Dear Rabbi Lapin and Susan,
I was talking to a friend the other day and he made the statement, “When I meet God, I’m going to ask him why he created men and women with such different sex drives.”
I immediately thought of forwarding the question to you. Please let me know what ancient Jewish wisdom has to say on the subject.
While he’s at it, could your friend find out why God created men and women with different emotional needs? Oh, yes, and perhaps also why the average man is taller and hairier than the average woman? Or, for that matter, why people in general have such different natures, personalities, yearnings and talents.
You might have seen, read or heard us teach this paramount principle of ancient Jewish wisdom—every physical detail of our construction reflects a spiritual equivalent.
For instance, God placed male organs externally visible while those of women are largely concealed from view. This reflects the reality that men are largely characterized by unconcealed and aggressive acquisitiveness for both women and property. Women, on the other hand, are far more modest in pursuing men and money. I point out that no men’s clothing catalog contains the word ‘modesty’ whereas women’s fashion advertisements frequently highlight something called a ‘modesty panel’ or features like ‘lined for modesty’. These are impenetrable mysteries to men.
Hence, man’s sex drive is merely the expression of this reality in one direction whereas financial ambition is the equivalent expression of it in the other.
Here is one of the paradoxes of life. Each one of us is a unique creation. Each of us is unlike any other human being who has lived, is living or will live in the future. That is part of what being created in the image of a unique God means.
At the same time, we are part of larger groups and as such will most likely share certain tendencies with those of the same gender as us. So, while some women have a stronger sex drive than their husbands, the number of couples for whom that is true is minuscule compared to the other way around. The only percentage that is probably smaller is that of couples who are absolutely matched in this area.
That is the answer. God wants us to form and cherish relationships that force us out of self-absorption. It is ever so much harder to treat someone who is different from me with respect and love than it is to behave well to someone who validates everything about me.
This, by the way, is one of the seductive allures of homosexuality. Matched sex drives means living with someone who never ever says, “Not tonight darling, I have a headache”. We understand the temptation. But God wants to challenge us out of our self-absorption.
While this is true for all sorts of relationships, by highlighting and elevating marriage above all other forms of human interaction, God is prodding us to the greatest growth we can know. This is only enhanced when we forced to grow even more when we are blessed with children.
So, while we assume your friend’s comment was wry rather than theological (and we recommend getting him Madam, I’m Adam: Decoding the Marriage Secrets of Eden for his next birthday), it is in no way an unimportant acknowledgment of how the world really works.
Hope this gives the two of you an interesting conversation,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin