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Jesus & gender (1)

This is the first of a few posts of what I gauge to be an important topic. It’s controversial, but that comes with the territory. If there weren’t important truths at stake, people wouldn’t be interested in what others thought, would they? 

I’d like to begin by taking inventory of where we are as a culture in regard to our different ways of thinking about gender. It’s pretty obvious that not only are we not on the same pageI’m not even sure we’re even in the same book.Therefore, I think it will be helpful to survey the landscape of different ideas before we get around to the “Jesus” aspect of gender in the next post. What follows is a spectrum of views that isn’t intended to encompass every possible perspective but rather provide us a general look at the lay of the land in regard to the different ways of thinking about gender. 

Do you remember “the pregnant man” episode on Oprah several years ago? Of course, it really wasn’t a man that was pregnant. It was a woman who had altered her appearance to look like a man.  She had taken some male hormones and had something of a beard. But anatomically she was a woman, and she knew that.  She had been inseminated and became pregnant. It was her plan after her child was born to have sexual reassignment surgery.
The gender blender spin had obvious ratings value. It represented reality television at its bestor its worst, according to your point of view. It had obvious appeal to those who beliefs are represented by our first category:  gender anarchy. To the true anarchist, there is no authority other than self.  Therefore, gender to them is like marriage or sexual behaviorthere are no rules, just right. It is whatever they want it to be (other than binary). Facebook currently offers 58 gender identity options. And if that's not enough don't worry, you can make up your own. And there's this—the ACLU is now calling for tampon dispensers to be place in men's bathrooms for "menstruating men!"
The equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution is quickly called in to support and make all of this a civil right. That this clause has been interpreted in our lifetime in such a way as to deny the unborn the right to life and redefine marriage in a way that no civilization (religious or secular) society has ever done should cause us to question whether we really believe in rights  granted to us by our Creator (per the Declaration of Independence) or we're just making this up as we go along. Every person (including the unborn) should be respected and valued; but accommodating every new group's every desire should not fall under the purview of basic civil rights. Moving on, while gender anarchy view represents a small segment of our culture, it receives a disproportionate amount of attention and publicity through the media and the entertainment industry who are seemingly do their utmost to establish these values in the mainstream.

It’s my understanding that the above group came about largely as a result of the next type of thinking:  gender minimization. This holds that gender (aside from its reproductive necessity) represents a mostly negative aspect of humanity since by their view it inevitably ends up being about power and politics. Therefore, we should just get rid of any kind of gender distinction and put women in combat, or on football teams, and let men choose colors. Critical to this view is the idea that if men and women are functionally different in any way, then by definition, they’re in a state of inequality. “Identical” and “equal” are interchangeable terms. 

Next is the category of gender depreciation. This represents the great unwashed who are intimidated by the aggressiveness and sometimes militancy of some of those holding the above views. Or, they’re turned off by the shrillness and/or superficiality of some who hold to the thinking that men and women are different and have different roles. For the most part, they don’t understand what the big fuss is about. They see gender (more or less), as incidentalsomething they acknowledge and recognize can be socially problematic at times, but there’s not much more to it than that.  Others see gender as accidental—the product of the evolutionary process that got them here and nothing more. We could have just as well have been androgynous.

The last classification is gender appreciation. This view holds the men and women to be equal, but not identical. In fact, it celebrates the differences because it believes them to be neither incidental nor accidentalbut a result of design and not a threat to the equality of the genders. It seems to me that this kind of thinking is diminishing both because it is under strong attack at the cultural level, but also because it is superficially understood and presented by many of its adherents. As a result, it is often caricatured as being only a few steps ahead of radical Islam and their (mis)treatment of women. It is my conviction that gender appreciation is what is presented in the Scriptures.
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