In 1995, television reporter John Stossel aired a special on ABC’s 20/20 entitled, “Boys and Girls are Different: Men, Women, and the Sex Difference.” The report highlighted research showing ways boys and girls are different from the time they are born.

In one segment, feminist Gloria Steinem protested—loudly. “It’s really the remnant of anti-American crazy thinking to do this kind of research,” she said.

Fast forward more than 20 years, and opposition to discussing distinctions between the two sexes has grown. Just ask James Damore, the Google software engineer who was fired this summer after writing a workplace memo documenting general personality differences between men and women.

According to Google’s diversity training, any disparities between men and women in the workplace are based on discrimination and bias. Damore argued that perhaps some of the disparities in the workplace are due to the fact that men and women have different interests and relational styles. For that suggestion, he not only lost his job, but was raked over the proverbial coals in the press.

Here’s why this story matters for you: As Christians, we believe God created us male and female, in His image. This foundational truth undergirds other beliefs, such as:

Marriage is the union of one man and one 

Children need a mother and a father; and

Boys should embrace their masculinity and 
        girls their femininity.

The Damore incident illustrates two important issues: The world around us does not believe men and women are fundamentally different, and those who speak out about this face increasing hostility.

Reason tells us men and women aren’t interchangeable. For instance, Google wants diversity—including the valuable contributions both men and women bring to the company. At the same time, it is unwilling to acknowledge any male-female 
differences. That doesn’t make sense. Either men and women are distinct, in which case we should recognize and appreciate the differences, or they are not, in which case employment diversity doesn’t matter.

The science sides with Damore. Some years ago, scientists began realizing women respond differently to medication than men. But most medicinal trials included only men, and women’s reactions were ignored. In 2001, the Institute of Medicine published a report noting, “Sex matters. … Every cell has a sex.” The group called for biomedical researchers to acknowledge this in their studies.

Christians—and others, like Stossel and Damore—are increasingly coming under fire for speaking up about sexual distinctions, especially those related to sexuality and marriage. You probably know the stories of florists, bakers and photographers penalized for their beliefs. But there’s more. Recently, companies like Vimeo, Amazon and YouTube have all moved to squelch Christians who speak to these issues.

Our hope is that Christians understand the importance of these issues and respond with grace, truth, courage and wisdom.   

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Originally published in the December 2017 issue of Citizen magazine.