Genders Differences in Approach to Spirituality and Religion
©Arlene R. Taylor PhD
According to author Joe Tannenbaum in his book, Male and Female Realities, there are differences in the way each gender approaches or relates to spirituality and/or religion. Following are some examples.
Relating to the World
Can relate to the world via physical or intellectual modes but they can also relate directly through emotions and feelings without having to translate into either the physical or intellectual modes. If they speak directly from a feelings mode, the males may misread or misunderstand what the females are saying because, typically, males avoid venturing into the more nebulous realms of feelings.
While they can translate spiritual information into physical and intellectual modes, they can also respond through direct feeling states that are outside physical language and intellectual definition. They can experience a spiritual relationship with a Higher Power directly through emotions and feelings without having to translate it into either physical or intellectual modes.When discussing spirituality or religion, are usually expected to respond from either a physical or intellectual mode, at least by their male counterparts.
Tend to relate to the world primarily through a physical mode (e.g., objects that are perceived through the five senses) or an intellectual mode (e.g., thinking, imagining, attitudes, viewpoint, inventing).
Tend to translate spiritual information either into a physical mode (e.g., building cathedrals, creating statues or art work, designing flags or icons or other symbolic objects) or into an intellectual mode (e.g., dogma, rituals, philosophy, doctrine, rules, regulations).
Generally assume that females also speak from a physical or intellectual mode, as well, even when they are discussing topics involving spiritual or religious issues.
Affiliating with Religion
Studies by Dr. Donald Joy of Asbury Theological Seminar showed that girls tend to be influenced more strongly by what they learn through attendance at religious services (e.g., Sunday School, Sabbath School) while boys were more influenced by what actually went on in the home, specifically the congruence between stated beliefs versus observed behaviors.
In terms of being drawn to affiliation with religion, Dr. Donald Joy reported that males were more likely to be drawn to religious affiliation through stories and parables processed in the right hemisphere. Males are more likely to fall asleep in church, especially when sermons are presented in a typical left-brained style. Females tended to be drawn to religious affiliation through doctrinal presentations processed in the left hemisphere. Thus, even though they may enjoy stories/parables, they may find left-brained sermons more tolerable.
Attendance at Religious Services
Females tend to attend religious services more regularly (e.g., two-thirds of the average church congregation in the U.S.A. are female). They are often more experience-oriented and more emotional in terms of their religious activities. They are more likely to attend church for the experience of worshiping with friends.
Females may find it more difficult to pursue activities recommended by religious leaders, such as specific reading quotas, even when these are purported to assist them in developing a relationship with a Higher Power.
Males typically attend religious services less regularly (e.g., special occasions, when in charge, to achieve a goal). Males are usually more goal-oriented in terms of religious activities. They can accomplish a goal by attending a service, or by reading a sacred/religious book. With their goal-completion orientation, however, males may lose sight of the importance of enjoying the experience of worship, or may fail to develop a spiritual connection with a Higher Power.