"Don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived... no effeminate person... will inherit the kingdom of God." (I Corinthians 6:9-10)
Most definitions for "effeminate" are based on culturally defined criteria, such as clothing styles, hair length, or mannerisms, such as a high-pitched voice, limp wrists, or an upper class accent. But the Bible must be talking about something more universal than that. Certainly God is not going to gauge eligibility for heaven on a person's testosterone level, or on what clothes they wear.
This whole subject of being "effeminate" needs to start with a look at what it means to be "masculine" or "feminine" in the biblical sense. The Bible tells us, for example, that "there is neither male nor female in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28) At the same time, it uses what has been called "sexist language" almost exclusively, referring to all "people" as "men", and occasionally even (as in the reference above) attaching a negative value to feminine traits.
It has been, until recently, understood in all English literature that masculine terms often include both sexes. It is fair to say that this is true with regard to the Bible as well. So if the Bible says, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature," what it really means is "If any person be in Christ, he or she is a new creature." This is specifically supported by the reference above, i.e. that "there is neither male nor female in Christ Jesus."
The Bible uses feminine descriptions for both sexes as well. All followers of Jesus are referred to as his "bride", whether they be male or female. The Revelation speaks of an army which is composed only of "virgins", or "unmarried daughters". All indications are that males are not exempted from the female descriptions, and that females are not exempted from the male descriptions.
However, the same Apostle who ruled out sexism "in Christ Jesus", is also famous for having given specific instructions about males being the leaders and about females being the followers. This apparent contradiction has caused many divisions amongst Christians.
Our own understanding is that St. Paul was talking about something more spiritual than just a consideration of which sex organs a person possesses. He must have been talking about spiritual traits... traits which he has described in both masculine and feminine terms.
Scientific research has, in fact, revealed that there are certain functions carried out by certain parts of the brain. It has also discovered that one side of the brain appears to be more fully developed by women, and the other side appears to be more fully developed by men.
We will not concern ourselves at this time with whether this development amounts to an inherited difference, or whether it may be a culturally learned difference. What we are interested in are the differences in the two sides of the brain.
The side which is usually dominant in women is the emotional, intuitive, creative side; while the one that is usually dominant in men is the logical, intellectual, or rational side.
In another article ("The Spirit of God") we have compared these two sides of the human brain to God the Father (masculine and rational) and God the Holy Spirit (feminine and emotional). At creation, God the Father said to God the Holy Spirit, "Let us make man [i.e. both men and women] in our image, after our likeness." (Genesis 1:26) We understand from this that God wanted all people (of both sexes) to develop both sides of their brain. The reason he wanted this is because both sides of the brain represent aspects of God's nature.
However, we also believe that God wanted the masculine side to control the feminine side, rather than letting the feminine side control the masculine. Within each individual and group, the "male" traits must be the "leaders", and the "female" traits must be the "followers" if we are not to have chaos. Emotions need to be developed and appreciated; but confusion will result if people totally surrender themselves to emotionalism without reference to logic and reason.
What God wants from each of us (whether male or female) is submission to his supreme authority. If we will do that, we will become more fully matured individuals, with strong character and clear understanding of the important matters of life. But if we rebel against God's authority, we will turn into spiritual wimps... "effeminate people" in biblical terms, who really haven't got a clue where they are going, because they are tossed about by every little whim or fancy.
In other words, both sexes are seen as "sons" of God, who should identify with Daddy, recognise Daddy's authority, and submit to his discipline. This discipline will make them spiritually virile, like God himself. But if either men or women reject their heavenly Father's authority, they will become "effeminate" in his eyes, and spiritually reprobate.
Being effeminate starts with rebellion against God's right to tell us what to do. Satan led an angellic rebellion against God even before the earth was made. And he is leading another rebellion against God today. The Bible says that those who follow Satan "despise authority." (Jude 6-8)
On the human level, of course, we know that authority can be (and usually is) abused. But God must have the last word on what constitutes abuse and what constitutes divine authority. If you reject God's authority, you reject God, and you ultimately become effeminate. Anarchy is not the answer to authority abuse. Sheer rebellion against authority solves nothing. We must find something better if we are to find God.
The answer, of course, lies in total submission to the teachings of God's Son, Jesus Christ. The Bible says that when Jesus finished speaking what has been called the Sermon on the Mount, the people were amazed, because he spoke as one who had authority, and not as one of the (so-called) religious authorities of his day. (Matthew 7:28-29) When we submit completely to the will of God, as revealed through the teachings of Jesus, we too become "supermen" with divine authority.
We have often been amazed at the almost universal fear of public confrontation that our critics have in relation to ourselves. People who would gladly challenge anyone go suddenly quiet when we turn up. They go to extreme measures to escape having to hear what we say. The reason is because a lie will always run and hide from the truth. Their fear is probably our greatest source of confidence that what Jesus has given us really does come from God. They and their counterfeit gods are effeminate, while we are more than conquerors through the One who loves us!
But to achieve this kind of authority, we needed to first endure the disciplines of Jesus ourselves. Only to the extent that we have been willing to let God correct us and break us (and continue to correct us and break us) have we been able to beat the effeminate devils of the world around us.
There have been times when we felt like giving up. It would be so easy, because we all have the freedom to drop out of God's school of discipline at any time. Most people wimp out even before the classes begin; but others go along with a certain amount of discipline and just throw in the towel farther down the track, when they start to weary of discipline.
Now I will shift the focus of attention a bit. I will discuss how this relates to the gay and lesbian movement. The Bible connects homosexuality with rebellion against the authority of God (Jude 7, Romans 1:25-28) The gay movement is a dramatic manifestation of rebellion against God, and against masculinity. Even the feminist movement, which supposedly rejects traditional measures of femininity (while gullibly adopting many traditionally macho mannerisms and customs) does not call itself a "masculine" movement. Gays and lesbians alike, generally align themselves against God (in particular, against a masculine God) and in favour of one form or another of "feminism".
However, this movement's outspoken opposition to a male God who makes demands of his followers is just a reflection of the same spiritual rebellion that exists (albeit a bit more secretly) even amongst its strongest opponents. In fact, a homosexual who chooses to put God first in his life would become more truly "masculine" than all of the spiritual sissies that populate the churches -- including those who are most outspoken against homosexuality. The difference all stems from submitting to God. (See Coming Out of the Closet.)
To truly submit to God's discipline means spiritually forsaking all human relationships (whether heterosexual or homosexual) and joining God's "virgin army", an army composed of those who have "kept themselves" from effeminacy, by submitting to God's authority over every part of their lives. These "virgins" are not just women. Nor are they just men. They are people from both sexes who have learned to develop strong discipline, by not giving in to the lazy selfish desire to be mollycoddled or indulged in emotional confusion. These are people who have forsaken the "whore" of greed and promiscuous sex. The male side of their personality (i.e. their rational intellect) controls the female side (i.e. their emotions).
When we submit to the searchlight of God's truth, we find that it untangles the kinks and blind spots in our personalities. Our whole self-image undergoes radical changes, as God creates a "new person" out of the old. Our effeminate "old man" disappears... not through denials and cover-ups, but through a genuine discovery of a real person growing from within: a virile "new man" fashioned in the image of Christ Jesus.
(See also The Virgin Army.)
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