Canadians are experiencing a rewriting of their vocabulary. In the public conversation, the meaning and language around gender feels confusing and consistently changing. The most recent example came through a directive from the government to Service Canada telling them to use gender-neutral language. Agents are to use words such as parent instead of mother or father. Amidst the public uproar, the Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development has acknowledged the instructions as being confusing. Still, according to the directive, the goal is to “avoid portraying a perceived bias toward a particular sex or gender.” This and other similar statements have created a firestorm of many people being fed up with the perceived attack against gender.
As Christians, the question we must answer is why this is such a big deal to us. This needs to be more than a dislike for a political leader, or a comfort zone of certain language. We need to know why gender matters.
What many people may not realize is that sociologists make a distinction between gender and sex. To put it in simple terms, sex is referring to our anatomy and gender refers to social roles based on the sex of the person. Still, for the Christian, here are 3 reasons why the gender conversation should matter to us.
1. Gender Is God’s Idea
In Genesis 1:27 we are told “male and female he created them.” This cannot only be referring to our physical anatomy because it is in this same context we are told that we are made in the image of God. Being made in God’s image is far deeper and far greater than what is happening with our physical bodies. If gender has no value or purpose then there is no need for God to identify that we are made male and female. If gender has no purpose, God could have simply said “people” are made in His image.
2. Gender Is Valuable
In the eyes of God, there is something valuable in being male or female. Only humans, male and female, are identified as being made in the image of God. The Bible teaches that we have value like no other part of God’s creation. After God had made them male and female, the Bible says that He “saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (emphasis mine)
3. Gender Is for the Common Good
We have downplayed the importance of gender in our culture and it is creating a lot of damage. In my line of work, I see and experience the confusion and damage happening in our culture when we downplay the value of gender. In Canada, the most likely people to be living in poverty are families led by a single mom. The absence of fathers is most often the root issue that contributes to the majority of the social challenges faced by millions of people in our country. I could go on and on explaining how the lack of a clear and positive understanding of what it means to be a man is hurting so many people.
God created gender for the good of all people. Mothers and fathers are both critical for children to thrive. The Bible creates a picture of men and women working together as image bearers of God to care for and bring life to all of God’s Creation.
The Hope of Jesus
Jesus did not come to bring more confusion, He came to bring us life. He knows that we are trying to make our own way. He graciously calls us to Himself where we will find our true identity and real life. Jesus is the way for us to discover who we were always meant to be.
We live in confusing times for so many people. We are a people of hope and reconciliation with God. The Christian Church needs to be a people who celebrate gender. At times, we have also been guilty of downplaying the importance of being male or female. We need to help people grow as male and female image bearers of God – giving the world a glimpse of how glorious God really is.