Gender and the Resurrection of the Dead

The Christian worldview teaches that our future hope should affect our present lives. We shouldn’t lose heart because an eternal weight of glory awaits us (2 Cor. 4:16-18). We can endure mistreatment now because of a greater reward to come (Heb. 11:24-26). We can labor for Christ knowing that our work will not be in vain (1 Cor. 15:50-58).

The future is ever relevant for the present. Specific future hopes can even clarify commonplace confusion in the culture. Let’s take the doctrine of bodily resurrection and hold up to it the hot topic of gender. What might the future resurrection of the body teach us about gender?

First, the resurrection will be gender-specific. Jesus was born a male, died a male, and rose a male. Gender didn’t become inconsequential once his resurrection happened. His glorified body reflected gender. From the beginning God made us male and female, and he will raise us male and female too. Nothing we do to alter our physical body now will circumvent our resurrected state. People who are born men will not be raised as women, nor vice versa. Sex-reassignment surgery doesn’t change gender, and the resurrection of the dead will make this abundantly clear.

Second, the resurrection shows the eternality of gender. Since the resurrection of the dead will establish eternal physical states for believers and unbelievers, our gender is eternal. Not even marriage is eternal, because that temporal earthly covenant points to, and will be eclipsed by, the union of Christ and the Bride (Rev. 21:1-21), but gender will last forever. When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we will be there as men and women glorifying the Lamb who was slain. And in hell, those enduring the just wrath of God will be male and female rebels.

Third, the resurrection demands present bodily stewardship. If God will one day raise what dies now, then bodily resurrection vindicates the importance of the physical in life. Matter matters. We must not be practical Gnostics. The body is meant for the Lord, who will raise it up (1 Cor. 6:13-14). The term “stewardship” is apt, then, because we are not our own (1 Cor. 6:19; Rom. 6:12-13). God is sovereign over us, and we must faithfully steward what he has given us, including our bodies. A female body should be cared for and maintained as such, and a male body cared for and maintained as such.

Gender is not malleable like clay. Gender exists by the design of God and for the glory of God.

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