Originally published on - https://inklesspen.blog/2017/11/02/theology-of-gender/
Reblogged from the Inkless Pen.
“Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female …” (Mat 19:4).
True Christianity has always confessed that mankind is the creation of God, the work of His hands. To be truly human means to live according to the revelation, the way of life, instituted by our Creator God. Humanity is infused with an essential nature. This nature is an existent reality established by God Himself and is shared in common by every human person. God Himself is the originator of human nature; in Him alone does it truly comprehend itself. (Human nature was deformed and damaged by sin but subsequently restored and healed in Christ Jesus. Thus, when referring to human nature I am referring to its lofty purpose as revealed by God.)
Under the influence of Karl Marx, secular human ideology took a “leap” in its evolutionary process. He distilled (together with Engels) secularism to much of its current state. One of his major influences on modern thought is that every social, governmental, moral, religious, (and so forth) entity is but a structure, the result of external historical constructs (something akin to the evolutionary idea of “chance”); they are simply determined by the development of conditions. Everything, even possibly humanity itself, is but a result of these constructs and conditions. No essential value exists in anything. Marx taught: control the constructs and you can control and even remake, recreate humanity. Modern secular thought builds firmly on this Marxist ideology: to be human means nothing, to be male means nothing, to be female means nothing, all of these are but external constructs which bear no innate substance. This is the basic foundation of modern gender ideology. Gender, they would say, is but an external construct and condition. Another vital proposition of Marx was: to remake the world the “old” constructs and conditions need to be removed and even destroyed.
Orthodox Christianity has always proclaimed that humanity has essential value and professed that gender is quintessential to humanity. Humanity and gender are elemental qualities of being and are not dictated by external conditions. Outside conditions may warp one’s understanding and use of gender (and other things) but it can never fundamentally alter the essential reality. Besides the very obvious and glaring biological and physical realities of gender, Christianity teaches that gender, male and female, was established and created by God Himself in the very beginning,“From the beginning [He] made them male and female.” It is not an outside condition but an essential and intrinsic reality of existence for humanity. Indeed, human nature is expressed in male and female. Both share the common nature of humanity and thus are equal (note: not egalitarian) in essence but vary according to their definitive expression in gender. Female is not male, and male is not female. One is not superior to the other. Each bears a unique expression, distinct from the other, within the greater common nature of humanity. Here is God’s created diversity.
Inevitably my modern secular friends will be grinding their teeth. For them, gender has no part in a person’s role or expression in society, life, family, and so forth. They have labored hard to construct an androgynous society, faithfully hammering out Marxist ideology. At this point, the extremes are cast in ones face: “you think women should sit at home knitting! You think women should not vote! You’re a male chauvinist!” Just wait, calm down, and keep reading.
True Christianity defends that which is truly feminine and masculine. It confirms the uniqueness of each gender, a uniqueness that modernity is attempting to deconstruct and destroy. Women have been told that they must do everything a man does, effectively making man the standard of woman. Not much of a victory for women. Christianity, rather, encourages a woman to live according to her God-given gender, to grow in its unique attributes; likewise, it encourages a man.
Gender itself is an icon, an image. In the beginning, God made mankind in His image and likeness. Gender itself bears a participation in this image. According to revelation, male participates in the icon of Christ and female participates in the icon of the Church. St. Paul elaborates this theology in Ephesians 5:22 and following. There he expounds upon the relationship of a husband and wife. Ultimately he tells us that marriage itself is an icon of the mysterious relationship of God with His Church, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church” (Eph. 5: 32).
St. Clement further says, “Now I do not suppose that you are ignorant of the fact that the living church is the body of Christ, for the Scripture says, ‘God created them male and female.’ The male is Christ; the female is the Church … For the flesh is a copy of the Spirit. No one, therefore, who corrupts the copy will share in the original” (2ndClement). The deepest spiritual mysteries and principles are interwoven into creation by God Himself, gender not excluded. Gender itself and the proper interaction of male and female most of all in the divinely instituted state of marriage is a reflection of God with His most beloved creation. Gender has vast and deep significance. This is one of the reasons that moderns are seeking to deconstruct gender.
St. Symeon the New Theologian teaches, “This mystery is great – and beyond great! – and so it will always be, because the same sort of communion, and union, and intimacy, and kinship, which the woman has with the man and the man with the woman, such – understood in a manner adequate to God and as transcending our reason – it the relation which the Master and Maker of all has with the Church, as with a single Woman: blamelessly, ineffably, inseparably, and indivisibly united to her, being and living with her as with the one whom He loves and holds dear” (On the Mystical Life: The Ethical Discourses).
St. Symeon is clear, such things must be understood in a manner proper to God. Clearly, gender is of the created order. God is the only uncreated and eternal One. Although it is evident that Christ Jesus was incarnate as a male, thus holding true to the image of gender that He had created. Gender is a physical image created by Him to convey eternal spiritual principles. In our time gender has also been tragically reduced to sexual function, but in the Gospel view gender is so much more. Proper sexual function is but one of the aspects of gender. Thus, we must never sexualize the imagery that God has established. This is difficult for modern people. The base sexualization of gender has resulted in all sorts of problems, the objectifying of women, an epidemic of porn addiction, the horrendous growth of sex trafficking, all sorts of sexual perversions and misuses, to list but some. The attempted abolition of true gender identity, male and female, through the application of Marx’s nihilistic principles (or lack thereof) is responsible for the excessive sexual violence of our times.
True Christianity empowers persons to live in and strive towards the full beauty and potential of their God-given and created gender, which is unique. It acknowledges that womanhood bears its own special quality as does manhood. It never tells a man to act like a woman or a woman to act like a man. The nihilistic gender experimentation of modern secularism is nothing short of abusive. It is an ideology and nothing more, one that is being implemented forcefully without any thought of the long-term effects on society and humanity. Its message is clear: humanity is nothing, gender is nothing, you are nothing, so nothing really matters. Oh, and yes “sexual revolution” and experimentation is a fundamental goal of secular Marxist ideology. ( For more on this see – http://thefreedomsproject.com/from-russia-with-love/ )
True Christianity proclaims that every person is created with purpose, even down to their very clear biological gender. Humanity is indued with substantial divine meaning. Living within our God-given image and purpose is what the true Christian life is about. Only within God can humanity reach its ultimate meaning and reality.