Monday, October 23, 2023

Mere social constructs. . .

While it is often claimed that gender is a social construct and not a reflection of biology or DNA, the truth is that nearly everything in Christianity presumes gender is anything but a social construct or feeling.    From the first moments of creation, male and female have been the binary shape of all that God made.  When, in the final moments of His creative work He made Adam, Eve was presumed while Adam was still alone.  

From that act of God in creation, our whole lives are shaped by the gender of male and female.  It is the most fundamental level of who we are and how we relate.  We are created male and female and from that moment we are named male or female.  The stereotypical colors of blue and pink impose nothing upon us but reflect how we are known to creation and creation to us.  Of course, all of our mortal lives are shaped by some dysfunction (we call it sin) but that is not a problem of gender identity as much as it is a problem of how we live in this world.  It is a distortion that has corrupted our nature to deprive us of the most basic truths of who we are and what is our place in the world.  God has not left to us the answers of these questions but His revelation guides us to know who we are and what our place in the world is.  The problem of culture is that it has normalized the distortion and adopted the confusion as a basic task left to every person and thus has omitted God from the whole process.

The story of our creation as told by Scripture is intent less upon the how than that what.  What and who God made.  All the concerns of this modern moment are absent from that narrative but the essential concerns as defined by God are not omitted.  Though it is confusing to the modern mind, God spent little time on the male and female shape of His creation except to presume that this is simply how it is. 

All the way through the Scriptures, this binary shape of gender is presumed -- from Eden's beginning to Revelation's consummation.  Jesus Christ is not simply a person but the Second Adam and Mary the “Second Eve.” Through Adam sin entered the world and death through sin and through Christ is come the redemption and forgiveness of the sinner and the life that death cannot steal.  As Eve was the “Mother of all living,” so has Mary become the Mother of the Redeemed, the prototype of the faithful who believe in the Word of the Lord.  This is not an elevation of Mary but a reflection of who she is within the witness of Scripture.  The shape is male and female.

Even within the home, this shape is essential.  We do not have impersonal parents but mothers and fathers.  We do not relate to these mothers and fathers impersonally but as their sons and daughters.  While modern culture would insist this is a constraint, Scripture would remind us that it is simply the shape of God's order.  Anything else is an invention.  Modern woman has been made to compete not only with man but with an sexualized version of herself and modern man has been left to define masculinity apart from the woman as if were merely an idea rather than the truth of our creation.  Whereas Scripture frames the relationship between male and female without the constant burden of sexualization, modernity has refused to see identity apart from this sexualization.  

The fact that some do not feel at home within God's created order should come as no surprise.  It is not because of a lack of enlightenment among the faith and the faithful but sin.  Sin made creation an enemy so that Adam's work would be to fight the weeds and weather and animals for the food to feed himself and his family.  Sin has turned us against God, against our neighbor, and, ultimately, against ourselves.  We rebel not simply against the Lord but against our own natures.  Sin showed up first in the context of the sexualization of self and relationship to the point where nudity became synonymous with lustful, sinful desire.  Covering it up did not work and using a scalpel or drugs to do the same cannot fix what is essentially a spiritual problem.  Neither did running away or blaming others.  Christ has come not simply to save us individually from our sins but to restore the creative order that is a gift from God and that order is binary -- male and female. 

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