The Bible repeatedly uses the metaphor of marriage to illustrate the relationship between Christ and His church. How does that metaphor speak to the subject of same sex marriage? Does the use of that metaphor render same sex marriage impossible to harmonize with the Bible? Can transgender people fulfill the model of marriage laid out in Ephesians 5? Join Scott for this discussion with Rachel Gilson, author of Born Again This Way.

Rachel Gilson serves on the leadership team for theological development and culture at Cru. She has an MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and is working on her PhD at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is the author of Born Again This Way: Coming Out, Coming to Faith, and What Comes Next. Her writing has been featured in Christianity Today, The Gospel Coalition, and Desiring God.

Episode Transcript

Scott Rae: The Bible repeatedly used the metaphor of marriage to illustrate the relationship between Christ and His church. But how does that metaphor actually speak to the subject of same-sex marriage? Does the use of that metaphor render same-sex marriage impossible to harmonize with the Bible? Can transgender people fulfill the model of marriage laid out in Ephesians five? We'll answer these questions in more as we discuss this with our guest, Rachel Gilson, author of the best selling book, "Born Again This Way". I'm your host, Scott Rae, and this is "Think Biblically" from Talbot School of Theology here at Biola University. Rachel, thanks so much for being with us. Delighted to have you with us here.

Rachel Gilson: Yeah, it's my joy to be with you.

Scott Rae: Well tell our listeners a little bit about your background, how that impacts your interest in the subject of same-sex marriage. We've had you on before, but some of our listeners may not be familiar with the conversation we've had with you in the past.

Rachel Gilson: That's right. Well, I came to Christ during my freshman year at Yale out of a background of committed atheism and also same-sex relationships. So it was a survival question for me at first as I was figuring out discipleship like, well gosh, the gospel is really good, but I'm still attracted to women and as far as I can see in scripture, God is saying I shouldn't pursue same-sex relationships. How in the world am I supposed to navigate that? So, I mean, for the first several years through a lot of mistakes and stumblings, I was like, "Oh, okay, I'm figuring out, I'm figuring this out." And in my work as a campus minister with Cru, I also recognized over time, well gosh, there are actually a lot of people asking this question. Not just people even with same-sex attraction, but people who are opposite sex attracted who just want to love their LBGT neighbors well. How does the Bible talk about LGBT questions? So many people just hear a chorus of no. Is there a positive answer? And so personally and ministry wise, it's been a group of questions that really captured me and draw me back to the texts over and over again.

Scott Rae: So I'm sure our listeners are also going to want to know just briefly, how have you come to grips with that, just yourself personally?

Rachel Gilson: Yeah. So right before I actually encountered the gospel and said yes to Jesus, I was doing a little exploration of what does the Bible say about gay relationships? And my encounter with it first was through affirming arguments. So folks saying, "No, the Bible actually says yes to gay relationships." And as I was reading those arguments, I really wanted to believe them. But when I was encountering them, I was like, maybe I should look at the biblical texts, because I was training to be a history major. And I thought, well, looking at the text is the right thing to do. And then as I was looking at the interpretations in the original text, I was like, "Oh gosh, I don't think these actually match". And so my first interaction was like, I'm pretty sure the Bible just says a "no" here. And then, I've since learned Greek and Hebrew and I feel even more convinced that the Bible says no to same sex lust in sexual relationships. But part of my process has been trying to figure out how can I not just live a vocation of no? Eve Tushnet puts it that way, she's a Catholic writer, let you know what's the vocation of yes here. And going back to the scriptures and seeing theologically, whenever you try to look at a positive understanding of sexual relationships, you run right into marriage. And so it helped me see like, wait a minute, something that God is saying marriage should do. There's a task that our little human marriages are meant to perform. They're meant to reflect the big marriage between God and His people. And that really created a lot of freedom for me to say, "Well, even if I continue to experience same sex attraction my whole life, really the moral responsibility for me is saying, can I be faithful to the calling he's given me?" And so every single one of us is called as a Christian, either to faithful singleness or to faithful marriages. God has described it between a male and a female. And so whether I'm attracted to men or women or both, or neither or everybody, all of us in Christian life are called to say no to temptation and say yes to Christ in the vocation he's called us to. And for me that was really freeing. It meant I didn't have to worry about desperately trying to change my attractions. In many ways I was like, oh no, my lack of obedience looks really a lot like my other sibling's lack of obedience. And so it helped me not feel like an outsider, but instead part of the Christian family doing a normal thing that we're supposed to do with sexual ethics.

Scott Rae: Yeah, it's almost as though we want to make sure that everybody understands that they have the same calling to sexual faithfulness, regardless of their attractions.

Rachel Gilson: That's right.

Scott Rae: So you mentioned that early on in your wrestling with this, you came across people who claim to follow Jesus, but who also claimed that same-sex marriage is fully consistent with the Bible. What were some of the main ways in which they made that case or attempted to make that case?

Rachel Gilson: That's right. Well, at the time, probably the most popular way to make the case was to go through the six traditional passages that say no to same-sex sexual activity and to try to execute them and show that what the biblical authors were talking about in each of those passages. So we've got the Sodom story in Genesis. Some mentions in Leviticus, Romans one, first Corinthians six and first Timothy two, trying to demonstrate that in each of those passages what God was talking about was not the monogamous, loving, same-sex relationships that Christians could have with each other today, but that in each case these things were sort of perverted or idolatrous or abusive forms of same-sex relationships. And so the condemnation was on the idolatry or on the abuse, not on forms of relationships that we would see today. And that was the main form of those agruments.

Scott Rae: Okay. Now in your recent work on this, you focus your attention particularly on Ephesians five. I'm curious why you do that since it doesn't directly address the same-sex marriage aspect like the other biblical texts you just mentioned do.

Rachel Gilson: That's right. That's right. And I think the texts that say no are really, really important. But also in my own journey I realized, well, if we're only looking at prohibitions, sometimes we can get a little scattered because if we don't understand what's being said yes to, we won't understand some of the no's. So for example, for a long time my family had a really glorious 2007 Honda Odyssey, which is designed. You put gasoline in that tank so it'll go. So that means there's a no to putting maple syrup in the tank. And then the no to maple syrup isn't arbitrary or cruel. It's just like, "Well hey, the design of this thing is to run on gasoline. That's what you got to put in the tank." And for me, and I know for many others, sometimes when we just enter the conversation through the no, it can seem really arbitrary or cruel. We don't have the same moral intuitions right now that many people in generations of the church have had about same-sex relationships. And so I thought, you know what? If we look at God's positive vision, maybe that will help us understand the various things He says no to in sexual ethics, which is actually broader even than just the no to same-sex lust in sexual relationships, particularly for my case. I was trying to understand that. So Ephesians five is just such a beautiful location for talking about what God designed marriage to do. And it's not the only place, but from my point of view, it's the most expansive and the most helpful just because of its length and its clarity and the fact that it's directed to believers as a thing to do and not just descriptive or metaphorical or things like this.

Scott Rae: Right. Now, we'll get into some of the details of that passage here in just a moment, but let's go back a bit to a little bigger picture view. Throughout the scripture, how has the metaphor of marriage been used to illustrate, portray, describe the relationship between God and His people?

Rachel Gilson: That's right. And it's such an important question because we want to ... That metaphor is the heart of the Ephesians passage, and if we don't recognize that it's actually all over the scriptures, we might miss what it's doing in Ephesians five. So originally the metaphor shows up in a very negative picture, even as early as Exodus when Moses is having to clean up after the golden calf incident where God begins to describe Israel's unfaithfulness to him with that sexual language of whoring or unfaithfulness. And so we see this crop up again and again. God is represented as this faithful husband, and Israel is His unfaithful bride. But then we see in the major prophets and also in Hosea, so this happens in Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel, we see a new development. Not just the idea that Israel is being unfaithful and sort of a term from Hebrew meaning whoring, but also the introduction of the idea of adultery. So I'm making it a little more specific, like, "Your idolatry is adulterous." So there's a strong link between idolatry and adultery, and there's this casting amount of hope. What is the hope for God's people? We sort of just consistently become this unfaithful bride. We get the picture and the prophets of God not only being a good husband, but being a husband who can respond to His wife's unfaithfulness and actually cleanse her. So there's this hope introduced. And then of course we see Jesus come on the scene and He's referred to, He talks about being the bride groom. It's not a huge theme in His ministry, but He takes it up and the Baptist refers to Him in that language as well. And so we're well prepared by the time we get to Ephesians five to understand that throughout scripture, God has been saying, "The reason that I made these little human marriages was to be a picture of the big marriage." I'm doing hand motions right now, which are really just ridiculous 'cause no one can see them.

Scott Rae: I'm so sorry we don't have this on video today.

Rachel Gilson: Oh no, it's totally fine. So the purpose of our little marriages is to be these living, breathing, gospel demonstrations. And it's not like this is the only image of the gospel and the scriptures, but marriage is one that God returns to again and again and again. And so why is the sexual relationship in our little marriages supposed to be faithful forever? Well, because God is faithful to His people forever, and we're supposed to be faithful to Him. It actually sets all these different parameters for how sex is to be understood because it's supposed to be telling the story of the gospel.

Scott Rae: Now, one more big picture question before we get into the details in Ephesians five. You actually make the claim that this metaphor of marriage is used in Ephesians five and in the New Testament actually to fulfill some of those Old Testament promises made to Israel.

Rachel Gilson: That's right.

Scott Rae: That's a little deeper point than what you previously made. So spell that out a bit for us.

Rachel Gilson: Well, because when we see in ... Specifically in Isaiah and in Hosea, this glimmer of the husband coming to clean up. And in Ezekiel actually too at the end of chapter 16, he's like, "There's got to be something. He's got to come and take the bales out of your mouth." Jesus, in Ephesians five, it talks about that exact work that He's done for His bride. So we could not do it on his own. And so when Jesus comes as the bride groom, He's fulfilling those promises. He is the one, through His work, who is able to cleanse and purify and therefore present His bride without spot, without wrinkle, without blemish. And those are bodily images, which is really important. Ephesians five does so much ... Actually all Ephesians does a lot with the body, but they're talking about moral purity. So there's this restoration of the marriage to this place where it's supposed to be. Jesus' work has enabled us finally to be the faithful bride to Him that we were always meant to be. And Paul's very realistic. I mean, when you read his letters to the Corinthians, to the Galatians, he knows that Christians struggle just as much with unfaithfulness as Israel ever did. But he's still claiming the work that Christ has done is real and is making us beautiful. So that by the time we get to that vision at the end of Revelation, the bride is joining with the spirit to say, "Come. She's beautiful, she's ready. The marriage supper of the lamb is going to happen." And so there's this beautiful theme of fulfillment, which makes me look forward to the Heaven and the new earth.

Scott Rae: It sure does.

Rachel Gilson: In addition to the idea that it's going to be a lot of feasting 'cause I love to eat.

Scott Rae: There you go. Now Rachel, let's get into the actual passage itself and Ephesians five, verses 22 to 33. I want to encourage our listeners at this point, if you don't have a Bible open, I encourage you to do that 'cause we're going to look at some of the details of that passage. So Rachel, what is this passage about and what's the big idea that Paul's trying to get across?

Rachel Gilson: That's right. So probably several of us are familiar with this passage. It's a direction to wives and husbands how they should relate to each other as disciples. And then of course afterwards it talks about children and parents and then it goes on for slaves and masters. So it's often categorized as a household code, but unlike other household codes, it has a lot of information specifically about what the husband should do. So we see a couple times in command form that wives should submit to their husbands. We see that in verse 22. We should see that in verse 24. And then of course we see that she should respect her husband down in verse 33. But even though the wives receive that command at the beginning of the passage and at the end of the passage, the main bulk of the text is talking about how husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church. And actually even the wives submission is based on imitation. The whole logic of marriage in this passage from 22 to 33 is based on imitation. Everything they're supposed to do is to imitate the relationship that Christ has with the church and that the church has with Christ. So just as the church submits to everything in Christ as its head, so the wife should submit to her husband. But the main emphasis of the passage is husbands look at the way that Christ has loved His bride, and that is the way you're supposed to sacrificially love your wife. Now, it's important to say Christ is the savior of the church, and husbands are not

Scott Rae: Right, right.

Rachel Gilson: the savior of their wives. But there's still a strong emphasis that husbands, the husbandly task is very much oriented towards making sure that their wives are flourishing, that they are thriving in the Lord.

Scott Rae: My colleague, former colleague Michelle Lee Barnwell has written, I think really insightfully on this, that in Ephesians five, the commands to the husband are sort premised on the notion of husbands being the head of the wife, which is a very controversial notion.

Rachel Gilson: That's right.

Scott Rae: But as she describes it, the husband is commanded to act in a way that is that in Greco-Roman culture was extremely un-head-like.

Rachel Gilson: That's right.

Scott Rae: And so what Paul really does is turn the Greco-Roman understanding of roles and relationships in marriage entirely on its head.

Rachel Gilson: Oh, good double use of head there.

Scott Rae: How about that?

Rachel Gilson: Turning headship on its head.

Scott Rae: There you go. And giving an entirely different concept of this to the readers in the first century.

Rachel Gilson: Exactly. I mean, some of the language that's used of husbands, I believe it's Cynthia Westfall who famously has done this showing, it's a lot of women's work. This cleansing and washing. It's not a very masculine image, but it's exactly what husbands are supposed to do in imitation of Christ.

Scott Rae: And what I think it reflects is not the presumed patriarchal culture in the Greco-Roman's world of the first century, but is a very counter-cultural admonition to husbands to do something that would've been seen as weak in the first century culture.

Rachel Gilson: Exactly. And that's important for us to know because we can get distracted, I think, by the wives submit to your husbands. And I'm not saying that's wrong. I mean, honestly, the history of sexism throughout the world and in the church of course leads us to have some caution there. But when we look at what the command to the husbands is, we're like, "Well... if the husbands were actually obeying the commands we see in Ephesians five, we would be in a much better situation all around."

Scott Rae: Now, you make a claim in your work that the Paul's teaching in Ephesians five and the comparison between marriage and Christ and the church actually renders same-sex marriage impossible.

Rachel Gilson: Yeah.

Scott Rae: How so?

Rachel Gilson: Well, I think what we're seeing, not just in Ephesians five, but in the biblical metaphor of marriage, our little marriages representing God's big marriage. But especially in Ephesians five, what we're seeing is that the gospel has two non-interchangeable parties that have different tasks. God is the one who saves His church, responds and submits. And so little marriages must, in order to display this, have two non-interchangeable parties who have different tasks. The wife is called to submit to her husband, and the husband is called to sacrificially love his wife. So the roles that have been dispersed in this little gospel drama are sex specific. And what happens, I think if we scramble this, is we end up creating some really troubling images. So if the husband is to sacrificially love the wife, the wife called to submit to her husband, well if we put two men in that category, then theologically, we end up creating an image that's, "Well, Christ needs to clean up Christ." Or, "Christ needs to save Christ." And I wouldn't want to go there personally, scripturally. That treads into blasphemous territory. And then of course if we put two women into the relationship, you also scramble the picture. So you either end up with one of the women, one of the wives in a headship type role, which makes it look like, well, the church leads the church or the church submits to the church. And I mean, the church is a beautiful institution, but we only exist because of God and in relationship to him. So that's also a deeply troubling and theologically erroneous image. Or you sort of take the headship and the submission out of it entirely, which sort of creates a church without a head, which I think is also theologically problematic. I want to be careful and say, I don't think you can build an entire theological demonstration just from Ephesians five. But with the prohibition passages, with the broader biblical narrative use of this metaphor, and with Ephesians five, I think it becomes really hard to make a case that same-sex marriage is doing the job that God designed marriage to do.

Scott Rae: So if it's that clear from Ephesians five, why do you think this text has been so neglected in the biblical debate over same-sex marriage? I find that puzzling.

Rachel Gilson: Yeah, and I think it's because so much energy has been trying to address either overturn or shore up the no passages, because those are the ones that talk specifically about same-sex sexual activity. So it kind of makes sense. They've gotten a lot of attention and they deserve attention, they're important texts. I think for a long time the church hasn't really had to think ... I should say Protestant western church. We haven't necessarily had to think theologically about marriage because we kind of just did it automatically. But as our people in our churches and people in society around us have started to do different things with marriage, it forces us in a new way to go back to our text and say, "Wait a minute, what is this thing supposed to be?" I think part of the reason for the neglect is just we were sort of autopilot doing things we were supposed to be doing. That doesn't mean we were doing them well. Just because a marriage is male and female doesn't mean it's displaying the gospel well. I mean, goodness, how many of us know male, female marriages where there's unfaithfulness, abuse, desertion, things like that. So I also want to use Ephesians five to say, listen, all of our marriages fall short of God's intentions.

Scott Rae: Yes. We're back to the Old Testament use of the metaphor.

Rachel Gilson: Indeed.

Scott Rae: Both for God's faithfulness and for the church's unfaithfulness.

Rachel Gilson: That's right, that's right. So I think there's a unique pressures on the church that are causing us now to go back and look with fresh eyes. And honestly, as we think about church history, that's often when our most theologically fruitful work has been done. When there are new questions coming at us. And so we have to go back to our texts and say, "Hey, wait a minute, what does God say about this?" It doesn't mean it wasn't there all along. We just maybe didn't have the opportunity to be viewing the texts, asking those types of questions. The beautiful thing about His provision for us and His word is that He's given us exactly what we need to be faithful no matter what generation we look at.

Scott Rae: No, that's a great point. And the interpretation of the text is the same, but the application of it is different.

Rachel Gilson: That's right.

Scott Rae: And that the new questions being asked give us a new set of lenses through which we apply the text, even though there's only, I would say there's only one culture that matters in the interpretation of a text, and that's the culture of the original audience.

Rachel Gilson: Indeed.

Scott Rae: But the questions that we need to wrestle with for application and the significance of these texts vary widely, and I think that that's a good word, that we've had to go back and look at some pretty foundational theological things that we just haven't had to until the last 20 or 30 years.

Rachel Gilson: That's right.

Scott Rae: Now, some have suggested that actually Ephesians five is actually quite consistent with same-sex marriage. So what is that argument?

Rachel Gilson: Well, I think the best version of that argument is saying when we look at Ephesians five, what we're seeing is that marriage is about a faithful covenant of self-sacrificial love. And sometimes that's made in the appeal in verse 21 to mutual submission. Now they're trying to say, "Listen, little marriages do display the big marriage, but the sex differences isn't the important part. What's important is two people covenanting together that represents the covenant that God makes with His people." And actually some people even undergird this by saying, especially because in the New Testament, procreation sort of loses its key value that it had in the Old Testament instead being replaced by the fatherhood and motherhood that is spiritual, the making of disciples. And they're saying, "Well, since procreation is now diminished in the New Testament, and of course we recognize that infertile marriages are still marriages, well then, the fact that same sex marriages are sort of fundamentally infertile in their nature, that doesn't count against it. So we should be a little more open minded, we should say. 'Look, there's real covenant love and deep affection and faithfulness happening in these partnerships.' And so they're also a good also picture."

Scott Rae: And just in a sentence or two, what's your response to that?

Rachel Gilson: Well, I want to affirm that relation ... I want to affirm that I know many people in same-sex marriages and those marriages are deeply affectionate and faithful and can be beautiful pictures of love. But when we get to scripture, it is everywhere sex differentiated, especially in the metaphor because God has a different role than His people and He wanted males and females to represent these different roles, to play a particular part. I do think that the Protestant easy acceptance of contraception, which allowed us to ... We rarely talk well as Protestants about the role of procreation in marriage. We kind of just jumped on the procreation doesn't matter so much bandwagon. Has diminished our ability to understand that, well, male and female is a fruitful relationship that's supposed to reflect the fruitfulness of the gospel, but it's more than just fruitfulness as well. We just see constantly God represented by the husband, His people represented by the church. And this is not because God is afraid of using female language about Himself. At various places in the text, He talks about nursing Jacob at his breast or carrying Israel in His womb because a mother's a good picture of God's relationship. So He's not afraid of female language, which highlights again that the fact that in the metaphor He is always represented by the male and the others all represented by the female. It's a little more stark.

Scott Rae: Yeah. The point you've raised here I think is a really important one, that men and women are not interchangeable, and the scripture never treats them that way.

Rachel Gilson: Exactly.

Scott Rae: And I think there are certain gender stereotypes that I think that exist in culture that are inconsistent with scripture. And in fact, some of that female language used of God, I think is one of those ways that we expose that. This I think gets us into a little bit of the transgender discussion too.

Rachel Gilson: That's right.

Scott Rae: But I think affirming that men and women have distinct roles, distinct tasks, they are equal indignity, equal in inclusion, all of that. They're equally made in the image of God. All of that. There's not a difference in status. It's just a different in functions and roles. That's a super important point that seems to be foundational to how we look at the whole area of sexuality. And I think you're right. We have neglected the role of procreation. I don't think the New Testament does that at all. Although we can probably, the discussion that's-

Rachel Gilson: That's a whole nother podcast.

Scott Rae: That's a whole nother subject. Well, one final question that I think, I suspect that some of our female listeners who are married are still sort of not, they may be a little bit stuck on the wife submit to your husbands part, and so I want to make sure that we address that appropriately. So how would you help someone who's in a marriage but it just gets stuck in their throat and it's just hard to swallow?

Rachel Gilson: I know, and I have a lot of sympathy for that, especially, I mean, I think we should say pretty clearly if you are in a marital situation where there is verbal or physical or sexual abuse happening, this is not a time to be like, "Well, the Bible says submit to your husband." That's a time to actually get somewhere safe and get help. So the bad use of this passage would be to permission any type of abusive situation. I think there's extra help here. The text isn't talking to husbands and saying, "Husbands, you make sure your wives submit." The text is actually talking directly to women, giving them dignity and honor and saying, "This is part of your responsibility." You do have a role here. You do have a command here, but no one's going to force you. Like this isn't something that your husband's going to enforce upon you. It's part of your dignity as a wife, to figure out what does it look like for me in the context of mutual submission? Because all Christians are called to submit to each other, to relate in this way to my husband. And the ways that this is going to impact us are so diverse, given our personalities, our ages, the ways that our marriage have gone, our health status, all this stuff. We really need God's spirit and God's word and God's people in order to navigate these tender places well. We need to be able to talk openly with safe people who love Christ and who love us about some of the ways that this might stick in our throats, because we might have good reasons for that to be true. And we need to minister to each other in prayer and in the word to help us understand how could I grow towards rejoicing in the Word and living in the Word. And sometimes that takes a long time. We need to be patient with ourselves.

Scott Rae: Well, and I think sometimes I think we have to realize that not every husband loves their wives like Christ loves the church.

Rachel Gilson: Oh my goodness. That's right.

Scott Rae: And that husbands are flawed, fallen human beings too.

Rachel Gilson: That's right.

Scott Rae: And I think it's really important, I think, to recognize the caveat that you made when abuse takes place or when addictions take place, things that are destructive to the marriage. This doesn't apply in those situations.

Rachel Gilson: That's right.

Scott Rae: And nor does it give husbands a claim on their wives for that. And I think in my view, that's one of the biggest misunderstandings of this.

Rachel Gilson: Yeah, exactly.

Scott Rae: And it's not a trump card that husbands can use whenever they're not getting their way.

Rachel Gilson: That's right. We need the whole Bible to talk about Christian ethics. What Ephesians five is doing is it's trying to show what marriage should be, but it's not the whole story of how human marriage is run because we know we're sinful beings. All of us fall short of God's standards. And so we need the whole council of scripture to help us understand these complex places.

Scott Rae: All right. Rachel, one final question. I'm going to ask you to do something that may be impossible to do.

Rachel Gilson: Excellent.

Scott Rae: In one or two sentences, can transgender people fulfill this model of marriage in Ephesians five?

Rachel Gilson: Well, my work in my PhD studies is on transgender identities, so you're right. Making it one or two sentences is pretty hard. I want to say some people identify as transgender, but are, as disciples, living faithfully, struggling to live faithfully in alignment to the sex they were born into. So automatically, when we're hearing transgender people, I want to ask, "Well, how are they identifying?"

Scott Rae: Okay.

Rachel Gilson: I think the best I can understand that we are responsible as disciples to live a gender identity that matches our biological sex. It could be harder for some of us than others. But a person who identifies as transgender and is embracing a transgender identity, that's sort of a different issue of Christian discipleship. And so if they want to enter into a marriage, well, in order for it to fulfill the picture of Ephesians five, it needs to be sex differentiated. But if we've got transgender identities on top of it, we have other extra moral complexities. And so it's not necessarily just enough that we've checked the male, female box because perhaps both people are living cross-gendered. And then we'd say, "Okay, well maybe you've technically fulfilled the two sex aspect of Ephesians five." But there are other questions of discipleship that are coming in here because the male is supposed to be the one who's living as the husband, and the female's supposed to be the one that's living as the wife. But the problem is, of course, at the church is we want to just quickly set down boundaries and rules. We need to be careful listeners, humble learners and faithful, loving siblings in Christ to those among us who experience gender dysphoria, who would want to identify as transgender, but are trying to live faithfully as disciples.

Scott Rae: Great. I gave you more than two sentences on that because-

Rachel Gilson: I know. I'm sorry.

Scott Rae: No, that's really helpful. That's really helpful. I know there are a lot bigger questions on the transgender part, so I appreciate you trying to boil this down. And I think that's right to say that we got bigger issues involved than whether we have a male or female fulfilling that model for marriage in general.

Rachel Gilson: Yeah. So that's just one of the questions that's important in sort of analyzing that situation. Yeah.

Scott Rae: Rachel, this has been super helpful. I so appreciate your work, your work with Cru, your work with LGBTQ communities, in representing the gospel so well. So this has been just a rich time, so grateful for your work on this.

Rachel Gilson: Well, thanks for inviting me on again.

Scott Rae: This has been an episode of "Think Biblically: Conversations on Faith and Culture". Think Biblically podcast is brought to you by Talbot School of Theology, Biola University offering programs in Southern California and online, including our new Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. Visit in order to learn more. If you enjoyed today's conversation with our friend Rachel Gilson, give us a rating on your podcast app and share it with a friend. Thanks so much for listening, and remember, think biblically about everything.