Beyond Gender

English: the first of the Epistles to the Colo...

Julian of Norwich sometimes refers to God as Father and sometimes refers to Jesus as Mother. Gender means almost nothing to her because she is beyond that. There’s something deeper than gender. As alluring and as important as gender is, as it is our metaphor held in our body, it is not our ontological identity. It is not our foundational, essential truth. Your gender is not the True Self. It’s part of the False Self. That’s what Jesus is referring to when he says, “…in heaven, they neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Mark 12:25). But because gender is so deep in our early conditioning, in many of our lives we cling to it until the very end.

Male and female are most different at their most immature levels and most alike at their most mature levels. When you have matured to the point where you are beyond the dualisms that our dualistic minds have imposed on reality, then you know you are children of the resurrection. You are children of light and there is no male or female, as both Paul and the Gospel of Thomas say. People who already begin to experience such unity in this world will usually find it very easy to be compassionate toward lesbian, gay, and transgendered people, because they know that the True Self, who we objectively are in God, is prior and superior to any issues of gender, culture, or sexuality. Gender is important, but it is still an “accidental” part of the human person and not its substance.

The object and goal of all spirituality is finally the same for all genders: union, divine love, inner aliveness, soul abundance, forgiveness of offenses, and generous service to the neighbor and the world. Here “there is no distinction…between male and female” (Galatians 3:28). Mature Christian spirituality leads us toward such universals and essentials. Yet people invariably divide and argue about nonessentials!

Gratefully, Christ “holds all things in unity…the fullness is found in him, and all things are reconciled through him and for him, everything in heaven and on earth” (Colossians 1:17, 19-20)—including everything sexual that seems to always be unwhole or split in halves (sectare=to cut or divide).

6 Comments

Filed under Julian of Norwich, Richard Rhor

6 responses to “Beyond Gender

  1. I’ve been re-reading Julian over the past two weeks. It’s been refreshing.

  2. freescot

    I was at the doctor’s today in my little village in the Sierra de Gata in Spain. The waiting room was full of people much more elderly than I am because at 65 I am young in this place. Although these neighbours are arthritic and in aging bodies I watched them move and talk and laugh and help each other – like children, men and women who are together quite indifferent to gender. I can understand this as the meaning of “there is no distinction ..between male and female.”
    I find difficulty in placing gender in the false self, rather I see the masculine and feminine in each of us being open to God’s transforming Love which makes us whole.

  3. Personally, I found Julian of Norwich very helpful for me on this issue, too. =)

    Thanks for this good read!

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