You have probably heard the phrase, “women are more emotional and men are more rational.” I have believed and said this, myself, but it was not until recently that my perspective changed and I realized some issues with this statement and the consequences believing it may have.
The reciprocal of the statement better highlights the assumptions and implications being made: Women are less rational than men and men are less emotional than women. I think that many people believe this and as I said, I did too. However, I would like to explain why this is a wrong assumption, the harm that it can cause, and how we can all strive to be like Christ, no matter our shortcomings.
The first error here is the wrong definition of emotional. Women are very often pegged with this term because we are usually the ones who are seen expressing emotion in the form of tears. But is that the only way of showcasing emotion that warrants the label “emotional”? Merriam-Webster defines emotion as “a conscious mental reaction (such as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body.” Emotion is a basic part of being human. We all have various emotions every single day and we express those emotions in many different ways. But for some reason, the emotions of women are looked at as weak or irrational.
While it may be true that women’s emotions can cause them to make irrational decisions, I’d like to argue that men can be just as irrational or emotional. Have you ever seen a man get killed during a video game? Or watched him watch his favorite sports team lose? He will probably show a good bit of emotion at those times. Have you ever seen a man get very angry? That anger usually leads to irrational behavior if not dealt with properly. The Bible is very clear about anger and how it is an emotional driver that leads to sinfulness:
“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention” (Proverbs 15:18).
“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11).
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly” (Proverbs 14:29).
My objective here is not to bash men or make out their sinful tendencies to be worse than women’s. But, I want to make the argument that we all are emotional beings and because we are also sinful, we have the tendency to give in to those emotions and let them guide us instead of the Truth of God’s Word.
Emotional is defined as “dominated by or prone to emotion.” When we are dominated by our emotions, we are not applying the wisdom found in Scripture to our lives. Instead of practicing self-control, we are choosing to act according to our flesh, rather than the Spirit. However, this is the opposite of we are called to do as believers. Proverbs reminds us many times of the wisdom in self-control: “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back” (Proverbs 29:11). Paul exhorts all Christians to “walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4). And of course we know that self-control is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Saying that women are naturally less rational than men, makes the claim that women are less capable of being like Christ. Most people wouldn’t come out and say that, but that is what the statement implies. It excuses behavior because of an assumed weakness. Being irrational is sinful. It is acting in haste, believing lies instead of truth, and dwelling on things of this world and not on things of God. Instead of being irrational, we are to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). We are to meditate on God’s Word (Psalm 119:15,23,27,48,78) and to “set [our] minds on things that are above” (Colossians 3:2). When we obey these commands, we will not act irrationally, even when emotions arise. Whether it is worry, grief, fear, or anger, if we look to the Lord and let Him remind us of the Truth, we do not have to let our emotions guide us.
If we are all called to be like Christ, then we all have the same capability of doing so, by relying on the Lord's strength, even with our different weaknesses. As a whole, men may struggle with anger more and women may struggle with fear or anxiety more. But those struggles are never an excuse for our sin. On the contrary, we should lay those weaknesses at the foot of the cross and pray for strength from the Lord. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Although Jesus is God, while on this earth, He subjected Himself to human flesh and had to fight the same sinful tendencies we do. Even though we see instances where His human emotion was evident (John 11:35, Mark 3:5), He never acted hastily, never doubted God, and never sinned. He chose to act according to the wisdom of God instead of letting His emotions guide Him. He is our perfect example to follow.
Labeling each other extra-Biblically is never healthy. It creates false assumptions and leads us to believe things about one another that aren’t true. Instead, let’s surrender our weaknesses and shortcomings to Christ and exhort one another to be like Him in all that we do.