There was a two-decades-long push to redefine and de-gender marriage that ended when the United States Supreme Court declared, in June 2015 in their landmark Obergefell decision, that marriage was no longer about man and woman, husband and wife, mother and father. Few appreciate it was that very month of that same year that Bruce Jenner infamously announced to the world he was now “Caitlyn” with his sexualized photo on the cover of Vanity Fair. And the new trans movement was launched, full-force.
There was literally no gap between gender activists legally redefining marriage and their push to redefine what it means to be male or female itself. Gender activists went smoothly and seamlessly from one directly to the other. Almost as if it were part of a plan. Celebrated gay writer Michelangelo Signorile told us as much in 1996 in the pages of OUT magazine.
The trick is, gay leaders and pundits must stop watering the issue down – “this is simply about equality for gay couples” – and offer same-sex marriage for what it is: …a chance to wholly transform the definition of family in American culture. …Our gay leaders must acknowledge that gay marriage is just as radical and transformative as the religious Right contends it is. (emphasis in original)
The gender activists’ agenda is nothing short of redefining what it means to be human. This fact cannot and should not be missed.
At Focus on the Family, we believe it wise to help Christians throughout the world fully appreciate what these gender issues are really about in the bigger picture of our common historical Christian and biblical belief system. Christians are not just traditionalists, hopelessly and sentimentally committed to “the way things used to be.” Christians are not just moralists either, concerned that people behave in the right ways. Nor are we simply religionists, dedicated to a certain set of beliefs about God because we need something to make sense of life. We are Christians.
And Christianity has a wholly unique and powerfully true and beautiful understanding of what it means to be human as male and female. If we do not understand these critical issues from this singular perspective, we are not honoring our Lord and are failing our faith. As Christians, we are distinct. We must appreciate the issues of the day accordingly.
Who Jesus Was and How He Came to Us
Christianity has a unique and profound anthropology. That is simply a view of what it means to be human. Jesus, who was fully and eternally God, became fully human as a real, historic man from Nazareth. This means that in Christianity, God became humanly gendered from a Father who is divinely gendered. And Jesus did so, very intimately, through the full femininity and fertility of an actual woman.
The greatest and most consequential event in the history of the universe, God being incarnated, in precisely the way it happened, was a fundamentally gendered thing. Both male and female were profoundly and mysteriously central to the event. Neither were just bit-parts, mere costumes donned by the players. They were not simple functionalities to get the job done. They are not mere appearances. Male and female, as objective realities, are intrinsic to the incarnation, the very thing that sets Christianity apart from all other faiths or philosophies.
His Creation / Our Design
Jesus was once asked a question about the nature of marriage. This is recorded in Matthew 19 and Mark 10. The question is specifically about divorce and the nature of marriage, but Jesus took His inquisitors immediately to the bigger, central picture. And so must we. He asked them to simply recall what God had said from the beginning, what He created humanity to be. Jesus reminded them,
But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.”
Some might be tempted to see Adam and Eve’s story as old fashioned. A mere Sunday school story or myth. Jesus certainly did not. He saw it as the authoritative starting place when considering what God made humanity to be.
Male and female are not just appearances, ways of dressing, adorning ourselves, or dividing household chores. Male and female are what we are and are made to be, truthfully, fully, humanly. We are human in body, mind, and soul. Therefore, we are either male or female in body, mind, and soul. Those are the only two types of human beings.
And our bodies do not tell lies about our mind and soul. We do not serve that kind of God. Humans are integrated, body, mind and soul. But unfortunately, because of the Fall, some people can have a mistaken self-understanding of their bodies. But that confusion is psychological, not physiological. It is not a part of God’s design.
Male and Female as the Image of God
But why did God create humanity as male or female? All Christians must appreciate that this is perhaps the most important question we can ask. Why? Because it tells us something profoundly significant about who we are and who God is! The Scriptures are so beautifully clear on this point.
In the beginning, when the Trinity decides to create humanity, They proclaim in Genesis 1:26,
Then God said, “Let us make [humanity] in our image, after our likeness.”
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit declare They are going to create something in nature that is “in our image, after our likeness.” That is one of the most consequential statements in all of Scripture. They have just finished creating all of the stunning splendor that is the physical world. Scripture tells us creation is so lovely and majestic that it literally declares His unspeakable glory.
But here They will take Their creation a step further. They will create something that reveals more than even the glory of God. They will create the one thing in all of creation that is Their very own image and likeness. That is humanity, and only humanity.
But not just generic humanity. Something very specific. In Genesis 1:27, the very verse that Jesus pointed to, we read,
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
So, for the Christian, what are male and female? They are not just two different body styles. They are not just two different ways of being sexual. They are much more than how one dresses or “identifies.” They are not what we are “assigned” at birth. They are this and nothing less: Male and female are, equally, the very image of God Himself. Full stop.
This means that Christianity has a uniquely high and elevated view of what it means to be male and female. Jesus has clearly told us that the human male and female, and them alone, are the exclusive, physical icons of the divine in the created world. And both are, differently but equally. No belief system in all of philosophy or religion has a loftier, more beautiful explanation for what male and female are.
What Is God’s Enemy Attacking?
When Satan, God’s mortal enemy, first deceived humanity, he did it by attacking and casting doubt upon God’s very word. Satan asked them, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” He told them that God was wrong, that He could not be trusted: “You will not surely die.” Satan casts doubt and confusion. Jesus tells us this is Satan’s precise character, the father of lies.
So today, as profound gender confusion spreads across the globe, all Christians must be perceptive and understand this is not just the latest skirmish in the culture war. By redefining both marriage and the very meaning of what it means to be male and female, it is not just tradition, morality, or biology that is being attacked. Satan is not only just attacking the truthfulness of God, like he did in the garden so long ago. Be sure of this, Satan is attacking God’s very image and likeness in creation.
The very first time we are told in Scripture what these beings called male and female are, we are told they are the physical and living image and likeness of the invisible, Trinitarian God. That is what God has clearly told us these two creatures are, and Jesus reminded us of this fact.
Satan well knows what each man and woman, boy and girl represent. He knows it better than we do. And he hates male and female simply because he hates Who they represent. When we are told today that male and female are merely cultural constructs or gender stereotypes, that we are merely “assigned” or “identify” as male or female, Christians especially must appreciate whose voice that ultimately is.
In the garden, Satan got the man and woman to doubt what God said. Today, he is getting our culture to doubt God’s very image and likeness. Therefore, the gender issue is not a battle Christians can simply choose to ignore. It has been brought to our very homes, to our children, to our communities.
Make no mistake, the Christian cannot ignore that the gender issue is a battle for the very truth and nature of God Himself. Be very sure of that, Christian brothers and sisters. Satan is attacking the image of God when he attacks those things that are intimately related to the wonder of male and female: What it means to be human. Marriage. Mothering and fathering. Procreation and life. Sexuality. Children and family. These are all wrapped up together and divine in origin. Christians must see this bigger picture.
Does this mean that people who consider themselves trans and non-binary are the enemy? Not in the least. Not any more than any other humans who have fallen victim to Satan’s deceptions. But it does mean they are deceived about who they are, and they are increasingly demanding we believe the deception as well. We cannot. Nor should we be blind to who is behind these deceptions, and why. Satan knows all too well what male and female represent, and he very much wants to divert our understanding of this truth. Christians must discern the gender issue as the unique battle for the truth of God in our generation.
And it is happening on our watch in the great stage of history. What will we do – flinch, or be and offer truth and grace, just like Jesus?
Photo from Public Domain