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Gender as Love

A Theological Account of Human Identity, Embodied Desire, and Our Social Worlds

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In recent years, the issue of gender has become a topic of great importance and has generated discussion from the kitchen table to the academy. It is an issue that churches and Christian educational institutions are grappling with as well, since gender is a crucial aspect of identity, affecting how we engage socially and understand our embodiment. Upstream from all these conversations lies a more basic question: What is gender?

In Gender as Love, Fellipe do Vale takes a theological approach to understanding gender, employing both biblical exegesis and historical theology and emphasizing the role human love plays in shaping our identities. He engages with and explains current theories and debates, but his approach is unique in that it avoids the present impasse between social constructionist and biological essentialist paradigms. His emphasis is on love as identity forming.

This fresh, holistic approach makes an important contribution to the literature and will benefit scholars and students alike. Foreword by Beth Felker Jones.

Foreword by Beth Felker Jones
Part 1: The Landscape and Its Faults
1. What Does It Mean to Give a Theological Account of Gender?
1.1 Introduction: Contemporary Theological Discussion about Gender
1.2 Theological Theology Unpacked
1.3 Theologically Theological Anthropology and Theologies of Gender
2. Understanding the Social Construction of Gender
2.1 Contextualizing the View
2.2 The Metaphysics of the Social Construction of Gender
2.3 Objections to the Social Construction of Gender
2.4 The Social Construction of Sex: Judith Butler
2.5 Conclusion
Part 2: The Constructive Proposal
3. "What God Has Joined Together, Let No One Separate": Bodies and Culture in the Metaphysics of Gender
3.1 Expanding What We Mean by Culture and Nature
3.2 Witt and Mikkola on the Ontology of Gender
3.3 Four Theses on the Metaphysics of Gender and Their Theological Grounding
3.4 Conclusion
4. An Augustinian Theology of Human Love
4.1 Love, Identity, and an Apologia for Augustine
4.2 Augustine on Human Love
4.3 Conclusion
5. Gender as Love: A Theological Proposal
5.1 Integrating Claims
5.2 Sarah Coakley on Desire and Gender, with a Frankfurt-Style Critique
5.3 Gender as Love: The Model
5.4 Conclusion
Part 3: Gender in the Story of God
6. Gender in Creation
6.1 Introduction: The Narrative Indexing of Humanity
6.2 What Makes Creation Good?
6.3 Conclusion
7. Gender in Fall, Redemption, and Consummation
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Fall
7.3 Redemption
7.4 Consummation
7.5 Conclusion


"A breath of fresh air that has the marks of a rush of the Spirit, do Vale's work clears the confusion, fear, and acrimony that has clouded around the concept of gender. Gender as Love provides erudite guidance through the theory and, even more, rich exegetical and theological resources for living justly in response to God's undeserved gifts, including the gift of gender. The joining of confidence in Christ with an epistemic humility that results in godly patience makes this author and this work a timely gift and a necessary read."

Amy Peeler, Kenneth T. Wessner Chair of Biblical Studies, Wheaton College

"Everyone knows what topics to avoid at the dinner table: religion, politics, and--wait for it--gender (the new taboo topic now that sex is 'safe'). Do Vale's Gender as Love is not dinner conversation; it does not shirk the difficult questions but confronts them head on, with clear-sighted reasoning and openhearted compassion. Here is biblically grounded wisdom for male and female Christian disciples intent on using their sexed bodies in ways that foster love of God and neighbor. Here is the best kind of theology: direction the church desperately needs for such a time as this."

Kevin J. Vanhoozer, research professor of systematic theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"Contemporary discussions of gender are often confusing and confused, lacking nuance, clarity, and consistency on some of the most fundamental terms. Answering John Webster's call to engage in 'theological theology,' Fellipe do Vale adroitly clarifies how, precisely, we ought to conceive of gender from within the divine economy. Do Vale proposes, with a little help from Augustine of Hippo, that gender is a form of love directed toward various social goods in a manner that shapes the self. The result is, in a word, remarkable. This book is everything theology should aspire to be: elegant in its argumentation, accessible in its prose, brilliant in its content, and unreservedly devoted to the God of the gospel. It is a book that will remind you of why you first started writing and reading theology in the first place."

Daniel Lee Hill, assistant professor of Christian theology, George W. Truett Theological Seminary

The Author

  1. Fellipe do Vale
    Erik Engstrom

    Fellipe do Vale

    Fellipe do Vale (PhD, Southern Methodist University) is assistant professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He specializes in the juncture where theological anthropology and moral theology meet...

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