Last night at a Bible study the question of sex differences came up. Specifically, we discussed whether there were traits/virtues that were either feminine or masculine in the Bible.
The consensus was yes, but upon being asked to give specifics, only my wife and I named anything other than the special bond of motherhood.
I named courage in battle as a prototypical masculine trait. She named a quiet and gentle spirit as a feminine trait I don’t think anybody thought what we said was accurate. But for clarity, from a Biblical point of view, the virtues in Scripture are for every person and from a philosophical point of view, justice, courage, temperance, and prudence and for both sexes as well. But with that background, the question is this, does the Bible praise certain traits as particularly masculine/feminine (despite their being virtues for all)? And does the Bible condemn certain traits in one sex more than another? Those two questions, if the Bible does either or both of those things, might yield a picture of what traits/virtues/vices are masculine and feminine. With respect to having a quiet spirit, while 1 Peter 3:1-4 extols this traits with respect to a wife’s relationship to her husband, the Bible portrays it as a general virtue for all humanity in Psalm 131 and in 1 Peter 2, Peter attributes a quiet spirit to Jesus.
I started to wonder, how might one find traits that were, on average more feminine and on average more masculine. I think it would look something like this:
- Same-Sex Admiration/Aversion
- Ask members of both sexes what they admire in same-sex friends, role models, co-workers, politicians, etc. You’ll have to define the traits to ensure, as much as possible, that the traits are seen in the same way. It may also be possible to use questions using trait behavior from other valid constructs.
- Ask members of both sexes a similar question but with respect to aversion, mockery, avoidance, etc.
- Have members of each sex take personality inventories.
- Compare the results cross-culturally to determine which traits are most likely culturally conditioned and which are not.
- Opposite Sex Attraction/Aversion
- Ask members of both sexes what they find attractive in an opposite-sex mate. Control for the difference between short term attraction and long term attraction.
- Ask members of both sexes what they find repulsive in the opposite sex.
- Also ask what is admirable in the opposite sex friends, co-workers, leaders, and politicians without reference to sexual attraction.
- Compare the results cross-culturally to determine which traits are most likely culturally conditions and which are not.
In doing this I think you could get a feel for what traits, on average, are more likely to be instantiated in each sex (they cluster male or female) and which traits are considered admirable in each sex. But you may also get a feel for what is virtuous in a man or woman as well as what is blameworthy. At least with respect to social credit and attraction.
Any thoughts on this? I’m purely in the friend zone when it comes to psychometricians.