In an earlier article, Gender: Part 1, I sought to explain how gender flows from the nature of God. As explained in the creation passages of Genesis 1 and 2, the plurality of personhood in the unity of God’s being is reflected in the plurality of genders in the unity of the human species. But the Genesis explanation is not finished, as the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:31-32 quotes from and further explains Genesis 2:24. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”
The Apostle Paul explains the existence of two human genders, and not three or four, as reflective of the gospel relationship between Christ and the Church. Throughout Ephesians 5, Paul argues that men are to be reflective of Christ in the marriage relationship as women are reflective of the Church. What must be further acknowledged from this passage in Ephesians is that the human marriage relationship is not simply Paul’s creative analogy for the relationship between Christ and the Church. Instead, Paul is arguing that the marriage relationship was created in order to express the relationship between Christ and the Church.
This can be seen in Paul’s explanation of Genesis 2:24. The original occurrence of Genesis 2:24 seems to refer to Adam and Eve’s marriage in Genesis 2:22-23 as it establishes a pattern for all future marriages based upon that first human marriage. One textual problem with this interpretation is that Adam had no parents, even though Genesis 2:24 clearly references the leaving of parents. Paul, however, in Ephesians 5, removes this difficulty by arguing that the marriage pattern of Genesis 2:24 began not with Adam and Eve but with Christ and the Church. Christ would leave his Father in heaven to come and victoriously win the church, redeeming her from sin by dying and rising again for her. For Paul, the human marriage of Adam and Eve is reflective of the spiritual union of Christ and the church, not the other way around! For Paul, gender and sexuality have their foundation in the Gospel!
In the teachings of Paul in Ephesians 5, one can see that Paul views the one flesh union of men and women as being reflective of the one flesh spiritual union between Christ and the church. From before the foundation of the world, as Paul argues in Ephesians 1, the Triune God had determined to send God the Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem the church. As the repetitive theme of Ephesians is our being “in Christ,” so God in His wisdom created marriage and the physical union of sexuality to be a ‘living parable’ of that spiritual mystical union between Christ and His Church. To pervert human sexuality, is to pervert the reflection of the union of Christ and the Church. Thus, the goal of Christians is not simply to protect marriage for tradition sake. Instead, stemming from a correct understand of Ephesians 5, Christians should desire to preserve the testimony of the gospel relationship between Christ and His church which is reflected in human marriage.