This week’s question comes from Dana who asks, “How do you know if, in Jesus’ return, he won’t be a woman?”
When I first got this question, I pondered and decided this would be one of those questions aimed more at being argumentative than anything else, so I’d skip answering it. However, the more I thought about it, the more issues it raised.
On the surface, the answer seems pretty obvious, and indeed the scriptures even seem to support the obvious. First, no one seriously doubts the gender of Jesus while on earth. God claimed Jesus as son (John 3.16), Mary and Joseph both asserted Jesus was their son (Luke 2.48), and Jesus designated himself as the Son of Man (Mark 2.10). The world and Jesus both asserts Jesus’ gender as male. Second, in the gospel pictures of the second coming, Jesus pictures himself as the Son of Man once again, an obvious suggestion of male gender (Matthew 16.27).
So, why would there be any reason to question whatsoever?
Although it might be a stretch, there is an interesting possibility that, if nothing else, makes for an evening’s discussion. That possibility is found in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and in on other New Testament passage. In the gospels we read, “When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Mark 12.25). Some theologians have postulated that this passage suggests that in the resurrection, that is, after the second coming of Christ and after the dead in Christ have risen again, that the resurrection body will have no gender. This notion was probably first postulated when trying to explain how those resurrected are like the angels, and since angels do not seem to marry, the supposition was that they are genderless.
This can be further supported, though again only with a stretch, by Paul’s description of those who are a part of the Kingdom of God. In Galatians 3.28 we read, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” [emphasis added]. By following this forward, the conclusion could indeed be that in the resurrection, there will be no gender.
The question, then, may be asked: “How does this apply to Jesus’ and his returning gender?” The answer is, “Probably not a thing.” However, there is this passage in 1st Corinthians: “As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven” (48-49). In other words, the resurrection body that those in the end times will have is similar to the body Jesus had when he returned to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. So, if humans inherit an asexual body, perhaps….
Of course this line of thought is fraught with problems. For one, if the whole notion of genderless resurrection is true, then Jesus would return as neither male nor female. So, the answer to Dana’s question is no, Jesus won’t be coming back as a woman.
A second problem with this line of thought is that it takes a number of verses, pulls them out of context, and takes a stab at proving a point-of-view instead of trying to see what the scriptures said in themselves. This style of “interpreting” scriptures is so common, it even has its own name: eisegesis (pronounced ice-eh-GEE-sus). And eisegesis is an illegitimate form of proof-texting scripture. Indeed, it has been said that someone with better-than-average biblical knowledge can prove virtually anything. And that can be a dangerous tool, as seen in the lives of people like Jim Jones, Joseph Goebbels, and any number of folks who have twisted the Bible to say what they wanted it to say to prove their point-of-view.
So, however it is that Jesus chooses to return,
none of our questions about that or anything else
is going to be satisfactorily answered so long as
we take the scriptures and tickle them to make them
to fit us however we want them to.