As an academic I learned that there are times when such knowledge makes it easier to grasp the meaning of parts of the Bible. In the original languages of the Bible (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) the meaning is at times clearer than in a translation.

Yet, to find a way to point out an emotional or culturally based doctrine is usually frustrating. People would rather cling to their belief structure than learn the way of God.

One of those places is in the issue of gender. Galatians 3:28 makes it clear that God does not see us as male or female (or rich or poor, or a particular race or culture). How is it then that virtually every segment of the Christian religion makes a distinction between gender?

It is in the translation. Now what I am saying is also in the translation and context, but the letter of the reading speaks differently from the context. And we all know that the letter of the law kills!

When Paul says he does not allow a woman to teach, and that a woman should be silent during worship, the word used refers to wife, not woman. It is in the context, where the “woman” is to ask her husband at home. God does not tell us that the females of the world must submit to the males of the world, only her husband. (There is a learning to be made on this point as well, but I leave that for another time.)

In marriage, the distinction between male and female has a role to play. (Alternate marriage forms is also a topic for another time.) Gender specificity is needed for procreation, and so male and female remains distinct in a marriage. That is not so in general, though.

July 7, 2017

Is this a new thing? Certainly not, because when Joel reports on the future outpouring of the Spirit, the Spirit is poured out on men and women without differentiation, as on people regardless of their age or social standing (Joel 2:28-29).

So any doctrine which limits women based on gender alone is unfounded and destructive.

Perhaps it would help to hear another voice than mine. Amma Sarah said it well in these words: “my body is female, but not my soul”. In heaven there is either no gender, or it is irrelevant since gender was created for procreation, and in heaven this function is absent, as Jesus made clear (Matthew 22:30).

Colossians 3:2 is part of a paragraph on priority thinking. “Set your mind on things above, not on things of the earth.” Since sexuality is a thing of the earth, focusing on that is not what God calls us to do. God, the things of God, extremes of love should be our focus. When we focus on any part of the creation (including sexuality) instead of the Creator we know we are on shaky ground (Romans 1:25).

Discern a person’s call of God through the Spirit, not a person’s genitals. That is harder, for labels and categories are easy ways to put people in their place. We are not called to easy, however, but to justice and servanthood under God. Anything else comes from the wrong place.