Gender Wars: Biology Offers Insights to a Biblical Problem -- By: MaryKate Morse

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 20:1 (Winter 2006)
Article: Gender Wars: Biology Offers Insights to a Biblical Problem
Author: MaryKate Morse


Gender Wars:
Biology Offers Insights to a Biblical Problem

MaryKate Morse

MARYKATE MORSE is an Associate Professor of Pastoral Studies and Spiritual Formation and the director of the Masters programs at George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Portland, Oregon. She teaches leadership and spiritual formation courses to persons preparing for ministry. She is a recorded Quaker minister and a church planter. Currently she is planting a multi-cultural church in Portland, Oregon. MaryKate is married to Randy and has three adult children and two grandchildren.

Men and women struggle to understand each other and to thrive together as God intended. God’s design of an Edenic relationship where the male and the female together nurture and steward the earth rarely seems to happen. Women often suffer worldwide from assumptions that they have less status and purposefulness than their brothers.1 Men often suffer from being alone at the top and alone in the struggles of life’s battlefields.2 Children can suffer the consequences of the ongoing acrimony between parents.3 Gender wars are destructive.4

The problem is theological, not secular. It began in the Garden, not in the 21st Century. Genesis 1-2 describes God’s intention for males, females, and their relationship, and Genesis 3 describes the source of the dissolution. Interpretations of the passages range from those who support subordination to those who support mutuality. Surprisingly, deciding between the interpretations depends not only on one’s underlying theological views, but also on one’s biological assumptions about the nature of gender. An inadequate view of these passages can, therefore, stem from two sources, the one theological and the other biological. And, as we will see, a synthesis of recent biological discoveries on the essence of femaleness and maleness provides an opportunity to understand more clearly God’s intention in Genesis 1-2 and the impact of the fall in Genesis 3.This leads to suggestions for ameliorating the division between males and females that move beyond certain polarizing hierarchicalist and egalitarian views.

Genesis 1-3: The Rift in the Garden where the Wars Begin

Scholars approach the struggle between men and women by observing the tension first in Genesis 1-3. In Genesis 1-2, God’s intent...

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