Gender Issues are Gospel Issues

Table of Contents

Amidst the controversies coursing through the Church concerning sexual values, themes, and agendas, the cry is often heard, “Can’t we just all get along? It’s the gospel that’s important, not sexuality.” According to this view, all the fuss about sex is a side issue, irrelevant to the proclamation of the gospel. A brief overview of the sexual themes of the Bible shows that this viewpoint is profoundly mistaken. Sexuality is not a side issue to Christianity. How you view the sexual themes in the Bible makes all the difference between an orthodox faith and one that is a pagan faith decked out in Christian drag. The Bible’s theology of sex is interwoven tightly with wide-ranging topics of Christian doctrine and worldview.  

If you compromise on Scripture concerning sexuality, Biblical truths unravel everywhere, all the way down to the saving gospel itself.  Here you will find a very brief examination of why counter-biblical social and sexual agendas are incompatible (and often destructive) to an authentic Christianity that is faithful to Scripture.

The God of the Bible is Masculine

His masculinity is basic to who He is and how He relates to Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Apostles’ Creed, the most ancient and foundational of all creeds, common to all Christians of every branch of the Church, begins this way: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord.” This is not anthropomorphic language or the bias of a by-gone patriarchy. This is the summary of God’s biblical revelation of Himself – of the masculinity which is foundational to His nature and His relationship to creation and His creatures. (Read more about the masculinity of God here).

The Creator and the Creation are Distinct

Christians are not pantheists. God is not beyond gender, nor is He some hermaphroditic or androgynous amalgam of the created sexes. The fundamental distinction between the Creator and the creature lies at the heart of the distinction between male and female, masculinity and femininity. The legitimate union of the masculine and the feminine in God’s design is marriage, not androgyny.  History begins with a marriage (Adam and Eve) and it moves toward the ultimate marriage (Christ and the Church). This is no accident, but God’s express design for fellowship with His Creation (Hosea 2:14-20, Isaiah 62:1-5); it is also His way of imprinting His grandest plan for history into the individual life experience of every human being. When someone ignores or discounts God’s design for men and women in marriage, family, and Church, they unravel the ultimate goal of the gospel: God’s dwelling with His people in marital union.  They also convolute God’s revelation that comes from our experience of family – a universal institution designed for our personal instruction.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:31-32

God Became A Male

The divine Son becomes the human Son of Mary. The divine masculinity joins human masculinity in Jesus Christ. Those who discount or diminish the significance of the Son’s human maleness unravel the purpose, meaning, and eternal incarnation of the Son of God – that is, Jesus’s incarnation establishes a new head of the human race – a headship that saves. Salvation operates by headship. “In Adam all die, even so in Christ, shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). The entire plan of salvation is based on the authentic and actual headship of the two male progenitors of the human race. When someone dismisses Jesus’s identity as a male human and demonizes male headship, they demonize a fundamental plank of the gospel itself.

Biblical Faith is Patriarchal

The Bible is plainly, copiously, and unambiguously patriarchal in the way it presents God and His will for His people. Even the Trinity is a patriarchy, with God the Father in authority over the Son and the Holy Spirit (consider Christ’s statements of mission in John 6:37-40 and his subordination and submission in the Garden of Gethsemane). It was the Father’s will from Genesis 3:15, through the life of Jesus, and onward today that our salvation should come through the Messiah.  It is the Father’s desire to own us in adoption. It is the Father who gives all members of the flock to Jesus. Social activists develop and deploy a dishonest method of reading and applying the Bible to suit an extra-Biblical agenda that is hostile to the Bible’s portrait of a patriarchal God and His plan of salvation. 

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.  For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Holiness and Sanctification are Developed in our Inalienable Gender Roles

We follow Christ as men and women. The family is the fundamental unit of society and the model for the Church. Many commands to men and women are the same; but many are different, and these are the commands that establish the patterns and institutions in which we live and serve the Lord. Maleness and femaleness are written in our bodies, and masculinity and femininity are written in our souls. To be simply a “good person” or a “bad person” is not an option. If we are male, we must inevitably choose to be a good son, brother, man, husband, or father. If we are female, we must inevitably choose to be a good daughter, sister, woman, wife, or mother.

Blurring or erasing the gender-specific patterns and institutions in the Bible lays burdens on both sexes that are unnatural and incompatible to their redeemed sexual identity in Christ. Men who are led in the Church by women are less than men. Women who lead men in the Church are less than women. Children reared in this milieu are handicapped in their understanding of themselves and the world around them. 

The Church Elaborates the Family

The Church is not the place where we abandon sexuality and its distinctives, it is the place where the patterns of the family are reproduced and magnified (1 Tim 5:1-2; Ephesians 5:22-33).

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. (1 Tim 5:1-2)

Christ, through His Apostles, directs that men alone are to shepherd the flock, and only men are to teach other men. Just as male headship operates within marriage, it operates within the administration of the church. Women are to exercise their gifts and ministries in the framework of male headship (1 Tim. 5:5-16). Those who seek to put women in the offices of Christ’s Church defy Christ and the mandate He gave His Apostles as they set out to fulfill the Great Commission. The founding, functioning, and order of the Church is fundamental to God’s gospel mission.

Eschatology (the Study of End Times) is the Crescendo of Sexuality

When the Bible record looks forward to the end of the age, nothing is more distinct than the distinction between masculinity and femininity, for both good and evil. Christ is the King, the Lord, and the Bridegroom. His city is the pure bride, the wife, the mother. Their relationship is marriage. The masculine Satanic trinity (Satan, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet) is consigned to the lake of fire. Babylon, the Mother of Harlots, is a burning trash heap. The modern dream of a world in which gender does not matter, where sexuality is either absent or irrelevant, ignores the way in which divine history moves to exaggerate, highlight, and glorify the distinctions between the sexes. And, with this dream, modern activists diminish or erase the goal of the gospel: the wedding at the end of the age that inaugurates the eternal marriage of the Lamb and His Bride. 

How Do You know if an Error is a “Big Deal”?

Whether an error is benign or malignant may be gauged by how much it deforms other concepts associated with it. Let us consider, for a moment, those Christians who suppose that the only valid praise the Church may offer is to sing the Psalms of David. Others sing these as well as extra-Biblical hymns. One side or the other is mistaken. Now let us ask “How does this error about praise songs affect other aspects of Christian doctrine?”

What we find is that Christians in all sorts of theological “schools” have had differing ideas on this point – Calvinists and Arminians, Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox, in almost every era of the Church’s life. And, yet, their convictions on hymnody turn out to have little or nothing to do with their convictions in other areas of Christian doctrine.  So, whoever is mistaken in this matter of praise songs, it is a relatively benign error. 

Egalitarianism, on the other hand, opposes patriarchy and denies the responsibility of men to lead their marriages, families, and the Church. It insists that the Bible’s obvious patriarchy is either a mirage or a mistake.  Like a cancer it deforms and destroys Biblical and Apostolic faith across all areas of Christian doctrine. The egalitarians’ error about man and woman cuts straight to the nature of God, God’s self-revelation in the Bible, the incarnation of the Son of God, the message and outworking of the gospel, and the goal of God’s plan of redemption in history. It is a malignant error indeed.