Men and the Maternal

Women are not men and men are not women. We state the obvious for the sake of a civilization
that no longer grasps the obvious, denies the obvious, and is at war with the obvious. God made
us male and female (Gen 1:28). There are distinctive qualities of maleness not shared by
femaleness, and distinctive qualities of femaleness not shared by maleness. What are they? The
visible ones are physical. Women (our immediate concern) are designed to bear and nurture
children. That is their distinctive quality. They are capable of many other things. They have
many other gifts. Yet the unique thing that they are able to do is conceive life within them,
nourish that life to maturity, and then provide sustenance for that life once it is born. This female
capacity for conception, gestation and lactation is something like a God-given miracle-power
that supersedes all other human activities and endeavors.

The future of the human race, we are told, the very survival of humanity depends on climate
control. Or perhaps it depends on nuclear disarmament. No doubt these are vital issues, even if
their importance may be overstated. Yet it is no exaggeration to say that the continuation of the
human species depends on the continuing willingness of the female of the species to exercise her
super-power of conceiving, bearing, and nourishing children.

Accompanying this physical design is a corresponding maternal psychology. All women have it,
to varying degrees, whether they have children or not. Women have a built-in high degree of
concern for safety, for security, for stability that men do not share. Men can afford to be reckless.
A woman cannot. She instinctively knows that her body must be protected if she is to bear
children. She guards it. She has a built-in concern for safety because she has an innate concern
for her children or potential children. We all know this. She is a “momma bear” long before she
is a momma, concerned for the safety and security of the home and the children that may inhabit

What is my point? It is crucial that men recognize this maternal instinct, particularly husbands.
We suffered a break-in years ago. Within hours, an alarm system was installed, not at my
instigation. Years ago, our church hired a security guard for nighttime choir practice not because
the men were nervous about walking to their cars in the dark. The world of men is a scary place
for women, witness the response to the idea of so-called “transgender women,” that is biological
men, using women’s restrooms and locker rooms. Most men can overpower and outrun most
women. Of course there is a built-in concern for safety and well-developed and highly nuanced
female methods of dealing with the world of men. This is why men find women complicated,
even mysterious. Unable to rely on physical strength for protection, they have developed subtle
strategies that compensate. The much derided “feminine mystique” (thank you Betty Friedan) is
this female ability to protect herself, to get her way, to navigate her way through the always
potentially, not infrequently violent world of men.

Husbands, when you shout at your wife, erupt angrily towards her, ignore her concerns, or
ridicule her fears, you destabilize her world. Both harshness and indifference affect and upset her
far more than it does you. Allow this to become a pattern, and you risk permanently alienating
her affections.

Husbands and would-be husbands, your employment record matters to her. Why? Not so much
for the sake of prestige but security. Are you able to hold on to a job? Are you going to be able to
support a family? Your wife or future wife is likely to want to devote considerable attention to
her children in ways that you will not. This is true whether she is employed or not. Will she be
able to do so?

Do you understand and accommodate her concern for security, financial and otherwise? Why do
you think that God made you bigger, stronger, and faster than she is? What is the purpose behind
the design if not for you to protect her and provide for her, whatever form that protection and
provision takes? This includes emotional and physical protection, protection against future harm,
against present fears, and against dangers from the past. These concerns of women are hard-
wired. Are their men going to ridicule their anxieties, or gently address them in a way that is