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SEXUALITY AS UNDERSTOOD IN GALATIANS 3:28 Print E-mail
Written by Kevin L. Howard   

Few things are as interesting to people today as sex and sexuality.  Even in Christian circles, this topic is relevant and captivating.  Like most controversies that involve Christians, Scripture is often used to support one or more sides of a given debate.  Galatians 3:28 is no stranger to such debate and has often been tossed around like a tennis ball in a clothes dryer.  This verse has been abused by many individuals and groups, especially in the wake of the feminist and gay rights movement.  It reads, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male not female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (NASV).  For similar verses, see 1 Cor 12:13 and Col 3:11.

 

Often people quote Gal 3:28 to justify a woman as a senior pastor.  The argument follows along these lines: since there is no longer a distinction between male and female, then Christian women obviously have the freedom to function in any capacity within the church (and home) that men do.  In addition, this verse is often cited to legitimize same-sex relationships.  The logic, for some in the gay movement, goes something like this: since there is no longer a distinction between male and female, it must be okay for two people of the same sex to have intercourse with each other.

           

But I fail to see how this verse can be used in any honest way to make such assertions.  Paul is helping the Galatian believers understand how God worked through Abraham and the law in order to offer salvation through Christ.  The last few verses of chapter three seek to show believers their relation to Abraham, the law, and Christ.  Specifically, verse 28 describes how believers relate to one another and to Christ.

 

Actually, we find clarity for verse 28 in verse 26, "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" (NASV).  The phrase "through faith in Christ Jesus" is relevant to verse 28. 

 

Verse 28, in its context, is not so much announcing the obliteration of sexual distinctions as it is emphasizing that all believers come to know Christ through faith.  All who have trusted Christ are in God's family regardless of culture, race, status, or sex.  The point of verse 28 is that when we become a part of God's family, God does not favor anyone because of his or her lineage, skin color, social position, or sex.  A free male Jewish convert has the same standing before God as an enslaved female Gentile.

 

But Gal 3:28 does not mean that such distinctions as culture, race, status, and sex cease.  Paul undoubtedly realized the differences between Christians even after new birth.  Galatians 2:11-16 and 3:8, 14 seems to make a religious or ethnic distinction between Jew and Gentile not nullified by 3:28.  Also, Gal 4:4, 22-23, 31 and 5:2 refer to legitimate distinctions between a man and a woman without contradicting Gal 3:28.

 

Because of Christ, believers now have a oneness with each other that overcomes any prejudices related to culture, race, money, institutions (i.e., slavery), or sex.  But oneness in Christ must not be interpreted as sameness.  Galatians 3:28 was not meant to blur the distinctions between male and female.  Rather, it was meant to convey that salvation is offered to all who trust Christ regardless of ethnicity, social standing, or sex.

 

So whatever people say about Gal 3:28, they must not say that God or Paul was wishing to undo manhood and womanhood.  A homosexual or egalitarian interpretation fails to understand Paul in the full context of Gal 3.

 

Galatians 3:28 says something about the dynamics of men and women in Christ, but it says nothing about justifying homosexual relationships.  And whatever the Bible says about women's God-given role in the church and home must not be deduced from this verse.  This verse identifies us in Christ but says little about our function in God's family.

 
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