What We Shall Be: A Look at Gender and the New Creation -- By: Mark David Walton
JBMW 9:1 (Spring 2004) p. 17
What We Shall Be: A Look at Gender and the New Creation
Senior Pastor, Glenwood Baptist Church Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:2 NKJV)
These words from the pen of the Apostle John reflect something of the mystery surrounding the future state of resurrected believers in the new creation. Because “what we shall be” has not yet been made fully apparent, many questions about that future state remain. One such question concerns the matter of gender: Will resurrected believers be male and female in the new creation? Some, perhaps, will view this question merely as fodder for idle reflection, a question whose answer is of little import beyond the satisfaction of a nugacious curiosity about the nature of things to come. However, in this age of “plastic sexuality” and confusion regarding the nature of gender and gender roles, the question takes on new significance.1 If, on the one hand, gender differences are but temporal attributes that will be eliminated in the eschaton, then the egalitarian/constructionist view that gender differentiation is an accidental (as opposed to essential) attribute of human nature gains credence. It makes sense for the community of faith to seek the elimination of gender roles in an effort to approximate the coming eschatological reality. On the other hand, if it can be shown conclusively that gender differentiation will be preserved in the new creation, the complementarian/essentialist view of the fixity of sexual identity and gender roles is affirmed. It becomes incumbent upon the community of faith to embrace and, indeed, to celebrate the gender distinctives and roles established for humanity by its benevolent Creator.
Which view is correct? Is it even possible to determine “what we shall be” in the new creation with a reasonable degree of confidence, especially given that, as John Frame has accurately observed, “Scripture doesn’t explicitly address this question [of whether believers will be male and female in the new creation.]”2 Clearly, in the absence of explicit special revelation, an element of uncertainty necessarily accompanies all inquiries into the nature of things so far beyond the realm of temporal human experience. Uncertainties notwithstanding, however, it is my contention that enough is implicit in the biblical record to permit careful students of Scripture to develop conclusions on the matter with reasonable confidence. Th...
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