Early Christian theologians were concerned to maintain a real sense of continuity between this life and the next. If the resurrection of the flesh meant that the male/female differentiation was erased, then it stood to reason that men and women should downplay their gendered characteristics here in their earthly life. That was not an option for those trying to preserve a gendered hierarchy. Patristics scholars have done work on what how the theological argument was addressed toward women. I want to offer a few ideas on the resurrected male body in Augustine’s City of God.
Augustine of Hippo in the 5th century addressed the doctrine of the resurrection of the flesh, which was widely held in Christian communities but still considered scandalous by many. In book 22 of City of God he addresses many of these objections and misconceptions, including the idea that the resurrection would mean an elimination of maleness and femaleness. Not so, says the bishop. They retain their bodies, including the genitals and basic bodily features.
One preserved feature of the male body is its size. Augustine defends the resurrection of infants and children, claiming that God will fulfill their full bodily stature according to the “seminal principle” in them (22.13-15). They will be raised in the full bloom of youth, around age thirty perhaps, after the model of Christ. But does that imply that all be raised after the pattern of Christ in a very literal sense, viz., Jesus’ exact size? Men and women would then all be the same height and weight. Augustine does not allow this, claiming that the preservation of the fleshly material in the resurrection will not permit men with large mass to be raised without their full stature (22:14). They will, presumably, be taller than women. The sheer physical ratio is kept in the eschaton.
Beauty is also valued prized by Augustine, and he mentions male bodies as possessing this beauty in a very ornamental way. Women’s bodies will be beautiful too, beautiful in a way that “excites praise” rather than lusts (22:17). Their breasts and vaginas and wombs will be aesthetically pleasing in a pure way, not desired for pleasure or function. Nevertheless, it seems that Augustine highlights even more strongly men’s bodies as those possessing beauty. In particular, men are raised with their nipples and beards and rough skin (22.24). Since these features do not serve any real function, thus unnecessary to the human constitution (as proved by the fact that women’s bodies are different), nipples and beards and rough skin are to be understood as ornamental, as beautiful adjuncts to the resurrection body.
In short, the male body in Augustine’s vision of the resurrection holds onto key masculine features. Whether the basic size of the male body or its decorative aspects, it is to be raised powerful and beautiful, and celebrated as distinctly male.