Posted by: rogermitchell | August 23, 2016

Resurrection life and gender relations

I noticed this morning that someone had been reading a post I made some four and half years ago based on Jesus’ response to the Sadducees’ question about the resurrection (Lk 20:37-38). I thought it made some important points that are worth re-posting, so here it is again.  It was in response to this insightful comment:  “So much, much of the structure of our society is based on the questions of reproduction and the relationships between men and women. And Jesus radically challenges all of that. Not only will we live after death but we will live without marriage. That completely shifts the gender relationships and perhaps allows for true equality for women. Remove reproduction and its politics from the picture and gender relations completely change. I assume, since Jesus posits this is a God thing, for the better, much as many will feel that they would be missing something vital to their lives.”

This shift in gender relationships implied by the politics of resurrection, is, I believe, extremely significant. It reinforces the conviction that Sue and I have long shared, that it is important to distinguish between gender and sex. What I am getting at here is that both males and females have a mix of gender chromosomes, and just a small percentage difference is the deciding factor as to whether you end up with a male body or a female body. That is to say that both men and women are on a gender spectrum between masculine and feminine, although their bodily sexual identity is male or female. This suggests that God’s image is the fulness of both genders. Several things follow from this. One is that human fulfilment is unlikely to be circumscribed by sexual ecstasy and the joys of raising children. It’s more likely that both point beyond to a greater fulfilment in reciprocal shared life embodied in the trinity life of God that we are created to share with humankind in the context of the rest of the creation.  My point here is that affirming and sharing different aspects of gender in each other is even more important in deciding and fulfilling human behaviour than sexual experience is. Which is a view of life that this third contention emphasises, and which of course runs counter to the beastly system which puts everything in simplistic categories for control and commodification.

In fact even the most oppressive forms of empire are usually very pro marriage and the family because they can easily become categories of control and subsets of domination. Marriage and family are good available choices which I for one have been very blessed to have reached out to make and been received by my wonderful partner in so doing. My sons, their partners and my grandchildren are a constant delight to me. But given that heaven signifies the fulness of life for the present day and not just the future, they are clearly not the most important things in life.  So it follows that we all, married, single, divorced, widowed and so on need to discover and pursue the more important things together, and make sure that these lesser blessings and responsibilities are submitted to them and not the other way around. In the process it is important that we recognise and affirm the degrees and types of gender combinations in each other, and the way we pour them out in answer to the cry for justice for the poor and for the blessing and healing of the creation. Jesus clearly did this when he described himself as a mother hen and encouraged his disciples to put his loving way of life before job and family. This is emphatically not about putting church first which is often just another category of oppression, but putting the kin[g]dom of God first and submitting all else to it. The comments on the last post are right, all this flows from Jesus’ reply to the Sadduccees, about the reality of resurrection and in missing it we show how little we know of the scriptures or the power of God.


  1. John Oliver (via facebook) SO agree with this, Roger.

  2. Yes, this is what I was saying just recently to someone. We are all male and female in different mixes. We have so much to learn about relating and being in community with one another. Yet it is so rich when we experience even a bit of it.

  3. And as a woman who has been single all her life I would like to affirm that both Jesus and Paul say that marriage is not the highest possible calling in life. And I wholeheartedly agree that an emphasis on marriage, which is almost always followed by an emphasis on controlling women’s reproduction, is a symptom of empire. Just look historically, most fascist or totalitarian governments emphasize women in marriage and as vessels of reproduction. Child-bearing is frequently named as the highest calling for a woman all in the service of empire building. I’ll know the church has finally renounced empire the day it also renounces this kind of viewpoint. Jesus and Paul did so much to counter all of this but we appear to have forgotten or rejected those teachings.

  4. Reblogged this on hungarywolf.

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