more on gender...
I was quite surprised by the response to the title of my previous blog, gender on a spectrum. It seems that not only did I choose a dicey title, I wasn’t completely clear in my explanation of my thoughts.
I want to take a couple paragraphs and flesh out a few more of my thoughts. A friend at camp said yesterday, “I have a lot of context for you and what you think because we spend so much time talking about gender and sexuality here.” I want to give the rest of you more context for “me”.
I believe that God created a binary female - male system in Genesis.
I believe sin has corrupted this system and has resulted in intersex conditions, gender dysphoria, and a host of other gender related difficulties.
I believe that there are innate differences between the genders and this was very clear to me as I watched my son and daughter grow up.
I believe sin has corrupted these innate differences and we assign value and lack of value as a society.
I believe that God designed marriage to be between a male and a female because of our created differences.
I believe that God, though He almost always refers to Himself in the masculine, is neither male or female - He is Spirit.
I believe He demonstrates characteristics of both genders throughout the scriptures and enjoys the differences.
I believe that both the male and the female are created as image bearers and uniquely reflect God’s image within their gender.
All that said, I believe that as a society, and especially within evangelical Christianity, we have defined what it means to be male (masculine) and female (feminine) in a much too narrow way.
Now, I’m sure that some of you reading are thinking, “society is just the opposite, trying to create genderless systems, insisting there are no innate differences,encouraging gender fluidity, and insisting that gender is a social construct alone”.
There is a ditch to fall in on both sides.
Society falls off in one direction.
The church generally falls off in the other direction.
Since I see my writing as primarily to evangelicals, I want to address our “ditch” of more rigid stereotypes and gender roles.
That is my hope with encouraging us to think more in a spectrum sense. There is not one “true blue” shade of masculinity- there is a whole color variation that can be celebrated and seen as “male”. Same with the hues of femininity.
I have several friends who wrestle daily with gender dysphoria. You can read more about what that looks like here. They are committed to their being created female. They express themselves in work, dress, and play as more masculine than many are comfortable with. Why does that make us uncomfortable? We need to be able to examine our uncomfortableness and dialog about it in a good way, even if we disagree.
I want to walk alongside and applaud their work to remain consistent with the gender that God created them with as well as the integrity of their honesty in the struggle with that created gender. Those feelings may always remain with them. Or not. But for today, it is what it is.
I want to widen the spectrum of what is “female” in my mind and stay within the bounds of scripture.
In the scriptures, I see females fighting battles, providing for their families, nurturing the young ones, discipling their teens in the faith, and leading in their communities. I see males writing poetry, leading armies to war, crying over lost children, and expressing enormous depth of emotions.
I want to see this same variety celebrated in our church bodies. I spend part of everyday at the summer camp where I serve sitting with teen campers & staff talking through their stories, fears, and pain related to questions about gender and sexuality.
Sometimes their questions seem unanswerable. But I, we, have to step into these areas and begin to dialogue. We don’t have all the answers but we serve a God who does.
He can direct us.
He can walk with us as well as the people He brings on our path.
My challenge to us all is to engage and enter into the dialogue as listeners and lovers of people.