Is it better to be right- or left-handed?
Maybe the question should be, “Was Adam right or left-handed?” Because however he was created is how we were designed to work best.
While the Bible doesn’t really spell that out, we can do a bit of digging using the Bible, what we know of God, and what we know of science to make an educated guess.
Here are a few things I know about God:
- He is omnipotent (all powerful). (Revelation 19:6)
- He is unchanging. (Hebrews 13:8)
- He is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
If God is all powerful, it wouldn’t make sense that He would have one hand that is more powerful or used more than the other. But then, because God also isn’t susceptible to weakness, perhaps the physics of gaining strength by using the muscles doesn’t apply to Him. Let’s keep digging.
If God is unchanging, that means His laws and character are always the same. He’s not following one set of rules one day and in a “good mood” while on another day feeling angry and out of sorts. That just does not describe God at all. He doesn’t change His mind. Because He doesn’t need to. His ways are perfect.
He is perfect. In form and in character. If He took a Myers-Briggs personality test, He wouldn’t be classified as introverted or extroverted, intuitive or sensing, feeling or thinking, judging or perceiving. Because He’s the perfect balance of all of those characteristics. In fact He does everything in perfect balance – even justice and mercy (Hosea 12:6).
God is perfectly symmetrical.
In science, something that is symmetrical is considered to be perfect. A few years ago I read about a computer program that searched out the faces of people worldwide to find the “most beautiful woman” based on the symmetry of her features. Symmetry is beauty. It is perfection.
Funny story …
When my daughter was a toddler, she loved to sing. She especially loved to sing hymns. One of her favorites was, “He Leadeth Me.”
“He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
“My God is handsome He leadeth me,
“His faithful follower I will be
“My God is handsome, He leadeth me.”
Don’t you remember those lyrics? Okay, so that’s not exactly what it says. But that’s what it sounded like to my daughter and how she sang it for quite awhile.
Maybe she was onto something.
If you consider that God is perfect in symmetry and symmetry equals beauty, “handsome” is indeed a fitting way to describe Him. Truly, He must be astounding to look at.
Created in symmetry
If we were created in God’s image and God is perfectly symmetrical, it stands to reason that we were created to be in perfect symmetry as well.
Now I don’t know about you, but I’m very right-hand dominant. Writing with my left hand is out of the question. As is drawing, throwing, batting.
There are a few things I can do like catch with my left hand and carry a child on my left side longer than my right. And of course my left hand can type, play the piano, and hold vegetables while my right hand chops them.
I would consider my left hand to be a support hand. Definitely used, but not nearly as developed as my right. Being able to do a few things with my left hand hardly makes me symmetrical. Far from it.
What’s the problem with asymmetry?
It’s not just that being hand-dominant is a matter of preference. Biomechanically speaking, it actually wears the body unevenly. Think about it. If you use one arm 80% of the time and the other one 20% of the time, which one do you think will wear out faster?
Likely the arm used 80% of the time will end up with an overuse injury while the underused arm will have issues from the lack of use. Not great outcomes on either side.
Assuming that being without sin is perfection, and that symmetry is perfection, it also makes sense that hand dominance probably began after sin. As did asymmetrical or unbalanced personalities.
It’s also evident in the Bible that hand-dominance was in play later on. If you look up “right hand” in the Bible, you will find it in multiple verses, especially in the Psalms like this one:
“My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63:8
The Hebrew word for “right hand,” it is from the word, “yamiyn.” It is defined in Strong’s Concordance as “the right hand or side of a person (as the stronger and more dexterous).”
It’s a good indication that even in those days, more people were right vs. left-handed. So in human terms, David was probably referring to God holding Him up in the strongest way possible known to man. Which for most men would mean using their right hands.
From a cultural perspective, the right-hand side is also referred to as being the honored side. As in being the “right hand man.” When Jesus ascended back to Heaven, the Bible says He was seated at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19). Welcomed back as an equal with His Father.
Conversely, in some countries today it is offensive to shake hands with your left hand as it is the hand used in toileting. Definitely not the hand you want to be shaking.
All this aside, even though 90% of the population is right-handed, there is no reason why we can’t aim for more dexterity. Maybe it’s a good indication that we all really NEED to work on dexterity for our bodies’ sake.
Let’s get practical
If you want to get a good visual as to just how much the way you use your hands affects the structures inside and long-term function, here’s a test to compare the flexibility of your right hand versus your left:
- Stand in front of a table or kneel on the ground and bring both elbows in toward your body
- The bends/fronts of your elbow should be facing forward and palms up
- Place your fingertips on the ground (or edge of the table) in front of you keeping the palms facing away
- Gently press forward, allowing the fingers to stretch at the point where they attach to the palms
Compare sides. Do you have equal flexibility in both hands? Do some of the fingers feel tighter than others? Does your wrist or elbow bend more on one side to compensate for lack of motion in the fingers?
Not only is this a good self-evaluation but an excellent way to increase circulation (which is vital) to the hands and fingers. And a great way to stay off issues such as arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, etc.
God is love
Before sin, there was no dominance. There was love. There was perfect harmony.
In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul is speaking of the body (physically and spiritually) having many parts but each having its purpose. Likewise our hands should both be used in harmony for the best whole body health. Giving each hand the opportunity to do its part.
“If the [left hand] should say, ‘Because I am not a [right] hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body?” … “and the [right hand] cannot say to the [left] hand, ‘I have no need of you’ …”
Scientifically speaking, it is important to our health and longevity to use our bodies symmetrically and as posturally aligned as possible. (Check out this post for specifics on correct postural alignment.)
Because it is our duty and privilege to understand how to take care of our body temples to the glory of God. No matter your hand preference.
I wonder which hand God used to write the Ten Commandments. And to write on the wall at Belshazzar’s feast. One day I plan to ask Him in person.