en are from Mars. Women are from Venus. Men are like Waffles. Women are like Spaghetti. There is no doubt that men and women are different, yet both men and women can be Moral Operators. And even though there are some similarities in the sexes with Moral Operating, there are some differences as well.
To review, male and female Moral Operators typically interpret and process events and situations as “all or nothing,” “either – or,” or “right or wrong.” This type of thinking over-simplifies all the ins and outs of situations and reduces them to basically two choices. Since there are only two choices (good or bad, right or wrong, etc.), it is important to meet the standard (successful/good), or else you fail (failure/bad). While standards can be good, especially when setting goals and performing quality work, setting standards without a measure of grace is unwise. Seeing through the Moral Operating lens may lead to setting high standards for self and others and leads to comments (often seen as criticism) towards people when they fail to meet them. Such interactions often cause conflicts with those around who complain of being criticized, never good enough, unworthy, and lonely.
Generally, men and women who think or process things through the Moral Operating Lens do so differently because they are created male or female. Hormones, societal norms, and past events and relationships will certainly influence how one perceives, processes, and performs (acts). These influences will impact where on the Image Inventory scale where the Moral Operator functions (further or closer to Relational side). Typically, the greater the hurt, broken relationships, or trauma of the past, the further from the Relational side one may be. In all cases, when Moral Operating is combined with pride, it is about my way, or my will be done in the relationship (thus creating one’s own laws and not following God’s laws). It is important to be mindful of these laws (expectations / standards) as they can harm the relationship and cause hurt feelings, fears, and resentments.
In general, women seem to be more relational than men. I believe this is because women were created by God to be Relational. This conclusion is based on two things: 1) the Creation order and reasons for Woman to be created seems to suggest that woman was created FOR relationship (Gen 3) with man (“It is not good for man to be alone,” so God created woman); and 2) God created woman with the ability and “plumbing” to give birth and bond with their children through breastfeeding. Therefore, I would conclude that women are created to be more Relational, in general. So it would make sense that either women are more Relational and less Moral Operating in their thinking, or, at least, the content of their Moral Operating may be more relationship oriented. For example, in many Moral Operators with whom I have spoken, the Moral Lens and laws in women often occur as “relational laws.” In other words, your husband MUST love you (love is desired by women, whereas respect is more desired by men) by spending time, serving, etc. That becomes the right way and only way to love, and your husband must do this or a punishment (criticism, withholding sex, etc.) will be given. Either you love me this way (which is right) or you don’t love me (which is wrong) – [see the all or nothing thinking?]. Demanding love (instead of desiring it) thus becomes an idol of the heart. This idol is held on to because she knows she is right, but in holding onto it, she becomes wrong. This can turn into being controlling and will cause damage in the relationship. Some become very angry and critical, which can lead to emotional or physical abuse. Now this does not occur for all Moral Operating Women. Others don’t have those Relational Laws, but instead find themselves fulfilling the “laws” held by respective roles. A good and godly wife should be (fill in the blank), so that is what I will do. A good employee should (fill in the blank), so that is what I will do.
Some questions for female Moral Operators: What if your husband was loving you in other ways? Why are these other ways dismissed as wrong? What relationship laws have you set in your heart? How do you respond when you don’t get what you want?
Men, Your Turn
Although the same Genesis account shows us that Adam desired companionship and, I believe, wanted to be IN relationship (It was not good that man was alone – Gen 2:18), man was not created FOR relationship like woman (unless it is a relationship with God), but instead was created FOR work (there was no one to tend the Garden -Gen 2:5, 15). But to be clear, relationship is important and necessary for men to learn, grow, love, and become like Christ. In addition, although women were created FOR relationship, they were created to be equal with man, and not FOR man to do as he wishes. If the Moral Operator believes that his spouse is created FOR him, to please him and make him happy, he is outside of God’s plan for marriage. Like women, male Moral Operators also have “relationship laws,” but these laws are not about being loved, but about being respected. When these desires become demands (from desiring respect to demanding obedience), however, the laws will become overbearing to spouses. At times, many pastors and counselors can tell you how men have used the Scriptures to get their wives to do what they want. They may say, “Even God’s Word says that you need to submit to me and not deprive me of sex.” Others will be concerned that the right biblical process and procedures are followed in that they are the head, make the decisions, and that the wife should ask permission, follow the husbands lead in everything, and trust him without question. Unfortunately, some wives feel devalued as their opinions are ignored, especially if the Moral Operating man criticizes, etc. With the addition of anger and pride, many Moral Operating men become emotional or physical abusers.
Some Questions for male Moral Operators: What if your wife is honoring or serving you in other ways? Why are these other ways dismissed as wrong? What relationship laws have you set in your heart? How do you respond when you don’t get what you want?
The differences above are not meant to be comprehensive, by any means, but outline areas where God has created men and women differently (men desiring respect and women desiring love – see Eph 5 and the book, Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs). “Relationship Laws” are essentially expectations and standards set for the other person (or maybe for oneself), that when unmet, result in criticisms or “advice” for the other person. The goal is to make the other person into your image of a perfect spouse (as if they are created to make you happy or fulfilled). However, our goal is not to get others to meet our standards, but for us to seek after Christ and be changed so that we become like Him (the full image of God).