Friday, August 28, 2015
Only two kinds of people in the world. . .
When Adam went out to name all that God had made, he encountered just just a binary shape of all creation. We call them male and female. Jesus affirms this shape of creation in Matthew 19. Male and female He created them... Despite all out attempts to redefine or differentiate or parse the shape of God's good creation, the most basic shape of all human existence is binary – male or female. Though we have tried to run from this form or pattern of God's creative work, we cannot avoid its pivotal significance. Though we have quibbled with the arbitrary nature of such a shape in a world that loves nuance, this is the pattern not simply for humanity but for nature. Truly Adam saw it clearest when he looked around and saw there was no one comparable to him. He was alone in a binary world. But this was not to last. God in His foreknowledge designed the moment of Adam's self revelation so that it would be accompanied by the complement to his very existence, a woman made from him, distinct from him, to complement and complete him. And so it has been ever since.
Salvation history is no different. Mary is the new Eve, the new mother of all the living, and Christ is the new Adam, to undo Adam's curse. After the Reformation it could be said that Mary was minimized and the parallels forgotten. She became merely a pipe through which the Son of God flowed and this flawed soteriology was no less a problem than the flawed mariolatry that the Protestants condemned. Lutherans, too, forgot the richness of this language and gave up the piety but not the orthodox doctrine. Such gave birth to the flawed sacramental character of baptism and Holy Communion among the Protestants. Having forgotten what it meant to take from Mary His flesh and from the Father His divinity into one person, one man, it did not take long to empty the water of its saving power and turn the sign of bread into even less than it signed.
Gender has become the creature of our sinful desire to choose (as if we could forgot the tainted legacy of our first choice). Desire became the ruling authority that dare not be denied. Our value was assigned a dollar sign. Our identity was captive to accomplishment, recognition, or pleasure. Our technology took the mess away from reproduction and allowed us further opportunity to exercise choice where life was once only God's domain. Our second thought allowed regret to kill the unborn and perhaps soon enough the child. Our good stewardship taught us to evaluate a quality of life in which hastening its end is noble and exiting by physician assisted means a right. In the end, turning our back on this binary shape of creation has left us without a working understanding of who we are or what our purpose is. Religion, sadly, has become for too many Christians merely the co-dependent of our unnatural natural desire to love self, pleasure, and happiness at all costs. So we seek a faith that can help us live our best life now and allow us to define the shape of that life, its morality, its purpose, and its success.
Marriage was given to us that we might learn to know God and His nature, love and its sacrificial shape, the creative potential of this love in children, the home wherein its father and mother mirror the love of the Father and the humility of Mary who consents to a will and purpose larger than herself, and the Christ and His love for His bride, the Church. In rejecting the binary shape of creation and the gift of marriage, the world has slowly but surely cast us all adrift on a sea of whims good only for the moment and pleasure seeking in which denial is the unforgivable sin. Marriage, even after the Fall, rooted us in the uncomfortable but essential character of God's mercy and grace. Now, to reject it is also to reject the shape of that mercy and grace incarnate in His Son, Jesus Christ. No, one might still be saved without a Biblical perspective of marriage but, yes, such knowledge of salvation is made infinitely more difficult without such a divine pattern to guide and unfold the story of Christ.
Just as male and female are the divinely intended normative expressions of our humanity, so does its rejection distance us from God's self-disclosure even more and distort the very essence of what it means to be human. Yes, the Fall has distorted and fractured this shape but the gift of God is not the rejection of it. No, salvation is instead the restoration of what we lost in the Fall. We see this in the commandments and their male/female pattern. After the Law laid down its framework to protect us and accused us before the mirror of God's holiness, it now leads us to know and desire and seek after this godly purpose and life in which male and female are not transcended but restored and we are given the will and desire, by the Spirit, to seek after this creative design with all our mind, heart, body, strength, and will.
It is surely unpopular to say and it will offend some, but the truth remains. There are only two kinds of people in this world -- male and female -- and this binary shape of our creation is key to knowing who we are and what God has done. It is for this reason that Churches cannot forsake truth and go along with the misguided and self-destructive path of society (both on a popular level and on a legal level).