28 June 2020

This is the third of my video reflections covering some of the issues raised by the first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis, under the general Sunday title “Lessons from the Dawn of Time”.

This week we are looking at the question of ‘gender’ – as Genesis puts it: “male and female he created them”. It is a contentious issue, not least because in the view of many, but not all, we as a society have presided over the destruction of community, innocence, and now gender. The billionaire director of Space X, Elon Musk, with his current partner has deliberately not placed the sex of his child on its birth certificate so that the child (a boy) can actually chose what it wants to be. He has been given a gender neutral “name” of X AE A 12. Gender is now apparently a matter of choice not biology. Nothing could be further in my view from the Biblical position and the whole LGBT agenda has exposed serious fault lines where the Bible’s position in my view is clear and uncompromising. But the pastoral position is by no means clear. An advisory report will come out next year from the Church of England called Living and Loving.

This is, however, a mine field with immense theological and pastoral ramifications. It is the elephant in the room, and the church has huge challenges ahead. I cannot do justice to this ongoing debate in the time available, but I want to highlight just one feature of the Genesis account, and that is the equality and specialness of male and female in the eyes of God– a topic I will develop in more detail on Sunday.

We are following the Black Lives Matter campaign and the anniversary of the Windrush generation. The banner “White Lives Matter” that was flown across the Etihad stadium this week prompted Pep Guardiola the Manchester City manager to perhaps unwittingly voice the Christian message that “every life matters”.

In the meantime, here is a great story about our individual worth in God’s eyes.

Ben goes into a pet shop to look for a puppy and is shown the latest litter. He asks how much, makes his choice and tells the shopkeeper he will be back. Ben goes home and for a few days does odd jobs around the neighbourhood to raise the cash. He then returns and makes his choice: a skinny dog with a limp leg.

The shopkeeper says: “Don’t take that puppy. He’s crippled. He can’t play. He’ll never run with you. He can’t fetch. Get one of the healthy pups”. “No thank you sir”, Ben replied. “He’s just the kind of dog I’ve been looking for!”

As Ben left the store the shopkeeper was about to speak and then fell silent as he looked down at Ben’s trouser leg and saw the brace supporting his lame leg! Why did Ben want that dog? Because he knew how it felt and that the dog was special.

Jesus did what he did because he knew that you and I, male and female, are special. I hope we never forget that. Jesus knows how we feel in a world where identity is blurred, and sexuality is confused. A world where people are increasingly unsure about who we are and why we are here. And yet we are precious to him. So precious that he became like us so that we could come to him. When we struggle, he listens. When we long, he understands. When we question, he hears. He understands us with the compassion of a lame boy. And like the boy in our story, he paid a great price to bring us home!