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Whatever a man can do a woman can do better

I was raised hearing that slogan, “Whatever a man can do, a woman can do better.”

You know, I think I actually believe this.  At least, at the level of the individual I think that somewhere out there is some woman who can do whatever specific task usually considered as something a man does better.

An age old question that most people trace back to Jurassic Park is, “Just because you can do something, does it follow that you should do it.”  In actuality, we can trace this sentiment back further, to the Apostle Paul, who said:  “Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial.”

Even if we conceded that women can match and even out-perform men it doesn’t follow that they should.

I don’t know where I heard it now, but one of the most compelling arguments that I have heard for why women should not be pastors comes from simple human nature:  if a man knows that someone else will do something, he’ll let them do it;  if a woman knows that if she doesn’t do it, no one will, she’ll do it.  The net effect is that over time, women will take on any and all tasks and men will let them do it.   This will start a reinforcing cycle, where men keep dropping off and women keep pitching in, until at last men will leave it all to the ladies.

I don’t know if this has played out in full in denominations that allow women to be pastors but it certainly seems to be true in my experience about things in general.  When I worked at the church, most of the activities were carried out by female volunteers.  We often wondered where the men were.  I am pretty sure I knew the answer to that.  But, then, what was the alternative?  To suspend the activities?

Yes… perhaps that’s exactly what should have been done.

But this isn’t a post about women in ministry, believe it or not.  It’s an inquiry into a deeper question:  if men can do what women can do and women can do what men can do, does it really matter who does anything?

I really think it does.  Let’s start with a lesson in biology:

Men have penises.  Women have vaginas.

Humans, they both are.  And yet different.  We deny these differences at our peril for the simple reason that denial of reality at all carries great risk.  You can say, “I will step out in front of this bus going 50 mph and won’t die if I get hit” but reality is reality, and is not to be trifled with.

The different biological, psychological, emotional, and even spiritual, makeups of men and women will tend to have an impact on ‘Activity X,’ or whatever it is we’re talking about.  The way a man approaches a problem and solves it will tend to be different than how a woman does.   You might say that each gender produces a solution that, while identical in many ways, nonetheless has a different flavor.

I like different flavors.  I think sometimes, a solution is best when it is sugar and spice and all things nice.  Other times, snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails is what we need.   Sometimes when the children fall and scrape their knee they need to be told to walk it off.  Sometimes they need that mother’s touch.  How far and to what extent do these differences matter?

I don’t claim to know.  I only know that even if I concede to the ladies that they do all things well, we men will be happy to lounge around on the couch eating chips, drinking beer, and scratching ourselves- and we really don’t know why you’re surprised that we’re letting you do all the work when, well, the reason we’re sitting here is because you’re doing all the work.

I know that men and women would be happiest if we figured out a way to give expression to our own uniquely flavored way of doing things.  Can women reconcile themselves with the solutions of men, flavored sometimes with spices that they would never have dreamed of using, if it means that at least men are doing some of the cooking?

Doesn’t it follow that if men abandon everything to women then we will be left with everything coming at us with just one flavor?

One more thing I know:  flatly denying that there is any difference at all, generally speaking, between men and women and how they live out their lives in the world, or that the differences are unimportant, is a recipe for misery…


Comments are welcome.  Please leave your flamethrowers on the table in hall before coming in to post your comment.



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    • Kathy on March 17, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Ahhh.. this is a great post and one that I enjoy talking about.

    Since becoming a Christian some 30 years ago, I used to ruffle a feather or two as I clearly saw various truths in the scripture and would plainly state them. Not arrogantly, but with a kind of child-like simplicity. One truth being the order as outlined in the scripture of gender roles.

    The first feather ruffling I did was to say plainly that women have the potential of being deceived. I read it in the scriptures, believed it, accepted it, and stated it! It was met with some “interesting” reactions by women (while the men loved my point!)

    I have said it for 30 years. I do not believe that women are made to handle the pressures of a governmental role such as a pastor. I’m the first to admit that while I acknowledge my abilities to direct, administrate, manage, and carry great amounts of responsibility, I am still emotional and have recognized the necessity of deferring in areas that I believe I cannot “see clearly”.

    “Can women reconcile themselves with the solutions of men, flavored sometimes with spices that they would never have dreamed of using, if it means that at least men are doing some of the cooking?”

    They must.

    I have had times when men have made suggestions (their spices) that I would never have thought about.

    Women have influence. We have power. Yet it is to be used to compliment, aid, and support. Just because we have the ability doesn’t mean we should have the responsibility.

    • Nathan on March 17, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Since you broached the subject pf personal plumbing, I would challenge any woman alive to write their name in the snow as well as I can. 😉

    • Anthony on March 17, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    lololol Nathan! Classic!

    To Kathy:

    “I am still emotional and have recognized the necessity of deferring in areas that I believe I cannot “see clearly”.”

    I cannot fully speak to the ‘see clearly’ part but I think there is definitely something we could describe as “seeing differently.” It is hard to generalize here because I am aware of plenty of exceptions but it has seemed to me that the manner and basis on which men make their decisions tends to be different than the way a woman might. An illustration might do (and please note that I am not trying to persuade you, but am writing now to lurkers)…

    When I was in college there was this time when 5 women friends had to try to figure out who was going to room with each other when there was only room for 4. One friend would have to room with a stranger. They did everything they could to try to spare each other’s feelings and in the end it was high drama and people were hurt, anyway. In another instance, the same situation happened but it was men. The situation was resolved within an hour without any drama at all. In both of these scenarios (totally true, btw), the basic facts of the situation were the same. Why was there so much drama for the women and none for the men?

    Over the years, I’ve seen all sorts of things like this. Granting again that there were exceptions, it leads me to think that there is a very real difference in the way men and women think, perceive the world, problem solve, etc, etc.

    • Kathy on March 17, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Let me retract my words “see clearly” as it denotes an inability to have insight and assumes men have better insight. A woman can be incredibly capable and at the same time, recognize and accept a man’s solution.

    Ha. I heard a story once about women who go out to lunch together and how when the bill comes, someone gets out a calculator to make sure everyone pays their part of the meal, figure the tip, and gets their change back. When the guys go out, typically one guy will throw a 20 dollar bill on the table and takes care of the whole thing! How true!

    To Nathan: you better believe some of us ladies would figure out a way!

    • Gary on March 17, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned—” (Rom 5:12)

    What are your thoughts on this, Tony, especially in light of the fact that it was Eve that was deceived and ate the fruit?

    I see it that Adam’s failure in his God-given job of watching over all creation and, specifically, his explicit God-given order to not eat the fruit is what’s credited as the “original sin”. That is to say that Adam’s failure to do what he was created to do is what truly brought sin into the world. Eve was deceived because Adam failed to do the job for which he was created.

    • Anthony on March 18, 2010 at 7:09 am

    I agree with what you said, Gary. In fact, I’d go further and point out that the sin is counted as Adam’s, not Eve’s. Death came to all men through Adam, not Eve. In the order of creation, regardless of capabilities and abilities, responsibility was Adam’s. The buck stops with man.

    • DJT1 on March 20, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    One book that addresses this subject within marriage is The Surrendered Wife. It seems the author discovered that her husband was not an imbecile and found a way to ‘allow’ him to be a man while not descending into dormat status herself. I highly recommend it.

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    • Martha on April 30, 2012 at 2:12 am

    Nobody talls about lesbianism, but do you think one of the main reasons leading to this is men not taking up their role. Laid backisim is causing them to loose the fight. We need a new generation of men to win battle to take back our women or the population will diminish.

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