It is difficult to come up with a new angle on the significance of Christmas for believers as we strive to faithfully live out our lives in the modern age, but here is an important one.
Advent, the season where we look toward the first and second coming of our Savior, reminds us of a very important and inherent truth in our Christian worldview if we just dig deep enough.
That truth is that the Christian faith and story is inherently gendered and binary. In an age where both of these fundamental truths are under vicious attack today, being reminded of this fact is critical to Christian fidelity.
The First Coming
Let us look at the first coming of Jesus, fully God/fully man, at Christmas. We are told in John 1:14.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
In the telling of God becoming flesh, Scripture also tells us unmistakably that this happened in a gendered way.
A Son came from the Father. Maleness is inherently part of this divine story. Christianity is often criticized for being a patriarchal, male-centric faith. But this conclusion can only be arrived at through a superficial and short-sighted understanding of God’s incarnation.
We must ask, “How did God, the Word, become flesh?”
He came to us from the Father as God’s only Son through … the most thoroughly feminine part of a woman. God became man through woman. That is the fundamental fact of Christianity’s origin. Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mother, makes this crystal clear in Luke 1:42-43,
… and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
The Word made flesh came intimately into our realm from the bosom of the Father, through the womb and birth canal of a woman. Jesus did not arrive in the world in a manger. That was secondary. God entered through the most intimate means of femininity. That is a profoundly feminist statement, in the best, truest sense of that term. No other faith or ideological belief system gives such high honor of place to that which is most feminine.
Yes, the Christmas story, and Christianity, originates in a very gendered and binary way.
But let us also look at the second coming of Jesus. It is also gendered, binary and … rooted in marriage.
The Second Coming.
Elizabeth’s son and Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, tells us in John 3:29 that he is “the friend of the bridegroom” who is seeking His bride. John is, of course, referring to Jesus, the Word made flesh.
And Jesus’ return at the end of time is no less than a wedding, a glorious nuptial union between a divine Bride and Groom, Christ and His Church. It is what God’s whole story has been moving toward, after all. We read this toward the end of Revelation.
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
For the marriage of the Lamb has come. Revelation 21:9 says, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
Christianity starts with a Heavenly Father and a real, earthly mother who bring us our Savior. It ends, culminating with a Groom, bound to His Bride.
We read in the first chapter of Scripture that the image and likeness of God in creation is humanity in male and female.
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
The culmination of time, which we also look forward to in Advent, reflects this male/female nature in a divine way in the masculine Bridegroom who takes His Beloved unto Himself, impregnating her with the seed of His eternal life-giving love. She, the Church, receives that life in the Person of the Holy Spirit and it flowers forth in new life of a great multitude, the redeemed of God, who we just read of in Revelation. This is what Revelation 21:2-3 speaks of in the finality of time,
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.”
This divine gendered and binary truth, this glorious wedding, is what Advent is pointing us toward. It is the beginning of and the finality of the Christian story.
We should all keep these essential facts of the Christian narrative and worldview in mind when we hear the truth of the gender binary being attacked and dismissed in our culture today. It is an assault on truths much larger and significant than most assume.
Image from Shutterstock.