Women aren’t really from Venus…

Women aren’t really from Venus… April 12, 2024

Image: Amazon

Every so often I am reminded just how visionary science fiction authors can be. Granted, there is a ton of sci-fi out there, so just statistically it makes sense that many predictions will come true. That was reinforced when I came across Theodore Sturgeon’s 1960 book Venus Plus X, and again: this book was published in 1960. Before Second Wave Feminism took off. Before the homosexual movement took off in the mainstream in the 1990s and early 2000s. Before the gender discussion we’re having today. Sturgeon was there, writing that perhaps all of this “gender” stuff isn’t quite the way we think it is after all.

The plot is pretty straightforward (and I won’t spoil it, but the plot itself is fairly incidental). Charlie wakes up sometime in the future in the custody of the Ledom, who want his human perspective on their culture. Their culture is that every individual is both genders at the same time, and that they worship children and the idea of love. They encourage Charlie to remember that human men and women are far more similar than different, and that the core of every true religion is to love. Interspersed with the story of Charlie we get a story of a modern (i.e. 1950s) American family, already in the process of breaking down the social boundaries between men and women.

This is an especially interesting book, again given where we’re at in our current moment. Sturgeon explicitly wants to break down cultural, gender, and sexual barriers (he tells us so in his postscript), and is well aware that doing so involves not only culture but also biology, psychology, and religion. The latter in some ways is what he sees as the most difficult, as biology and psychology are waved away with future technology that blends the genders on physical and mental levels. But how to overcome the part of religion that appeals to our desire to dominate and hold firm to the side of religion that involves ecstatic joy–especially when these two things have been tied tightly together through most of history?

Clearly, there’s a lot to think about for the Christian in this book. Sturgeon has hit on all of the areas we need to be carefully navigating as we think about what it means to be a faithful believer in the modern world. We need to understand creation, sin, the person and work of Christ, and the place of repentance and faith all across the areas of biology, psychology, culture, and every other topic raised by Sturgeon. While we may not be able to go along with this conclusions, Venus Plus X is definitely an early arrival at conversations that are just taking off six decades after its publication.

Dr. Coyle Neal is co-host of the City of Man Podcast an Amazon Associate (which is linked in this blog), and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO

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