The Better Half – May 9, 2021

I was introduced to ‘The Battle of the Sexes’ at an early age. I had an older sister, Tammy, who was always telling me that girls were smarter than boys. I never gave it much thought until I went to school and the boys informed me that she was wrong…boys are smarter than girls!

Studies done on children in the United Kingdom and the United States in 2012 and 2018, also reveal that, on the average, girls score 9 percent higher on most test subjects across the board. In part, that is because girls tend to mature faster than boys. So, maybe my sister was right after all.

In school, we often played games that pitted boys against girls. And our education system often set boys against girls. While boys were the fastest runners and better at sports in general, the girls often surpassed us to win the spelling bees.

From an early age, I found girls to be fascinating. They wore pretty dresses, smelled good, and had ponytails that I could pull. But it didn’t take long to recognize they were more delicate and would cry more easily. For instance, during dodge ball, they did not like getting hit with the ball.

Occasionally I would run into a tomboy, a tough girl. They were rougher and played harder, but we were always taught to be sensitive. It was ok if a girl hit you, but you could never hit them. I am glad we don’t teach that one anymore. No one should hit anyone.

In our house, my sisters seemed to get the best of everything, and I was always in trouble. My mom and grandmother gave them the benefit of the doubt. Not the case with me. I always heard that boys were troublemakers. To be honest, it was my older sister who pushed the boundaries. I was the middle child and I was always trying to make peace.

I always thought it would be great to be a girl, they were cute and seemed to get everything they wanted. But my older sister informed me, that wasn’t true. Women wanted equal rights, equal pay, and equal opportunities. Apparently, life is tougher than we imagine as children.

When I was little, ‘Father knew best’ and kids were never as smart as adults. ‘Leave it to beaver’ taught me that. I often wondered why everyone would ‘love Lucy’, after all the crazy things she did. Today, many television shows portray the smart wife and kids and the dumb dad. Funny how things change.

Over the years, I tried to get a handle on the differences between men and women. There have been many attempts to explain it. I read all the best sellers, like, “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” or the popular, “Men are like Waffles and Women are like Spaghetti”.

In a world where our sexuality has been turned upside down, the topic is more confusing them ever. Do children need both a father and a mother in the home? If not, why did God create both men and women to be so different? I am sure he had a good reason for creating the family the way he did. It made me wonder, what started this battle of the sexes and what was God’s original plan. 

We have to go back to Genesis to see the root cause of our troubles. When God created A-dam (the man) in the garden, he noticed he was lonely, and no suitable mate could be found.

So, God gave him a little anesthetic and created, Eve (a Women), for Adam from his side (Scripture says from a rib). (Genesis 2:21)

When the angel, Lucifer, saw how much time God was spending with his new creation, he became angry and jealous. So, Lucifer disguised himself as a snake and tempted the couple with fruit from the forbidden tree in the garden. (Ezekiel 28:11-19 and Luke 10:18 fill in the back story)

We know that both Adam and Eve ate the fruit and then they lied about it, to God. The first sin was born and the people and the world was changed forever. But here is what I want you to notice…God created Eve to be Adam’s equal. They were equal in value, dignity, and in worth. Together, they were the perfect couple. There was trust, love, honor, and respect. They were equal heirs to the Kingdom of God. They complimented one another.

Adam recognized the tremendous gift and worth of a woman. The first man saw the queen inside of her. She was to be coveted, protected, and cherished. Along with his relationship with God, she completed the balance of his life. With his work and relationships, Adam had purpose and love.

This woman was not something to be used or abused. She was not to be tossed aside; she was his crowning glory. Together they subdued the earth, cared for and ruled over creation, and would start a family. She was not a competitor to overcome but rather, a companion to walk with on his journey. Proverbs 12:4a reads, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband.”

She was not a threat to his ego, but a helper for whatever was needed in a time of crisis. She was God’s gift to Adam and the world and helped establish that all God had created was Very Good. But ‘The Fall of Mankind’ drove a wedge between us and God. Scripture says it also separated us from the earth and the animals. Finally, it caused the division between men and women. Sin kept us from felling unified with one another. That was the devil’s plan from the beginning; he was trying to tear apart God’s creation.

That wedge has laid the seeds of male chauvinism, sexual harassment, demeaning comments, and jokes, abuse of all kinds (physical, sexual, and emotional), downplaying housewives, and marital unfaithfulness.

As Faithful Christians, we are to work at restoring a right relationship with God and each other. We need to keep that first model, God’s perfect plan between males and females, as our focus.

No one does that better in the Bible than Pricilla and Aquila. Pricilla and Aquila were a first century Christian missionary couple described in Acts and are traditionally listed among the first Seventy Disciples. They have been called the most famous couple in the Bible since they are mentioned 7 times, always as a couple and never individually. You can find them mentioned, 4 times in Acts 18, and they are found in Romans, 1 Corinthians and finally in 2 Timothy. Here is their story…

While in Corinth, Paul met a Jew named Aquila, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Pricilla, because Claudius in 52 AD had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker, as they were, he stayed and worked with them.

Their tents were made of rough goat’s hair fabric, which took great skill to cut and sew properly. It was a job always in demand, since many Hebrews had tents that needed repair. And it was a great way to remain inconspicuous, while Paul shared the gospel on the side.

Even in Corinth, teaching and preaching about Jesus could get you thrown out of the synagogue. Many people resisted and some might report them to the authorities. So, they began teaching in homes, Titus Justus was one of the first to invite them in. (Acts 18:7)

Paul stayed on in Corinth with them for about 18 months. Then he left and sailed for Ephesus, accompanied by Pricilla and Aquila. They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul eventually left them there as he went on to Caesarea. In Ephesus, Pricilla and Aquila met a man named Apollos, from Alexandria, who spoke boldly in the synagogue. Apollos was a learned man, who knew his scriptures. But he knew more about John the Baptist and his prediction of the coming Messiah, than he did about Jesus.

When Pricilla and Aquila heard him, they were so impressed, they invited him into their home for dinner. Once he was there, they explained to him, the work of God through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Pricilla and Aquila may not have been accomplished public speakers, but they were diligent students of the word, and they loved to share it with others. Mind you, they had a year and a half with Paul, listening, questioning, and mastering the life of Jesus. They were willing to invest the time necessary, to take one young man under their spiritual care and pour into his life, the things of Jesus Christ. It created a life-long bond between them.

As a result, of this encounter with Aquila and Pricilla, Apollos became a more effective servant of God whom some of the Corinthians later placed on a level with Peter and Paul.

Scripture says Pricilla and Aquila risked their lives for others and that their home became a ‘house church’ for sharing the Gospel. (1 Corinthians 16:19)

Here are some facts I want you to notice…

1) They worked together, ministered together, and are always mentioned together; they were a true model of a Christian couple. Of those seven times mentioned in scripture, five times Pricilla’s name is mentioned first. That is very unusual in their day, because it was the custom to list the husband’s name first. This reversal indicates Pricilla’s importance in the minds of the New Testament writers. Some even suggest that she was the real evangelist.

On a basic level, it does indicate that Pricilla was not teaching as a secondary partner, under the ‘covering’ of her husband’s spiritual authority. They were equal in status and practice. She wasn’t off in the kitchen while the men talked. There was respect in their home and Pricilla was a leader as well.

2) They knew what they believed. They studied their Scriptures and were some of the first theologians. They were willing to mentor younger people of the faith and challenge them. They kept God first in their relationship, and they had the right priorities. They surrounded themselves with good people of the faith and stayed strong in the synagogue. They prayed together, worked together, and remained committed to one another.

3) Finally, they shared all that they had with others. They were giving and compassionate. They raised money for Paul and for Apollos. They were hospitable and even opened their home to travelers and as a safe shelter for other Christians.

They learned to trust each other, support each other, and remain open to the call of the Spirit even in a world that was openly hostile to Christians and women of faith. To find a clergy couple so equally matched was very rare, if not impossible.

As Christians, I think we need to learn to put the battle of the sexes behind us. Acts 2:17 reminds us, “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”

Paul gives us this insight in Ephesians 5:25 -28, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So, husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself…”

On this morning we need to recognize and bear witness to God’s purpose for us, as men, in relation to women. God’s intent was for men to be blessed with their presence. I think that is why Saint Augustine called wives ‘our better half’ way back in 397 AD.

God gave Adam a wonderful gift in Eve. Women are a joy and the perfect companion to men, and that is what God intended. While I may not be perfect, I know I have been blessed with Cindy. I married up! I am better because she is in my life. I am also blessed to still have my mother. I am honored to have two beautiful daughters (And a son). They keep my faith fresh with challenging questions and honest debate.

I learned so much from my grandmothers and aunts. They are the reason I have the faith. Without women in my life, I simply would not be the same person.

I hope you can look at the women in your life and say the same thing. And I pray that each day, we continue to appreciate them just a little more.

Your assignment is…to thank the women in your life and to do everything you can to love them and honor them. Call them, visit them, send cards, send flowers, or just thank God for them if they are gone.

And, if there is a separation between you and the women in your life…forgive them. Seek reconciliation, if possible. The only one that wants division is Satan. And he has already done too much damage.

Make this a day to honor women.         Happy Mother’s Day.

“And all God’s People said, Amen”