While the Bible is not a scientific textbook, Scripture has given us two profound statements about the universe and our place in it that no scientist can refute.
The first is this: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Although modern science emerged from a Christian worldview, many modern scientists have worked overtime to explain creation without reference to a Creator.
However, in his book, God and the Astronomers, the late astrophysicist Robert Jastrow pointed out that the accumulating evidence for the Big Bang—when our cosmos began via a primeval explosion—forced them to at least consider adding God to their cosmological equations:
The scientist’s pursuit of the past ends in the moment of creation…. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.
The second statement is like unto the first: “So God created man in his own image … male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27). Leaving aside for now the question of our being made in the Imago Dei and all this might imply, this verse affirms that the one mankind is divided into two sexes—male and female.
While such a statement would have been boringly uncontroversial just a few years ago, that is anything but the case today. Activists have insisted on dividing people’s biological sex—male or female—from their gender, which they say is a social construct.
How then do we account for the obvious behavioral differences between men and women, boys and girls? Activists point to how children are nurtured—at early ages girls are given dolls, boys receive toy guns, etc.—as determinative in how they behave and see themselves. They claim there is a “heteronormative patriarchy” that forces children into predetermined gender roles. Gender is no longer based on biology—on our creation as male and female—but on our feelings.
As trans activist Geena Rocero asserts, “We are all assigned a gender at birth. Sometimes that assignment doesn’t match our inner truth, and there needs to be a new place—a place for self-identification. I was not born a boy, I was assigned boy at birth. Understanding the difference between the two is crucial to our culture and society moving forward in the way we treat—and talk about—transgender individuals.”
Those who question this “inner truth” increasingly are called bigots. When a professor of neurophysiology at Sweden’s Lund University told students that men and women are “biologically different,” and that some behavioral differences between women and men might have a biological basis, he was denounced. In denying the clear differences between male and female in the name of freedom and equality, these adherents of the new sexual orthodoxy threaten to impose a new kind of slavery on the unsuspecting.
Yet the latest scientific research, as with the quest to discover the origins of the universe, appears to have taken a decidedly Judeo-Christian turn. A collaborative study of 20 neuroscientists at Yale, Johns Hopkins, the National Institute of Mental Health, plus counterparts in Germany, the United Kingdom, Croatia, and Portugal, found that the largest female and male difference in how genes are transcribed in the human brain occurs when we are in our mother’s womb—before any social conditioning can take place.
Commenting on the research, Leonard Sax writes in Psychology Today that “if gendered differences in brain and behavior are primarily a social construct, and not hardwired — then we ought to see zero differences between the female brain and the male brain in the prenatal period, but large differences between adults, who after all have had the misfortune of living all their lives in a heteronormative patriarchy. But the reality is just the opposite: Female/male differences are generally largest in the prenatal period, and those differences diminish with age, often dwindling to zero among adults.”
Further, Sax adds, American researchers found “dramatic differences” in the developing brains of unborn boys and girls. According to Sax, “[F]emale fetuses demonstrated significant changes in connectivity between subcortical and cortical structures in the brain, as a function of gestational age. This pattern ‘was almost completely non-existent in male fetuses.’”
While Christians cannot and should not hang their theological hats on the latest findings of science—which, after all, are constantly changing—such results should encourage us to address cultural controversies from a solidly biblical worldview, secure in the knowledge that God’s truth ultimately will be vindicated.
Of course, God’s creation of human beings as male and female doesn’t mean that:
- men are superior to women (although Scripture holds forth differing and complementary roles for men and women in the home and in the church);
- men get to lord it over women or husbands their wives (on the contrary, Scripture enjoins Christian husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church);
- there is no natural and cultural variability in gifts and talents between men and women (for example, my wife, counter to stereotype, is much more handy around the house than I am); or
- women cannot be leaders in business, academia, or politics (the Bible shows us many examples of talented and accomplished women leaders).
As Genesis 1:27 shows, male and female are equal in dignity because each carries the divine image. In the Christian tradition, this truth becomes even clearer among the redeemed—there are to be no spiritual distinctions between Jews and Greeks, slaves and free people, or even males and females. While our differences remain, we are all “one in Christ Jesus.”
Yet equal dignity does not require equal design. The Apostle Paul described the church as one body with many members. We all bring our distinctive gifts, histories, sexes, and callings and lay them before the throne of grace, before which we will find fellow believers—men and women, boys and girls—“from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.”
God loves our differences—even male and female. And why not? He created them.
Stan Guthrie, a licensed minister, is an editor at large for the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Stan is the author of God’s Story in 66 Verses.