By Maria Fontaine
When talking about equal opportunity or equal rights for men and women, the real question that is often on our minds, whether we readily admit it or not, is, "Who is in charge?" Competition, pride, jealousy, and discontent haunt many people's lives today. What a relief it would be if in every workplace and in our personal lives we could simply recognize one another's talents, skills, and strengths, and without regard for gender do the best we can to make sure each person is in the position where he or she will be happy and challenged and able to accomplish the most for "the team." But, you're probably thinking, that's more easily said than done. You're right!
People everywhere yearn to be liberated. The quest for freedom is not unique to women. Men, too, long for liberation. But where can one find it?—The secret to freedom is not in men dominating women or in women dominating men, but in everyone working together in harmony, united, blended together in God's love, all fulfilling their roles, all esteeming the other person better than themselves, all serving one another in humility (Philippians 2:3; Galatians 5:13).
This might seem unrealistic, a utopian dream that could never happen on this earth. Given the common faults in human nature, how in the world can we get around such things as contention, jealousies, divisiveness, backstabbing, dog-eat-dog competition, etc.?
Love, respect, trust, mutual admiration, and appreciation for one another come from God
In today's world, many have seen the resources and talents of women being either underdeveloped or exploited. Some have sought to remedy this problem by force, by legislation, and even by domination. In so doing, they have perverted the grace and beauty that God has bestowed upon women. God has a way that is superior to this.
To begin with, it might surprise you to know that God doesn't extol the strength of an individual, whether male or female. The strength of the individual is very limited. The greater strength, the greater love, and the greater other gifts come from above, from God (James 1:17). Therefore those who are most liberated, whether they be male or female, are those who look to God for their strength.
If you have received Jesus Christ, His Spirit dwells in you (Revelation 3:20; 1 Corinthians 3:16). As you give Him more of yourself, your own thoughts and your own will, you grow spiritually. Then the abilities that God has given you are multiplied many times over, so that you are not as you once were. You become a new person in Him, not with the strength of the flesh, but with the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Corinthians 4:7). Even if you have no strength of your own, He can empower you (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). It's not that you become powerful in yourself; He is the One working in you and through you. This is true of both men and women.
God's Spirit can work through both women and men. It allows women to exercise their gifts and talents, and men to recognize and appreciate those gifts and talents, without feeling threatened.
The key to true liberation is not seeking domination or power or having one gender rule over the other, but it is each one lifting up the other, the man helping the woman, and the woman helping the man, and each one giving what he or she is able to give. The solution is unselfishness and sacrifice on both sides, mutual acceptance of the gifts and talents of the other, and mutual recognition of God's Spirit in each person.
The more we yield to God's Spirit, the more areas we discover where there need not be a differentiation between the sexes. Jesus is in all who have received Him, and He empowers and works through them all, regardless of gender (Galatians 3:28). As we grow closer to Him, we see more and more of His Spirit in each other. We stop thinking in terms of, "This is the opinion of a woman," or "This is the opinion of a man," because we will see God's Spirit at work through that person.
Love, respect, trust, mutual admiration, and appreciation for one another come from God. Only He can give us enough of those things to start us down the path to true liberating equality.
People everywhere yearn to be liberated. The quest for freedom is not unique to women. Men, too, long for liberation.