Why did God create the sexes? Was it merely for procreation? Or, do sex and gender point to some deeper – perhaps even spiritual – reality?
I recently posed this question to Suzannah Paul, a proponent of so-called “biblical feminism.” She rejected the notion that God created male and female to complement each other and reflect God’s Triune nature. “I don’t really believe in complementary differences between men and women,” she responded. Such a belief, she said, implies that “a person is half a person if they’re not with a spouse” — and undergirds patriarchy, a broken system she asserts must be dismantled.
It struck me, though, that Suzannah offered no alternate explanation for why God created us male and female. But certainly, our view of the role of women needs to be consistent with why God made male and female in the first place. So, shouldn’t we determine His purpose before dismantling all traditional Christian understandings of gender?
Genesis 1:27 says, “God created man in his own image… male and female he created them.” So clearly, the key to understanding how we image God has something to do with our genders, but what is it? Historically, Christians have maintained that the union of male and female in marriage reflects the Trinity. In marriage, separate persons become one. But, Pope John Paul II, developed this imagery even further in what’s known as the Theology of the Body. He taught that the self-giving love of sexual communion actually symbolizes the interior life of God: it reflects the mutuality, submission and sacrifice that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit experience in their relationship.
If this is true, then human sexuality is far more important than mere roles. The way male and female relate to one another actually reveals to our world something about the very nature of God. It also follows that if this is true, male and female roles aren’t any more interchangeable than are the roles of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Yes, the Persons of the Trinity share the same nature. But no, they do not perform the same function.
So often when we Christians discuss gender, we miss the forest for the trees. We argue certain texts, but completely miss the larger context. But understanding this context and symbolism gives insight into the mystery, not just of gender, but of God Himself.
After settling a lawsuit in the U.S. with a $37 million payout, Gospel for Asia (GFA) is now facing a similar class-action