How Adventists Get Sex and Gender Wrong

One of the most difficult issues with reading and interpreting the Bible is the historical and cultural gap between now and then, between the readers and the writers. Billions of words have been spent tackling this issue. So-called hermeneutical theories and strategies have been developed, including one just for Adventists. In some cases, the gap is more obvious than in others. Most Christians have no issue reading about the four corners of the Earth in multiple places in the Bible, even though it’s obvious that this doesn’t fit our view of the world. We don’t require the earth to have four corners just because Isaiah says it does.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

There probably should be a citation to Thomas Laqueur, who originated the idea of the one-sex model in his 1990 book, Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud.

Linguistically, man and woman are binary opposites, similar to black and white, good and evil, up and down, etc. The best discussion of binary opposition is provided by Ferdinand de Saussure, the Father of Modern Linguistics and the most influential thinker of the twentieth century. But in his focus on synchronic linguistics, he did not explore the origins of binary opposition thinking. Seventh-day Adventists, if they were to learn linguistics, are in the best position to explain those origins: the fall of Lucifer.

Before the fall of Lucifer, there was no right and wrong, no law, no worship, no hierarchy, no critical thinking, no conception of god, and no binary opposites. Although the neophyte can conceptualize that before food was ever cooked, there was no conception of cooked food, an understanding of linguistics informs us that there was also perforce no conception of raw food. (Claude Levi-Strauss). Similarly, if there was no conception of evil before Lucifer’s fall, there was no conception of good. Granted reality and a linguistic construct are not necessarily the same thing–(although God would have never been conceptualized as good before the fall of Lucifer, God was good)–but many aspects of reality are dictated by linguistic constructs. For example, there can be no reality of worship if there is no conception of worship. As per Gadamer, “Being that can be understood is language.”

The fall of Lucifer and the resultant binary opposite of good and evil revolutionized the language of heaven from a dictionary mode of language–(every aspect of reality has its own particular word)–to the structural mode of language we have today. Heavenly reality before Lucifer’s fall was unstructured, static, and undifferentiated. And there was no critical thinking of any kind. The best comparison we can make of a pre-fall angel is to a baby who is full of wonder as the world unfolds.

The language of binary opposition was God’s way of teaching us what Lucifer did. And is. Differences are not necessarily binary opposites, but some differences are. This divine teaching mechanism of binary opposition predominates in the Genesis stories of Creation. Binary opposites are everywhere. But the binary opposition of man and woman has an interesting paradox that Seventh-day Adventists have not completely appreciated. Man and woman in marriage become one, one flesh, echad. Binary opposites by definition cannot become reconciled in this way. So how can man and woman do what they cannot do by definition? This speaks to hope, to a universe that is no longer affected by sin, to the former mode of language that existed before sin, to an unwinding back to that baby who is full of wonder as the world unfolds.


You may be partially right. Young children have no such understanding either. It’s called “innocence”. A “blank canvas” as an artist might say. However, there can be no conception of evil without good (or whatever you want to call it). If we want to understand how early civilizations looked at these issues, ask a three to six-year-old (brought up in the jungle by chimps).

Oh, yes. let’s not forget about the function of symbolism in the Bible. It fills in the gaps in knowledge.

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At last count announced on the media, it was 157.

Anybody hear about “chromosomes” - Biology 101? But then, anything can go wrong in utero.

I believe in Maleachi 2 : 14 (not an SDA popular “proof text !” ) and in Matth. 19 : 5., 6., and also 12 ( !! ).

I see the problem : Here - and elsewhere ! - SDAs have cherished and upheld the (Petite) bourgeois worldview on humans - WE are the better ones and cherish / uphold their ideals the more than they ! (Carl Amery : “Die Kapitulation oder Deutscher Katholizismus heute” - 1963, reprints in the nineties ) (simply the other Christians where we are the better ones ) - - and this is simply - - -Victorian.

Here in my environment the gentry and the upper class and the lower / lowest class had and have other standards.

Anyway we since 1918 recruited our members out of the Middle Class and still uphold their values out of their codex, nowadays simply a litte reactonary. - This and others elsewhere we interpret in and out of our Bibles.

Well, whenever did a Victorian son bring his mother an aphrodisiac like Madragora officinalis in Gen 30 : 14 ff. ? Or did a Victorian woman act like Naomi and Ruth in trying to seduce Boas in Ruth 3 ? - And of course Isaac until the incident of Gen 24 : 62 was a “virgin” (literal quotation out of one “Week of Prayer” reading times ago) - -

But keep in mind : Most of the delegates from around the world in Sharm el Sheik junst now wear a suit desgnet in Saville Road - London.

This also is our fate.


it also provides an excuse for the extreme misogyny we see in both testaments…that is, the people we now call women deserved to be treated less equally because they chose not to put in the work that it takes to be a man…

i actually don’t agree that monogenderism is what we see in the bible…what i see is a recognition that men and women existed as separate genders, but that women were meant to be treated less equally than men, and that this discrimination was OK, from the perspective of both men and women…

i don’t think biblical misogyny provides opportunities for legitimizing the kind of fluid genderizing that we’re seeing now, through the suggestion that bible culture is so disparate from ours, it cannot guide us, which is what i think this article is aiming at…misogyny exists in many places today, just like it did in bible times…and misogyny, by definition, is saying that gender differences exist…


Yes. If anything, the female is the strongest of the rwo with the XX chromosome. Change one to a Y and you create all sorts of problems. :woozy_face:

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Thanks, Tom de Bruin.

In July 2021, Irish author Helen Joyce released her explosive tome, Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality.

(The 2022 paperback edition has thankfully been re-subtitled with the more explanatory Gender Identity and the New Battle for Women’s Rights.)

Joyce summarizes the contentions of her 352-page book as three-fold:

• Sex is real.

• Sex is binary.

• Sex is immutable.

She then adds, speaking collectively of her triad:

That sometimes matters, especially for women.

Not only do I wholly agree. I’d argue — despite Joyce being an ardent atheist — these contentions conform with what the Bible says on these matters, and with how we are supposed to understand them and its ideas.


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Respectfully Bio 101, is not the course that covers your question… Genetics 101, maybe… The reality is that within the domain of those who are human, we have people with what we call sex or gender chromosomes that are paired XX, XY, XXY, XYY, XXYY, and more, they are known as intersex or as having Differences in Sexual Development (DSD). We can add to this those who are XY, but have what is known as complete androgen insensitivity, and although they have an XY pairing, they never develop a phallus, and retain a vagina and labia. At puberty they nominal develop as women, with breasts and widening of the hip bone structure. Or how about people who are chimera, they do not have more than one set of chromosomes which are found in different cells. Or people who have both ovaries and testis, and a vagina and a phallus… All this and more has been covered in other articles here in Spectrum.

The simple facts… the BIO 101 reality is that gender and sex are spectrums and not binaries, and they never have been.

Oh and just stir the pot a bit, Eve of the Genesis story is a transgender woman from the information that we are provided biblically. She was taken from Adam who was by all accounts XY, thus she must have been XY as well. Oh and which creation story is the correct version biologically, or is neither a discussion of biology as we know it today.


That Ms Joyce posits her proposition, does not make it biologically true, and in fact nature and reality do not support her contention…

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An anthropologist friend suggests that masculinities/femininities, binary or not, are spectrums! :smiling_face_with_tear:

Just to be sure we’re on the same page:

Ok, not to put too fine a point on it, genetics is part of biology, except perhaps as a class in school.

That puts a whole new meaning to “gender reveals”, doesn’t it. Biblically, there seems to be just two; but you can’t use the Adam’s rib story to argue modern genetics, making Eve an XY. Outside the biblical world, I believe the XX (Lucy) was supposed to be the mother of us all as she walked out of Africa.

To make a further point, the public at large, can’t be expected to be aware of that alphabet soup as we meet people from day to day; and accommodate various degrees of social interaction based on gender identity. When biological men have to take hormones to compete as women and show up in women’s locker rooms, we are accommodating their psychology, not their biology.

and Jesus had no human father, so he must have had the XX genotype of Mary…

i don’t recall reading that Jesus was perceived as a woman, or even a trans woman…i definitely don’t recall reading that he was the spitting image of Mary…

the creation stories are one and the same, told from different perspectives of the same person…Gen 1 and the first three verses of Gen 2 are the bone structure of the Creation account…Gen 2 is a more personal, detailed, and less formal look at the account given in Gen 1…this is a bit like the Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 decalogue accounts…Deut 5 is a more personal, up close rendering of the Ex 20 account, much like most of Deuteronomy is a more personal description of previous accounts…

possibly the most salient portions of this Creation account are the creation of male and female genders throughout all life forms, but also the intent for reproduction to replicate reproducing forms…

Jeremy, I agree from the Bible account Jesus of Nazareth would have been XX, or a Tran-man.

My point to be sure is that the Bible is not a viable biology text. the Bible was not written to be a biology or genetic textbook in any modern sense, and asking it to be that is just doing a disservice to scripture.


Thank you @sokingcoo, I know the differences as they are set out in your post but chose to take the tact I did for this conversation. Again thanks.

but don’t you think the clarity in the Creation story about male and female being the genders that were created, and obviously intended and planned for, says something to us today…

and don’t you think the God who created humanity from the ground could have supplied an XX genotype for Eve, and an XY genotype for Jesus, even if they lacked opposite sex parents…

There is no clarity in the Creation story. There is no science to clarify anything in that story, aside from what the writer understood to be the case. But yes, according to the Bible in general; and for all practical purposes of procreation, there are the two (XX and XY).

I don’t suppose you saw the ZOOM on the weekend.

i think what’s clear in the Creation story is what it describes: a miraculous, six-day fiat creation, followed by a sanctioned seventh-day rest, where everything described reflects the divine will and intent for humanity and earth for all time…in effect it presents a truth standard, and implies that anything and everything outside of this are not true…

the Genesis Creation story is a take it or leave it presentation, pretty much like everything else in the bible…

Yes, I believe we’re on the same page. The Bible probably doesn’t make the distinction like we do regarding sex (biology - male/female) and gender (culture-man, woman).

The languages spoken in the Philippines have one gender reference for both sexes. One reason, I believe, it seems natural for them to accept their women taking over roles that ordinarily would be assigned to men only.

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Gender reveal “events” are a modern outgrowth of the patriarchy as it see it. Why do we care if our unborn child has a penis or vagina or both… That we want to define the child by that is problematic at best in my opinion.

Let me suggest that we can expect people to treat others well regardless of what we think we may know about a person’s genomic make up. The truth is transgender women use restrooms and locker rooms every day of the year and there is almost never an issue, years go by without it being one…

Oh by the way transgender women don’t take hormones to compete in women’s sports… They take hormones because they are transgender, they compete in women’s sports because they are women… But women’s sports rules are a whole other topic which has many layers over many decades with things like racism deeply a part of it.