I am a transcendent sexual essentialist! Yes, this sounds like I am making a confession, perhaps a confession that requires the custom category for gender on Facebook, or that I’m coming out of the closet for some kind of gender related issue. Actually, in a way I am, but I am not making a statement of personal identity, but rather metaphysical conviction. By saying I am a transcendent sexual essentialist, I am saying that I believe gender is an objective reality that exists beyond mere social construction. I am saying that because gender is transcendent it exists in a dynamic relationship to cultures such that it can be encoded in a myriad of ways, and thus lend itself to the appearance of merely being socially constructed. The thing to be mindful of is that gender, being a reality in God, is an abundant reality that exceeds our cognitive and linguistic capacities to fully comprehend and express, and yet it is a reality present in the structure of creation, and more importantly, in the very constitution of our existence as humans made in God’s image. For this reason gender is a reality that cannot be ignored, as its presence in creation calls out for engagement, for inquiry, for “faith seeking understanding.” And yet, though gender is a reality present in creation, because its essence is beyond creation it is not something easily reduced to a set of readily identified characteristics. As I see it, since we are creatures made in God’s image, we are limited creators, and thus I speculate that it was God’s plan that we use our creative faculties to construct our understanding of gender as we engage the transcendent real ground of gender, a reality that will always exceed our constructions, and thereby invite further engagement. In an unfallen world this would have led to a plethora of beautiful ways in which masculinity and femininity could be incarnated and expressed, like many facets on a brilliant diamond. The issue to keep in mind in this engagement is that though there are a myriad of ways to express and encode masculine and feminine in culture, there is also wrong ways they can be encoded, and I would say that one of the wrong ways is to deny that there is any kind of objective foundation to the reality of gender. Yes, this reality is not always easy to identify and delineate, but again, this is not because there is no there there, but because it exceeds the frailty of our understanding.