Different by Design: By Carrie Sandom Reviewed by Elissa Moran
Many years ago I was at a beach mission on the far north coast. I have fond memories of teaching little kids ‘My God is so big’; of singing with gusto in the massive tent as we washed up after dinner; of visiting local residents and sharing life with them. Another distinct memory at beach mission was an event that helped me to begin to understand what it means to work together as men and women.
I was moving a table in the massive tent and a guy came up to me and offered to help. I was quite adamant. “That’s fine, I can do it”. I was trying to be patient but I was thinking, “Who does he think I am? Does he not think I’m capable to move a table? Just because I’m a woman!” He said to me, “It’s not that I don’t that think you can do it, but I want to serve you.” That was quite a humbling experience!
Different by Design has reminded me, once again, of the goodness of being made differently as men and women. We live in a world where feminism has reshaped our thinking about who we are as men and women and seeks to undermine our differences. Being a Christian chaplain at a university means that this topic comes up a lot! These educated, capable women are told that they can do it all and in fact, they have a right to do so! This book helpfully shows how this worldview could actually be damaging our families and our churches.
Different by Design shows how our differences as men and women are not only biological but essentially theological. The relationship between men and women is actually a reflection of who our Creator is. In God himself (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) there is perfect unity and yet diversity and perfect equality and yet order. What a privilege to reflect God’s image in the world as we relate as men and women! I’ve been reminded that this isn’t something to be ashamed of but to be thankful for.
“To be made in the image of God necessitates being made in relationship with others, just as God himself is in relationship with other members of the godhead.”
Carrie Sandom offers such a thorough and engaging exegesis of Genesis (it’s worth reading just for this!) to show what it means to be men and women, distinct yet dependent on each other. She shows the goodness of God’s order in Adam leading and Eve helping him in the task of having dominion over creation, and yet how devastating it is that Adam and Eve overturned the order in which God has made them. We are no longer complementing each other but competing with each other, we are no longer appreciating our equality under God but seeking to be supreme over each other. And I think we can clearly see this in our world today! The world wants us to believe that women are superior to men and that they can do things better than men. Yet I was reminded that God is not pleased when we despise or belittle or mistreat the opposite sex (page 60). We are not supposed to be competing with each other, but being thankful for each other and for the different roles we play.
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