There it was staring at me as I walked through the regional airport. 'Unisex clothing, the new look!' . . . Okay, that isn't what the billboard said. But the faded gray Instagram-esc photo portrayed a thin male and female standing in matching white androgynous v-neck tshirts and skinny jeans.
This caught my attention and made me think about a question I had once struggled with: Does my gender really matter?
Unisex: The New Gender
Over the the last century, the lines of gender have become somewhat blurred. Women have equality in jobs, education, and opportunities. Men are encouraged to be more sensitive, stay at home with the kids, or sport 'salmon' (pink) polos. Some of this is good but it can make things confusing too.
One of my professors in high school taught us that gender is just a bunch of socially constructed norms that limited us. The things he taught us made it seem like the body was just an irrelevant exterior to the gender neutral soul within.
After all, it's just body parts right?
Looking Through a New Lens
Then something amazing came into my life, (NO, not a cute Catholic boyfriend . . . Keep praying.) a teaching called the Theology of the Body.
Theology + Body? = You got my attention.
Theology of the Body is 129 lectures given by Pope John Paul II during the first five years of his papacy. His teachings explain how God intended us to understand our bodies and sexuality.
The cool part is that your body being 'male' or 'female' was not just an accident or insignificant. Your body points us to the biggest reality that you can possibly imagine – God.
Get Ready for Your Brain to Explode
Have you ever wondered why God made you male or female? Think about it . . . God could have made us 'unisex' like that billboard I saw in the airport, but he made us two genders. Why?
Well if we want to understand why we were created, we have to look back to the one who created us – God. In the Book of Genesis we learn that:
- God made us in His image. When you look in the mirror you see an image reflected back to you, right? The reflection isn't actually you, but it reveals characteristics of you. The same is true for our bodies – they reveal God.
- God made us male and female. He points us to two distinct genders. The creation story was not complete until Eve was made, and our world would not be complete with only men or only women in it.
If we are made in the image of God . . . and God made two distinct genders . . . there must be something about the genders that reveals something about God. So what is it?
Not Just Body Parts
Have you ever looked at your body in the mirror? Okay, Stop right there. This is awkward . . . don't think about it too long. But seriously . . . the male and female bodies do not make sense by themselves. They only make sense in light of the other.
Simply by looking at the 'body' we can see that the body was made for union with another person. We were made for give ourselves in love to another. We were made for relationship!
God made us this way because this is who God is.
You see, God is not just one person, but a communion of three persons – a communion of LOVE. (Kind of like a twix bar – chocolate, caramel, and cookie in one candy!) God is love, and the three persons on the trinity live in an eternal exchange of love, and we are destined to share in that love.
Trying to grasp the mystery of the trinity is like trying to bite the wall. It is beyond us. What is important to understand is that God created us male and female so that we could be a reflection (an image) of His love by giving ourselves as a sincere gift to each other.
So when you look in the mirror you can now scream out loud: 'MY BODY REVEALS A CALL TO LOVE LIKE GOD!' But don't scream it too loud because your mom might get concerned.
I want to challenge you to appreciate who God made you to be – both your soul and your body. Your gender is important because through your gender you participate in God's love, share His love with others, and reflect who God is.
That's a lot more than irrelevant body parts.