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Words of a Fether

Opinions on Faith and Life

Gender-obsessed Christianity

Though I’ve lamented the endless repetition in the “gender war” in Christianity, it’s always good to point out both logical and theological flaws we see every day. But before I examine the next one, let me emphasize once again that the overarching principles of our faith– our adoption as children of God, our being equal (yet distinguishable) parts of one Body, the command to esteem others as our betters instead of our underlings or assistants, for example– are never negated or excepted in any particular scripture. We must see temporary or situational stopgap concessions for what they are (such as Paul’s instructions on how Christians in slavery should behave), not for timeless and universal sanctions. Whatever we see must not conflict with the indisputable foundation of Jesus’ teachings against lording over, regardless of how benevolently one might wish to practice it.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at an article called God’s Glory is Displayed Through GENDER. It centers on an epiphany experienced by the author during a talk on Gen. 2:23, which tells of Eve’s creation. But this claim is made:

It is VERY important that we understand that without the distinct characteristics in man and woman, meant to reveal Himself through the union of the two in marriage, we only see a part of who God is.
This is an inference, not a declaration of God. Scholars have long debated what exactly is meant by people being made in the image of God, such that any claim of having THE correct interpretation would be arrogant at best. While no once can argue successfully against God showing attributes of both strength and tenderness, fatherhood and motherhood (giving “birth”, gathering as a hen gathers her chicks, etc.), such attributes are those of character, not the flesh. Women in scripture are shown as having all the characteristics men esteem as “manly”, such as courage, boldness, intelligence, leading Israel (such as Deborah), running their own businesses (Prov. 31), and independent thinking (remember Abigail?), and many men such as King David were known as much for their tender hearts as their military exploits. We err greatly when we try to read the chivalry of the Middle Ages or 1950s America onto the scriptures. So it does not follow that we can only see part of who God is if we only consider either males or females.

Now I can agree with this to a degree:

“Isha” comes from a Hebrew word meaning “soft”, while “Ish” comes from the word meaning “strength”. Now remember, God had said, “Let us make man in our image”. Adam at first embodied the whole image of God. (Even the word translated “man” in the first part of the verse has a different meaning than what we see after Eve was created.) Literally, God took the feminine nature out of Adam and embodied that in a new creation.
Katherine Bushnell had a similar view, and I think it’s entirely reasonable, though many bristle at the very idea that Man was created as male/female. They bristle because they immediately think “androgyny”, but that is only repulsive if there is already separate male and female of the same kind. That is, just as marrying one’s near relative was only a sin after people’s genes had degenerated to the point where too many mutations would arise from such a union, so also androgyny would only be a sin if man were presumed not to have been made with the capacity to self-reproduce. But this is hardly a necessary view either way; it has no bearing on the essential point of God taking “isha” from “ish”.

What I mean is that something was removed from the man, and that woman was made from it. The real significance of this is not “gender” per se, but unity of substance. Eve was made of the very same “flesh and bone” as Adam, thus making her his clone; her flesh was made of the very same substance. She is thus shown in scripture to be his absolute equal, unlike the animals who (like Adam, it should be noted) were made from dust. We should also remember that God’s statement of having dominion over the earth and animals was made to THEM:

God blessed THEM and said to THEM, “BE FRUITFUL AND INCREASE IN NUMBER; fill the earth and SUBDUE it. RULE OVER the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Gen. 1:28)
BOTH were to RULE, and even if we try to take the self-reproducible Adam as being able to “fill the earth”, we have to ignore “THEM”. The inescapable fact before us is that God is giving rule to more than one person, and these persons are to fill the earth and subdue it. But the statement in 2:23 is not connected contextually to this subduing of the earth, but to the reason given in vs. 24: a man is to leave his parents and join to his wife, to be “one flesh”. Not to be two fleshes with one in charge of the deceivable other, but a union of complementary bodies. This is God’s design for procreation, not His design for government. And note that it is the man who joins to the woman. Think about that. Yet the author of the cited article concludes:
God was screaming to Adam, and to us: “You can only fully understand Me by looking at the totality of Who I am through gender.”
This statement implies that only married couples can illustrate the nature of God, but no such thing is seen in scripture, and it insults those who remain single. What Paul wrote about Christ and the church in Eph. 5:32 was how marriage is a pattern of what Christ did for us. He “left His Father’s house” to join to His Bride, and the two became one Body. This is about unity, not about God forcing Himself upon mankind. Jesus was “made like his brothers and sisters in every way” (Heb. 2:17) and “shared in [our] humanity” (Heb. 2:14) to be one with us, giving up His position for a time (Phil. 2:5-11) and calling us His friends instead of servants (John 15:15). It is this humbling, this service, this giving up of position to join and love and nurture which the Christian husband is called to emulate. And Paul also wrote that the ideal state for any Christian is singleness (see 1 Cor. 7).

Are we thus arguing that Jesus is indistinguishable from His Body, or that in joining to us He lost His divinity? Not at all. Yet this does not negate the fact that He did join, and He did become human as well. No mere human is ever told to play God to any other human; no Christian is to play Father to anyone else’s Son! It is never Jesus’ divinity which men are to model, but His humility, His willingness to stoop to the level of the oppressed and lift them up. Again, this is about unity and humility, not some obsession with sex, as the next mind-blowing (for decidedly negative reasons!) quote illustrates:

And when we embrace this uniqueness, celebrating our differences, we say to God, “It is very good”.

But when we bristle at and blur these differences we raise a fist and say, “It is not good”.

And the picture gets clearer…man reflects God’s “going out” power (even in the basic anatomy and events of reproduction), while woman reflects His “receiving” power in her anatomy and her ability to house and nourish life.

This is the common straw man argument against equality: that we wish to blur the distinction between male and female. That is, of course, quite untrue. The anti-equality view confuses equality with sameness, as if a person’s left and right hands, equal and mirror images that they are, are indistiguishable. As I’ve said before, identical twins are clearly two separate beings regardless of how hard it may be to tell them apart, and neither twin should boss the other (by what right would we insist otherwise?). And no egalitarian thinks there are absolutely no anatomical differences, or that we should ignore them; we celebrate them as much as anyone. What we don’t do is obsess over which body “has the final say”, which body “leads”, which body can teach scripture. God, as I’ve said many times, is still not “a respecter of persons” and still does not “judge according to the flesh”.

And I’m sorry, but drawing an analogy between a man’s emissions and God’s “going out” power just disgusts me. This cultural need to make the man dominant through sex is about as far as anyone can get from the teachings of Jesus or the picture of unity and equality we see in Genesis. This is rehashed pop psychology, not spiritual truth. Surely the Holy Spirit cringes and grieves at such shameful analogies.

This is why homosexuality is an abomination to Him. This is why a rejection of the gift of reproduction fails to display His glory. This is why an egalitarian view of marriage makes a mockery of Him. This is why when we balk at the “warrior” nature of man and the “nurture” nature of woman we act foolishly.
Oh please, God, grant me restraint.

Equality, as I’ve said, has NOTHING to do with sexual perversion. God calls it sin in both Testaments, and though some egalitarians do accept it, I do not. And it should again be noted that homosexuality is rampant in many patriarchal societies. If egalitarians are to be continually equated with this sin, then male supremacists must accept being equated with wife abuse. And what exactly is “rejection of the gift of reproduction”? Are the barren cursed of God? Are they in sin, even if they want children but cannot have them? Was Paul in sin for being single and teaching the same? If any model of marriage mocks God, it is the hierarchical, disgusting, “me Tarzan you Jane”, man as “power of God” to woman’s “mere human receptacle” model. All this pop psych “warriors and princesses” nonsense just makes my blood boil.

When, oh when, will Christians learn to get off the “who’s in charge” train and just “treat others as you would have them treat you”?

Posted 2010-06-08 under women, hierarchy, misogyny, egalitarian, male supremacism