Toxic Masculinity in a Genderless World?

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

RamboOne of the fascinating things that just happened is the firestorm over the recent Gillette razor commercial that aired nationally, in anticipation of a possible Super Bowl ad. Did you see it or hear about it? The commercial was not just trying to sell Gillette razors to men, but was yet another attempt by our culture to not only define masculinity, but reject a toxic version of it. So it now appears that even a growing number of advertisers are joining the culture wars and trying to define what it is to be a real man or a real woman. And yet, in our increasingly genderless world, it is surprising that anyone has any idea of anything about male and female anymore. How could anyone define toxic masculity when many don't believe male and female even exist ?  Today's politically correct ideology has created a scenario in which people are not even sure if they can mention a person's gender, lest someone is offended. This emerging gender identity chaos has simply become overwhelming and is destroying the entire fabric of our society and few are even willing to speak up about it.

If you really want to stir up an even greater controversy in our society, try assigning a gender to God. If you're not sure about that, just start using different gender labels for God in a group setting and see what reaction you will get. The moment you try something like that people can literally come unglued when God is referred to as a "He" or a "She". This battle over defining gender, at any level, has led our society to a moral and spiritual free fall. If we are honest, few in our society today have even the slightest idea of what a man or women is suppose to be anymore.
These deep, cultural battles about gender have also moved into the Church world with the development and production of gender-neutral Bibles that seek to avoid labeling God's gender or that of the people to whom the Bible was written. Gender struggles are also at the heart of transgender issues, where some say a person's chosen gender may not be the same as their biology. In addition, many progressive colleges and universities are now fostering gender transformation by offering their students numerous options to use regarding their gender and sexual identity, lest someone be offended.

Now if we turn to the Bible, we find out in the creation story that God and gender issues are front and center. In Genesis 1:1 the first Hebrew reference for God is "Elohim." Hebrew is the original language of the Old Testament, and the surprising thing about that Hebrew name for God is that it is grammatically a masculine, plural noun. So from the very beginning, God chose to reveal and identify Himself as a masculine, plural noun. This first revelation of God's name allows us to get an early glimpse of God being a Trinity of Persons, in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that wants to be seen as masculine. The specific reasons for God's revelation of Himself as a plurality of masculinity become clearer as the Bible's narrative unfolds.
God continues His revelation about gender in Genesis 1:27, where we hear the first mention of human gender and how it reflects God's image,
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
The Bible text tells us that Adam, or mankind, was created in God's image; but mankind is both and male and female. So, when you see a man and woman together, as in marriage, you are seeing a glimpse of God and His image in the world that is both masculine and feminine. This seemingly mysterious combination of male and female as a reflection of God's image is given some clarity later in the creation narrative when we find out that Eve, the female part of God's image, came out of Adam's life. In Genesis 2:22-23 we hear,
Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man."
So, it turns out then that Eve was somehow hidden in Adam from the beginning. In other words, Eve lived in Adam from the beginning of his creation, but was only later revealed when she came out of his side. And when Adam and Eve were finally united in marriage in Genesis 2:24, we see that their male and female reflections of God's image were reunited into their original oneness at creation as they became "one flesh" again.

All of this leads to the reason why God is never referenced as a woman in the Bible. It turns out that God is looking for His woman, just as Adam was looking for Eve. If God was identified as a woman, the story of love and marriage, as seen in and through the human family, would be lost. God's story of love and marriage is ultimately about God seeking us, His woman, His wife, just like any man might seek after his woman as a potential wife.

All of this is a necessary part of telling the story of God's love and redemption. So just as a man seeks after a woman for love and marriage, so too God seeks after us. Human beings never seek or love God first. God always seeks and loves us first. Our seeking and loving God comes only in response to God making the first move. God courts His people as any man might court a woman to be his wife. God pursues us. This powerful truth is reflected in the beautiful verse in 1 John 4:10, "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." Once we understand on a deeper level that all the issues surrounding gender are about our relationship to God, our entire view of these subjects will be changed forever.

These early creation stories in the Bible about Adam and Eve, male and female and marriage are designed to open our eyes and give us revelation and understanding that Christ would one day be the new Adam that would come into the world to redeem it. Jesus would end up being that new Adam, the second man and husband that was and is looking for His woman. Jesus would come to look for His bride to unite with in marriage and become one, thereby restoring the image of God that is male and female together. We call this woman the Bride, the Church or Israel. And just as Adam looked for a wife, so our Lord seeks after us. This fact explains the entire reason behind Jesus' public ministry. Our Lord came to find a bride and seek after those who lost their way in their sin as we hear in these words from Luke 19:10, "For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost." Our Lord continues His search today for anyone who has lost their way and offers love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.

God's search for His bride ended up at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified. Just like Eve, the new Adam's woman was also taken out of His side, and was created out of a cleansing flow of His blood and water to make His bride clean and a reflection of His body. After His resurrection, our Lord continued to seek out and look for His bride from around the world through the proclamation of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 that continues to this day.

So the great story of Adam and Eve is really about the complex story behind the real meaning of gender. The Bible teaches that all gender issues are related to God being seen as a male figure that seeks after a woman, His people. God's people are seen in the female figure that is sought after and receives His love. Taken together, God and His people, become the defining issue for gender as it relates to this life and the world to come.

And finally, as we study God and gender, we come to realize that it is a key to seeing how much the Lord loves His people and how we can better understand the meaning and purpose of our lives. So, for the Lord, male and female issues are always about His real love and real sacrifice for us.  They are never about gender wars, political correctness, Rambo characters, "toxic masculinity" or men taking advantage of women or women taking advantage of men. God's plans for male and female in marriage and life are always a witness to Christ and His woman, His bride and people. These truths are the ultimate answer to defining our gender and seeing who we were made to be, as expressed through male and female. Real Biblical truth always sets men and women free to be themselves as created by the Lord. So in this hour of sexual and gender chaos, may our Lord restore clarity, sanity and hope to His people. May articles like this be passed on to others. May everyone realize anew that we all need a Savior who can forgive sin, restore truth and truly explain our identity to us as men and women created in His image. May that joyous discovery bring meaning and purpose in this life and the world to come.