Darrow Miller and Friends

A Woman Can Do Anything a Man Can Do

female weight lifter“A woman can do anything a man can do.”

Most of us have heard that sentiment. Or even expressed it.

No doubt the phrase sometimes captures legitimate frustration. Ever since Genesis 3 husbands have tilted away from responsibility and women have had to fill the gap. I personally know many women who have excelled in such a context.

But if you think about it, to declare that “a woman can do anything a man can do” as a sort of general philosophy is a strange claim.

Don’t take me wrong: there are women who can outdo many men in arenas that have been traditionally male. I’m not much of a mechanic; most of the women I know are even less. But I can identify more than one woman (out of thousands, no doubt) who could work circles around me under the hood.

Nevertheless, life has plenty of dimensions for which a man is simply more suited: fathering, activities requiring upper body strength, combat, for example. To say that a woman can do anything a man can do rings somewhat hollow. (In the same way that the reverse statement—“a man can do anything a woman can do”—would be hollow.)

The claim “a woman can do anything a man can do” is built on a lie

But that’s a secondary line of argument. Here’s the more important point: the claim “a woman can do anything a man can do” is actually built on a false premise. A lie, in fact.

Here’s the lie: A woman is valuable to the degree she is like a man.

To make the claim “a woman can do anything a man can do” is, in a manner of speaking, to juxtapose woman and man as one might place fine china alongside cast iron and say, “This plate can do anything that pan can do.”

First, it’s not true. Second, it’s irrelevant. Both china and cast iron have their place in the culinary world. But they have very different (and complementary) functions.

Nobody would park his Jaguar next to a Dodge Ram and say, “My car can do anything your truck can do.” Both are superb motor vehicles. They both have a motor and transmission, wheels, doors, windows. But their functions are more different than alike. And the differences are to be celebrated.

thoroughbredclydesdalesA sleek thoroughbred and a splendid Clydesdale are both horses, each with its own claim to fame. But they never compete against each other.

So, to say a woman can do anything a man can do is silly. Such a claim fails to recognize the vital differences between a man and a woman. As if they are all similarity and no difference. Both are human, yes. Both are made in God’s image, yes. And, yes, they are equal in value and significance as stewards of God’s creation.

That does not make them identical. Or put them in competition with each other.

The notion that a woman’s achievement should be measured directly against a man’s ability harms the society, both women and men. The family and the society needs both to function in a healthy and orderly way.

Darrow has often pointed out that radical feminism is tantamount to the disappearance of women. That creature who for generations has been the bearer and nurturer of children, more skilled in things domestic, typically finer of feature, more naturally sensitive to and aware of the needs of others around her … that person has been rejected by the culture. There is no place for her. To even dare to draw such a word picture is to invite scorn.Leave it to Beaver

June Cleaver (wife/mom in the 1950’s television program Leave It To Beaver) is dead; long live GI Jane.

GI JaneWhich brings me to a recent news story.

Two years ago, when Leon Panetta was the Secretary of Defense, he commissioned a Marine Corps study to assess the performance of women in combat.

“We must open up service opportunities for women as fully as possible,” Panetta said, ordering the military to open all combat jobs to women.

Why must we, I have to wonder.

Anyway, the months-long study recently finished and the results are in. Last month, CBS News covered the story in an article, “Women in combat at disadvantage, Marine Corps study shows.”

For those arguing that women should be able to perform all the same combat jobs as men, the news is discouraging. … In almost every area the all-male units performed significantly better than those with both men and women Marines.          

The men were “faster in each tactical movement,” had “better accuracy” and were “quicker.” The men also “registered more hits on target” and had “a noticeable difference in their “performance” of “evacuating casualties” and overcoming obstacles.

Should we be surprised? Does this mean that men are superior to women?

Yes … if faster tactical movement, more accurate firing, and carrying heavy burdens over obstacles have absolute value. But of course they don’t.

For people in combat, these are essential qualifications. Are they also essential for drivers? Project managers? CEOs? Counsellors? Teachers? (The alert reader will note the common denominator there: functions of a mother.)

Is it okay that women are different from men?

Can we abide the notion that God, in His wisdom, “created them male and female”? Doesn’t that indicate something about design? About function? Roles?

Maybe it’s time to acknowledge the healthy, helpful, essential differences between men and women. To celebrate each. To fearlessly and without hesitation nurture girls into the feminine and boys the masculine.

Maybe it’s time to honor women as the glorious creatures God made them to be.

  • Gary Brumbelow


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Gary is the Disciple Nations Alliance editorial manager. He manages Darrow Miller and Friends and serves as editor and co-writer on various book projects. For eight years Gary served as a cross-cultural church planting missionary among First Nations people of Canada. His career also includes 14 years as executive director of InterAct Ministries, an Oregon-based church-planting organization in Canada, Alaska, and Siberia. Gary is a graduate of Grace University, earned an MA from Wheaton College and a Graduate Studies Diploma from Western Seminary. He lives near Portland, Oregon with his wife, Valerie. They have two married sons and twelve grandchildren. In addition to his work with the DNA, Gary serves as the pastor of Troutdale Community Church.

1 Comment

  1. Jon

    November 6, 2015 - 3:35 am