Gender Identity in the Body of Christ

Many Christians profess to hold a “Biblical view” of gender, marriage, and sexuality, but they are wildly selective when it comes to how they choose verses in scripture to support their views.

Image via Pixaby
Image via Pixaby

 

Essentially, what most of those people are doing is deciding ahead of time what they believe about gender, sexuality, and marriage in advance and then carefully selecting only those verses that support their narrow views. This is called “Eisegesis” and it’s the other side of the coin to the more reputable and honest process of “Exegesis” where one only forms an opinion after examining the entirety of what is taught in the scriptures.

So, for example, if you were to point out that in the scriptures, men are called the Bride of Christ, and that women are called the Sons of God, and that all are called the Body of Christ, you’d probably be accused of blasphemy or heresy, or both. But these are the facts. The scriptures lump everyone together – both male and female – into one genderless organism.

Paul famously put it this way:

As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:27-28)

Yes, I do understand that Paul is aiming to communicate that those distinctions of race, class, and gender no longer apply or carry weight in the Body of Christ (and that is a lesson many Christians have still yet to accept), but there is still the reality here that Paul is saying that “male and female” are “no longer” relevant distinctions for us.

I remember having a conversation a few years ago with a young man who admitted that he wasn’t comfortable with the language that Jesus loved him, or that he should love Jesus intimately and become the Bride of Christ. On one level, I could understand, but I had to ask him, “Do you love your Father?” and he said, “Of course, I do.” Then I asked him, “Does your Father love you?” and he nodded.

So then I said, “you’re both males, and yet you and your Dad have no trouble admitting a deep love for one another. How is this any different from loving Jesus?”

He squinted at me and said, “But it says I am supposed to become the Bride of Christ. That’s….weird.”

And I had to admit that he was right. It is kinda weird for a guy to think of himself as becoming the Bride of Christ. But it’s also kinda weird for a woman to see herself as one of the “sons of God” which is true for everyone who is in Christ.

For those who adamantly demand that “Biblical marriage” is one man and one woman, and insist that marriage is intended to be a picture of Christ and the Church (as Paul stresses in Ephesians 5:22-32), it can be quite scandalous to point out to them that scripture explicitly tells us that when Jesus returns he will marry billions of men and call them his bride, (see Rev. 19:6-9).

So, if marriage is supposed to be a metaphor for Christ and the Church, what do we with the fact that Jesus intends to engage in a gigantic same-sex marriage with every man who has ever put faith in Him?

Like it or not, the Bible doesn’t always play nice with those who insist on rigid distinctions of male and female, nor does it have one unifying perspective on marriage as one man and one woman.

We are all – male and female (and otherwise) – incorporated into the Body of Christ, even as both Adam and Eve were once hidden together in one flesh at the beginning of Creation when God made a creature in His own image.

Keep in mind, God does not have a penis or a vagina. God is not male or female. We use the term “He” simply because we prefer not to refer to God as an “It”, but God has no gender. God is a Spirit, (John 4:24).

The Scriptures use male pronouns and metaphors to refer to God, but there are many female metaphors and pronouns used to portray God, including pictures of God as a nursing mother, and a God who gives birth to us, and a God who gathers us like a mother hen gathers her chicks.

The Bible is very progressive when it comes to these ideas of gender, marriage, and sexuality. It might do us some good to go back and read those passages again with fresh eyes and an open heart.

What do you think?

-kg

**

Keith Giles is the author of several books, including the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb.” He lives in Orange, CA with his wife and 2 sons.

 

 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Matthew

    I haven´t heard this argument before. I´ll admit, I´m still relatively conservative
    when it comes to the same-sex marriage issue as typically discussed in Christian
    circles, but I´m open to hearing other explanations. Thanks for this one.

  • randy

    Matthew, this argument has no real basis in scripture and was written by someone who appears to have taken the scriptures way out of context to try to justify and unbiblical point.

  • randy

    To say that Revelation 19 teaches that Jesus will marry billions of men and or women is way out of line with this scripture. If you take much of Revelation literally you will have a giant theological mess on your hands, so to speak. Further in this passage the wedding feast of the Lamb is mentioned. But Paul writes and says “food is for the stomach and the stomach for food, but both will be done away with. (1 Cor. 6:13) These ideas of a wedding where we all marry Jesus, eat a big meal and live happily ever after are metaphors, speaking of the closeness we will have in the eternal kingdom. The Bible is very plain and not progressive when it comes to ideas of marriage, sexuality and gender. To think otherwise is to intentionally twist the scriptures and pour into them meanings that the original author and hears/readers would never have considered. Even in the Ephesian 5 passage you mention Paul writes that there must not be a hit of sexual immorality and have noting to do with the deeds of darkness refers directly to sexual immorality. Also, notice in this passage where it says “husbands love your wives.” It does not say “husbands love your husbands” or wives love your wives” A man marrying a woman is the only way God set up human marriage. anything beyond this is a distortion of the truth of the scriptures.

  • Beverley Davis

    He did not include women.

  • Stephen Richards

    Thank you, Keith, for telling the whole world about the Holy righteousness of different types of people’s permanently physically unique gender preferences in their own accepting, forgiving spiritual bodies.

  • Jenks Hobson

    And then there is Deborah, one of the chief judges of Israel. As I pointed out in my sermon on the text this week, there is no special comment, as it seems perfectly normal to the writer.

  • Robert Limb

    What’s that got to do with the price of codfish?

  • Rudy Schellekens

    I found it an interesting mix of funny and sad statements. I’m not sure whether the author was kidding or being serious. The Bride of Christ is an illustration of the entire “collection” of believers. To see this in a literal sense does not make any sense.

    The metaphor can only go a certain distance, after which it become ridiculous – as seen above.

    The Bible makes things clear indeed – you have men and women. Some of both decided to have same sex relationships, and these are consistently condemned. To make the text mean anything else (eisegesis, Keith) is forcing a meaning into the text which was not intended by the author/speaker. To add, “hospitality” or “cultic” to explain the condemnations is reading things into the text.

    The Bible does not speak of transgender situations. Male and female did God create them. That is the reality Scripture deals with.

  • Robert Limb

    Hi, Rudy – did not expect to see you here.

    It is pretty well impossible to take this article seriously, I agree. Maybe it’s more difficult for people who only speak English to see that men and women can be something which is feminine, like “la nation” in French, or “natie” in Dutch.

  • Robert Limb

    To be honest, using the passage in Galatians in this way is worse than just a ridiculous bit of special pleading. Humans are in the image of God precisely because they are male and female. It is the basis of loving the other, who is not the same as you : Martin Buber’s “I” and “Thou”. If the author wants Christians to think seriously about same-sex marriage and gender theory, he’s going to have to do a whole lot better than this. He’s scored a brilliant own goal, in my – perhaps not humble enough -opinion.

  • http://www.kenranderson.com/ Ken R. Anderson

    “So, if marriage is supposed to be a metaphor for Christ and the Church, what do we with the fact that Jesus intends to engage in a gigantic same-sex marriage with every man who has ever put faith in Him?”

    What do I think?

    I think that referring to this spiritual union in physical terms relating to sodomy is just plain ridiculous.

  • Martha Anne Underwood

    I don’t think that the author’s use of same sex marriage is meant to have anything to do with sexual acts. When the new earth comes, there will be no need for the sexual act, we will not need it to learn what it means to be intimate i.e. sharing our love with one another.

  • Richard Worden Wilson

    Have you every heard that there is history involved in biblical interpretation? Really. You accuse those whom you wish to discredit with eisegesis? Really? Astonishingly superficial thinking here. Really.

  • http://buyusedcubes.com Bob Shiloh

    I am curious what you mean by your closing statement, “The Bible is very progressive when it comes to these ideas of gender, marriage, and sexuality.” Are you sure of that conclusion?

  • Martha Anne Underwood

    Keith, I agree with your analogies in your post. I have read all the comments, all except for one, were made by men. And these men sure seem to have trouble with people being LGBTQ (and consider that a sin) and are determined to prove that so does God by using scripture that probably has nothing to do with being LGBTQ today. The one women who commented only did so on Randy’s Revelation comment, so not sure she also believes that being is a sin. These men are going to be very disappointed that in the new earth, they will not longer be male and probably some women too who will no longer be female there either that is if we take Paul seriously when he says: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:27-28)