Does The Church Have A Gender Identity Problem?

This weekend’s DNA comes directly from the BRAND NEW PART 2 of the LoveEd guidebook series, Beyond Sex & Salvation (Part 2: Three Key Life Decisions for Relational Success) AVAILABLE NOW FOR INSTANT DOWNLOAD! Here’s this weekend’s excerpt…

DNA-mustache plus lipsSpeaking of marriage, not only is the church referred to as Christ’s body, but as the bride of Christ. And check out what Paul says about Christ’s bride.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. – Eph 5:25-27 (NIV 1984)

This passage means that if I can’t stand the church, I’ve got a problem with Christ’s beloved! And if I don’t like Christ’s main squeeze, I’ve got issues with Christ. I can’t honor a guy and dishonor his wife. It doesn’t work like that, especially when a guy feels the way about his wife that Jesus feels about the church.

Q: How can the church be both the body of Christ and the bride of Christ?

A: How can a husband and a wife become one flesh?

At first blush, it seems the church has a major gender identity problem. In the very same passage in Ephesians 5, Paul refers to the church as the body of Christ and then as His bride. So which is it? Is the church a boy or a girl?

Neither. Instead of representing one gender, the church represents the marriage of both genders, which, by God’s design, reflect His image. (Genesis 1:27) This isn’t some androgynous being named Pat, mind you, but a glorious celebration of the unity God experiences Himself within the three persons of His being: Father, Son and Spirit. The church was intended to be one, but not the same, just as the Father is one, but not the same with the Son who is one, but not the same with the Spirit who is one, but not the same with the Father.

Want me to explain all that? I can’t, but I highlight this concept of oneness because (according to Gen 2:24, Matt 19:5-6, Mark 10:8, 1 Cor 6:16 and Eph 5:31) it’s the purpose for which God designed marriage: “And the two shall become one flesh.”

Both marriage and the church were created as living examples of the oneness God desires with us and for us. Paul himself calls it a mystery (Eph 5:32). It’s this particular shared purpose of both marriage and the church that makes the church such a perfect opportunity to start learning to die to yourself before entering marriage.

If most people were honest with themselves, they’d realize it’s not church they don’t like. It’s not church people. It’s dying to themselves that we find so unpleasant. And it’s just that which is ultimately required in healthy, authentic, Godly community.

If you approach church with a consumer church-hopping mindset, you are actually practicing the very perspective that leads lovebirds to leave their marriage. Check it out:

  • I leave one church because of its disorganized young adult ministry
  • I leave another church because of a church scandal.
  • I leave another church because my feelings were hurt.
  • I leave another church because it didn’t meet my needs anymore.


It doesn’t. It helps me prepare for success in divorce and the only ones who profit from a successful divorce are the lawyers. Can you see the connection? [Compare each bullet point below to the corresponding bullet point above.]

  • I leave my spouse because of irresponsibility.
  • I leave my spouse because of infidelity.
  • I leave my spouse because of irreconcilable differences.
  • I leave my spouse because I don’t love them anymore.

The problem with the church isn’t the church. The problem with the church is sin; the sin of the individuals in the church, including mine (and yours). So we have to stop looking for the perfect church and look for a solid church with solid doctrine and plug in.

Click here to read another excerpt from Beyond Sex & Salvation (Part 2: Three Key Life Decisions for Relational Success).

DNA: It’s What’s for Dating!

[Prepare to die to yourself in marriage by learning to die to yourself now! Check out the LoveEd guidebook series: Beyond Sex & Salvation. Available NOW for instant download on iBooks, Kindle and Nook.]

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Categories: 3 Key Life Disciplines, Beyond Sex and Salvation, Commit to Pursuing Community, Surviving Marriage