Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Gender Neutral

In an age of feminism, we went back through our Bible and added women in wherever we saw fit, concluding that when the Bible says "he," it really means "he and she," and "brothers" means "brothers and sisters." And once we did that, we had a whole slew of persons trying to turn biblical gender on its head who started referring to God as "Mother God" and using the pronoun "she." 

And it didn't take long from there before we decided that really what we were saying was that the Bible is actually gender-neutral. That is, it never actually intends to identify anyone as male or female or make reference to men or women specifically. Never. 

We went on to declare that the Bible was a book written to human beings, neither male nor female, but simply human and that every story must be taken on its human merits, regardless of whether we think - in our narrow-minded, patriarchal understandings - that the main character is "male" or "female." 

And while we're on the subject, didn't Paul say exactly this somewhere in the New Testament? Why, he did! Paul said that in Christ, "there is no male or female." So, there you have it. More proof that the Bible was intended to be gender neutral. And if not the Bible, at least God Himself is gender-neutral. 

When God looks at us, these contextualizers conclude, He doesn't see male or female; He just sees human being. 

Except...that's not what God said. 

That's not even what the Bible says. 

That's not even what Paul actually said, even though he did use those words. (Funny how contextualizers want to take this specific passage most literally out of all of the Scriptures while attempting to say that everything else must be understood through some kind of lens.) 

Here's where the argument gets a little troublesome, mostly because it cannot help but go in a circle based on everyone's starting foundation. See, we say that the Bible is quite clear in that it says God created humankind male and female and that God declared a man would leave his family and cleave to his wife. That seems pretty clear to most of us. 

But then, these contextualizers - the same ones who take Paul 100% literally to prove their point - come through and say, yes, the Bible says that, but only because that's the type of society they lived in. Even those passages, they say, must be contextualized for the society that we live in. We can't just read the words; we have to break them up and determine what they mean.

Then, we say that they mean that there are two genders that God created and created for each other and that somehow, that is important to our experience as human beings, but then, they say that it can't mean that. It just can't. 

So we argue in circles, and it gets us nowhere. For either side. 

So we point out that God's creation of woman was a distinct separate act from His creation of man. That Adam named woman as something distinct from himself, so even from the very beginning, he recognized an important difference between himself and the woman. 

Then, they come back and say that Genesis was written later than the first few days of creation and the culture that wrote it had established definitions of male and female culturally, so of course, they would word the account in such a way that it looks like two distinct things were created on those days, but in fact (here's where they get you), what God created for Adam was nothing more than a "helpmeet" - a helper - and that doesn't give us qualifying information about gender. We only get gender when we implant culture on top of it. 

So we're back to our circle again. Because what seems plain to one side seems an absolute distortion to the other (in both directions), and there's nothing we can do about this. 

Which is how we ended up with an entire portion of Christianity that insists, even to this day, that the Bible is truly gender neutral and that our apparent gender has nothing to do with our creation, that God doesn't care if we're male or female, He maybe doesn't even notice. 

And that opens the door for the argument they are really trying to get at.... 

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