Summary: What a paradox: in the eyes of God we are neither male nor female, but Paul gave gender specific instructions to Timothy.
Bible – The Gender Issue
We need to address a very serious issue in today’s church. Regardless of what the liberals, intellectuals, emergent and other people say, gender is relevant in the bible. The bible refers to God and the Holy Spirit as a male and thus we too should refer to them as being male. In the same way, there are places in the bible where masculine gender is used and therefore that is exactly the way we should refer to such scripture. There are responsibilities in the church, which are always referred to as being performed by a male; and thus, we too will always consider these to be a male occupied position. In spite of the growing support for a genderless bible, the idea of rewriting the bible in a gender-neutral language is totally wrong.
Yet, I am of the opinion there is not a spiritual gender, which parallels physical gender; thus both physical gender and spiritual gender must be taken into consideration, especially for those who have been Born Again: as sons of God. It would appear we have a paradox!
I am fully convinced our gender paradox is part of Satan’s overall plan to corrupt the Holy Bible. At the same time, I must admit that I am fully convinced scriptural teachings can apply to both male and female; even if they are addressed to males. I also believe the expectations, of New Testament authors, often apply to both female and male; even if their statements are male oriented. For example, in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he writes: “… To the saints who are in Ephesus … In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ …” (Ephesians 1:1-14) Paul addressed this letter to the men in Ephesus. Does this mean the letter does not apply to females? I think not! Are we to believe that God, who Paul refers to in the masculine gender, has no intention of adopting women? Of course not! For example, in the book of Romans we find a parallel teaching about God adopting sons through Jesus. Paul told the Romans: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:29) Think about this for a moment. Paul is talking about an event in which ‘those he foreknew’ are spiritually conformed to the image of Jesus and thus they are referred to in the masculine gender: brothers. Now, I propose that Paul extends or extrapolates this conforming event to include women, even if he fails to include a reference to women in his letter. I would note, however, that just because I assume Paul intends for us to include women in his statement it does not give us the authority to rewrite what Paul has said. More importantly, we must not let our desire to include women in Paul’s statement, or our desire to take Paul’s statement literally, cause us to become a disputable person who is influenced by forces of evil in heavenly places.
Instead of immediately fussing over a gender specific writing style, I would like to propose we first take into consideration the implications of being Born Again. I would put forth that, in the process of being born-from-above, physical gender loses almost all of its relevance. Jesus said: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6) I think we all can agree that our initial physical birth produces physical gender. Now, bear with me on this, I would like to propose the possibility that spiritual rebirth is physically genderless but spiritually referenced as masculine. In other words, when we are born again, both men and women are born into the heavenly gender of Jesus, which is the heavenly gender of God, the Holy Spirit and all the angels. Scripture always refers to this heavenly gender as masculine and that why those who are Born Again are said to be conformed into sons of God. So you see, we are arguing over a gender issue that has got nothing to do with physical gender … we are fussing in the physical realm over an issue that lies in the spiritual realm; and none of us can even start to understand things in the spiritual realm.
Before you let your emotions over this issue influence your thinking, remember Paul said: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; …” (2 Corinthians 5:11-21) It is my humble opinion that Paul is telling us our initial physical birth has lost its relevance in light of our new spiritual rebirth. Is this not the same thing that Jesus taught when He said: “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39) If we have been Born Again our new spiritual self, which has replaced our old spiritual self, will dominate our physical being, which makes our physical gender somewhat less relevant. I am not advocating we totally ignore the relevance of physical gender. I am simply saying that we need to take into consideration the possibility that scriptural use of gender specific terms needs to be viewed from a spiritual perspective as well as a physical perspective. When we read the bible with the mind of our old person, gender can be an issue; but, if we read the bible in the spirit of our new person, gender is not such a big issue.