The Gift Of Gender

Popular theology is a little bit whacked.  Or, in more elegant and precise terms, many people’s understanding of God is fatally limited and flawed.  It posits that God (beard or no beard) sits up there somewhere, and having made the world with all its scientific laws (such as entropy and gravity), now just lies back and watches everything work on its own.  The sun rises because God made the earth in such a way that it rotates on its axis.  Babies are conceived because of the union of sperm with egg.  Wine is created through the process of fermentation, which takes time.  God has nothing to do with any of this, apart from the fact that He once created the world to work in this way.

Some people believe that God can do miracles, which involves Him monkeying about (as it were) and setting aside the scientific laws which He once set in place.  Miracles therefore constitute God meddling from the outside with the world and its scientific laws, reaching in from the outside to do something that would otherwise be impossible.  Other people believe that God would never meddle like this, so that miracles never happen.  Both groups of people believe that God exists outside the world which functions on its own through its scientific laws without His direct involvement.

As said above, from the Christian perspective, this is a bit whacked, for Christian theology insists that God is not only transcendent (existing far above and unlimited by the created cosmos), but also imminent (existing and working from within the created cosmos).  Some people have labelled this perspective “pan-entheism”—God within everything (as opposed to “pantheism” which asserts that everything is divine).  That is, the distinction between God causing the sun to rise and the sun rising on its own because of its scientific laws is artificial and false.  The scientific laws which make the world rotate on its axis and which makes babies grow from the union of sperm and egg are not blind and immutable laws.  They represent the hand and handiwork of God working to create and sustain His world from the inside.

G.K. Chesterton knew this and he wrote about it with his characteristic verve. In his book Orthodoxy, he wrote, “God is strong enough to exult in monotony.  It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon.  It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never gotten tired of making them.”

If this is so, then it means that almost everything we experience in creation is a gift from God, and that gratitude and thanksgiving (or, in liturgical terms, “eucharist”) are the proper human responses.  We see this perspective in the inspired poetry of the Psalter, which declares that the hungry young lions, when they roar for their prey (i.e. for their next meal) are asking for this as a gift from God (Psalm 104:21).  We are not as smart as the young lions; we imagine that we get food because seeds sprout and animals breed and that farmers, truckers, and Safeway bring to us the bread and the meat, and we leave God entirely out of the picture.

genderThe young lions know better.  They know that God is working within the scientific laws which makes grain seeds sprout and which makes ewes have lambs (or whatever else is on the leonine menu), and that apart from this divine involvement the farmers, truckers, and Safeway people would have nothing to bring us.   Science with its laws is not opposed to God, nor God’s revelation in nature opposed to His revelation in Scripture.  Science contains traces of God’s handwriting, the fingerprints of the Creator.  Christians like science, and are keen to be taught by its findings.

Like the young lions, we should remember that all our food comes from God—as does everything else in the world, including the very air we breathe and the blood coursing through our veins.  Admittedly, this fallen world is haunted and stalked by disease, dissolution, and death.  Or, as one wag so memorably put it, “Mother Nature is out to kill you”.  Nothing down here yet works according to God’s ultimate goal, which is our immortality and freedom from disease and death.  For now, nature is subject to tragedy and flaw.  This is why some people are born deaf, and some people are born with other congenital defects.  And of course every person is afflicted with the curse of mortality and death after a few short decades, which death is usually preceded by weakness and disease.  Christians believe that God allows these tragedies in a world that rebels against Him, but that eventually He will change the world so that disease, flaw, and death will be no more.  Maranatha!

The important thing for us as we wait for this joyful change, this new heaven and new earth, is that we receive everything in the world as His gift.  The sunrise does not happen through the inevitable and blind outworking of scientific laws.  The sunrise is His daily gift.  The flowers, miracles of colour, delicacy, and scent that they are, are not the result of blind evolutionary botany with its iron laws.  They are little bouquets sent from God.  We pay for these gifts with our wonder and our gratitude—and by trying to make the best use of them we can.  In the case of sunshine and flora, one way we do this, apart from saying “Thank you” to God, is by our stewardship of the earth:  we should not pollute the sky so that the sunshine cannot be seen, or pave Paradise to put up a parking lot.

It is also important to remember that gender is a similar gift from God.  Scientifically speaking, gender is the result of DNA and chromosomes, which brings with it certain anatomical features—delightful features, if the Song of Solomon is to be believed.  Just as there are sometimes flaws in nature (such as congenital defects) so sometimes there are gender flaws, such as hermaphroditism and inter-sex conditions—both of which are objectively and scientifically verifiable.  But in every case, gender is given as a gift from God, as He works through such things as DNA and chromosomes and all the other scientific laws of our world.  That is why the Bible succinctly says, “Male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27), and why Christ echoed this by saying, “He who made them from the beginning made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4).  And how do we know of the binary nature of gender?—the same way we know about other realities in the created world:  from the findings of science.  Science, when allowed to speak (which is not always the case), also proclaims that there are but two genders, male and female.  And as with its other findings, Christians like science and are keen to be taught by its findings.

As with the gifts of sunshine and flowers, a certain response is required of us for this gift of gender, apart from that of gratitude.  For the gifts of sunshine, as said above, we show our gratitude by using the gift wisely—i.e. by not polluting the air so that we cannot see the sun.  In the case of gender, we show our gratitude by using this gift wisely—i.e. by growing into our gender and using it as an adornment to our life.

As someone once said, “Being a male is a matter of birth.  Being a man is a matter of age.  But being a gentleman is a matter of choice”.  In other words, boys grow into men and should use their gift of gender by cultivating the virtues of a gentleman—that is, by being kind and courteous, by being gallant and chivalrous, by protecting the weak, and by showing courage in the face of danger, even to the point of self-sacrifice.  Previous epochs knew all this; that was why it was expected of men on the Titanic that they would only take a place in the lifeboats after the women and children had been seated there.  They were not expected to make such a sacrifice because they were heroes, but simply because they were men and gentlemen, and that was how gentlemen behaved.  But there was no legal necessity; it was a matter of choice.

It is a fine and wonderful thing to be a man and to receive the gift of male gender.  It is a fine and wonderful thing to be a woman and to receive the gift of female gender.  The two are very different and have different ways of adorning their gender by their behaviour.  Children know this instinctively, which is why when they fall off their tricycles and skin their knees they run past Daddy to find Mommy:  it is Mommy who has the gift of healing skinned knees through kisses and cuddles; Daddy will just tell you to walk it off.  The DNA and the chromosomes and the anatomy in Mommies and Daddies are different, and produce different behaviours and approaches to life.  Both are equally wonderful and necessary and needed in the family.

It is crucial in this day that we recognize God’s gifts when we see them.  Gifts of sunrise and flowers—and chocolate and wine and sex and music and movement and beauty and a thousand other things—are obvious enough, and a discerning heart will know how to thank God for them and use them appropriately.  Even if it now requires courage, we must do the same with the divine gift of gender.  We must not bow down before the idol of transgender ideology with its insanity and lies and throw back into God’s face the gift of gender that He gives us.  Instead we must receive it with gratitude and seek to adorn it by becoming true men and true women as He intended.

Source: No Other Foundation

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