Is Christ's Gender Paramount?

By Mimi Haddad 6-22-2010

How many of us come from traditions where we have been told that women cannot serve in positions of leadership because Jesus was male? And, as denominations consider where women may hold positions of service, inevitably the gender of Jesus becomes a consideration. Previous generations of Christians have also asked important questions about the gender of Jesus. Here is one example:

Gregory of Nazianzus, who lived at the end of the fourth century stated, "To gar aprosleptom atherapeuton," which in English means, "What is not assumed is not redeemed." His words remind us that Christ came to represent all of humanity on the Cross. Thus, if we absolutize one aspect of Christ, such as his gender, ethnicity, or class, we run the risk of excluding people without those characteristics from Christ's atoning work on Calvary. Because Scripture teaches that Christ is the Savior of the whole world (John 4:42), we diminish Christ's atoning work when speaking of his gender as paramount. Perhaps that is one reason why Scripture speaks most often of Christ as the "Son of anthropos," or humanity, rather than "Son of aner," or male. He was a sacrifice of humanity, for humanity. Indeed, Christ's sacrifice was for everyone, as the Scriptures note. Because of this, the whole church may take the whole Gospel to the whole world.

Mimi HaddadMimi Haddad is president of Christians for Biblical Equality.

+ Read more about the church and gender in Sojourners magazine.

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