The last 35 years have seen an astonishing change in our culture’s view of sex and sexuality. Just yesterday, I was listening to a sports radio broadcast in my car when the commentator spoke about Tony Dungy, a former NFL coach and now colour analyst for the very popular Sunday Night Football on NBC. Dungy has consistently maintained that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others. The sports broadcaster I was listening to mentioned this, and then commented that “this was all we need to hear,” implying that anyone who made such a statement was clearly a bigot. Interestingly enough, several years ago, such a statement by Dungy would hardly raise eyebrows. But today, it is possible that such a position could cost him his job. But the ground is shifting yet again. The transgender movement (for more on this, check last week’s blog) will again seriously change our culture’s view of sex and sexuality. What is called “ethical” one moment changes significantly the next.
How is the Christian church to respond? Clearly we are finding ourselves increasingly alienated from culture. But whereas some churches will respond by simply adopting the new ethic and adapting the Christian faith within this “new ethic” (which many have), others will simply become quiet, never addressing the issue from the pulpit or in any other Christian discipleship program. Still others will become outspoken and defiant of the culture, and risk becoming known for their anti-LGBT stance rather than for the gospel. Is there a different way? I think there is. I believe Christians must become intentional in making the biblical case for gender specific expressions of godliness, and use this as a basic tool within discipleship, across Sunday school, youth groups and the like. I suggest there are five things the Bible teaches about gender that are especially appropriate for basic Christian discipleship and teaching in our day:
1) That we stress the full equality of men and women and yet do so in a way that stresses the complimentary nature of the roles of the male and female gender. Using Ephesians 5:22-23, regarding the roles in marriage as a starting place, we might do well to explain to our youth that which they must prepare themselves for.
2) That our gender comes with a divine command. 1 Corinthians 6:19 reminds us that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and that it belongs not to us, but to the God who made it and redeemed us. Hence, we can learn to celebrate Genesis 1:27, which says that the image of God is expressed in the mutuality of male and female.
3) That on the basis of these two points, our physical appearance needs to celebrate gender complementarianism. Deuteronomy 22:5 forbids women from wearing male garments and men from wearing female clothing. Further, 1 Corinthians 11 speaks about this, referring specifically to the length of hair as it relates to gender. Now clearly, while these passages come to us within a cultural milieu, we must not miss the “supra-cultural” application here. “Dress and appear in such a way as to highlight your gender distinction.”
4) Understand the uniqueness of the male and female demeanor. I encourage a thorough study of 1 Thessalonians 2:7 and 2:11-12.
5) Learn to rehearse, encourage thankfulness and embrace God’s design in our creation as either male or female, recognizing this as a basic aspect of our submission to Him.