There are more than 2.5 billion professing Christians on the globe today, or roughly 32 percent of the world’s population. This makes Christianity the largest collection of people holding one set of beliefs about life’s meaning. Given this, it is well worth asking what “mere Christians” believe about what it means to be male and female based on our common historical Christian faith informed by scripture.
It is vital to understand that Christians are not just traditionalists, hopelessly and sentimentally committed to “the way things used to be.” Christians are not simply moralists, either, concerned with the right behavior.
Nor are we simply religionists, dedicated to a certain set of beliefs about God because we need something to make sense of life. No, the beliefs of Christians run deeper, and Christianity has a wholly unique and beautiful understanding of what it means to be human as male and female.
Who Jesus Was and How He Came to Us
The center of Christianity is, of course, rooted in a historical person who lived for more than 30 years more than 2,000 years ago. Jesus, Whom Christians believe was fully and eternally God, became fully man. This means that in Christianity, God became humanly gendered from a Father who is divinely gendered.
Jesus also entered earth very intimately, through the full femininity and fertility of an actual, historic woman. Christianity starts with a male baby in a female womb. Jesus was not “assigned” male at birth.
The greatest and most consequential event in the history of the universe, God’s incarnation, in precisely the way it happened, was a fundamentally gendered thing. By design, male and female were profoundly central to the event; neither were just bit-parts, merely costumes donned by players in a cosmic drama.
Physicality matters. Male and female, as objective realities, are intrinsic to the incarnation, the very thing that sets Christianity apart from all other faiths or philosophies.
Jesus Said Male and Female are Intrinsic
As recorded in Matthew 19 as well as in Mark 10, Jesus was asked a question about the nature of marriage. In response, Jesus took His inquisitors immediately to the larger picture of male and female, asking them to simply recall what God had said from the beginning, what He created humanity to be:
Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female…
Some might be tempted to see Adam and Eve’s story as old-fashioned, a mere Sunday school story. Jesus did not. He saw it as the authoritative starting place when considering what humanity is.
Male and female are not cultural constructs, ways of adorning ourselves or merely creations convenient for dividing work. For the Christian, male and female are what we are and are made to be: truthfully, fully human — human in body, mind, and soul. Therefore, we are either male or female in body, mind, and soul, as they are the only two types of human beings.
Male and Female as the Image of God
Why did God create humanity as male or female? Christians must appreciate that this is perhaps the most important question we can ask. Why? Because it tells us something profoundly significant not about who we are and who God is! The scriptures are so beautifully clear on this point.
In the beginning, when the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) decide to create humanity, They proclaim in Genesis 1:26: “Let us make [humanity] in our image, after our likeness.”
They are going to create something in nature that is “in our image, after our likeness.” That is one of the most consequential statements in all of scripture. They finished creating the stunning splendor that is the physical world. Scripture tells us creation is so lovely and majestic it literally declares God’s glory.
But They have declared they will take Their creation a step further, creating something that reveals more than even the glory of God. They will create that which is in Their very image and likeness. Humanity, and only humanity.
And not just generic humanity. Something very specific. In Genesis 1:27, the very verse that Jesus pointed to, we read: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
So, for the Christian, what are male and female? They are not just two different body styles. They are not just two different ways of being sexual. They are much more than how one dresses or “identifies.” They are not what we are “assigned” at birth. They are this and nothing less: Male and female, in their distinction, are equally, the very image of God Himself. Full stop.
This means Christianity has a uniquely high view of what it means to be male and female. God created male and female to be His singular physical image in the world. And God the Father sent His only Son to us as the Savior of the world directly through His mother, who remained throughout His life, death, and resurrection.
What Is God’s Enemy Attacking?
So today, as gender redefinition spreads across the globe, all Christians must perceive this is not just the latest skirmish in the culture war. By redefining marriage and the very meaning of what it means to be male and female, it is not just tradition, morality, or biology that is being attacked. God’s very image and likeness in creation are being challenged.
God’s mortal enemy well knows what each man and woman, boy and girl represent — he hates male and female because he hates Who they represent. When we are told today that male and female are merely cultural constructs or gender stereotypes, that we are merely “assigned” or “identify” as male or female, Christians must appreciate whose voice that ultimately is.
The gender issue is not a battle Christians can simply choose to ignore or sit out. It has been brought to our very homes, to our children, to our communities. It must be answered and challenged with the truth of what it means to be human, because male and female are the image of God.