Monday, June 29, 2015

Gender differences and faith .............. Parables 293

November 12, 1991

University of Pennsylvania researchers issued a news release saying they think men’s brains deteriorate two to three times faster than women’s. This supposedly occurs in the left side of the brain, the location of verbal abilities. They called this deterioration atrophy, the condition that happens to anything unused, such as a motionless broken leg bound in a cast.

Another study gives an more detailed explanation of this. Apparently very early after life begins in boy babies, the male hormone testosterone floods the left side of the brain and shrinks it. At the same time, it damages connective fibers between the two sides of the brain. Because of that, men tend to think laterally – and use one side of their brain at a time while women generally think bilaterally – and use both sides at the same time.

Furthermore, these studies reveal the left side of the brain is used for rational, objective, linear thought patterns whereas the right side registers emotions, subjective thoughts and random thought patterns. For men, this means an ability to think logically without interference from emotions, which is their strength. For women, both sides work at the same time (even though the subjective, emotional side often dominates) and this too is a strength. It is important to realize being different does not imply one is better.

Men are usually quieter and sometimes accused of burying their emotions or not expressing them. My husband gives this reason: it is difficult for a man to think both emotionally and rationally at the same time. (Remember, those damaged connecting fibers?) Since many men know their ability to reason and be logical is their strength, they will deny what seems to them a weakness (emotions) and use the left side of their brain most of the time.

It is not that men cannot feel emotions or be subjective; their hormone did not destroy every connection. Besides, emotions are too powerful to suppress completely and can even overwhelm logic. For instance, men may experience outbursts of anger, uncontrolled lust or jealousy, even though his logic says these things should not be happening.

That is not to say women have no trouble with emotional outbursts that go against logic. Both genders are able to bottle up emotions. Both are able to open up that side of themselves and either blow up or deal with feelings logically. However, emotions are more difficult for men to acknowledge.

Sometimes it would be easier if everyone used their brains the same way. We wouldn’t have so much trouble figuring one another out, or get so frustrated when we don’t see things the same way. But Bob and I realize if we both thought the same, one of us would be unnecessary!

We have found one area of total equality though. It is in the spiritual realm. The Bible says men and women have equal access to God. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

The Jews and Greeks had their differences, but faith in Jesus made them one before the throne of God. Slaves didn’t enjoy the same status as those who were not slaves, but faith in Christ made their status before God the same. So it is with men and women; both are equally able to approach God through Christ.

My husband and I don’t think the same whether or not we have the same connective tissue or the same size brain. But we appreciate our distinctions as we grow deeper in experiencing the reality of being equal before God. He helps us to realizing our full potential by setting us free from any intimidation, conflict or competition that comes from being male or female.

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