As noted in last week’s article, we are now at a new crossroads of understanding. Male and female’s shared dominion over creation was God’s original design. The fall, however, distorted the shared stewardship of the earth which men and women were called to as part of the divine mandate. But, the gift we have in Jesus Christ is not like the trespass (Rom. 5:15). In overcoming sin and death, Christ has re-established the original design of the Creator. Throughout the Gospels and New Testament, both men and women are equal participants in Christ’s new covenant community, as disciples of Christ and as coworkers with Paul. Paul is unashamed of female coworkers like Junia—the apostle, Priscilla—the teacher, or Phoebe—the deacon.
Yet, despite our liberation in Christ and the examples of women’s freedom to share spiritual authority beside Paul, we, like the Israelites, sometimes prefer slavery to entering the Promised Land. If you need convincing, just stroll through any Christian bookstore. Notice a publishing industry that often promotes (especially through youth curriculum) not the shared stewardship of men and women in Christ, but a focus on gender that leads to separate spheres of stewardship. Rather than asking, what is your gift and how might you use this for Christ? The question becomes, what is your gender, and how does gender shape your service to Christ? This is tragic because it departs from the teachings of Scripture and does not embrace the benefits of Calvary.
Such literature holds us captive to the fall, and is steeped in an unthinking sentimentalism suggesting, again, that all women want something different than all men. These authors argue that women want love, while men want respect. (If you love someone, don’t you also respect them?) Or again, women are said to be ruled by emotion and men by logic. Or again, women marry for love and men marry for sex. (Read the Song of Solomon for a biblical perspective on this!) These authors claim females long to twirl in skirts whereas men seek to rescue beauties. Do the teachings of Scripture tell us to focus on beauty, or to take up our cross and follow Jesus in service to a broken world? To fall prey to this sentimentality is to squander Christ’s accomplishments and our purposes in subduing the earth and ruling over creation for Jesus’ sake.
To repeat the wisdom of Dorothy Sayers, there is very little mystery to gender, apart from the “exasperating mysteriousness of human beings in general.” If you want insights into gender, look to Scripture rather than romance movies, art museums, novels, or pop Christian literature. Scripture is our best guide and it teaches us what the human heart must ultimately grasp—that we are human and Christian before we are male or female, rich or poor, American or African. That is the teaching of Scripture. We are stronger in our service for embracing our renewal in Christ above all else.