Male and Female Souls?

Posted by Paige (Yes, I’m still around sometimes!)

Here is a set of crowdsourcing theological research questions for my scholarly minded brethren:

Are you familiar with the teaching that men and women have gendered souls? That is, the idea that the differences between us (and perhaps the roles we are to play) are so essential that they are located originally in our souls as well as in our biology?

Can anyone give me the historical pedigree of this idea? What religions or sects have emphasized this teaching since ancient times? (Googling it brought up kabbalist and New Age spiritism, but I’d like to go deeper than blog posts if anyone knows of a decent resource.)

How have Christians historically interacted with this teaching? How does it comport with generally orthodox Christian teaching on the imago Dei, gender, and gender roles? What Christian thinkers, if any, have engaged or taught this idea?

Finally, how do you personally react to the idea that men and women have distinctly gendered souls as well as bodies? Do you think this is compatible with an orthodox anthropology? Would you teach this to your congregation? What would be your biblical supports?

I have encountered this idea in Christian teaching only recently, so I am not familiar with how it fits into the historical context of biblical and Reformed thought. I’m presently doubtful that it does, and I wanted to see if I could locate the idea in the history of theology and other religions in order to understand it better. 

Thanks abundantly in advance for your thoughts and any resources you can point me toward.

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137 Comments

  1. Steve Drake said,

    February 18, 2018 at 8:35 am

    I suppose one must discuss the origin of the soul first. Are you a traducianist or creationist in regards to the origin of the soul? Does it make a difference to the question of gendered souls?

    We know our personhood consists of both a material body and an immaterial and immortal soul. In the resurrection we will each have a resurrection body that will be different from the one we currently house. Will the soul be different?

    We know that man and woman were created differently: man from the dust of the ground and woman from a rib from the man. This has implications for functional distinctions between men and women.

    God created gender (Gen.1:27). Because we are complex units of both body and soul, the idea of a gendered soul leaves the discussion vague, flexible, or personally determined by preference, and open to all sorts of confusion.

  2. February 18, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    Anthony Hoekema would be worth reading on this. I bet that Karl Barth in his Dogmatics also touches upon this.

  3. greenbaggins said,

    February 18, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    It’s an interesting idea. I can’t think of any biblical evidence whatsoever that would point in one direction or another on this issue. I guess where I would net out is this: if it could be proven that men and women have different personalities, and if it could also be proven that these personality distinctions could not be the result of purely physical differences (or differences of upbringing or social expectations), then it would logically follow that there would be something in the soul that is gendered. But those are pretty big “ifs.” One would also have to consider whether the term “gender” even has a non-physical component.

  4. Ron said,

    February 18, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    Is there no gender in the intermediate state?

  5. Don said,

    February 19, 2018 at 12:52 am

    Good luck to anyone who tries to harmonize this with Matthew 22:30

  6. Ron said,

    February 19, 2018 at 8:40 am

    Don,

    Mind elaborating?

  7. Reed Here said,

    February 19, 2018 at 8:45 am

    Paige,

    Familiar: nope. Never heard, never even considered.

    Historical pedigree: nope. Kind of wonder whether or not some Early Church Fathers worked on this in response to gnostictizing elements in/around the Church of this idea? The denial of this would be consistent with gnostic “divinization” of the soul.

    Christians historically interacted: see previous comment.

    Personally react: initial reaction is not only is this not inherently problematic, it may actually be one of those no duh’s.” I would push gender back into the nature of the human being, that finds expression in both body and soul. Thus, male and female (as God made them) is an inherent part of our being.

    Don: it may be that I’m missing what you’re seeing in Mt 22:30, but I don’t see any dilemma here. The verse in context is describing the nature of sexual relations in the glorified state. It is not denying any inherent male-female nature in that state. The comparison to the angels is limited to the sexual relations feature. The verse is not saying we will be changed into angels. We will still be man (woman).

  8. Ron said,

    February 19, 2018 at 9:44 am

    Don,

    My interpretation of your reference to Mt. 22:30 is how Reed interpreted you. If that’s your interpretation, then I too think you are reading more into the text than actually is there. With Reed I concur: “The verse is not saying we will be changed into angels. We will still be man (woman).”

    Paige,

    I’d like to think you agree there will be gender differences in heaven. Regarding any questions on whether this difference should be indexed to body, even the glorified body, I’d make just a couple observations.

    If we deny that soul has gender, then in the intermediate state our person would have no gender. Yet if we have no gender in the intermediate state and gender is an essential property of being, then in the intermediate state we wouldn’t even exist.

    Lastly, if gender isn’t indexible to soul, then it wasn’t fitting that God created you with a female body. He might have made your uninstantiated essence with a male body. But would that have been you, Paige’s essence with a male body?

  9. Don said,

    February 19, 2018 at 11:16 am

    Reed and Ron,
    I agree that in heaven, we will presumably still have a gender (one or the other). But the essential biological function–the biological reason for the existence of two genders–will be gone. We will also presumably have two elbows, but I don’t see how that could be essential to the soul.

    So despite the ending of the basic biological purpose of gender, what is essential to a soul, that its corresponding body is one gender and not the other? Maybe it’s possible to give a Biblically grounded answer to that question, but I am not optimistic that can be done.

  10. Ron said,

    February 19, 2018 at 11:47 am

    I agree that in heaven, we will presumably still have a gender (one or the other).

    Don,

    Great, we agree.

    We will also presumably have two elbows, but I don’t see how that could be essential to the soul.

    I don’t see how one can properly equate ontic distinctions such as gender with the number of one’s elbows. An amputee is the same person he always was, whereas a female Don is no Don at all. I don’t think essential properties are so trivial as to pertain to things such as elbows.

  11. roberty bob said,

    February 19, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    The Lord God created man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life: and man became a living soul.

    It is often said that man HAS a soul. It should also be said that man IS a soul, since man became a living soul in the creating of him.

    Since man is male and woman is female, the soul of each would be in keeping with the gender of each. How could that not be true?

    Why does anyone agonize over any of this?

  12. Ron said,

    February 19, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    So despite the ending of the basic biological purpose of gender, what is essential to a soul, that its corresponding body is one gender and not the other?

    Don,

    I think we need to be careful here. Nobody is saying that the body is “essential to a soul.” In fact, quite the contrary for that would undermine what has been presupposed already, that the soul can exist apart from the body. I won’t reherse again here what I think we may properly infer from out of body existence (i.e. the intermediate state).

    Rather, what is being argued is that gender is an essential property of one’s personhood, and one’s personhood can’t be strictly biological. Male persons are created with male equipment as opposed to gender-neutral persons becoming male (or female) based upon the equipment they’re given.

  13. Ron said,

    February 19, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    “Why does anyone agonize over any of this?”

    RB,

    Good question. Can it be that the homosexual agenda is impacting what was once intuitive? As Reed put it, “it may actually be one of those no duh’s.

  14. Don said,

    February 19, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    Ron 12,
    I did not say that the body is essential to the soul. It _IS_, in the sense that there is no such thing as a soul with no corresponding body or vice versa. But I agree that they are always “together.”

    Ron 10,
    But I don’t have eight elbows; I’m not a spider. Normally having two elbows (with the possibility of losing them thru amputation or not having them thru birth defect) is part of what it means to be human. If you think that’s trivial, fine, but at some point there needs to be a nonarbitrary distinction between the trivial and the essential.

    I think what we’re disagreeing about is a variation at the end of your post #12: “Male persons are created with male equipment” as opposed to to male persons are male because they are created with male equipment*.

    * Including a Y chromosome.

  15. Reed Here said,

    February 19, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    Don, it sounds as if you are equating gender as a factor of the body alone. Is that the case? I.e., gender is only present in the physical characteristics of man’s being?

    If so, where does the Bible reduce gender to mere physicality?

    If not, then I fail to see how Mt 22:30 makes eternality of gender an impossibility.

  16. Ron said,

    February 19, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    I did not say that the body is essential to the soul. It _IS_, in the sense that there is no such thing as a soul with no corresponding body or vice versa. But I agree that they are always “together.”

    Don,

    Always “together?” I sincerely have no idea what that might mean to you. At the very least, death separates the soul from the body. So, in at least that sense body and soul aren’t always together.

    But the question we were to be discussing wasn’t whether they’re always together or not. The question we were to be discussing pertains to what can be predicated to the soul. I say gender. You say not. Yet your way leaves you with gender neutral souls awaiting resurrection of their maleness and femaleness. So, if maleness isn’t an essential property of your soul, then you will exist in the intermediate state – separated from your male body – as Don the gender-neutral person, which strangely enough is not who you will have been in this life.

    It won’t be you, Don the male, awaiting resurrection. It’ll be another-you; it’ll be Don the non-male. But is that even you? I would hope that the trajectory of such a notion would cause anyone to reevaluate his or her first principles. But I think it gets worse…

    But I don’t have eight elbows; I’m not a spider.

    I have to point out that such a premise demonstrates a crucial misunderstanding you have regarding essential properties vs. accidental properties. If you were born with a birth defect entailing even eight elbows, you would not, *therefore* be a spider. Eight elbows can no sooner negate humanness than it can establish ontic-spiderness.

    Don, if nothing else please grasp this. Essential vs. accidental properties pertain to modal claims that speak to questions of necessity and possibility. If it is *possible* for you not to have two elbows, then we may not say that having two elbows is an essential property to Don.

    Normally having two elbows (with the possibility of losing them thru amputation or not having them thru birth defect) is part of what it means to be human.

    Modal claims pertaining to properties don’t typically deal in the realm of “normally having x, y or z.” They’re much more precise (and useful). Again, they deal with possibility and necessity. So, by way of illustration, if you could have been born with a birth defect that increased or decreased the number of elbows you were born with, then it is false that you (to be you) must, therefore, lack having other than the number of elbows with which you were born. Brother, this is hardly controversial stuff, but it can get a tad technical. Notwithstanding, offering more extreme examples, like eight elbows rather than one or two, doesn’t advance your position. I would suggest it merely obscures it.

    If you think that’s trivial, fine, but at some point there needs to be a nonarbitrary distinction between the trivial and the essential.

    Yes, the distinction pertains to properties that are necessary for you to be you, which I’m afraid has precious little to do with birth defect, but much to do with gender. The only question is whether you will be you in the intermediate state (assuming you die before the Lord’s coming). If you will be you, then given what you’re saying, your current maleness is a non-essential accidental property that you won’t possess as you await resurrection. So, why don’t we give up on all the spider and angel stuff and just state clearly either that there are no conscious males and females now asleep, awaiting judgment. They are all gender neutral persons yet essentially the same person they were in this life.

  17. rfwhite said,

    February 19, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    Paige: Thanks for the heads-up about the topic. Almost 30 years ago, Robert Letham wrote an essay in Westminster Theological Journal (1990), entitled “The Man-Woman Debate: Theological Comment.” In it, he offered what he called “an exploration of the theological ground of the relation of man to woman.” While there was nothing there about gender and soul, there was discussion of gender differentiation, relationality in God, and the image of God.

  18. Reed Here said,

    February 19, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    Leave it to Fowler to have a source. ;)

    If I had a flood in my basement, I’d call you. Because, for sure, you’d Noah guy. :)

  19. Ron said,

    February 19, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    “Don, it sounds as if you are equating gender as a factor of the body alone. Is that the case? I.e., gender is only present in the physical characteristics of man’s being?”

    Reed,

    I think that was the original position but I won’t be surprised if it morphs into a position that posits gender as being only a matter of the entire person, soul and body.

    Anyway, if it’s only biological, I’d be interested in knowing how one who holds to such a position can avoid reducing maleness and femaleness to conditioning as it relates to the immaterial aspects of the person. In other words, how would gender, if it’s purely biological, ever penetrate a person’s inner self, their core, heart or seat of emotion? And wouldn’t such penetration only be psychological (as opposed to ontological) since the soul in such a construct is supposedly gender neutral?

  20. roberty bob said,

    February 19, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    The Origin of This Strange Idea?

    Trans-soul-vain-ee-aah!

  21. Reed Here said,

    February 19, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    Roberty, hah!

  22. paigebritton said,

    February 19, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    Hey, everybody, thanks so much for engaging with my question. You’ve given me lots to think about. One thing that seems common across the various responses is that this isn’t a familiar doctrine (even if we can arrive at it via some logical speculation now that I’ve brought it up).

    I raised the question because I was recently surprised to encounter this teaching in a Reformed setting, and wondered if it was something fundamental that I’d missed, or something alien that had wandered in. (For my part, I possess no well-developed theory about gender and souls. It doesn’t seem to be a significant concern of the biblical writers, and it’s not keeping me awake at night. So no agenda here, other than finding some resources to research the history of the idea.)

    Here’s a follow-up question, though: Aside from the joy of speculation, does the concept of gendered souls bear enough biblical or doctrinal weight for you that you would incorporate it into your teaching in a church, or even base your teaching about Christian anthropology on it?

  23. paigebritton said,

    February 19, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    Dr. White: Thanks for the recommended reading! How’s this for providential: I inherited a handful of WTJs from a good friend, and one happened to be the very issue you mentioned.

  24. roberty bob said,

    February 19, 2018 at 6:44 pm

    When God breathed into the nostrils of Adam the breath [spirit] of life, the man became a living soul. When God created man, male and female created He them. The living soul of the male is a male soul, and the living soul of the female is a female soul. All of this, however, is mystery known fully by our Creator but only in part by us His creation. That is why I would confess it to be true. But how would I begin to teach it. The scriptures seem not to be concerned with the gender of the soul.

    So, it goes without saying.

    I do not incorporate it into my teaching, nor do I base my anthropology on it.

  25. Ron said,

    February 19, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    I raised the question because I was recently surprised to encounter this teaching in a Reformed setting…

    And surprised you should have been, Paige.

    …and wondered if it was something fundamental that I’d missed, or something alien that had wandered in.

    The latter. Your original instincts were correct. That woman is the weaker vessel is not a trite commentary about mere biological makeup. Nor is it an observation of subjective learned behavior. It’s a beautiful truth grounded in human ontology.

    It doesn’t seem to be a significant concern of the biblical writers…

    That’s because children and *women* get the life boats presupposed *obvious* natural differences that even the pagans would’ve understood. Today many with the Spirit, even teachers in the church, don’t grasp these stark differences let alone where they might be rooted.

    Aside from the joy of speculation, does the concept of gendered souls bear enough biblical or doctrinal weight for you that you would incorporate it into your teaching in a church, or even base your teaching about Christian anthropology on it?

    Yes. I’d even make a proper understanding a qualification for office in the church.

  26. Don said,

    February 19, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    AAAHH! I forgot the “not” before “together,” as in “I agree they are not always together.” That is what I meant to say. I apologize for the confusion, very sorry.

    Reed 15,
    Where does the Bible not base gender on physicality? This is a sincere question, you may be thinking of some reference that I am not.

    But did I suggest that eternality of gender is an impossibility? I’m pretty sure I said the opposite in 9.

    Ron 16,
    You are the one bringing up the idea of gender-neutral souls; I am not. At the end of 14 I rephrased one of your sentences to specifically avoid that idea. If your only concern is about what’s going on in the intermediate state, then fine; but I would rather not build a theory of gender based on something for which the Bible provides almost no details.

    Yes, I understand the difference between essential and accidental. I do appreciate the time you took to discuss the difference. But I think I’ve been using and/or reacting toward “essential” as it was used in the second sentence of the original post, where the gender of souls is “so essential” that the soul is the origin of gender, with “so essential” appearing to mean “has priority.”

    My reference to Matt. 22:30 was specifically regarding the phrase “men and women have distinctly gendered souls as well as bodies.” Upon rereading, I realize this could be taken two ways. If Paige meant that the a soul is distinctly male or distinctly female just like the associated body, then certainly, as I’ve said all along. But if the question is whether male souls are distinct from female souls, then I go back to my original point: if the important physical differences between genders fades in heaven, then it will be difficult to show that there is an important, lasting distinction between male and female souls.

  27. Ron said,

    February 19, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    If your only concern is about what’s going on in the intermediate state, then fine; but I would rather not build a theory of gender based on something for which the Bible provides almost no details.”

    Don,

    1. The intermediate state is only a concern insomuch as it serves to bring to light a faulty premise.

    2. Even if “the Bible provides almost no details,” it need only provide sufficient detail. The only detail the Bible need provide is one. The souls awaiting resurrection are the same exact persons who lived out their days in the flesh. That’s not hard to establish given that souls upon death are either in torment or paradise for what they did and believed in the body.

    Given that they’re the same persons, it stands to reason either that they’re male or female or else they’re all gender neutral persons yet in some *equivocal* sense “essentially” the same person they were in the flesh. That’s the material point.

    As for whether the soul has gender priority, let’s assume the contrary, that biological substance has priority. Let’s see where that leads you.

    How can such a position avoid reducing maleness and femaleness to pure conditioning as it relates to the *immaterial* aspects of the person? In other words, how would gender, if it’s purely biological, ever penetrate a person’s inner self, their inner core, their heart, the seat of human emotion? And even if it could penetrate, how could such penetration be anything other than purely psychological as opposed to ontological (since the soul in such an a anthropology would supposedly be gender neutral at the core)? Gender of the soul would be a makeover and nothing more.

    Moreover, the body doesn’t have life or consciousness without the soul. Yet the soul has both apart from the body. That should clue us in on priority. Your uninstantiated essence was male and as such created with male equipment. Why make this more difficult than it is.

    Indeed, how could there be any absolute moral aspect to the question of how one behaves sexually if gender is not implanted in the soul? Males would not truly be males in their immaterial *being*. Rather, they’d only strive to behave like males through conditioning, yet without any natural tendency as it relates to the soul. That’s the homosexual agenda. It leaves sexuality with respect to the inner person a matter of the conditioned will, a choice as opposed to a divinely appointed ontology. I find that to be an abomination, frankly.

  28. Don said,

    February 19, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    Ron 27,

    How can such a position avoid reducing maleness and femaleness to pure conditioning as it relates to the *immaterial* aspects of the person?

    Because the immaterial aspects of a person are not independent of the material aspects.

    In other words, how would gender, if it’s purely biological, ever penetrate a person’s inner self, their inner core, their heart, the seat of human emotion?

    Don’t know, you’d have to ask someone who said that gender was purely biological.

    Going back to your view, which apparently is that the gender of the soul determines the gender of the body. Are you saying that the soul determines whether an egg is fertilized with an X or Y chromosome? Or how does that work?

  29. Ron said,

    February 19, 2018 at 9:30 pm

    “The living soul of the male is a male soul, and the living soul of the female is a female soul. “

    RB,

    Yes. You got that teaching from the Bible.

    “But how would I begin to teach it. The scriptures seem not to be concerned with the gender of the soul.”

    I’m not sure how you might want to teach it, but God revealed this in Scripture. How relevant God’s revelation on this matter is could very well depend upon the degree to which it’s challenged, even denied within the church. Something to think about, RB.

  30. Ron said,

    February 19, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    “Going back to your view, which apparently is that the gender of the soul determines the gender of the body.”

    Nope, never suggested that the gender of the soul determines the gender of the body. We are body-soul composites. A fully engendered unity.

  31. Ron said,

    February 19, 2018 at 9:51 pm

    Don / Reed,

    I’ll leave the rest to you two. I believe there has been a bit of maneuvering in this thread that I’m not inclined to chase down. I’m sure it was unintentional, but just the same I’ll pass.

    Best wishes.

  32. Don said,

    February 20, 2018 at 1:40 am

    Ron 30,
    OK! Then I guess I don’t understand what you mean when you apparently claim the soul has gender priority. I interpreted that to mean that the soul has a gender before the body does.

  33. paigebritton said,

    February 20, 2018 at 5:55 am

    Just to clarify, the source that prompted my questioning did indeed teach that men have male souls and women have female souls, and that the gendered soul is expressed in the physical body (or perhaps the physical body is the expression of the gendered soul?). This doctrine then becomes the basis (or justification) for essentialist teachings about men and women.

    Since I’d never heard it put like this before, I did a casual Google search, and turned up plenty of other folks who have theories about gendered souls, most of whom don’t tether the gender of the soul to the specific biological version of the body (i.e., a man might decide he has a female soul, etc.).

    Then since I wasn’t seeing much in the way of Christian teaching on the topic, I wondered how fair it was to invoke the concept of gendered souls to support one’s view of what is essential to manhood or womanhood. Sounds like there’s differing opinions here on whether there’s enough info provided in the Bible for us to base our Christian anthropology on it.

  34. roberty bob said,

    February 20, 2018 at 8:20 am

    The Bible says more about persons being male and female than it does about souls being male and female, probably because we see ourselves as whole persons — body, soul, spirit — more than we see ourselves as only souls.

  35. Ron said,

    February 20, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    “Then I guess I don’t understand what you mean when you apparently claim the soul has gender priority. I interpreted that to mean that the soul has a gender before the body does.”

    Fair enough. I offer this only as clarification without interest in debating the point further.

    Body and soul are created entities. The determining of both is a sovereign act of God’s. Accordingly, body nor soul determines the other entity. God determines both.

    Review:

    There are certain properties without which Bob wouldn’t be Bob. Hence they are essential properties. If God could have formed you with three elbows, then two elbows aren’t essential to Bob. You’d still be Bob with three elbows. The essential properties of your person would be intact.

    Regarding priority:

    Priority in this regard relates to essential and accidental properties. It relates to logical order, not temporal order. It relates to telos.

    Persons exist while severed from the body. Although it’s unnatural to be separated from the body, the soul has priority. After all, upon death it is not the body but the Christian’s soul that returns to the Lord. The body remains in the ground but he – the person who occupied the body – goes to be with the Lord.

    “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

    The person can be absent from the body. That is telling. Let’s not let the unhappy over deemphasizing of matter cause us to skew the priority of the soul over the body.

    If God chooses to create Bob, he chooses a suitable body for him to inhabit. In the instantiation of Bob, obviously Bob had priority over the earthly tent he would occupy since the formation of Bob didn’t necessitate anything other than male equipment. The body can vary, but what is essential to Bob’s personality cannot. That which is essential is necessary. That which is essential has priority over the incidental. With respect to priority, in a strictly relative sense the body is incidental to the soul. There is a teleological priority. The body serves the soul. The regenerate person takes mastery over his body.

    Did God determine to create and redeem individual persons (which includes their bodies), or did he seek to redeem bodies that so happen to have souls inhabiting them? That man is a unity of body and soul does not imply that both are equally ultimate with respect to God’s purposes and affections. Does God love my soul more than my accidental physical properties? Those questions are intended as food for thought.

  36. Reed Here said,

    February 20, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    Don, your responses do seem quite a bit like a rubber ball bouncing around the room.

    I note that you have not directly answered either of the simple questions I asked. I’m not sure why.

    Regardless, with Ron, I’ll drop the conversation here. My conclusion is that Mt 22:30 does not deny that souls, as well as bodies, are gendered. Thus I think your initial comment is invalid.

    Thanks!

  37. Reed Here said,

    February 20, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    Paige, given the culture we’re in, I’m thinking this is a topic that might be important to explore.

    It is clear that the nature of man’s being (body-soul, status of relationship with God), is the location of lots of these kinds of topics (e.g., transgenderism). If the Church is to speak the grace and mercy of Christ to such issues, we ourselves need to be clear on the biblical doctrine. The conversation so far here suggests things are a bit fuzzy for us.

    Hence, something important to explore.

  38. Don said,

    February 20, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    Reed 36,

    You’re right, sorry, my answers are sort of scattered, I’ll try to clarify here. The answer to the first (as I said in 28) is no. The answer to the second, in 26, is, basically, why would (or wouldn’t) you think so? And then I think I was clear in answering “no” to your last comment.

    I agree with your conclusion that Matt 22:30 does not deny that souls are gendered, which is not something I ever claimed. My claim is that in the resurrection, the primary biological reason for gender is removed. Thus, any attempt to argue that the distinction between genders begins in our souls and has eternal importance, is not going to have much of a scriptural foundation.

  39. rfwhite said,

    February 20, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    I wonder how the formulation of a “soul gender” doctrine would take account of the eschatological *conformity* of the redeemed, male and female, to the image of *the Son.* Presumably, none of us would insist that conformity to Christ will be defined by the maleness of the Incarnate Son.

  40. Reed Here said,

    February 20, 2018 at 3:56 pm

    Thanks Don.

    It sounds like you’ve reduced gender to biological considerations. Agreeing that they are important, and that one biological consideration would be non-functioning,

    Why would that lead us to conclude that gender will not be a part of man’s being in the eternal state? Is not gender more than just physical?

    for more, I cannot get around the simple declaration of Gen 1:27-28. He made us male and female. Why would we expect that this feature will go away in the state where we experience the perfection of his original created design?

  41. Don said,

    February 20, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    Reed 40,
    Let me repeat that in heaven, we will keep the gender we have. Gender is more than physical, but there are several things going on and it is certainly my fault if I’m sounding like a ball bouncing around:

    Regarding priority: Does the gender of the soul determine the gender of the body? This does not make any sense to me, because somehow the soul would have to make sure the egg is fertilized with an X or Y chromosome. Thus I would say that biology has priority in determining gender. Ron said that God determines a person’s (body’s and soul’s) gender. Which is also certainly true, but from another perspective.

    Regarding differences between soul-genders (and eventually eternity): Are male souls and female souls so essentially distinct, that they are somehow qualitatively different? My point regarding Matt. 22:30 is that if the biological differences in gender become unimportant in heaven, it will be difficult to show that the soul differences in gender remain important.

    Yes, Gen. 1:27-28 is fundamentally important, that a person (i.e., body and soul) has a gender. I don’t think–at least no one here has provided evidence–that the Bible says anything specifically about the gender of a soul, In fact Adam had a (male) body for a brief time before the Lord God breathed into it–his body was male before he had a soul. So again, I’m not questioning whether gender exists or will persist, but I am asserting that this theory of gendered souls, as described by Paige, is not likely to be built on a firm biblical basis.

  42. Martin said,

    February 20, 2018 at 7:43 pm

    Paige, this sounds like something that Peter Jones at truthxchange.com would have some insight on – or know how to find out.

  43. Ron said,

    February 20, 2018 at 8:10 pm

    Flight delays, Reed. Tap on shoulder. May I cut in?

    Gender is more than physical”

    Please elaborate

    “Does the gender of the soul determine the gender of the body? This does not make any sense to me,”

    Nor me

    “…because somehow the soul would have to make sure the egg is fertilized with an X or Y chromosome. Thus I would say that biology has priority in determining gender.”

    By “thus” I infer that your conclusion of biological priority rests upon your rejection of the admittedly absurd premise that immediately precedes it.

    Please consider, the same God who determines the essence he wants to bring forth at conception is sovereign over the tadpoles. If that’s possible, then your basis for “priority” isn’t very robust. But aside from that, priority pertains to essential properties and telos, and certainly not unattended fertilization.

    “Are male souls and female souls so essentially distinct, that they are somehow qualitatively different?”

    Define qualitatively different. We already agree that men and women aren’t like angels and spiders.

    “My point regarding Matt. 22:30 is that if the biological differences in gender become unimportant in heaven, it will be difficult to show that the soul differences in gender remain important.”

    You limit importance to that which youconsider significant. I’m pretty sure that’s improper.

    “I don’t think–at least no one here has provided evidence–that the Bible says anything specifically about the gender of a soul,”

    How about the absurdity of the contrary, does that count for something?

    Some doctrines are construed negatively, like creation out of nothing. Anyway, Reed pointed to the prima facie understanding of Genesis 1:27,28, and I to the denial of gender in the intermediate state.

    In fact Adam had a (male) body for a brief time before the Lord God breathed into it–his body was male before he had a soul.”

    So, if I’m understanding you aright, Adam came into being before he came into being. Or you are saying a body without a soul is a person. I think most Christians reject such notions. Yet we all affirm that persons exist in the intermediate state without physical form. The only question is whether they maintain their gender. If they don’t and gender is essential to being, then they don’t exist. If there’s genderless existence, then they don’t exist as who they were in the body, as males and females. See why Reed harps on Genesis 1?

  44. Don said,

    February 21, 2018 at 12:30 am

    Ron 43,

    Please elaborate

    As I said in 26, a soul is distinctly male or female, just like the associated body.

    the same God…

    How is your plane flying? Because of Bernoulli’s principle? Or because a couple guys are up front piloting it? Or because God wills it to fly? These are not mutually exclusive. Similarly, God by his sovereign will chooses a person’s gender but biologically it is determined at conception.

    Define qualitatively different

    I mean, something more important than the fact that genders exist. Like, saying that in heaven people will have different jobs because of the genders of their souls. “Significant” would maybe have been a clearer word than “qualitative.”

    “I don’t think–at least no one here has provided evidence–that the Bible says anything specifically about the gender of a soul,”

    How about the absurdity of the contrary, does that count for something?

    No. Doesn’t count. Not if you’re trying to build a theology of soul-genders out of it. (Not you personally; the people Paige is talking about.)

    Regarding Gen. 1:27-28, I agree that this establishes that people have gender, as I said above. And people are body and soul. So by good and necessary consequence, souls have gender. But the word “soul” is not mentioned in this passage, and I see no specific teaching about the gender of a soul. If anything, this passage emphasizes the biological nature of gender, given the command to be fruitful and multiply.

    And regarding Gen. 2:7, I merely relayed the order in which events are described. When the man was just a body, i.e., before the Lord God breathed into him, he was described as “the man.” That is, to me, clearly a body with a gender and without a soul. Whether or not that’s a “person” at that moment could be debated, but that is not my point. Anyone who claims that the gender of the soul determines the gender of the body–which is neither of us–would have trouble with this passage.

  45. Ron said,

    February 21, 2018 at 8:12 am

    Are the rich man and Lazarus gender neutral?

  46. roberty bob said,

    February 21, 2018 at 9:39 am

    The rich man and Lazarus are the same men that they had always been. In the realm of the dead, however, it is immediately evident to the rich man that the comforts and joys that he once had are being held in store for his poor and needy neighbor. We see here an astonishing switching of places, but no switching of gender.

  47. Don said,

    February 21, 2018 at 10:00 am

    Ron 45,
    The rich man has a tongue and Lazarus has a finger. Maybe they are somehow symbolic and not literally parts of their physical bodies. But not something I’d want to build a theology upon.

  48. Ron said,

    February 21, 2018 at 10:07 am

    Wasn’t concerned about body parts. Just gender, masculine or feminine.

    So, you could’ve been a female. Nothing in your personality is masculine. Just your body parts. Weird.

  49. Don said,

    February 21, 2018 at 10:16 am

    You should be. If this passage teaches that the dead have a gender, does it not teach that they have a body that is either relaxing or in torment?

  50. Don said,

    February 21, 2018 at 10:17 am

    You should be concerned, I mean.

  51. Reed Here said,

    February 21, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    Don, with sincere respect, let me offer some summarizing observations. It sounds to be like you’re putting a bit too much emphasis on cause-effect-prioritization. I.e., body first, then soul, thus body gender is more determinative, and influential over soul gender.

    I think that’s reading quite a bit beyond what the Scriptures actually say. I think here Ron’s advice is actually rather sound and secure. God creates a whole human being, body and soul. Gender is a quality of being finding expression in both body and soul, with neither having priority over the other. God directly creates the gender characteristics of our bodies and souls, as he does all components of our beings.

    (Yes, I recognize this could slip into deistic and/or traducianistic oriented discussions. That’s a separate topic.)

    As well, I think you’re diminishing the biological features of gender to expressly, and only, sexual. That it a serious deficiency. Given you prioritization of body gender over soul gender, it appears then that you’ve all but decided that body gender (sexual biological functioning) is all that really matters. I.e., you’ll give credence to the notion of other gender characteristics, but in light of how important the sexual biological are, these other characteristics fade into relative unimportance.

    With that kind of working framework, I can understand why you think Mt 22:30 serves as a trumping verse for the subject of this post. My disagreement with you brother is that I believe you are reading way too much into the silence of the Bible on this topic; you’re reaching inferential conclusions that might be good except for the fact that the Bible does not support them. At the same time this imbalance leads you to discount other inferential conclusions that the Bible actually does support.

    I’m grateful for your humble and gentle transparency in the interaction here. Take nothing I’ve offered in response as anything other than respect and love for a brother.

  52. rfwhite said,

    February 21, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    Paige: based on Martin’s reference [see 42 above] to Dr. Peter Jones and truthXchange, it’s at least plausible that Dr. Jones will see the idea of soul gender, if properly formulated in terms of Twoism, could be used as a counterpoint to Oneist ideas that the soul is androgynous.

  53. Ron said,

    February 21, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    Great clarifying post, Reed.

    Don, so there’s no confusion, I clearly agree with this: “Gender is a quality of being finding expression in both body and soul, with neither having priority over the other. God directly creates the gender characteristics of our bodies and souls, as he does all components of our beings.”

    The priority I spoke of pertained to what most defines persons, soul vs. non essential physical properties. Reed was I think addressing your use of priority.

  54. paigebritton said,

    February 21, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    Reed 37,
    I hear your point about the culture, and certainly if there were a firm theology of gendered souls that we could teach, this would have direct relevance for Christians addressing transgenderism. It would also be handy for emphasizing the essential roles and characteristics of men and women, where there’s disagreement about these things. We could locate those distinctions in the very souls of male and female believers, and there wouldn’t be any room for theological dispute.

    But I think there’s a means-ends question here, which is what I’m trying to drill down to: Given the lack of material in the Bible on this subject, would it be legitimate (to say nothing of credible) to speak as if gendered souls were a confirmed doctrine, known and professed by orthodox believers, that guides our anthropology? Or do we set aside this means for lack of support, and rely on other doctrines and arguments? What’s honest and right and responsible to do, as theologians and pastors and teachers?

  55. paigebritton said,

    February 21, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    Thanks, Martin and Dr. White, I’ll look into what Dr. Peter Jones has to say. I have not heard of him before.

  56. Ron said,

    February 21, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    My dear Sister,

    The Bible screams the ontic differences between men and woman. What’s in dispute is the validity of this recent phenomenon in the culture that now informs us that these differences are somehow merely biological. That agenda leads to silly notions and too many unanswered questions. It suggests that the only difference between the sexes is physical. But that suggest that there’s no reason man isn’t as well suited as woman to mother a child. There’s no reason that woman isn’t equally suited to lead a family or flock. The problem is, physical differences alone don’t comport with the suitability of gender roles. Roles have become more arbitrary than congruous. Yet we know by nature these roles are congruous.

    If there are emotional, maternal or any true non-physical differences between males and females, then they must be due to conditioning given the premise of the agenda. Effeminate men should now be applauded for not succumbing to such conditioning. Come out of the confines of the closet. Just don’t touch. That’s the new message in the evangelical church. Same sex attraction is fine. Just don’t act according to your minority nature. Well, I’m here to tell you that that ain’t gonna last long. Once we’ve lived with that compromise for a while, fulfilling those desires will be acceptable too. Only marriage will be off limits. Then we will cave in on that too. (I digress.)

    If there’s no such a thing as masculinity and femininity that transcends the biological, then anything goes.

  57. rfwhite said,

    February 22, 2018 at 7:40 am

    Paige: the following essays from Dr. Jones’ truthXchange think tank might give some fuel for study.

    https://truthxchange.com/2017/02/revolutionary-sexuality/

    https://truthxchange.com/2011/04/confronting-neopaganism-in-the-culture-and-the-church/

    https://truthxchange.com/2000/09/androgyny-the-pagan-sexual-ideal/

    Ron is right: “the Bible screams the ontic differences between [man] and woman.” What, at first, might look like a lack of material in the Bible on this subject turns out to be a matter of learning what to to look for, given the ancient origins of the pagan [and present-day neo-pagan] sexual ideal of androgyny.

  58. paigebritton said,

    February 22, 2018 at 8:23 am

    Ron & Dr. White,
    I’m familiar with the biblical weight given to male and female differences. What I’m after here is simply evidence that people have been hearing the Bible screaming, or at least speaking, about “gendered souls” in the history of Christianity. It may be that this is a convenient way to package the idea of ontic gender difference, but I am unfamiliar with it. So far I haven’t turned up many sources that would confirm it as a doctrine recognized and taught in orthodox Christianity.

    Dr. White, I’ll look at those essays. I read about four of his posts about gender, and I see what he’s getting at, but I haven’t yet seen him mention gender in terms of souls.

  59. Reed Here said,

    February 22, 2018 at 8:44 am

    Paige, yeah, your question resonates.

    When I first read this post I asked myself, “Is Paige delving into merely a culturally bound issue that that is tertiary to the Bible, or, is she highlighting something that’s been there all along, but only now being brought into focus by our culture.”

    I’m persuaded of the latter. I think this subject, along with the host of other sexuality related topics that the current cultural iteration of the age-old rebellion has brought into focus, is similar to the Early Church’s need to define the being and doing of God. Like their need to establish the doctrine of Theism inherent in Scripture, we today are in need of establishing (more fully) the doctrine of Anthropology inherent in the Bible.

    While this may not result in a modern day anthropology oriented Nicene Creed, it nevertheless is a necessary task. Further, while there is always the danger of reading into the Bible more than is there, I expect we will find valid inferences in the Bible that address these things, and rather soundly. I expect this is so for even the trickiest of these questions (e.g., hermaphroditism.)

    In the end, I think you’ve asked one of the those odd ball questions, to which the first response is, “Huh? I never thought about that before.” Yet very quickly, I think folks will move away from the inference that odd ball questions get asked by odd balls. Instead, I think they will find these kinds of oblique angle questions quite helpful, and yielding results far beyond what we might anticipate.

  60. Reed Here said,

    February 22, 2018 at 8:55 am

    Helpful links Dr. White.

  61. rfwhite said,

    February 22, 2018 at 9:18 am

    Paige: Here’s a suggestion. It would likely be helpful to answer the question, “What exactly will I count as evidence of what I’m looking for?” — whether I’m looking at the Bible, ancient paganism, or neo-paganism.

  62. Ron said,

    February 22, 2018 at 10:08 am

    Brothers, sisters and my androgynous friends:

    1 All non divine persons have gender
    2. Souls awaiting judgement are non divine persons
    3. Souls awaiting judgement have gender

    The conclusion follows from the premises so the syllogism is valid. Why is it not sound? In other words, which one(s) of the premises is (are) false?

  63. Martin said,

    February 22, 2018 at 11:04 am

    Paige, I’m not aware (though I have not anywhere nearly read everything he’s written) that Peter Jones has touched on the idea of gendered souls. Probably your best approach would be to contact him directly via email.

    I could see him taking the approach Dr. White suggests above. I could also see that gendered souls could be used by some to argue, for example, that a female soul is embedded in a male body. Don’t we hear something like this from the trans and homosexual communities? “I’m a man trapped in a woman’s body.” So Dr. Jones may have a different take.

    It’s certainly an interesting question.

  64. Reed Here said,

    February 22, 2018 at 11:17 am

    Paige, Martin’s advice is good. Dr. Jones would most likely give you a few and have some helpful things to say.

  65. paigebritton said,

    February 23, 2018 at 6:24 am

    Dr. White 61: Yes, good question about what “evidence” I’m looking for. When I hear new teaching that I don’t recognize, even if it seems attractive I like to find at least two or three reliable witnesses who confirm it as biblically valid before I would pass it along to others in teaching or writing. I’m fairly well-read in the history of theology, so my own lack of recognition is my first indicator that I may be looking at a minority position within orthodoxy, or even a fringe position bordering on heterodoxy.

    My next line of inquiry is the GB community, because you’re all more well-read than I am. If you folks don’t recognize it right off the bat, I realize I’m in for some deeper digging.

    If the position I’m researching has already been acknowledged by the original writer to be a minority interpretation, I would look for evidence that a minority of respected theologians over the ages have noted, explored, and supported it. (This would be the case with something like Doug Moo’s interpretation of Romans 7, which has a slim but recognizable historical pedigree, and which he acknowledges is a minority reading.)

    But if the position has been presented by the original writer as an assumed element of orthodox Christian confession that everybody already believes, I would expect to find a majority of theologians across the ages who include it in their systematic theologies and mention it in their teaching. I’d also expect that I, or at least the GB community, would already realize this.

    The latter situation is what I’m finding — or not finding — re. the idea of “gendered souls,” which was presented in the source I encountered as if it were an assumed tenet of orthodoxy. I thought that I’d maybe missed something in my eclectic theological education, because it didn’t ring a bell. Since on first glance it isn’t familiar to the GB crowd either, and we can’t readily come up with a reading list to get me up to speed on the concept, I have to say that it probably isn’t at this moment a universal tenet of orthodox Christian belief.

    That’s not to say the idea of gendered souls is wrong, mind you. It may be “cutting edge” rather than “fringe,” and as Reed suggests we may be at a “such a time as this” moment for the development of this idea into a confessed orthodox doctrine. A couple of you have even laid out a logical argument for it. It would be interesting to see if it ever takes off in our increasingly fragmented Christian community. Starting so late in Christian history, it may never get much traction as a universally-held doctrine. (Is the most recent attempt at polemical confessionalism the Chicago Statement in ’78? And by “polemical confessionalism,” I mean everything from the Creeds to the WCF, so that’s a positive epithet, not a pejorative.)

    I think I have the evidence I need to confirm my impression that the concept of gendered souls isn’t a well-attested doctrine that I somehow overlooked in my studies, and that it isn’t an already-recognized element of an orthodox Christian anthropology. Whether we can get to this doctrine logically or not, I believe it’s inappropriate (and even dishonest or irresponsible) for teachers in the church to give the impression that something is believed by Christians generally when it’s not. (IOW, maybe it SHOULD be believed by everybody; but if it isn’t even familiar to very well-read Christians, then it’s wrong to present it as if it’s already an acknowledged doctrine.)

    At this point, I’m looking to see if it even falls into the (unacknowledged) category of minority interpretation within Christian orthodoxy, which I would judge to be the case if I can find a few reliable thinkers who talked about it in the 2K years since Christ.

    Thanks for the suggestion about contacting Dr. Jones. I’ll keep turning over rocks till I find out more.

  66. Ron said,

    February 23, 2018 at 9:03 am

    Paige,

    I think you’re operating under some faulty presuppositions with respect to onus of proof.

    When I hear new teaching that I don’t recognize, even if it seems attractive I like to find at least two or three reliable witnesses who confirm it as biblically valid before I would pass it along to others in teaching or writing.

    1. Why is gendered souls novel as opposed to non gender souls?

    2. What about the syllogism I provided? Should we affirm or deny (a) persons have genders and (b) persons await judgement?

  67. Steve Drake said,

    February 23, 2018 at 9:21 am

    Paige @ #54

    Given the lack of material in the Bible on this subject…

    I think you’ve prejudiced any conclusion by accepting this false premise. Dr. White’s post @ #61 reflects this. What evidence will you accept? It’s as if you have created a category for which you want to conclude the Bible is silent on, and yet won’t listen to or don’t agree with Ron’s “the Bible screams the ontic differences between men and women,” and the rest of his post @ #56, as well as the other fine advice from other commenters. You are one whole person, body and soul female for all of eternity.

    I see also that no one has taken up Ron’s question in #62 and the syllogism there. The question still seems to be on the table, “Why is this not sound?”

  68. rfwhite said,

    February 23, 2018 at 9:27 am

    65 Paige: The steps you describe for finding evidence of a doctrine in church history make good sense. I had in mind something different. I’m not talking about finding evidence; I’m talking about defining evidence, defining what will count as evidence.

    To be sure, we would count as evidence confessional or creedal statements of universal orthodox Christian tenets. And we also would count as evidence a rehearsal of the history of a text’s exegesis or the history of a doctrine. But what counts as evidence might also appear in other ways too. It might appear in ancient texts that illuminate the target of a biblical author’s polemics. It might appear in apparently throw-away lines of an ancient commentary, where the commentator criticizes an antagonist. As you can tell, what I’m attempting to describe is evidence that we might find in places other than statements of orthodoxy or rehearsals of the history of exegesis or doctrine. Granted, the value of any given piece of evidence will have to be determined, and, after all is said and done, it still may end up that evidence for a doctrine is lacking. I’m just saying we need to define what we’re counting as evidence and to make sure that that definition is proportionate to the possible relevant sources of evidence.

  69. Ron said,

    February 23, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    On my flight back I began Volume ii of Vos’s Reformed Dogmatics. I was shocked by a wonderful providence. Vos addresses what some of us find so very instinctive. (Though I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised given how meticulous Vos is in volume i.)

    Anyway, as it relates to the syllogism I provided, Vos explicitly affirms “it is characteristic that a deceased person can still be called a soul.” And that’s after he writes, “souls = persons.” Therefore, Vos unambiguously corroborates my minor premise, that in the bodiless / intermediate state, souls are persons. We’re half way home…

    Now for the easy part, my major premise, which I believe was never in doubt by anyone. That is, the uncontroversial premise that non divine persons have gender. A person is male or female.

    Vos writes that the Bible affirms, “I = my soul.” That’s key. Vos clearly equates self with soul. And as already noted, he also equates soul with person. So, for Vos, we are our person. We are our soul.

    So, let’s apply Vos. If the person Eve was a woman, then her soul is clearly female by Vos’ estimation. Was the person Eve a woman? I bet Adam thought so, even without the benefit of Vos. :)

    Sincerely, I don’t think we should need Vos to give us confidence that Eve is a woman, but I thought I’d share this “evidence” just the same.

  70. roberty bob said,

    February 23, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    Just as Moses said: ” . . . and man became a living soul.” Indeed, we are our person; we are our soul.

  71. rfwhite said,

    February 23, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    Ron: Nice … that is, good stuff.

  72. paigebritton said,

    February 25, 2018 at 11:16 am

    Thanks, all:
    Note that so far I’ve just been looking for evidence that Christians over the ages have taught directly about gendered souls (or souls being male and female), so I could confirm or refute my impression that this isn’t a well-known doctrine explicitly taught by the church.

    If it’s a logically implied doctrine, cool — you may be right about all of the evidence that points to the idea of souls being engendered. I’m not intending here to make the argument that this isn’t true. It may be that if we could ask Vos or Bavinck or Calvin or Augustine, “Are souls male or female according to the sex of the person?” they’d say, “Well of course, that follows from everything I’ve been telling you about souls and bodies.”

    But at this point in Christian history, at least in our collective Protestant memories, this concept of gendered souls doesn’t seem to have been a subject that has been explicitly spoken or written about very much. That’s the only conclusion I’m coming to here, and it’s still tentative given that I haven’t read everything I could yet. (So yes, Dr. White, I’ve only been looking at the “obvious” sources of evidence so far, and I have more digging to do.)

    Interesting thought: It’s very likely that this idea hasn’t gotten so much attention previously because there was little to no resistance to gender roles in the church, or gender identity more generally in the culture, so it just didn’t occur to people to write or speak about it. (In fact, it would be interesting to look at church teaching and writing at past historical moments where there was some resistance to a traditional understanding of male and female roles, to see if anybody ever brought up the idea of gendered souls in their counterarguments.)

  73. paigebritton said,

    February 25, 2018 at 11:22 am

    Okay, bonus challenge question:
    Would you go so far as to identify as heretical any Christian teaching that declares that the soul is not male or female (according to the sex of the person)? And if that’s ambiguous, I’ll put it this way: would you find teaching heretical that declares that the human soul is not gendered, one way or another?

    No judgment on you here either way, just curious.

  74. greenbaggins said,

    February 25, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    Paige, I could answer the question rather easily: since none of the subordinate standards even mention a position on it, then there would be no churchly basis for declaring such a view as heretical. Of course, that could theoretically change at some point. If someone wanted to teach a genderless soul, the most that could probably happen, realistically, is a debate. On the subject, here is a train of thought:

    If Genesis 1:27 says “God made them male and female,” then we have to ask “What is the referent of the pronoun ‘them’?” Is it a part only of the person, or the whole person? According to most accounts of anthropology in the Old Testament I’ve looked at, the Old Testament looks at a human being as an indissoluble whole, body and soul interdependent. The creation of the man involves the breathing into him of the breath of life, which surely implies the soul. If this is true, then the presumption would be that the creation of humanity as male and female involves their whole person. At the very least, wouldn’t a genderless soul position have to say that the referent of “them” would have to be body only? What justification in the context would there be for that?

    A counter argument could be raised, “Well, isn’t the breath of life the same for man as it is for woman?” However, there does not seem to be any emphasis placed on the sameness of the breath of life as woman has than as man has it, whereas the male and female aspect has a great deal more emphasis in Genesis 1-2.

  75. Ron said,

    February 25, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    This line of questioning seems inadequate on a couple fronts.

    1. Is heresy simply error, or does it pertain to severe error that if true would undermine Christianity? If the latter, then what defines Christianity? The Trinity? Trinity and gospel? Trinity, gospel and inerrancy? Are the implications of error germane or only error at a foundational level?

    2. Are we only to limit heresy to the denial of those doctrines affirmed by creeds and confessions? Aside from the fact that some confessions contradict each other, do our confessions define heresy that way? Is it needful to debate all esoteric teaching not already condemned by the church before recognizing doctrine infidelity, especially obvious infidelity?

  76. roberty bob said,

    February 25, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    While God, through Moses, revealed that the man Adam became a living soul upon being formed by the Lord God’s hand and breathed into by the Lord God’s breath, there is no follow-up on the soul in the Holy Scriptures to enlighten us with a knowledge of soul gender.

    To say, as Moses said, that man became a living soul is the same as saying that man became a living person. By all measures, a living soul is understood to be a living persons. When we speak of the humanity having been created by the Lord God as male and female, we take that to mean that this person enters the world as male / man while that person enters the world as female / woman. Particular whole persons / living souls are ordinarily identified as a male or a female. Almost every person can self-identify as one or the other.

    However, when we distinguish the human body from the human soul, we are no longer talking about the human person in his or her entirely; we are no longer talking about the whole human person as a living soul, but rather we are talking about the part of our person that not our body. So, we say that everybody has a soul. Try, if you will, to talk about the soul in isolation from the body, and you will be at a loss for words; it is a mystery! That is why I remarked earlier [post 24] that I would not build my teaching of biblical anthropology upon the isolated human soul. I would, however, build it upon man having been created by God to be a living soul, male and female. This is the only life we so far know; we do not yet know the life of our selves as soul separated from our body. I would assume, with all of you, that the separated soul will be of the gender by which we are now known while up and about as living souls, and that this same soul will reunite with the body at the Resurrection on the Last Day. Why would we assume otherwise?

  77. Ron said,

    February 25, 2018 at 8:53 pm

    Sundry concerns:

    What *is* the case precedes what is *understood* to be the case. Heresies (no matter how defined) are heresies prior to being understood as heresies. In other words, heretical doctrine doesn’t become heretical doctrine upon the church’s pronouncement. Arianism was heresy prior to Nicea.

    How this matter might relate to ordination is a different query than whether it’s heresy. We must be careful to maintain that one can believe that which should disqualify him from holding office, yet short of affirming heresy, whether damnable or any other kind.

    I’m curious which premise(s) folks would deny.

    1. All non divine persons have gender
    2. Souls awaiting judgement are non divine persons
    3. Souls awaiting judgement have gender

    To deny premise 1 is to deny that we are persons or have gender. Accordingly, I’m confident 1 is affirmed by all. Paige believes she’s a woman. I believe I’m a man.

    Therefore, to deny the conclusion is to deny premise 2 (assuming the form of the argument is considered valid). To deny 2 is to affirm that persons are not awaiting judgement. That’s unintelligible.

    Vos’ “souls = persons” could not have been more correct. The only way out is to deny premise 1. But that is is to deny that we are male or female persons. Silly premises lead to silly conclusions.

  78. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 26, 2018 at 5:19 am

    @ Ron: Careful with the quantifier in #1. To deny that all non-divine persons have gender is to affirm that *some* non-divine persons do not have gender.

  79. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 26, 2018 at 5:50 am

    @ Paige:

    While chewing on the notion of gendered souls, I’d like to sound a couple of cautionary notes.

    (1) As Reed hints in #59, we must give some account of those who have physical intersex disorders. If gender is purely physical, then the account is straightforward: such individuals simply have a physical disorder that is a consequence of the Fall. In the new heavens and earth, this will be put right.

    But if souls are also gendered, then we seemingly place ourselves on the horns of a dilemma.

    EITHER

    Horn 1: Intersex individuals are neither male nor female in their souls.

    This would seemingly undermine the notion that God created people with two genders. I would imagine that we should reject horn 1.

    OR

    Horn 2: Intersex individuals are either male or female in their souls, but their bodies do not reflect this fact.

    That horn leads directly to …

    (2) If individuals can be male or female in soul, but with bodies that do not reflect this fact, then the transgender argument that one can be a trapped in a body of the wrong gender now seems plausible.

    I would imagine that we should reject horn 2 also.

    (3) Unrelated to the above, one wonders: If our souls have gender, does the maleness of God imply that males are more fully in God’s image than females? I’ve always understood Gen 1.27 to imply that men and women are equally in God’s image. This would suggest that being male or female is not of the essence of being in the image of God.

    But if being male or female is of the essence of the person, then it is difficult to escape the conclusion that females lack a quality in their persons that belongs to the image of God.

    (4) Also separate from the above: Gender is pervasive across the animal and plant kingdoms, yet without souls being involved.

    (5) Final note: The arguments (including Jones’) above seem to rest upon the philosophical concept of essentialism: that we may distinguish in all cases between substance and accident. While that philosophical concept has been accepted as a category in theological discussions, it has not been made a confessional matter in any denomination I am aware of.

    Hence, if we do not fully accept essentialism, then perhaps we need not fully accept the arguments that lead to gendered souls.

    Still chewing …

  80. Ron said,

    February 26, 2018 at 6:50 am

    This would suggest that being male or female is not of the essence of being in the image of God.

    Jeff,

    Being human as opposed to an animal is what’s key. Indeed, all humans are male or female but it’s humans that are created in God’s image.

    But if being male or female is of the essence of the person, then it is difficult to escape the conclusion that females lack a quality in their persons that belongs to the image of God.

    God is not a sexual being. Or as Rome puts it in the CCC, “God is neither man nor woman.” With the incarnation, the Son is now and forever man. However, for a woman to lack this quality does not undermine anything. In union with Christ, women are sons and co-heirs in their human nature.

  81. Ron said,

    February 26, 2018 at 8:19 am

    Gender is pervasive across the animal and plant kingdoms, yet without souls being involved.

    Surprised to hear you do not believe animals have souls. Is there nothing other than concrete matter that pertains to a puppy? I’ll reverse burden of proof. Do any Reformed theologians deny animals have souls? (Vos affirms it by the way, with of course distinctions between the human soul maintained.)

  82. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 26, 2018 at 9:18 am

    Way to play the puppy card! :)

    But seriously, even if I might think that dogs have souls, that need not entail that frogs do, or horseflies, or ash trees.

    Do you think that ash trees have souls? They have genders.

  83. Ron said,

    February 26, 2018 at 9:38 am

    Puppy card is my ace in the hole!

    I don’t think plants or trees have souls. Maybe I’d make an exception for Cleopatra, Morticia’s African Strangler.

  84. Timothy said,

    March 2, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    greenbaggins said, “I can’t think of any biblical evidence whatsoever that would point in one direction or another on this issue.” And, yes, not with authoritative decisiveness, though as the first comment reflects we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this as creatures and Scripture gives us hints.

    Steve Drake mentioned to start, “I suppose one must discuss the origin of the soul first. Are you a traducianist or creationist in regards to the origin of the soul?” And there’s the rub – for as much yearning of the soul to know it’s origin and as seemingly important an element of the time immemorial quest for our individual origin, the most sacred map from heaven to men, the Holy Scriptures, do not make this clear; and one might surmise purposefully so. Sure, Scripture tells us God made us in His image, specially breathed into us, making man a living soul, but what of me, today? I am my Father’s son and my father’s son, but Scripture does not inform us whether my individual soul is an act of that initial creation of humankind on the 6th day, of some new divine creative act continuing with each new infant, of the joining of human egg and sperm, of the new breath in birth reflecting that initial breath from God, or something other.

    I think the notion of gendered souls goes back to that question of Creation itself – was it completed in 6 days, or as it relates to humans does in continue with each conception? FWIW, Origen held the former, a pre-existence of souls prior to conception, and that doctrine was condemned as heresy in the Second Council of Constantinople in AD 553. Either traducianism (eg. Tertullian) or creationism (eg. Jerome) became the mainstay of orthodox Christianity, with a form of pre-existence reemerging today as a prevalent tenet of Mormonism.

    Interestingly perhaps, God breathed into Adam his living soul prior to creating Eve from him. I would never purport that women have no souls – Scripture elsewhere denotes they do – but in the Creation account of Eve created from Adam, Scripture only states, “bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh”, not “soul of my soul”.

    The clearest indicator we have in Scripture as stated is Paul in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”, but that isn’t as definitive as to soul gender as one might hope.

    The bottom line is that even though Scripture is not silent on this issue, there certainly seems to be divine intent in not telling us all we commonly yearn to know on – “Where do I come from?”, and “Who am I?” Scripture (and reformed standards and catechisms) concentrates on even loftier ideas and precepts.

  85. Timothy said,

    March 2, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    Now, it doesn’t necessarily follow, but if we are hard pressed as a most worthy doctrine on from whence Timothy derives his soul, either fallen (and so ‘accidental’) male and female parents (traducianism) or our Holy God creating a new soul in a (or and) human body corrupted with a sinful ‘nature’ and original sin (creationism), then determination of whether or not that soul has gender is no less problematic. And this is even or especially so amidst timely clamouring over gender roles in Church and society. It’s perhaps less problematic to consider the cacophony of relativistic determinations and moral confusion is the result of sin and enmity with our Creator and that corruption of whom we ought to be and were created to be. But in championimg the Biblically mandated roles of gender we need not resort to what is unclear, nor mandate as sacrosanct that we are gender-assigned at the supernatural level.

    Having said that, Paul in 1 Timothy of the Scriptures says, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control” (2:11-15). Here we see that it wasn’t Eve’s body that was deceived, but her ‘person’, her soul, if you will; and that Eve as a person follows Adam and so is properly in submission to him on a personal basis, not in substance or ontologically, but by order of time and action. Though sure, specific gender differentiation comes to bear even on Eve’s salvation, with the curious and important specification of “they” in that last part.

  86. Perkins said,

    March 2, 2018 at 10:52 pm

    Just another vote for a Yes we do/will have gendered souls (for lack of a better term). No offense but it’s never occurred to me that it’d ever be any other way.

  87. Ron said,

    March 2, 2018 at 11:36 pm

    To the men out there:

    No gendered souls as it relates to being means (a) male is not essential to your being or (b) you will not exist in the intermediate state. In other words, in your being you’re male or not. If you’re male in your being, then either (b) you would not exist after death (if souls are without gender). Or, if you would exist in the intermediate state (as not gendered), then (a) you are not male in your being.

    I’m pretty sure everyone here affirms personal consciousness after death. So, what is being denied is (a) essential maleness. Let’s run with that…

    You are not male. Say it. “I am not a male!” “I exist in a male body, but I myself am not male.” “My male instincts do not reside in my heart.” “Anything male about me is external and learned, for I’m not male.” “I just look male.” So ridiculous.

  88. roberty bob said,

    March 3, 2018 at 7:24 am

    The male must go through.

    This male — me — fully expects to be the same me — male — in the post-resurrection age to come.

  89. Ron said,

    March 3, 2018 at 8:09 am

    “The mail must go through.” Cliff Claven

  90. roberty bob said,

    March 3, 2018 at 10:36 am

    Something we agree on, Ron.

  91. Ron said,

    March 3, 2018 at 10:58 am

    Oh, I think we agree on much, Brother. I’ve come to appreciate with you that it’s more on where we might place the accent. :)

  92. Timothy said,

    March 3, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    So I think for those agreeing to soul gender that still begs the question of any possible gender mismatch between body and soul. That is indeed what some ‘transgendered’ claim.

  93. Ron said,

    March 3, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    Timothy, that’s not what’s in view so we shouldn’t expect it to be addressed here.

  94. Timothy said,

    March 3, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    I’d beg to differ, based on an earlier paige britton post, but ok. I just think it’s a key factor in why the topic has become more widespread recently.

    #33 paigebritton said,

    “Just to clarify, the source that prompted my questioning did indeed teach that men have male souls and women have female souls, and that the gendered soul is expressed in the physical body (or perhaps the physical body is the expression of the gendered soul?). This doctrine then becomes the basis (or justification) for essentialist teachings about men and women.

    “Since I’d never heard it put like this before, I did a casual Google search, and turned up plenty of other folks who have theories about gendered souls, most of whom don’t tether the gender of the soul to the specific biological version of the body (i.e., a man might decide he has a female soul, etc.).

    “Then since I wasn’t seeing much in the way of Christian teaching on the topic, I wondered how fair it was to invoke the concept of gendered souls to support one’s view of what is essential to manhood or womanhood. Sounds like there’s differing opinions here on whether there’s enough info provided in the Bible for us to base our Christian anthropology on it.”

    Again, my thinking is that while it may seem conservatively advantageous to reformed apologetic to link physical gender to a supposed supernatural gender, we need not overstep the clear dictates of Scripture for force of argument. We know, for example, that Jesus, as the eternally begotten Son of the Father, is a special case; so we can’t without significant problematic logically retrofit each new human soul to certain gender assignments anymore than we can with our fallen biology and pursuant ‘accidents’. It doesn’t mean there aren’t certain genders of soul, just that making sound and/or historically Biblical arguments for such are riddled with unnecessary pitfalls. It is not a necessary element of sound precepts in distinctives of Biblical manhood and womanhood.

    One might with well intent opine that, “If there’s no such a thing as masculinity and femininity that transcends the biological, then anything goes”, but it doesn’t necessarily follow. All that necessarily follows is that with sin and human depravity/through corruption comes the need for redemption toward human integrity.

  95. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 3, 2018 at 10:11 pm

    Still chewing …

    For those who believe it logically necessary to hold that our souls have gender, a question:

    * In your view, do our chromosomes cause the gendering of our souls, or does the gender of the soul cause the chromosomes to be selected X and Y in conception, or do the two simply happen to coincide?

    For those who do not, a question:

    * In your view, are our genders accidental or essential, or do you not even use such categories?

  96. Ron said,

    March 3, 2018 at 10:19 pm

    Timothy,

    You’re probably thinking that “begs the question” means “prompts one to ask a question” or “leads one to raise a question.” That’s clearly how you’ve employed the term here.

    “So I think for those agreeing to soul gender that still begs [prompts] the question of any possible gender mismatch between body and soul. That is indeed what some ‘transgendered’ claim.”

    Begging the question refers to assuming a non universally accepted conclusion without argumentation. The mismatch question was not begged. Nobody fallaciously argued the point either pro or con. That you think this discussion leads to that question is reasonable but that doesn’t mean the question was begged. That was my only point to you.

  97. Ron said,

    March 3, 2018 at 10:31 pm

    Jeff,

    I think they coincide, but by God’s design. I wouldn’t employ “so happen” in this regard.

    For those who’d say that the biological creates the gendered soul, they’d be one step closer. At least they’d be acknowledging a gendered soul.

    I can’t imagine one thinking that souls aren’t gendered while also maintaining they are essential properties of person, but that seems to be a possibility you offered to those who affirm non gendered souls.

  98. Timothy said,

    March 3, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    I disagree with you again, Ron, on terminology. “Begging” is not “assuming”, not to me.

    The only ‘side’ I’m taking here is of the dangers in making doctrine where our “rule of faith and practice”, Holy Scripture isn’t dogmatic.

    I am, however, pointing to one glaring pitfall of a supernatural soul gender stance, that of the fallen state of the human condition, which entails body and soul. Whereas human frailty allows for biological imperfections, a soul-gender stance (from historic Reformed thought at least) would likewise ascertain the frailty of our fallen condition, with possible, even necessary soul-gender imperfections. This is exactly where come some arguments clouding Biblical precepts of manhood and womanhood, and some claims of men ‘trapped’ in female bodies or women ‘trapped’ in male bodies, which is at the heart of swelling acceptance and prevalence of transgender and GLTB causes.

  99. Ron said,

    March 4, 2018 at 8:03 am

    I disagree with you again, Ron, on terminology. “Begging” is not “assuming”, not to me.

    Tim,

    It’s not helpful for you to define well established terms in a manner contrary to their meaning. With your “not to me” remark, you make it sound as though definitions like “begging the question” are up for grabs.

    Here are just a few sites that address this matter. They each deny your claim: “begging” is not “assuming”, not to me..

    “The fallacy of begging the question occurs when an argument’s premises assume the truth of the conclusion, instead of supporting it. In other words, you assume without proof the stand/position, or a significant part of the stand, that is in question. Begging the question is also called arguing in a circle.” Department of Philosophy, Texas State

    Begging the question, sometimes known by its Latin name petitio principii (meaning assuming the initial point), is a logical fallacy in which the writer or speaker assumes the statement under examination to be true. In other words, begging the question involves using a premise to support itself. If the premise is questionable, then the argument is bad.” Grammarist dot com

    ““Begging the Question
    petitio principii

    (also known as: assuming the initial point, assuming the answer, chicken and the egg argument, circulus in probando, circular reasoning [form of], vicious circle) Description: Any form of argument where the conclusion is assumed in one of the premises. Many people use the phrase “begging the question” incorrectly when they use it to mean, “prompts one to ask the question”. That is NOT the correct usage. Begging the question is a form of circular reasoning” logically fallacious dot com

  100. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 4, 2018 at 8:16 pm

    @ Ron:

    So the question that is begging to be raised is this. What is the structure of the argument for gendered souls?

    Piecing together the posts above, I have this so far:

    (1) God created humans with two genders (Gen 1)
    (2) A person’s gender is an essential, not accidental, part of his personhood.
    (3) All essential qualities are qualities of the soul.
    (4) Therefore, gender is a quality of the soul.

    Fair?

  101. Ron said,

    March 4, 2018 at 9:08 pm

    Jeff,

    Not trying to be difficult but what’s the argument for non gendered souls? Maybe we might start there.

  102. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 4, 2018 at 10:31 pm

    I’m still chewing, so I’m not sure that I could do such an argument justice.

    The point that I’m the most confident on is that the Scripture doesn’t discuss the topic; hence, any argument for or against is mostly speculative. Thus, I would object to holding candidates to one view or another. Here, I’m responding to your statement

    PB: does the concept of gendered souls bear enough biblical or doctrinal weight for you that you would incorporate it into your teaching in a church, or even base your teaching about Christian anthropology on it?

    RdG: Yes. I’d even make a proper understanding a qualification for office in the church.

    I think the best positive argument for nongendered souls would start with Mt 22.30.

    Above, Reed noted that Jesus is ruling out sexual relations in our new bodies. But actually a little more could be said.

    Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.

    It’s not just sexual relations, but marriage as a whole that is done away with — and the given reason is that we will be like the angels.

    Whatever Jesus meant, He was saying that marriage will be impossible
    or moot because we are like the angels in some important way that renders marriage impossible or moot.

    As we think through the purpose of marriage, to be a type of the relationship between Christ and church (Eph 5), it seems possible that gender is subservient to that purpose, hence also typical. So it seems possible that the essential quality of angels that makes marriage impossible or moot is their lack of gender. If indeed that is the case!

    IF that line of reasoning is correct, then we will lack genders not only in the intermediate state, but in the resurrection as well.

    That’s as far as I can get towards demonstrating nongendered souls, and it’s fairly speculative.

    The best rebuttal to gendered souls that I can imagine is that the argument for gendered souls rests on the premise — assuming that I’m not inadvertently constructing a strawman —

    gender is an essential part of personality

    (1) I can’t see where this premise finds positive Biblical support.

    (2) As we continue to better understand the role that biochemistry plays in influencing our personality, I’m not at all sure that we can confidently assert that gender is essential rather than accidental, or accidental rather than essential.

    Tl;dr: It’s a mystery.

  103. Ron said,

    March 4, 2018 at 11:50 pm

    Jeff,

    I often hear Scripture is silent on this or that, but I don’t think we need to be so tentative here. I don’t think Scripture teaches creation ex nihilo in any obvious way. I think it must be construed by eliminating other options. By eliminating eternal matter and pantheism we deduce our view of creation. Out of nothing is the last man standing. I think that’s the approach we might have to take here too. If non-gendered souls leads to the denial of other biblical truths, then gendered souls is the last man standing.

    Here we go, again.

    1 Non divine persons have gender

    2. Souls awaiting judgement are non divine persons

    3. Souls awaiting judgement have gender

    That syllogism has gotten little attention for some reason. It’s pretty straightforward though. It takes the form of the popular deduction: all men are mortal; Socrates is a man; Socrates is a mortal. (I realize full well I don’t need to tell you that.)

    I assume you agree with the major premise and the validity of the syllogism. That only leaves the minor premise. If you deny 2, I trust it’s not because you think bodies decaying in the ground are persons. It’s also not because you deny that souls await judgement. So, what’s left for us with which to toy around? Please consider that before reading on.

    If 2 is denied, what then must be affirmed? I think this thread isn’t progressing well because there has been a shortage of critical thought given to that question.

    I think we should toy around with the only serious option left for Christians who’d deny 2 in this way. Let’s consider whether persons only exist as body-soul composites. (That’s really the only viable option left.) I’ll remind you hear of the simplicity of Vos, which speaks to 2. “I = my soul” and “souls = persons.” That’s what the minor premise contemplates. God gives male bodies to male souls.

    The reductio of denying 2

    If persons only exist as body-soul composites, that would imply that upon death you, as a person, would not exist. But if you would exist after death, then being a person wouldn’t be essential to your existence. The absurdity of that conclusion would seem inevitable if 2 is denied.

    In the final analyses, we only have a couple of competing options. I think it’s rather sensible that God gives male bodies to male persons. That is what’s being denied, or at least being brought into question. Let’s just be clear about that.

    I think it’s nonsensical that we can exist as non-persons, but that would seem to be the implication of the most formidable denial of 2.

    Indeed, the body isn’t incidental to our person. We were created as embodied persons and as such we’ll be for all eternity. Notwithstanding, if we exist as disembodied persons apart from the body, which we will, then the syllogism would seem sound, which in turn means souls have gender.

  104. Timothy said,

    March 5, 2018 at 2:28 am

    Well, brother Ron, let’s look again.

    Here’s what has your focus, where I stated,
    “So I think for those agreeing to soul gender that still begs the question of any possible gender mismatch between body and soul. That is indeed what some ‘transgendered’ claim”.
    I hopefully am grasping the ease of your misunderstanding and I apologise if I led you to think it was an erroneous logical syllogism.
    You seem to have read it as;
    if (gendered souls), then (possible errors in assignation). I’ve postured no assumption of the “if”. The “if” is your stance or a stance favouring soul gender. There is no conclusion “assumed” (by me, nor your own gender stance) that your premise necessitates any allowance of error in gender – you’ve stated that discussion has no place here, but that your proposition or the premise of soul gender, is indeed conditioned upon the what, when, where, and how of such a thing occuring. In other words, all I’m asserting is that any proposition of soul-gender begs or pleads for clarity on soul origion. If of God, then as God is perfect, that would indicate no error on His part. If of fallen and cursed human, then I would have reason to think it’s no less an “anything goes” proposition (as you have stated) than you insist as part and parcel to a no-supernatural-gender stance. If a soul is said to have gender then it certainly has origin, and as has been pointed out by others, we normally view soul and body as working in concert to originate a living human being.

    You’ve chastised that my bringing up “any possible gender mismatch” is, “not… to be addressed here”. Then you add, “You’re probably thinking that “begs the question” means “prompts one to ask a question” or “leads one to raise a question.” That’s clearly how you’ve employed the term”, and in perhaps inadvertantly building that straw man proceed to attack it (a most common erroneous tactic): “Begging the question refers to assuming a non universally accepted conclusion without argumentation. The mismatch question was not begged. Nobody fallaciously argued the point either pro or con. That you think this discussion leads to that question is reasonable but that doesn’t mean the question was begged.”
    Again, I disagreed with what I view as a mischaracterisation of both my usage and proper assignment of terminology. “Beg” here means beg, plead, earnestly ask and implore. I don’t mean to be beligerently argumentative, simply address the construct of a soul-gender proposition.

    It isn’t a matter of “assuming” any “conclusion that follows from the premise” of your stance that souls have gender. Indeed I’ve even made quite clear this is not the case – that your stance of gendered souls does not necessitate a mismatch between body and soul, but that such a mismatch is a possibility, dependant upon the greater question of soul origin, which question Scripture itself does not find great enough to answer with clear authority. When Holy Scripture describes the initial human creation it’s at least careful to elaborate on why we’re physically male and female. And though some may now insist on knowing whether or not the breath God breathed into Adam making him a living soul was male-spirit as contrasted to female-spirit, the Scriptures neither tell of that nor the process by which Ron and Timothy or anyone subsequent to Adam become a living soul.

    My points are not that a soul-gender position necessitates possible mismatches, but that 1) a soul-gender position as a non-gender position are dependant on soul origin, and 2) that Scripture isn’t even determinative on that. Reformed theologians are divided between traducianism and creationism.

    But I apologise if in any way I misled you into a distraction from pertinent issues at hand. Again, I find it pointless to insist on a soul-gender stance without essentially addressing the source of one’s soul – a topic and/or doctrine God Himself does not dictate with Supreme authority. If we just start making up stuff based on what would seem to follow from what we observe or even know, and make such stuff a contrived doctrine of orthodoxy, such has proven to lead to dire consequence. I’m not saying such isn’t worthy of consideration in ardent thought, just that caution is warranted. And to castigate opposition as a chaos of anything goes is right out, in my book.

  105. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 5, 2018 at 5:29 am

    Ron,

    I’m saying that (1) is not obvious. “Non-divine persons have gender”, which I assume means “All non-divine persons have gender”, would entail that angels necessarily have gender. I don’t know that this is the case.

    The most that we know for sure is that “Some non-divine persons have gender.”

  106. Ron said,

    March 5, 2018 at 7:04 am

    Jeff,

    By non divine persons I was trying to leave out the Second Person. We can try to refine this more to leave out angels if you think that’ll help. For this discussion let’s define persons as only those who have potential of being co-heirs with Christ. I’m not concerned how we do that as long as we focus.

    You might wish to say only embodied persons have gender. They get gender from body. (I offered that up before but with few takers.) In which case you’d disagree with 1, not 2: Not all non persons have gender yet souls are persons. I’m not trying to slip anything by you, not that I could. Does that work for you? If so, that pretty much brings us full circle, doesn’t it? Being male is not essential to your person. You are not male. Indeed, you have a quality of maleness but you are not male in your being. Maleness is is more akin to youth. It’s something you have but not always. It’s not essential. It’s a quality you have but doesn’t help comprise who you are. Is that closer?

  107. Ron said,

    March 5, 2018 at 7:14 am

    Confusing typo in previous post. Please refer to this one instead.

    Jeff,

    By non divine persons I was trying to leave out the Second Person. We can try to refine this more to leave out angels if you think that’ll help. For this discussion let’s define persons as only those who have potential of being co-heirs with Christ. I’m not concerned how we do that as long as we focus.

    Angels aside, we might wish to say only embodied persons have gender. They get gender from body. (I offered that up before but with few takers.) In which case you’d disagree with 1, not 2: Not all persons have gender; yet souls are persons. I’m not trying to slip anything by you, not that I could. Does that work for you? If so, that pretty much brings us full circle, doesn’t it? Being male is not essential to your person. You are not male. Indeed, you have a quality of maleness in the flesh and you may have picked up some manly habits along the way, but you are not male in your being. Maleness is more akin to youth in some ways. It’s something you might have but not always. It’s not essential. It’s a quality you may have but doesn’t help comprise who you are. Is that closer?

  108. Ron said,

    March 5, 2018 at 7:17 am

    Timothy,

    I’m afraid your posts don’t interest me.

  109. Reed Herere said,

    March 5, 2018 at 7:24 am

    Jeff, I think the Bible is perfectly clear on this subject. One must divide (as opposed to distinguish) body from soul in order to assume that the soul has no gender.

    God created man, male and female, body and soul, Gn 1:27. Gender is of the essence therefore. One has to commit a true gnostic bifurcation of body and soul to deny that this is what the Bible requires us to believe.

    As to the angels and marrying, I think you may be reading more into Jesus’ response than is there. The context is clearly sexual relations between the hypothetical woman and her hypothetical 7 brother husbands. In view, for example, is not which husband will do her laundry, or which husband will she make breakfast for. The “gotcha” of the Saducee’s question is the issue of sexual relations between her and 7 different men.

    Jesus’ reference to the initiation of marriage (givIng and taking) emphasizes that sexual relations are in view (i.e., the wedding night’s activities). He could have said this simpler if he were referring to marriage in general. Using this more specific expression narrows his focus, to the sexual relations component of marriage. All other components of marriage most certainly will change in the eteternal state, but I don’t believe we can draw any blanket statements about the particulars from this passage.

    To read more into this passage than that creates a host of other problems. E.g., I’m gonna like you more in eternity than I do now. ;) But I’m still gonna like my wife more. :)

  110. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 5, 2018 at 7:33 am

    @ Ron: I’m fine with that, thanks. I do wonder about the sentence “It’s a quality you may have but doesn’t help comprise who you are,” which gets back to my unease about essentialism. But that’s a minor quibble. In the main, we agree that (1) is the sticking point.

  111. Ron said,

    March 5, 2018 at 7:36 am

    Jeff,

    I sincerely enjoyed the excercise. Ironing sharpening iron and all that.

    I still think you’re manly to your core, even despite what you might think about yourself! :)

  112. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 5, 2018 at 7:39 am

    @ Ron Re: #108: Kinda harsh?

  113. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 5, 2018 at 7:42 am

    Re: #110: Likewise.

  114. Ron said,

    March 5, 2018 at 8:03 am

    Jeff,

    “Chastising”
    “castigate opposition.”
    “building that straw man proceed to attack it”

    Yes, I’m not interested.

  115. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 5, 2018 at 9:53 am

    @ Reed: Thanks.

    RdP: One has to commit a true gnostic bifurcation of body and soul to deny that this is what the Bible requires us to believe.

    Interestingly, I was taking the opposite tack for the same reason.

    Historically, it was the Gnostics who spoke of the femininity and masculinity of the soul, which allowed them to decouple gender from the body. Hence Mary could “become a man” (Gospel of Thomas), Satan was a serpent inhabited by a feminine spirit (Hypostasis of the Archons), and so on.

    It was striking to me that in Paige’s research, she was turning up very little Reformed teaching on the matter, but a lot of New Age and kabbalist teaching — that’s often an early marker that Gnosticism is behind an idea.

    Hence, I see a move to locate gender in the soul as potentially a move in that direction (NOT suggesting that you have that intent!). By having two different independent gender principles, one located in the body and the other in the soul, it would then be possible to decouple them. We all agree that such a decoupling would disastrous.

    Over against that, it would make sense to me to locate gender in our physical nature. This would not bifurcate body and soul, but rather insist that the two together are needed to make us who we are, gender supplied by the body and not the soul. (Naturally, just because it “makes sense”, that does not entail correctness).

    Nonetheless, I respect your take Gen 1, and I agree with the desire to guard against bifurcating body and soul. I think it’s possible that non-gendered souls do a better job of protecting against such bifurcation by insisting that part of our humanity is corporeal; we are irreducibly spiritual and physical.

    I’ve shot my wad, so I’ll let others carry on.
    Peace!

  116. Timothy said,

    March 5, 2018 at 10:17 am

    LOL, there hasn’t even been much of an attempt in-thread to define what a supernatural gender would entail. But I’ll bow out since I think the original questions have been answered.

  117. Ron said,

    March 5, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    “By having two different independent gender principles, one located in the body and the other in the soul, it would then be possible to decouple them.”

    Jeff,

    I don’t see how p, God gives male bodies to male persons, affords occasion for decoupling, at least not from a Christian anthropological perspective.

  118. Reed Herere said,

    March 7, 2018 at 7:20 am

    Jeff, I understand your comments better now. Thx.

    Not sure where we picked up the idea that we are arguing for decoupling gender from the body and locating it exclusively in the soul. I might have skimmed over that along the line.

    Paige’s original post asks if the soul has gender. It does not say, and the body does not. That’s an inference that might be a good question to ask, but not necessarily what Paige actually asked.

    For me, Gn 1:27 also identifies gender with the body. Or more simply, gender is an intrinsic characteristic of a human being, body and soul. No bifurcation is allowed in either direction.

    I think Ron’s Soul argument was simply to isolate for discussion a scenario in which the soul is exclusively in view. I do not think Ron was saying that a soul by itself constitutes a full human being.

  119. Ron said,

    March 7, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    “I think Ron’s Soul argument was simply to isolate for discussion a scenario in which the soul is exclusively in view. I do not think Ron was saying that a soul by itself constitutes a full human being.”

    Reed,

    We were created body and soul and will be so through eternity when at the resurrection we are rejoined with our glorified bodies. So, I think I agree with what you’ve said I meant. I think “full human being” pertains to what is natural and intended. Notwithstanding, we will exist in heaven apart from the body. Whereas we will not exist in the ground apart from our souls. I think that’s significant and should be pretty uncontroversial.

    For clarity sake, I think it’s noteworthy that no Christian would say “We were created body and soul and will be so through eternity when at the resurrection we are rejoined with our souls.” There’s a good reason for that. Soul must priority. We will resume our physicality at the resurrection. Yet we wouldn’t say that we will regain our souls at the resurrection. Similarly, we think of those who’ve gone before us not as in the ground but in paradise, in Christ, yet without their bodies. Now of course, the body is not incidental. No, not at all. But, also, it’s not who we are, lest no person who ever lived is in heaven or hell.

  120. Ron said,

    March 7, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    “Not sure where we picked up the idea that we are arguing for decoupling gender from the body and locating it exclusively in the soul.”

    Reed,

    Not sure this will be helpfull but I didn’t take Jeff to mean that. If for no other reason, I’ve made it clear that God gives males male bodies. Gender pertains to both. So, what I think Jeff’s point was is that by locating gender in both soul and body makes way for the transgender claim that the gender of a soul, which we cannot see, can be trapped in a body that’s not well suited. Defining gender by what can be empirically evidenced, the body, would largely undercut the claim. Strategically, Jeff’s anthropology might have polemical attractiveness against the secular notions our day.

  121. Reed Here said,

    March 7, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    Ron, 119, yeah.

    On the de-bodied souls in heaven right now, I’m sure you’ve also got in mind the continuing connection to their bodies, which are still united to Christ as they rest in the grave as in their beds.

    So, yeah, a temporary division, and even that is not absolute.

  122. Ron said,

    March 7, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    Reed,

    Yes. Although the body rests in the grave, it’s united to Christ, as is the soul. Yet upon death we will be absent from the body until the general resurrection.

  123. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 7, 2018 at 7:47 pm

    @ Reed, Ron:

    Thanks. Ron has it right: So, what I think Jeff’s point was is that by locating gender in both soul and body makes way for the transgender claim that the gender of a soul, which we cannot see, can be trapped in a body that’s not well suited.

    So yes, I do understand that the “pro” position to be arguing that both body and soul have gender.

    I am not fully and finally opposing that position, nor positively advocating the “con” position, but raising some questions about gendered souls in order to get clarity.

    More research needed.

    With regard to “decoupling”, I was being rather vague. Here’s the concern:

    Let’s suppose that we postulate that

    (1) Bodies are gendered (obviously)
    (2) Souls are gendered (argument from Gen 1.27)
    (3) Each individual, in God’s providence, receives a soul matching the body in gender. (How do we know?)

    I think it would be fairly easy to argue that (3) is gratuitous. Hence, because there are two independent gender principles, the door is now fully open to argue that someone could be male in body, female in soul — and the soul is the “essential” gender.

    Now, argument from abuse is not disproof. But it does point to the questions that need to be asked:

    (1) What’s the theological pedigree of a doctrine of “gendered souls”? So far, I have very little — Chrysostom, Justin, Athanasius, Augustine, Calvin haven’t given any discussion. I do see male and female spirits in Gnostic writings.

    Matthew Henry has this cryptic lead: But, in the resurrection, there is no occasion for marriage; whether in glorified bodies there will be any distinction of sexes some too curiously dispute (the ancients are divided in their opinions about it); but, whether there will be a distinction or not, it is certain that there will be no conjunction … (Matt Henry Comm Matt 22).

    (2) How would one argue for Ron’s principle, that God providentially grants the right-gendered soul to the same-gendered body? Or alternatively, that the gender of the soul causes the gender of the body or vice-versa.

    (3) What is the import of “being like the angels” in Matt 22? Reed argues that this is directed specifically at intercourse; what is the full argument for that position?

    Anyway, that’s as far as I’ve gotten to date.

  124. Ron said,

    March 7, 2018 at 8:02 pm

    “(2) How would one argue for Ron’s principle, that God providentially grants the right-gendered soul to the same-gendered body?”

    I ground it in God is good. :)

  125. Ron said,

    March 7, 2018 at 9:14 pm

    “I do see male and female spirits in Gnostic writings.”

    Jeff,

    You’re better than that. I bet you can find Jesus’ incarnation in gnostic writings too.

  126. Ron said,

    March 7, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    “Hence, because there are two independent gender principles, the door is now fully open to argue that someone could be male in body, female in soul — and the soul is the “essential” gender.”

    One who holds to body only gender can also argue that the body’s gender doesn’t necessarily penetrate the soul. In which case, sexual orientation is a matter of external conditioning, making it subjective, not ontic.

  127. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 8, 2018 at 6:39 am

    @Ron Re: #125: Sure, but we also find the resurrection in the authentic Gospels. As well, the resurrection in the Gnostic writings is docetic.

    By contrast, so far, I have been unable to find any attestation at all of gendered souls in orthodox early church writings.

    @Ron Re: #124: God is indeed good. But His goodness and providence allow for birth defects on a wide scale.

    As I’ve said before, the “pro” position needs to give an account of intersex individuals — which to date, you haven’t really touched — and explain why the existence of intersex individuals does not open the door to transgender individuals.

    @Ron Re: #126 One who holds to body only gender can also argue that the body’s gender doesn’t necessarily penetrate the soul. In which case, sexual orientation is a matter of external conditioning, making it subjective, not ontic.

    Or biological, making it ontic and not subjective.

  128. Reed Herere said,

    March 8, 2018 at 8:40 am

    Jeff, no. 123, thx. Got it.

    I’m wondering whether your prop. no 3 rests in a faulty premise. As you’ve written, it’s sounds as if you’re assuming body and soul are two distiinct components of a human being that are created independently and then fitted together. Or, at least you’re presuming that body and soul are independent components that are fitted together to make a human being. Thus, if God pulls a male body off the shelf, and fits it to a soul he grabbed out of a female bin, wala! A transgender person.

    I think the same vs., Gn 1:27 denies a compoentized view of the human being. We’re made body and soul, not a body and a soul. Again we can distinguish for description of relational functionality, but we can never discuss a human being without body and soul. The being does not reside in either part, or both parts separately. Both are essential to being; the quality of being resides in body AND soul.

    My comments to Ron about the status of disembodied souls in heaven awaiting Jesus” return explicates this premise. At the believer’s death the relationship between body and soul changes. Our bodies rest in their graves while our souls rest in heaven. Yet their essential unity has not changed, in that both are necessarily and inseparably united to Christ. Again, a different kind of unity, but a valid unity of body and soul nevertheless. A human being awaiting the glorified state is still a body-n-soul. There is not a body here and soul there, as if there were now two beings where their used to be one. There is still one being, both body and soul.

    What do you think?

  129. rfwhite said,

    March 8, 2018 at 9:59 am

    Jeff Cagle: I appreciate your effort, but I’m wondering if it would help to re-frame your questions about the view that soul and body have matching gender. For example, would it help to distinguish soul and body in the state of innocence at creation (Gen 1.27), soul and body in the state of sin after the fall, soul and body in the state of grace (e.g., 1 Cor 6), and soul and body in the state of resurrection (Matt 22.30)? Most specifically, how does the fall impact soul, body, and gender?

  130. Ron said,

    March 8, 2018 at 10:26 am

    Historically, it was the Gnostics who spoke of the femininity and masculinity of the soul

    Jeff,

    It seems to me that a repeated argument of yours is one of implication – gendered souls can be found in the corpus of gnostic writings, which overall are heretical. If you’re making any point at all by that, I’m not sure what it might be. It would be to commit a fallacy of division to say that since Gnosticism is heretical, all that it affirms is heretical. So, that can’t be what you’re driving at, but what then? If something true of the whole is not necessary of all the parts, then an appeal to Gnosticism would seem to have little force. Maybe I’m missing your point.

    By contrast, so far, I have been unable to find any attestation at all of gendered souls in orthodox early church writings.

    That seems to be another main argument of yours. Your first, at best, would seem to be that we should be suspicious of gendered souls because it’s found in heretical corpus that includes it. But to bolster that first claim by an appeal to the absence of an articulation of gendered souls in the corpus of “orthodox early church writings” would only seem to compound a non-argument with an argument from silence. But again, maybe I’m missing something here too.

    For what it’s worth, I’m also not sure how you aren’t you shifting the burden of proof somewhat arbitrarily. Why isn’t gendered souls your de facto position until you find early church writings that speak against it? And to refer back to the corpus of gnostic writings to establish burden of proof would not only be viciously circular, it would be to base a second appeal on the same fallacy as before.

    Essentially, the only other argument I believe you’ve employed can be found here:

    Ron has it right: “…locating gender in both soul and body makes way for the transgender claim that the gender of a soul, which we cannot see, can be trapped in a body that’s not well suited.”

    I agree. If gender pertains to bodies and not souls, on empirical grounds such a transgender claim of being trapped in the wrong body would be undermined. However, undermining the transgender claim in this way wouldn’t seem to establish the truth of your position of gender-body-only. That transgenders can claim that they’re gendered soul is trapped in the wrong sort of gendered body isn’t an argument against gendered souls. It’s just a perceived pitfall, a mere inconvenience at best.

  131. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 8, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    @ Ron: Re: #130

    Actually, take the first two points together — that the doctrine of gendered souls is (so far) not found in Reformed or patristic writings, and that mention of souls with gender is found in Gnostic writings.

    Those two seeming facts establish that the doctrine of gendered souls is a theological novelty — and therefore automatically shoulders the full burden of proof. Or put another way, it must pass strict scrutiny.

    So you’re right to observe that I’m placing the burden of proof fully on you. But that’s not arbitrary nor a cheap trick; it’s just standard practice when confronted with theological novelty.

    But, I agree with you that pedigree is not disproof.

    All of that changes, of course, if sources turn up.

    Ron: It’s just a perceived pitfall, a mere inconvenience at best.

    I’d take a slightly stronger position: potential abuse points to areas that need additional scrutiny.

  132. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 8, 2018 at 12:58 pm

    @ Reed Re #128:

    I like the direction you’re taking. Could it be fair to say that

    * Our genders are part of who we are.
    * This is true regardless of the location of gender (body, soul, both).

    ?

  133. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 8, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    @ Dr White Re #129:

    Excellent question. Sin corrupts nature; grace renews; the eschaton restores and glorifies.

    How that applies here seems to be the question we are butting up against.

  134. Ron said,

    March 8, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    Actually, take the first two points together — that the doctrine of gendered souls is (so far) not found in Reformed or patristic writings, and that mention of souls with gender is found in Gnostic writings.

    Jeff,
    Essentially what you’re saying is that a fallacy of division and an argument from silence become more credible when grouped. I don’t accept that claim. Zero plus zero, no matter how we slice it, is still zero.

    Those two seeming facts establish that the doctrine of gendered souls is a theological novelty — and therefore automatically shoulders the full burden of proof. Or put another way, it must pass strict scrutiny.

    We shouldn’t be disagreeing over what should get scrutinized and what should get a pass. When debating an issue, no positon gets a free pass either way, regardless of whether we have history on our side or not. In fact, the Reformed tradition is rooted in that principle.

    The problem is over persuasion. It’s you who have dismissed as no concern that your position entails that you are non-male in your essence. To say that you don’t accept essentialism (whatever that means to you) doesn’t mean your position survives the scrutiny of such a reductio.. Regarding your positive arguments, I must confess that I believe they’ve been a potpourri of missteps: a fallacy of division; an argument from silence; and an assertion that amounts to “If we don’t index gender strictly to the body, we don’t have empirical evidence for transgenders.” That’s not an argument, Jeff. I’d sooner call it an irrational fear that would disregard whether something is true or not for pragmatic reasons.

    In sum, I believe you’ve dismissed the glaring trajectory of your own position and upon frothy appeals to history and such dismissed mine.

    So you’re right to observe that I’m placing the burden of proof fully on you. But that’s not arbitrary nor a cheap trick; it’s just standard practice when confronted with theological novelty.

    Again, I find that you beg the question of which position is novel. To our knowledge, the church has neither affirmed nor denied the position. Accordingly, both positions are equally novel as matter of historical record. But since when is historical record the only deciding factor for whether something is novel or not? When did the catholic church rule on bestiality, if ever? If Gnostics rejected the position, would the rejection of bestiality somehow become the novel view for the church? After all, your acid test for novelty would have been met by the church’s silence and the Gnostic written record on the matter.

    Moreover, where do we find historic catholicity on the affirmation of causality and necessity? Yet Islam and Stoicism affirm determinism. Your two requirements are therein met again, which would lead us to reject determinism as our de facto position, of which compatibilism is a subset. Even if you appeal to the Reformed confessions on the matter, you’d still be saying that determinism was a “novel” idea prior to the Reformation. That sort of thing is what I find arbitrary. It’s an argument from silence of the fallacious variety. Some things aren’t recorded for us in history because there were no opponents challenging the obvious.

    I don’t know what more I can say other than what I’ve said.

    Grace and peace,

    Ron

  135. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 8, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Ron Re #134:

    When debating an issue, no positon gets a free pass either way, regardless of whether we have history on our side or not. In fact, the Reformed tradition is rooted in that principle.

    The problem is over persuasion. It’s you who have dismissed as no concern that your position entails that you are non-male in your essence….

    Back up. I think was not sufficiently clear in my thesis: I am not taking either the pro position nor the con position. My main point was expressed in #102:

    The point that I’m the most confident on is that the Scripture doesn’t discuss the topic; hence, any argument for or against is mostly speculative. Thus, I would object to holding candidates to one view or another.

    You’re absolutely correct that it would be egregiously fallacious to argue “X position is a novelty, so ~X position is correct.”

    I am in no way doing that!

    Now, you may have picked up that my sympathies lie somewhat more with the “con” position, and that’s true. That doesn’t mean that I’m advocating the con position as doctrine. As I said in #102, the case for nongendered souls is speculative.

  136. Reed Here said,

    March 8, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    Jeff, this conversation has taken a fascinating turn. If I might draw an analogy without disrespect, it kind of makes me think of the kinds of discussions our fathers had when they were working out the nature and relationship of Jesus’s beings in his person.

    No. 128, yeah, that’s what I;m thinking. Gender is a characteristic of a human that finds expression in body and soul. This does justice to the succinctness and distinctness of Gn 1:27. Man, in his nature, is male and female (essential gender characteristics).

    If so, this pushes transgenderism into a function of the corruption of man’s nature. (I’m picking up on Dr. White’s suggestion here.) Such corruption find expression in body, soul or both. I.e., the intersex (hermaphrodite) experiences the corruption of gender in body. The gender dysphoriast experiences the corruption of gender in soul.

  137. roberty bob said,

    March 8, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    You all might take a moment to consider our Lord’s remark about eunuchs [Matthew 19:12]. He mentions those who were made eunuchs, presumably via mutilation by the hand of men; but he also references those who were born eunuchs. Might our Lord by this have had in mind persons whose gender is indeterminable at birth?


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