True Christianity defends that which is truly feminine and masculine. It confirms the uniqueness of both male and female, a uniqueness that modernity is attempting to deconstruct and destroy.
“Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female ...” (Matthew 19:4).
True Christianity has always confessed that mankind is the creation of God, the work of His hands. To be truly human means to live according to the revelation, the way of life, instituted by our Creator God. Humanity is infused with essential nature. This nature is an existent reality established by God Himself and is shared in common by every human person.
God Himself is the creator of human nature; in Him alone does it truly comprehend itself. (Human nature was deformed and damaged by sin but subsequently restored and healed in Christ Jesus. Thus, when referring to human nature I am referring to its lofty purpose as revealed and created by God.)
Under the influence of Karl Marx, secular human ideology took a “leap” in its evolutionary process. He distilled (together with Engels) secularism to much of its current state. One of his major influences on modern thought is that every social, governmental, moral, religious, (and so forth) entity is but a structure which is the result of external historical constructs (something akin to the evolutionary idea of “chance”); they are simply determined by the development of conditions. Everything - even humanity itself - is but a result of these constructs and conditions. No essential value exists in anything; thus, nothing has innate substance which bears elemental created meaning.
Marx taught: control the constructs and you can control and even remake - recreate - humanity. Modern secular thought builds firmly on this Marxist ideology: to be human means nothing, to be male means nothing, to be female means nothing, all of these are but external constructs which bear no intrinsic substance. This is the basic foundation of modern gender ideology. Gender, they would say, is but an external construct and condition which may be manipulated. Another vital proposition of Marx was: to remake the world, the “old” constructs and conditions need to be removed and even destroyed, God is to be overthrown (as if possible) and man must reign in His place.
Archbishop Averky of blessed memory observes, "If man is his own highest authority, and if he is not just man but 'man-god' - for whom everything is permitted, for whom there are no barriers, and for whom everything is possible - then, of course, all manifestations of the passions and all the means of pleasing the flesh are lawful to him. Serving the flesh comes first, in consequence of which one's spiritual needs are increasingly deadened and trampled upon; finally, in order to put the voice of the conscience living in one's spirit to an end once and for all, the very spirit is declared nonexistent. There is no spirit; there is only one material: the flesh, requiring satiation - such is the foundational proposition of the new epoch" (The Struggle for Virtue).
Orthodox Christianity has always proclaimed that humanity has essential value and professed that gender is quintessential to humanity and to persons. Humanity and gender are elemental qualities of being and are not constructs of external conditions: God is their creator. Gender is not fluid but rather an intrinsic element of a person, either male or female, from conception and into all eternity. Outside conditions may warp one's understanding and use of gender (and other things) but it can never fundamentally alter the essential reality.
Besides the very obvious and glaring biological and physical realities of gender (one cannot alter chromosomes), Christianity teaches that gender - male and female - was established and created by God Himself in the very beginning. Christ Jesus Himself says, “From the beginning [He] made them male and female” (Matt. 19:4). It is not an outside condition but an essential and inherent reality of existence for humanity. A person is from conception either male or female, this is immutable. Indeed, human nature is expressed in male and female. Both share the common nature of humanity and thus are equal (note: not egalitarian) in essence but vary according to their definitive expression in gender. Female is not male, and male is not female. One is not superior to the other. Each bears a unique expression and role, distinct from the other, within the greater common nature of humanity. Here is God's created diversity.
Inevitably my modern secular friends will be grinding their teeth. For them, gender has no part in a person's role or expression in society, life, family, and so forth. They have labored hard to construct an androgynous society, faithfully hammering out Marxist ideology. At this point, the extremes are cast in ones face: “you think women should sit at home knitting! You think women should not vote! You're a male chauvinist exuding toxic masculinity!” Just wait, calm down, and keep reading.
True Christianity defends that which is truly feminine and masculine. It confirms the uniqueness of both male and female, a uniqueness that modernity is attempting to deconstruct and destroy. Women have been told that they must do everything a man does, effectively making man the standard of woman. Not much of a victory for women. Christianity, rather, encourages a woman to live according to her God-given gender, to grow in its unique attributes; likewise, it encourages a man.
Gender itself is a God-ordained icon, an image. In the beginning, God made mankind in His image and likeness. Gender itself is a part of this image. According to revelation, male participates in the icon of Christ and female participates in the icon of the Church. St. Paul elaborates this theology in Ephesians 5:22 and following. There he expounds upon the relationship of a husband and wife. Ultimately he tells us that marriage itself is an icon of the mysterious relationship of Christ with His Church, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church” (Eph. 5: 32).
St. Clement further says, “Now I do not suppose that you are ignorant of the fact that the living church is the body of Christ, for the Scripture says, 'God created them male and female.' The male is Christ; the female is the Church … For the flesh is a copy of the Spirit. No one, therefore, who corrupts the copy will share in the original” (2nd Clement). The deepest spiritual mysteries and principles are interwoven into creation by God Himself, gender not excluded. Gender itself and the proper interaction of male and female - most of all in the divinely instituted state of marriage - are but reflections of God's mysterious communion with His most beloved creation, most of all in the Church. Gender has a vast and deep significance. This is one of the reasons that moderns are seeking to deconstruct gender, at the instigation of the evil one.
Modern gender ideology is a form of radical iconoclasm. It seeks to destroy the God-created icon of male and female.
St. Symeon the New Theologian teaches, “This mystery is great – and beyond great! – and so it will always be, because the same sort of communion, and union, and intimacy, and kinship, which the woman has with the man and the man with the woman, such – understood in a manner adequate to God and as transcending our reason – is the relation which the Master and Maker of all has with the Church, as with a single Woman: blamelessly, ineffably, inseparably, and indivisibly united to her, being and living with her as with the one whom He loves and holds dear” (On the Mystical Life: The Ethical Discourses).
St. Symeon is clear, such things must be understood in a manner proper to God. Clearly, gender is of the created order (which continues into eternity) and only a reflection of a transcendent eternal reality. God is the only uncreated and eternal One.
It is evident that Christ Jesus was incarnate as a male, thus holding true to the icon of gender that He created. Gender is a physical image created by God to convey eternal spiritual principles. In our time gender has also been tragically reduced to sexual functions, but in the Gospel view, gender is so much more. Proper sexual function is but one of the aspects of gender. Thus, we must never sexualize the imagery that God has established. This is difficult for modern people. The base sexualization of gender has resulted in all sorts of problems, the objectifying of women, an epidemic of porn addiction, the horrendous growth of sex trafficking, all sorts of sexual perversions and misuses, to list but some. The attempted abolition of true gender identity, male and female, through the application of Marx's nihilistic principles is responsible for the excessive sexual exploitation and violence of our times.
True Christianity empowers persons to live in and strive towards the full beauty and potential of their God-given and created gender, which is unique. It acknowledges that womanhood bears its own special quality as does manhood. It never seeks to make a man of a woman or a woman of a man (which is, of course, ultimately impossible, despite what fantasy moderns chose to believe. One only becomes a feminized male or a masculinized female).
The nihilistic gender experimentation of modern secularism is nothing short of abusive. It is an ideology and nothing more, one that is being implemented forcefully without any thought of the long-term effects on society, humanity, and persons. Its message is clear: humanity is nothing, gender is nothing, you are nothing, so nothing really matters. You are but androgynous fodder to feed the nihilistic machine of the secular existence. Oh, and yes, “sexual revolution” and experimentation is a fundamental goal of secular Marxist ideology.
True Christianity proclaims that every person is created with purpose, even down to one's very clear biological gender. The totality of the human person is imbued with elemental divine meaning. Living within our God-given image and purpose is what the true Christian life is about. Only within God can humanity reach its ultimate meaning and reality.
Fr. Zechariah is an Orthodox priest in Pueblo, Colorado, at the Archangel Michael Orthodox Church. He blogs at The Inkless Pen, and is a regular contributor at Russian Faith.
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