In 2011, Adrian Thatcher, now an Honorary Professor in the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter, UK, and Honorary Fellow in Medical Humanities in the Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, UK., wrote his book God, Sex and Gender: An Introduction. He explored a subject that has always been a difficult one to talk and write about within the confines of the church. Little could he have known how explosive this topic would become in the next few years after he wrote his book. He explores sex, sexuality, gender and theology. By his own admission, he is liberal in his views on this subject. He also dives into the difficult subject of same sex relationships, virginity, celibacy and chastity.
Reading this book is a perfect illustration and application of the secular age. The progression of thoughts away from the “pre-scientific world” to now and how Thatcher defines thinking today. It is very persuasive and repeatedly he implores the reader to shift their thinking just a little bit from what is interpreted from the Bible to a more modern thought process. Usually he has just introduced a new way to think about the subject. He doesn’t reference back to the Bible but instead to theology. It was an interesting read from this perspective. The only way I know to approach this book is to look at a few of his techniques and opinions on specific subjects.
He brought new words to his writing and for most of them he included the definition right in the same sentence. I thought this was very educational and helpful. Some words that were new to me was “unisex”, “logical truth” and “suprasexual.” Taking the initiative to make sure that the reader knew what he was speaking of was very informative. I did not always agree with his new definition and even argued in the margin when it came to his emasculation of the Father. This subject can have great confusion surrounding it because of language and because of interpretation. The author did a really great job of defining what he was writing about.
The long and short of his thoughts concerning “heat” fall into this pre-scientific idea. What was not scientifically known, allowed for thoughts, that were not accurate. My only exception is that the Bible is not where the author goes for information. After reading this book it gives me even more confidence in the Scripture because of its clarity concerning gender, sex and reasoning. His reinterpretation of key scriptures that address sexuality was used to build a foundation to persuade the reader to change their perspective on what is written. He examines scripture and looks for a new way to read it that fits where he is wanting the reader to go. This is secularization of the Bible. This technique was used concerning the scriptures that have been used to define same sex acts as sinful, for example.
When you take away the Biblical foundation of creation it opens the possibility of all kinds of thought on gender. We are all one gender? One sex, two genders? Three sexes or more? When you approach this topic from a Biblical view it is defined at the beginning of the narrative. It is foundational. The author makes an argument that gender doesn’t matter but I found it quite interesting how this argument is in the main stream today. Bathrooms have become a major issue in this past year. Unisex or water closets that are inclusive is the solution that some have arrived at such as Starbucks and other mainstream restaurants. Birth gender is the line that has been established in most states concerning this matter of the bathroom. How you are born does matter and it had been re-established as the defining gender marker. Gender power and gender choice were two very interesting thoughts that he had. Theological interests straddle both worlds. What does theology say about sex and gender? This question was used throughout the book. It does not say what does the Bible say about this but what do men say about what the Bible says.
I do applaud him for his inclusiveness of all different religious theologies and their perspective on the sex, gender and God. This can bring confusions though if this book would be considered a Christian theological book. It is more a world religion view point. I believe some of the disconnect might be that this book was not written within the US context, more an English one that would explain some of the perspective differences with me. Some of the things that he refers back to would not be anything that I would have been taught. It is intriguing to read from this perspective.
Twenty-four years ago, was when I was first introduced to True Love Waits. This new language was introduced to students, within the local church, to decide to follow Biblical instruction and wait until marriage to be sexually active. This teaching brought clarity to an often-avoided subject in the church. As the author was talking about this there was no mention of this or any other abstinence training that happened. He states, “Protestant mainline churches generally teach that sex before marriage is wrong, but the language they use is generally equivocal, and there is often an absence of theological reasons to support their teaching.” I think this makes my point extremely clear. True Love Waits which was brought into the mainstream church was clear language. The theology of it is not the point, what the Bibles addressed concerning sex before marriage IS the point.
The Bible is very clear in communication. Paul is clear. Jesus is clear. Luke is clear and Moses is clear. The secularization of this subject is what makes it unclear. The process of simply taking truth and moving it one shade toward grey is what makes it confusing. The definitions were very clear but questioning the theological perspective instead of the Biblical perspective is where I lost alignment. Here is what I have concluded though is that the author, is doing exactly what people do about this subject; making it about opinions instead of about Biblical truth, but secular truth leads to so many side views, and side passes. We do live in a fallen world and this subject is one that Christians want to put their head in the sand and ignore. The issues that were raised are real for so many people and it is their life they live every day. So, this book at least raises the question and brings some clarity to it, which is better than centuries where this subject was never raised, or taught, or even talked about. Thanks for at least being courageous enough to approach this subject. I will continue to teach True Love Waits even if the world questions the theology of this subject.
 Adrian Thatcher, God, Sex and Gender: An Introduction (West Sussex, UK, 2011)
 Ibid., x.
 Ibid., 195.