In this paper, I will offer a corrective to soteriological views which diminish the significance of gender differentiation in the resurrection utilizing Thomistic principles of anthropological hylomorphism.
From the earliest days of Christian history, the church has been captivated by what kind of life we will experience in the new heavens and the new earth. Some theologians in their discussions of soteriology and the teleology of mankind have suggested that the redeemed in Christ are moving toward an angelic state of existence wherein sexual differentiation will disappear or, at the very least, lose its significance. Views of this kind have received various degrees of popularity throughout church history. While we eagerly anticipate our reception of the beatific vision, a sight which the angels presently enjoy by virtue of their proximity to God’s throne, it seems out of place to desire the angelic constitution over our own. After all, it is said exclusively of humanity that we are the crown jewel of Creation, created by God in his own image. Much can be said concerning this image, but we cannot say less than what God has revealed to us in the creation account, that we are created as a composite of body and soul, both male and female, and that this constitution is befitting of certain tasks, i.e. governing and filling the earth.
I will enter into a dialogue with diverse voices through the window of Gregory of Nyssa’s writings. Gregory is the most consistent source of authority for views of this kind, so any argument to the contrary must deal with him in order to address the tradition as a whole. I will argue in favor of a gender-differentiated human resurrection utilizing Thomistic principles of anthropological hylomorphism and the relation between accidents and substance, namely that accidents are anterior to a being’s substantial form. On these grounds, we may be able to identify an essential understanding of gender which proceeds from gender-differentiated souls. Gender differentiation in the soul is evidenced by sexed human bodies which are fit both for reproduction and dominion. Such an argument may be supported by an explanation of the Pauline connection between angelology and anthropology in 1 Corinthians. Contrary to the notion of genderless resurrection, the Apostle Paul suggests that the angels are implicated by a woman’s authority when she glories in her engendered constitution (1 Cor. 6:3, 11:10), demonstrating that it is fitting for essential gender differentiation to persist in the resurrection.