Question: I thank you so much for the July 1999 issue, “The Sufficiency of God’s Word.” It is certainly true....Please tell me, is there any teaching in the Bible that says men are so different from women...? There are so many conferences for women where they are taught differently from what they teach at conferences for men....Is this scriptural? When I read in the Word that “man shall not live by bread alone,” doesn’t it mean man and woman...? Are all these men’s conferences and women’s conferences bred out of the world system of psychology? I would certainly appreciate your answer....
Response: The Bible certainly takes into account differences between men and women, not only the obvious physical ones but in the role each is to play in the home and family and also in the church. The husband has a distinct leadership role in the family. That does not, however, mean that the wife is without influence in decision-making. The husband is exhorted to love his wife as himself; and real love seeks the blessing and honor of the one loved. Yet the woman is clearly not “to teach, nor usurp authority over the man” (1 Tm 2:11-12) in the church, and that would surely include the home. So there are some clear differences.
However, as far as salvation, one’s relationship to Christ, and living the Christian life are concerned, there is no difference. As you point out, very rarely does Scripture address itself to either men or women distinctly. The reasons are obvious: all are sinners, need the same redemption and maturity in the Lord, and the basis of spiritual growth for each is the same.
The words “man” or “men” as used in the Bible almost always refer to both men and women, such as in the verses you quoted in your letter and nearly everywhere else. When Psalms:119:9 says, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word,” the phrase “young man” surely also means “young woman.”
The “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal:5:22) is obviously for men and women equally; when Paul says “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph:5:18) he is speaking to men and women; when he writes to “the saints” whether at Corinth or Ephesus or Colosse, etc., he is writing both to men and women. It is only on rare occasions, such as when Paul addresses husbands and wives, that any distinction is made. In fact, he states that “in Christ,” just as there is no longer Jew and Gentile, so there is no longer “male or female.” Obviously, while physical differences remain, spiritually there is no distinction.
Spiritual life and growth, the application of God’s Word, the faith that we hold and our love for God and total reliance upon Christ as our very life, all apply equally to men and women. Therefore, if there were to be separate meetings for men and women, they would be of very limited nature. Today’s growing tendency to hold long conferences and workshops and seminars specifically for men or women should be viewed with caution.