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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7 Ways Genesis 1 Stands Out from Ancient Near Eastern Creation Accounts

It is no secret that there are connections in Genesis to ancient Near Eastern creation accounts. Debate exists as to how that relationship should be explained, though that’s not the purpose of this post. I want to highlight seven elements in Genesis 1 that, when compared with other creation accounts from the Near East, shine brightly like diamonds on black cloth.

(1) There is one God in Genesis 1. This truth flies in the face of the ancient Near Eastern creation accounts which consistently speak of multiple deities. One God made the world.

(2) The one true God has no past genealogy. This too is different from creation accounts which speak of gods who were born because other gods came together. There never was a time when God was not.

(3) God is omnipotent. This all-powerful Being is superior to all he’s made, with no equal rivals. His power differs from gods in the ancient Near East who were restricted, vulnerable, and could be defeated.

(4) Creation happened according to God’s command. “Let there be,” he said, and there was. Gods of the ancient Near East often had to contend with creation, to wrestle with material and divine forces.

(5) God did not use already-existing materials when he began to create. By his power, he made everything from nothing. The gods of the Near East, however, relied on coexistent material (and even other gods) to create.

(6) God is majestic and set apart. Ancient Near Eastern accounts tell of immoral deities who acted in surly, immature, temperamental, undignified ways. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.

(7) God made creation “good,” even “very good.” No warfare, no skirmishes between gods, no tainted world. In Genesis 1, the Lord evaluated what he made and declared it good!

The creation account in Genesis 1 may stand out in other ways when you compare its language with other accounts from the ancient Near East, but the previous seven distinctions certainly are a start.

Article for JBMW: “God’s Judgment on His Blessing: How Genesis 1:28 Informs the Punishments on Adam and Eve”

In the latest installment (18.1) of the Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (JBMW), I wrote an article on pp. 16-21 about how Genesis 1:28 serves as an important backdrop to the punishments on Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:16-19.

The new installment of the journal is now live, and my article is called “God’s Judgment on His Blessing: How Genesis 1:28 Informs the Punishments on Adam and Eve.”

The outline of the article looks like this:
I. Introduction
II. The Creation Commission
III. The Context of the Judgments
IV. Echoes of Genesis 1:28 in 3:16
A. Pain in Childbearing
B. Domination in Marriage
Echoes of Genesis 1:28 in 3:17-19
A. Toilsome Work
B. Death in the Dust
V. Implications for Readers of Genesis
VI. Conclusion

 

The Glory of Genesis 1:1

In the beginning prepares us for an end not yet in view. History is heading somewhere.

God is the first name in the Bible, which is appropriate since this is His story on a global stage that showcases His glory. I am not the center, the substance, the chorus, or the climax.

Created is the uncompelled act that set things in motion, a sovereign display of unparalled power and majesty. God is God all by Himself.

The heavens and the earth covers the whole gamut, from everything above us to everything below us. We are derivative, not ultimate.

As Dan Phillips rightly observes, “The most offensive thing I believe is Genesis 1:1, and everything it implies.”

The Origin of Species: Plants, Animals, Humans, and Important Distinctions in Genesis 1-2

Humans aren’t animals, animals aren’t plants, and plants aren’t humans. Those (obvious) distinctions are clear in the opening chapters of the Bible, and seeing how phrases like “breath of life” and “image of God” are used can highlight the distinctions made in the text itself.

Ever wondered, like Darwin, about “the origin of species”? Your answer is in the Bible’s first two chapters, and the answer isn’t what he suggested. In Genesis 1–2  plants, animals, and humans are created by God. God creates plants on Day 3 (1:11-12), animals on Day 5 (1:20-21) and Day 6 (1:24-25), and humans on Day 6 (1:26-27). Origin solved.

But more can be said than that.

In Genesis 1:30 God tells the first couple that animals have “the breath of life,” something not attributed to plants. In fact, God says everything that has the breath of life can have every green plant for food! So in whatever ways plants are alive and undergoing complex processes at microscopic levels, this is not the same thing as saying they have the “breath of life” as animals do.

In Genesis 1:26 God makes man and woman in his image, something never said of animals. Also, in 2:7, God forms the man and breathes into him the “breath of life.” The woman, likewise in the image of God (1:26), certainly receives the “breath of life” when God forms her out of what he took from Adam (2:21-22). While animals and humans both have “the breath of life,” only humans are made in God’s image. As God’s image-bearers, humans must exercise dominion over the animals (1:28).

Here’s a bullet-point summary:

  • God Created: Humans, Animals, and Plants
  • God Gave the “Breath of Life” to: Humans and Animals
  • God Made in His Image: Humans

What are some implications of these realities laid out in Genesis 1-2?

  • As those made in God’s image, humans are not animals, nor did they evolve from animals. Macroevolution doesn’t fit with the Bible’s creation account. 
  • As those made in God’s image, humans are more important than animals. Supporting abortion and wanting to save the whales is a theological and philosophical travesty. The tiniest baby in the womb is more valuable than the rarest creature in all the world.

How the Judgments on Adam and Eve Relate to Genesis 1:28

Before the fall in Genesis 3, God gave Adam and Eve a creation mandate:

Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen 1:28).

Then, after the fall, God judged Eve (Gen 3:16) and Adam (3:17-19) with language that should be viewed in light of the creation mandate.

  • God said to Eve: “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and shall rule over you” (Gen 3:16)
  • God said to Adam: “…cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:17-19)

Let’s note how the judgment language for each one reflects the preceding creation mandate of Genesis 1:28:

  • God told them to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:28), but he judged Eve by multiplying pain in such fruitfulness (3:16). She will indeed begin to fill the earth (1:28), but it will be in pain (3:16). She should exercise dominion over creation (1:28), but her judgment includes the desire to rule over her husband, to exercise dominion that undermines his headship (3:16). 
  • God told them to subdue the earth (Gen 1:28), but he told Adam the ground is now cursed and gleaning its fruit will mean pain for him (3:17).  The exercise of dominion (1:28) will now be toilsome and wearisome (3:18-19). And though he may work to subdue the earth (1:28), in the end he will succumb to the dust in death (3:19).

Clearly, therefore, the language spoken to the man and woman in Genesis 3:16-19 is not without precedent. God issued the creation mandate in 1:28 before the fall, and the later punishments in 3:16-19 did not rescind that mandate. Rather, they ensured that the mandate would now be accomplished through difficulty, frustration, toil, and pain.

In summary, to understand why God judged Adam and Eve the way he did with the language he used, we must first consider the creation mandate in Genesis 1:28. The punishments become inseparably linked to that divine command to be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth.

Blessings and Curses in Genesis 1-4

In Genesis 1–4 the language of “blessing” appears before the fall, followed by occurrences of “curse” after Adam and Eve disobey God’s command and eat the forbidden fruit.

The blessings and curses can be grouped like this:

Blessing

  • On the Water and Sky Animals: “And God blessed them” (1:22a)
  • On the Image-Bearers: “And God blessed them” (1:28a)
  • On the Seventh Day: “So God blessed the seventh day” (2:3a)

Curse

  • On the Serpent: “…cursed are you above all livestock” (3:14a)
  • On the Ground: “…cursed is the ground because of you” (3:17b)
  • On Cain: “And now you are cursed from the ground” (4:11)

When you look at these groupings, four further observations can be made:

  1. In Genesis 1–4, “blessing” and “curse” each occur three times. And, significantly, they don’t occur in mixed fashion. The blessings come before the fall, and the curses come afterward.
  2. The blessings occur on the fifth, sixth, and seventh days. On Day Five God blessed the water and sky animals (1:22), on Day Six he blessed the image-bearers (1:28), and on Day Seven he blessed that day (2:3).
  3. There are animals blessed in 1:22, and in 3:14 an individual animal is cursed: the serpent. [Side Note: I don’t believe God has actually cursed reptiles, because the words of judgment in 3:14-15 pertain to the defeat of Satan who possessed a serpent and deceived Eve. However, the serpentine imagery is retained with the words “on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life” (3:14b). Again, though, the language is aimed at Satan (snakes don’t actually eat dust!). Also, God speaks of the serpent’s “offspring,” and wicked human offspring is in view, not actual snakes. God is promising Satan’s defeat.]
  4. The image-bearers are blessed in 1:28, and in 4:11 an individual image-bearer is cursed: Cain.

What else can be seen from the groupings of “blessing” and “curse” in Genesis 1–4?