God’s Gender Gospel

It’s not uncommon for inexperienced drivers to over-correct themselves into a ditch. There they were, not paying attention because of a distraction or perhaps a little drowsy from a long day, until they feel the ridges telling them they’ve gone beyond the limits of their lane. They jerk the wheel too quickly and too far to the other side while slamming on the brakes, causing them to go completely off of the other side of the road. Over-correction can result in head-on and roll-over crashes that result in loss of life.

As I read about Christianity and it’s response to our “gender confused world”, I can’t help but think it is an over-correction that will ultimately crash and burn countless people. I live in a pretty traditional area, and for the most part that means I see a lot of men and women being men and women doing what men and women do. I haven’t seen women dressed up as men nor men dressed up as women. Gender confusion just isn’t something I see. Everybody seems to know who and what they are and who they love.

For some, the Bible is the ultimate truth. It is inerrant and authoritative. Therefore the teaching is that God made men and women. God established husbands as leaders of the home and wives as helpers who keep the home. God chose men to lead the church and women to follow their lead. God made men and women different. Men are supposed to have short hair. Women are supposed to have long hair. Because this teaching is about gender and not station, some have decided that what’s true of wives is true of all women. And what’s true of all husbands is true of all men. This creates dangerous conditions when one considers the teaching of male headship as it applies to male and female relationships.

In an article called “Male and Female Complementarity and the Image of God”, this thought arises: “There is one more question singles may rightly ask. How is the headship of the male who is created first in the image of God to be honored by single women and men? I begin with a comment on what the priority of the male does not mean. Biblical male-headship does not entail the authority of all men over all women… the temporal priority of the male in the image of God means that in general, within male-female relationships among singles, there should be a deference offered to the men by the women of the group, which acknowledges the woman’s reception of her human nature in the image of God through the man, but which also stops short of a full and general submission of women to men. Deference, respect, and honor should be showed to men, but never should there be an expectation that all the women must submit to the men’s wishes. And for single men, there should be a gentle and respectful leadership exerted within a mixed group, while this also falls short of the special authority that husbands and fathers have in their homes, or that elders have in the assembly. Because all are in the image of God, and because women generally are image of God through the man, some expression of this male-headship principle ought to be exhibited generally among women and men, while reserving the particular full relationships of authority to those specified in Scripture, viz. in the home and the believing community.”

I think that in Christianity’s zeal to see to it that men remain manly and women remain womanly, they’ve begun to confuse the lines of where their teachings apply. It shouldn’t surprise them that the worldly world is just that – but there’s no justification that says that Christians should baptize the worldly world, serve the worldly world communion, and require the worldly world to obey it’s teachings. And yet – I’ve seen Christians talk about how being manly men and womanly women sends the world a message: “A (woman’s head-) covering is more than just an external sign of a submissive heart, although it is not less than that, The covering is also a quiet act of subversion against the culture that tells us that gender, like race, is whatever you want it to be, whatever you feel like at that moment. The covering reminds us that God intentionally made man and He intentionally made woman, He made them in a specific way and order and He made them to be distinct, interdependent and complementary. The two genders and how God designed them to relate with one another is integral to God’s design for humanity and even for His plan of salvation.” (Does that mean only manly men and womanly women have the correct understanding of their gender and can be saved?)

Few people look at Amish or Fundamentalist Latter Day Saint wives as models of Christian femininity. Outsiders see people who were raised to believe something different about women than they were taught. They don’t see Christian gender teachings glorifying God through a distinct yet equal expression of masculinity and femininity, rather it’s a tendency to use religion to subjugate women as there are lot of things that women can’t do and aren’t permitted to do or be and very few things that men can’t do or aren’t permitted to do or be. Teachings like the aforementioned article sound an awful lot like the idea that women are subordinate to men even as singles even if it’s to a lesser degree than the subordination of wives to their husbands. This over-correction, fixing the world’s wrong has created a wrong within the church. One that betrays the idea of equality by focusing on hierarchy. And all of this is out of the fear of gender confusion. That somehow a woman who leads will be less feminine and more masculine. That somehow a man who helps will be less masculine and more feminine. That boys will grow up to men who wear dresses and make-up and girls will grow up to be women who wear suits and ties. That somehow God will reject men and women who incorrectly perceive themselves to be anything different than what they were born as and their salvation will be in peril. And that leaves a lot of people wondering what happened to the good news of Jesus and why the gospel of gender is treated as if were far more important.


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