Why the Nashville Statement on Gender Is Correct
In its opening Preamble, the Nashville Statement: a Coalition on Human Sexuality, makes an important point on human gender. It reads,
Many deny that God created human beings for his glory, and that his good purposes for us include our personal and physical design as male and female. It is common to think that human identity as male and female is not part of God’s beautiful plan, but is, rather, an expression of an individual’s autonomous preferences. The pathway to full and lasting joy through God’s good design for his creatures is thus replaced by the path of shortsighted alternatives that, sooner or later, ruin human life and dishonor God
The Statement remarks on “male and female” largely due to the assault on what is called Cisgender (Cis), a term for people whose gender matches their birth sex. According to advocates for the transgender lifestyle, sex and gender are completely unrelated.
But is that true? The answer is no. Here is why.
Genesis 1:27 says, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Note that what we call “sex” (man-woman) and “gender” (male-female) are referenced simultaneously in the creation of the first couple. Jesus affirms this when he said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE” (Matthew 19:4).
The point? Inherent to the fact that the man and woman are created in the Image of God is both sex (man-woman) and gender (man-female).
Here is a question. Does sex define gender, or does gender define sex? It is gender that defines sex.
In the creation of the first couple, it is the attributes of male (gender) that make the man (sex), and it is the attributes of female (gender) that make the woman (sex).
Put differently, the attributes of male-“ness” (gender), which originate in God, are the content that account for the man. Likewise, the attributes of woman-“ness” (gender), which originate in God, are the content that make for the woman.
So, what constitutes man and woman is not sex reproductive organs and fertility, but characteristics that form the content of the Image of God, as seen, for example, in the many scriptural references to God as a Father (trait) and as a Mother (trait).
The problem we are witnessing today, and to which the Nashville Statement addresses, is a reversal of God’s created order. It is now the man (sex) that makes the male (gender) and the woman (sex) that make the female (gender). Indeed, as self-identified Caitlyn Jenner proclaimed in an interview with Tucker Carlson, “gender and sex have nothing to do with one another.”
In this case, gender becomes an image of the “I.” Men and women are the archetype of gender, free to define it however they like. But in biblical anthropology, God is the archetype of what constitutes male and female, which in turn defines what it means to be a man or a woman.
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