Sometimes we are forced to have conversations that are almost too strange to believe—conversations, for example, in which we insist that there is such a thing as a gender binary. Yet today so many people are convinced that gender is a mere construct of an oppressive culture. Gender, they believe, is a decision we make for ourselves and not one grounded in any biological reality (not to mention any divine design). In his book Does God Care About Gender Identity?, Samuel Ferguson expresses the importance of teaching and displaying the beauty and goodness of gendered bodies. I was particularly struck by one simple application—singing in the local church. When we sing as men and women, there is a special way in which we display God’s design. I’ll allow him to explain.
The beauty of gender difference adorns God’s world. We need to help the next generation see and honor it. As a pastor, I have the joy of seeing couples meet, marry, and have children. The fruit of their union reminds us that only a biological male and biological female can produce life. “People often present the sex binary as oppressive,” writes Rebecca McLaughlin. “But at its very heart, the male-female binary is creative.” In appropriate ways, parents must teach and remind their children that the complementarity of the two-gendered world—the dance of male and female—is the creative source that stands behind each one of us. By God’s design, every human being owes his or her existence to one man and one woman.
Another place the beauty of gender shows up is in church worship. In my church, when songs have parts for men and women, the guys can’t help but sing a little louder when it’s their turn. They send a low rumble through the pews. When the women have their go, it’s as if a bright and gentle joy enfolds the congregation. When all the voices finally sing together, one hears, even feels, the truth and goodness of our gendered world. Surely this will be an enduring display of our maleness and femaleness as we worship the Lamb in heaven (Rev. 5:9; 14:3; 15:3). Christians must point out this beauty to the next generation whenever we experience it. We must celebrate the goodness of God’s design, that we are our bodies, that our gendered bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit, made to glorify God (1 Cor. 6:19–20), and that this is anything but restrictive—it’s beautiful.