Russell and Duenes

Can We Know Anything About What Constitutes “Male and Female”?

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One of my commentors (See comments on “Is ‘Consent’ What Makes a Marriage?”) has said that we cannot know who is male and who is female because the gender categories are not watertight (my summary of his argument). Here’s my response:

Your position amounts to the obliteration of male and female. It does no good to say that “God knows whether any person x is male or female, but we humans have no way of determining it.” To say this is to void anything the Scripture has to say about male and female, and frankly, it has quite a lot to say. I might begin with Paul when he says,

“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

This assumes that we can know what is “contrary to nature,” and it is simply sophistry to say that there are some human beings about whom we have difficulty ascertaining their sexual status, so therefore we simply can’t determine anything about male and female. Paul says we can, which means that God says we can. Paul further says,

“Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.”

So nature teaches us some things, even in the face of “hard cases,” which are the great, great exception. Comparing differences in “height” to sexuality is comparing apples to oranges. Yes, we’re all of different heights, but that is the nature of our being human. But if you line up 100 males and 100 females randomly off the streets, you will likely find that the male genitalia is the same and the female genitalia is the same, and you will also likely find that they have certain other physical and emotional characteristics that they have in common as male and female, but not across the sexual divide. Exceptions to this are just that, exceptions.

But frankly, there’s not much point in arguing this further if you are of the mind to believe that we can know nothing about masculinity and femininity. If that’s the kind of world you want to live in, so be it, but I can’t imagine anything more dreadful, or unworkable in practical reality. If you don’t see the loveliness and beauty of our differentiation as male and female, then you are like a person for whom honey can be put on your tongue, but you cannot taste it’s sweetness. In that case, argumentation will be to no avail. The tastebuds are shot.



Written by Michael Duenes

January 22, 2011 at 11:37 am

Posted in Duenes, Theology

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