Gender is a big topic. It is easy to get lost in the different considerations about maleness and femaleness, evaluating gayness and monogendered relationships, identifying femininity and masculinity, and treating gender dysphoria and traipsing through transgenderism. Let me make it real simple for you by stating the seven main principles that I see the Bible teaching us about gender. There is a lot that goes into these summarizing tenets but just stating them makes a difficult topic easy to understand.
These tenets really are quite simple. But taken together their wisdom is profound, their implications far-reaching, and their practicality powerful. I contend that if you use these as a roadmap, you won’t go far off from God’s view on things. And you will be able to address your gender concerns and prosper in your relationships.
I will even include some primary Bible texts for each if you’d like to think about them some more. The Scripture verses are by no means exhaustive references to the principles, but reading each principle and then meditating on the Scriptures given can give you insight into what God has done in giving us this wondrous gift.
- God’s Triune Being Experiences Intimacy Internally.
The basis of all relationships is what goes on in God. From all eternity, God has been in perfect, intimate relationship within Themself. That is why God didn’t really need to create us for company. The members of the Trinity had it really good long before God made us.
- Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:13–14; 1Corinthians 2:10-11
2. Gender is a Gift of being Made in the Image of the Triune God.
Gender is not an arbitrary happenstance of our humanity, but a deliberate act of creation. God made us gendered to reflect things about His internal community of love. He generously made us to share that love. This gift went beyond the sexual dimorphism God had made in the plants and animals to a polarity of soul. We cannot understand ourselves, the world, or God without understanding our genders.
- Genesis 1:26–27; 1Corinthians 11:11–12
- Men and Women are Equal in being Image-Bearers of God.
Men and women equally show God’s image, just as members of the Trinity are equal in their Personhood. Neither is greater or less than the other. God sees the genders as equal so they must be equally honored. Their voices and experiences are equally important.
- Philippians 2:5-6; Genesis 5:1–2; Exodus 20:12; 1Corinthians 11:11-12 again
4. Gender Matters in Relationship.
The Bible only speaks of gender in terms of relationship. Grasping this helps us to reject sterotypes and culture-born traditions in understanding gender. The purpose of the gift is to shatter our independence and foster our interdependence. The closer the relationship, the more gender comes into play, in family, church and, of course, marriage.
- Mark 10:6–8, joining Genesis 1:27 and 2:24; 1Timothy 2:8-12
- God Made the Genders with Asymmetry to Love Each Other Differently.
Men and women are equal but made with different souls, and different callings on those souls, resulting in different ways to love each other with different bodies. The Apostle Paul shows us how to read the gender-creation account of Genesis by describing these asymmetries in his letters. The asymmetries and equality tell us deep truths about God and about ourselves, and they guide us in conducting our relationships.
- Genesis 2 (noting three distinctions of Origin, Order, and Intent); 1Timothy 2:12-13; 1Corinthians 11:3-5, 7-10; Ephesians 5:22–27
6. Our Souls are Hidden But Our Bodies Express the Gender of Our Hidden Souls.
We are not able to say what a feminine soul or masculine spirit looks like, but our bodies make the invisible visible. God gives each of us a body to express our gendered souls, directing us to the callings we have in relationship.
So our bodies are not inconsequential or interchangeable, but integral to our identity. Our identities are fully realized in our embodied relationships.
- James 2:26; 1Peter 3:3-5
7. God Gave us Gender to Foster Intimacy and Fruitfulness in our Relationships.
The goal of God’s gift is first emotional intimacy, to bring us into some of the deep joy of knowing and being known that God has experienced from all eternity. That is the beginning goal of gender, but not the end, for God’s love does not just focus inward. The further result of the gift is fruitfulness, whether it is bearing children in marriage or giving birth to a new work of God in the world. Gender turns the love of your specific relationship outward.
Eventually, this gift will help us share in God’s communion and be caught up into the very love of God Themself.
- Song of Solomon 2:2-3, 2:9 & 14; Ephesians 5:28-29; Malachi 2:14-15; Romans 12:4-6; 1Corinthians 12:4-7 with 14:26
There is only one appropriate response to our Creator’s profound gift of gender. And that is to celebrate it. Is it not a wondrous thing that God has done?