I remember my friend telling me that she used the parts of a flower—the pistil and stamen, along with the process of pollination—to explain sex to her children when they were small. This made sense to me. Children can’t understand sexual desire, so over-explaining could do more harm than good.
But today I’m taking a step back and wondering how we, as parents, even know to create object lessons to simplify things for our children. Could it be that we do so intuitively because we are created in God’s image? We grasp for analogies to help our children understand things that are complex, while at the same time God is doing this for us.
Since the dawn of time, God has been tucking object lessons into things that become intuitive and normal for His children. For me and you. But somehow, I had missed some of those lessons. During the pre-session at True Woman ’18 titled “Firm Foundations in a Gender-Fluid World,” I felt a bit like a middle schooler whose eyes were suddenly opening a little wider in realization. Only instead of understanding that flower parts show me something about sex, I was coming to see that sexuality shows me something about God.
Unlocking the Mystery
Mary Kassian said, “Everything in creation is an object lesson to teach about Christ and the Church.”
Now, I have read Ephesians 5:31 (which talks about the profound mystery of marriage representing Jesus and the Church) long enough that it doesn’t seem profound or mysterious. But that’s because my starting point has always been marriage—which I know and understand. But God started with the spiritually profound—which He completely knows and understands.
God is like a parent, offering creative object lessons to explain something too complex for His children to understand. He formed marriage and sexuality to help us know and understand Him. “Gender puts God on display,” explained Mary. If we start with ourselves to understand this mystery, we’ll get it wrong. We have to start with God.
Mary reminded us that history opens with a marriage, and it closes with a marriage. In Genesis, we read about Adam and Eve coming together as man and wife. And in Revelation, we read about the final coming together of Christ and the Church. Mary explained that when the Bible says Eve was created “for Adam,” it does not mean that he could use her, abuse her, or objectify her. This is a heinous misinterpretation of what God was intends to teach us about His Son and the Church.
Here’s what it does mean: Just like there would be no Eve if there was no Adam, there would be no Church if there was no Son. Just like Eve was taken from the pierced side of Adam, the Church was born after the side of Jesus was pierced. Just like Adam’s existence led to Eve being formed, Christ’s existence led to the Church being formed. And just like babies are the fruit of a husband uniting with his wife, spiritual babies are the fruit of Christ uniting with His Church.
The story of Adam and Eve is a literal story that tells a spiritual story. Marriage is a literal reality that tells about a spiritual reality. God, like a father trying to explain something very good but complex to his small child, told these stories and formed these realities to help us understand Him.
But what if we detach sexuality from God? What if we unhitch the metaphor and make it something purely physical that is only about us? This is exactly what our culture screams for us to do. And it’s no wonder that Satan would suggest it. For what better way to skew our perspective of God than to destroy the object lesson meant to reveal Him?
That’s what Jackie Hill Perry helped me see in the second half of the session.
Two Women, Same Story
Mary Kassian and Jackie Hill Perry couldn’t be more different. They look different and have different styles. Mary is white and dresses like a professor. (She is one.) Jackie is black and dresses like a hip-hop artist. (She is one.) They also come from different backgrounds.
Mary grew up in a stable Christian family. Her mother prayed for a girl, but Mary joked that her mom forgot to pray for a girly girl. Mary’s parents repeatedly reminded her, “You’re a girl, Mary. Start acting it.”
Jackie Hill Perry was raised by a single mom. Her dad wasn’t a consistent part of her life, and she was sexually abused as a child. She remembers having gender confusion as early as first grade.
And now, these radically different women tell the same story. They stood side by side on a platform proclaiming God’s story, which is put on display through gender, and reminding us—as true women of God—to do the same.
Jackie compared our culture’s gender confusion to what Eve experienced in the Garden. Like the snake in the Garden of Eden, our culture is asking Garden questions like, “Did God actually say there is no gender fluidity?” Or “Did God actually say that homosexual practice is sin?”
We must not answer these questions based on what looks good to us, but rather we must base our responses on faith. Eve was attracted to the fruit. She had legitimate desire for it, but that didn’t make Eve’s fruit “good.” And while same-sex attraction may be real and ongoing (and Jackie confessed that for her, this is the case), it doesn’t make it good.
God is the One who determines what is good. And when we detach ourselves from God and pluck the fruit He has not given for us to enjoy, we—like Eve—are trying to be “like God.” We’re trying to make our own distinctions between good and evil. And like Eve, we do so to our own detriment.
So how should we respond to our children or siblings or coworkers or friends who choose to pursue their desires and walk in homosexual sin?
First off, Jackie reminded us they deserve our dignity and respect, for they are created in God’s image and tell His story. In the same way that Jesus talked to the woman at the well as a woman not a sinner, we must talk to our LGBTQ friends as people. But like Jesus, our message to them, if they are walking in sin, must also be, “Go and sin no more.”
Jesus is calling His Church forward, not toward new, open-mindedness but to new purity. He designed our sexuality. This all started with Him creating an object lesson to teach His children about Him. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36).
This isn’t new revelation; it’s old revelation that God is still revealing to women like me, who want to know Him more.