GENDER: BASIC TO GOD’S CREATION Trinity
Genesis 1:26-31 29.4.18
On December 9 last year (2017), same-sex marriage became legal in Australia, on the back of a campaign that told us it was all about “equality”, “inclusivism”, “diversity”, and “love is love”. We were told that no one else would be affected adversely, and that great days were just ahead for us all.
It was a lie. How can you reverse an understanding held for thousands of years about marriage, sex and family, without changing a fair bit for everyone? We had always thought that marriage was possible only when two opposite-gender people come together. Just as you can only have children with two opposite gendered people.
It was also a lie that same sex marriage was the final decision with no more change to come, when in fact it was the first battle in a long war. The removal of gender from marriage and family has now moved on to a new front, in the removal of gender altogether.
We are now told that calling someone a ‘boy’ or a ‘girl’ is a social construct, something that is just “assigned at birth”.
Today and next Sunday we are departing from our normal pattern of Bible exposition to look at what is a vital issue: Gender. Let me tell you why this is such a pressing issue:
· More teenagers now say they are trans-sexual (opposite to their sex gender) than there are adults who say they are homosexual.
· Until now, we used to think there were only two genders: male and female. If you apply now for a Facebook account, you can choose from 70 gender identities, or if yours is not there, you can add it in.
· Qantas is advising its cabin crew not to use the term “Ladies and Gentlemen”, because that is too limiting. We already know of its attempts to shut down ‘other gender’ views in their opposition to Israel Folau and his recent statements.
· The Midwives Association of North American no longer refers to a “mother”, but to a “pregnant individual” or a “birthing person”, and “breast-feeding” is now “chest-feeding” all in the name of inclusion.
· How you identify (as male or female) when you come to many U.S. universities now, is enough to decide which bathroom you get to use, and who you share a room with. No medical evidence of your gender is needed. What you choose to call yourself is enough.
· Last month a Welsh Male Voice choir was disbanded because it was ruled to be divisive not to allow women in, or men who believed they are really women.
· Yesterday’s news told us that the Labor Party is now considering a policy of doing business only with organisations that affirm LGBTIQ rights.
· If a bill now before the Californian senate is passed, it will be legal for a doctor to give female hormones to a 12 year-old boy, to help him transition, but illegal for that doctor to try and help him identify with and accept his body.
HOW DID IT COME TO THIS?
How did we move so easily from believing gender is an essential ingredient in marriage, and in child-rearing, to saying it is now irrelevant? How did we move from saying there are only two genders and that they are biologically fixed, to saying there are many, and you can move from one to any other, or even be pan-gender – all genders all at the same time?
I have no doubt that the general acceptance of the theory of evolution has a lot to do with it. If we are in fact part of a mindless and random process, as taught by classic Darwinian evolutionary theory, then there is no purpose or plan for our bodies, or for us. We, or our environment or our circumstances decide what the next stage for us will be.
How will we know what to write, what to become? We are now told:” whatever we feel is right for us”. If I feel that I am really a woman, trapped in a man’s body, then I am a woman, and you must accept me for who I feel I am. You must call me what I want to be called, because I am the measure of what is real.
This is all a problem when we find a white woman claiming to be black, and an adult man claiming to believe he was 6 years old, and wanting to be admitted to kindergarten.
Another factor in the change has been the way we have learned to despise the body. We spend time and money bulking it up or slimming it down, adorning it with makeup or covering it with tattoos. Is this because we love the body so much, or because we hate the real body, and want a different one?
Christians have not helped when it comes to separating who I am from the body I have. We have not a good track record when it comes to thinking about physical and bodily things.
We have tended to downplay physical enjoyments and delights as though they are bad, or at best second-rate. We focus on going to Jesus, as spirits, when we die … when the really big deal in the scheme of things is the day when we rise physically, and dwell with Jesus in the very physical new heavens and new earth. If we touch the Song of Solomon, we either apologise for it, or explain it away as some spiritualised message, when in fact it is the story about the way in which a husband and wife stand physically naked before each other, sexually aroused, delighting in one another in their bodies. It is not only physical … but it is very physical.
To God, matter matters. Bodies matter. Gender matters.
He has made that so very clear in the first two chapters of the Bible, in the wonderful story of God’s deliberate and thought out creation of a beautiful physical world.
It is a creation of wonderful order. This is made, then that, then that … across the 6 days of creation. Plants, birds, fish and animals all reproduce within their different species, “each according to its kind”. Brown dogs may give birth to black dogs, but dogs do not give birth to cats, nor fish to humans.
You want diversity? It is in every verse. Not least of all; when God came to make man. He is not a blank slate, but he is made “male and female” (1:27) … Adam with 37 million, million cells, every one of them male, and Eve with 37 million, million cells, all of them female.
Both with such physical differences that only together, in their differently gendered bodies be able to be “fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (1:28).
God could have chosen any one of 1000 ways for the human race to reproduce. But he chose to do it this way, through making male and female. They are distinct from one another, and are not interchangeable – he is able to fit with her, and she with him in ways they will never fit together with someone of the same gender.
Our bodies tell a story, and they do not lie.
Our bodies are not something from which we need to escape, but they help us know who we are. It is in these bodies that we know and serve our Creator.
After he had finished the work of creation, God stood back and looked at it all, and loved what he saw. “Behold it was very good” (1:31). Not second rate. Not an inferior stage on the way to something better. But perfect and beautiful and just right.
BUT that is no longer our world, is it? It is not this beautiful any more. Somewhere between this Genesis 1 world, and our world of 2018, things went wrong. This man and this woman became traitors to this good God. They fell, and the world fell with them.
· That is why we are all born with genetic codes that are imperfect.
· That is why some of us are born with 45 or 47 chromosomes instead of the standard 46, which impacts our maleness and femaleness.
· That is why none of us is born with a perfect body.
· That is why some people have real gender dysphoria, where the mind feels out of order with the body, and others are same sex attracted.
That is why some are born what we call “intersex” … that is the ‘I’ in LGBTI … where male and female sexual organs get mixed.
That does not mean there is a third gender. The Intersex Society of North America maintains there are only two genders, and what matters is caring for Intersex people so that they can live rightly as male or female.
“How many fingers does a human being have?” 10, but some people are born with 12. Does that mean ‘10’ is the wrong answer? No, it is a rare variation on the rule, but the rule still holds.
The rate of Disorders of Sexual Development, which include Intersex, are about the same rate as 12 fingers. It is a more painful variation for many, but the male/female rule still stands.
Jesus quotes from Genesis 1 and 2 in Matthew 19, and in other places. He asked “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?”
That’s not all. A few verses on he speaks about men who were born eunuchs (perhaps he has intersex people in mind) and those who were made eunuchs, having been castrated. He is not talking about a third gender. No, it is still male and female.
Yes, we are a long way from the way things were in the beautiful world of Genesis 1. Though not for much longer.
In the meantime, if we want to know what is truly best for us when it comes to gender, sex and marriage … as to how our bodies work best, we will not do it by conforming everything to the second-rate world of the Fall, but by going back, as much as is possible, to the way things were before that Fall.
We can settle for a distorted, gender-confused world, or we can take our lead from the way it was at the beginning.
Which world is better for women?
If gender is just a social construct, then why should women be honoured and protected? Why shelters for abused women? Why help a woman whose car is broken down? Why stand in front of a woman when the bullets come?
Which world better cares for children?
The one where adults help them live in line with their bodies, or the one where it is a free-for-all, where they have to work it all out for themselves? The world where indoctrinated doctors put them on puberty blockers from age 9 because they do not feel right about the body they have … or the one where responsible adults help them live in line with the body they have?
Which world is better for young adults?
The hook-up culture where the slogan is “just sex – no names”, where it is just about bodies, and where, “there is nothing special about sex” according to Peter Singer, no more significant than having an ice cream with someone. Better the world where matter matters, and sex really matters, and where it fits with the way in which God made it to work best.
Which world better protects the vulnerable?
The one that writes off the unborn as non-persons, and the demented as “no longer real people”. Where Hitler’s targets were “vermin”, Lenin’s “rats” and the Hutus “cockroaches”. Or the world where every person matters because he and she are the personal creation of a personal God, soul and body, male or female?
Which world better helps the people who feel caught in the middle?
The world which tells people who do not feel right in their bodies to cut out healthy organs and take cross sex hormones for the rest of their lives, with all the health dangers that come with that. Would it not be better to have the one that helps them live in accord with the body that God has given them?
The world that tells people who feel same-sex attraction to act on their feelings, or live out the sexual identity that God has given them? The one that says your feelings determine who you are, or the one where your body defines your gender identity?
The social agenda of our culture promises life, freedom, fulfilment and great diversity. It delivers none of them. It is a flat, narrow, empty view of life which confirms the reality of death.
In contrast, God made matter to matter. In his world, persons and bodies are able to be an integrated whole. Male/female gender is deliberate and beautiful and wonderfully diverse. And sex is significant, not cheap.
>>> Do you think we have told people how wonderful it is where Jesus is known as Creator? That God’s way is so much better than simply a list of laws that begin “Do not …”?
>>> Do you think we have displayed the beauty of God’s way by our joyful counter-cultural enjoyment of God’s agenda?
>>> Do you think we have demonstrated how much better God’s way is for women, children, young adults, the vulnerable and those caught in the middle of the gender war? We should be welcoming those damaged by it with open arms, rather than with pursed lips and critical eyes.
Our maleness and our femaleness is neither meaningless nor an oppressive fact of nature, as so many are now saying. It is part of history’s great storyline.
Why would we not be out there telling God’s story, showing its joy, and embracing those who have been conned by the wrong story?