT) 14 For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage… 16 You wives must remember that your husbands might be converted because of you. And you husbands must remember that your wives might be converted because of you.

We want to excuse our behavior and our inability to love because we’re so “different.” Yet God didn’t use that excuse for us. He didn’t say, “Oh, I can’t love him or her, because we’re so different.” There is a great difference between us and God—he is holy, perfect, sinless. Yet love bridges the difference!

Eph 5:25-28 (NLT) [Christ] gave up his life for her [the church] 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives…

When Opposites Attract