My wife and I were grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s with our baby daughter when an older woman stopped us and said, “What a cute little boy.” In her defense our daughter was wearing blue, and it’s hard to tell with babies. I responded with a smile and said, “She is a cutie, isn’t she?” The woman said to us, “Oh it’s a girl!” She then turned to our daughter and said, “You’re a girl now, but you don’t have to be. This state will see that one day.”
My wife and I were taken aback. I wanted to say, “Well, she really doesn’t have a choice. God made her a girl, and so she is.” However, I said nothing. The older lady continued her shopping, and so did we.
We live in a very “progressive” city. I work in a very “progressive” school. So such statements are almost commonplace. But these notions of gender fluidity are not unique to where I live. Our culture is in the midst of a sexual revolution, and countless workplaces, businesses, cities and states fully support pushing that revolution forward.
Though I did not respond in this specific situation, her comment made me stop and reflect. How do we respond to a world that interprets everything in a way that denies the supremacy of Christ and the sufficiency of Scripture? What exactly is the error in a statement like that, and how do we speak both truth and compassion into a divisive subject like gender fluidity and those like it? Fortunately, we have a God who did not leave us without an answer for these and all of life’s issues.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3)
We enter conversations with the world knowing that we have God’s divine power with us and in us, and He’s given us all we need to engage this world for Christ.
The Biblical and Biological Foundations for Gender
I couldn’t shake the woman’s comment to my daughter, and all the implications, presuppositions and ideologies that came with it. But the idea of gender fluidity isn’t just being pushed on her. It is being pushed in schools, colleges and workplaces across the country. The movement behind the fluidity of gender and sexuality has infected our culture to a degree that some of the most fundamental truths that govern our world are being attacked.
Such fundamental truths include the idea that God made male and female genders and that we were created in His image.
In Genesis we learn that God created male and female.
God created mankind in His image, male and female created He them. (Genesis 1:27)
Male and Female. That was God’s intent. I love science and nature, because in the physical laws and functions that drive creation God instituted amazing order and simplicity within immensely vast complexity. I’m a male because God saw to it that a single gene on my Y chromosome set my embryonic development down the male pathway. And I have two beautiful daughters because God saw to it that they were formed without a Y chromosome and a second X instead.
The differences that resulted are beautiful and amazing, and God orchestrated them all. We are distinguished by physiological markers designed by God specific to each gender, and we are named accordingly — male or female.
Yet, influential voices have sought to expand those gender options. Facebook, for instance, once allowed users to select either male or female. Yet as our culture shifted, Facebook added a custom option, and now users can select from approximately 60+ gender options. Needless to say, it’s a rather interesting list. And it is a case study in how we as a culture are trying to take the gender decision away from God and give it to the individual.
Things Fall Apart
The reasons for the transgender revolution are complex, multifaceted and have a long history. But they boil down simply to rebellion — sin.
Think back to Genesis. After God created man in his image, man went against God and forever distorted that image. The fall of man had biological implications. Childbirth became painful, which is a biological change. Man had to toil to get plants to grow and food to eat, and the pain in his muscles from tilling the ground was a biological change. By implication, we could assume that every genetic mutation, malformation, cellular glitch or distorted biological human desire is a result of the fall. Transgenderism and gender dysphoria, then, are a consequence of the fall.
The fall ushered in hormonal imbalances, CAH, intersex and a host of other issues that are connected to transgenderism. These physiological malformations muddy the water of this discussion, but God intended for our biological sex to dictate our gender. For a rare few, that is difficult.
Yet faulty biology for a few does not alleviate responsibility for the many. Prominent voices in academia have sought to muddy the water further by distinguishing between sex and gender. Sex has been defined as the biological/physiological traits a person has, and gender has been re-defined as a social construct that tends to determine one’s role in society. Per this definition, gender is not tied to our physiology, but our genders manifest themselves due to numerous factors in our environment.
From there, such voices will assert that your biology does not dictate your gender, you do. So when you hear talk of gender fluidity, it’s not a discussion of biology, but of how someone feels. That’s important to know. Those who claim to have gender dysphoria do have real feelings of being another gender. The entire discussion about gender fluidity and transgender issues (and, by extension, the entire moral/sexual revolution) is based on feelings — feelings of wanting control and perceived freedom.
More Than a Feeling
The question is this: Should we embrace those feelings? Fortunately, God has much to say about feelings:
Proverbs 28:26 says, “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.”
I wouldn’t walk up to an unbeliever and open with that verse, but it summarizes a proper view of human feelings. They tend to be foolish and unreliable, unless they are guided by the wisdom of God.
John echoes this thought in 1 John 3:20: “For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything”
In context, he is speaking of our hearts condemning us once we’ve been saved, and that God’s knowledge of us and our salvation in Him is better, but the point is the same. The human mind is untrustworthy to give guidance for life on its own, and for any person to live their life based on how they feel is, according to God, foolish. Simply put, God knows us better than we know ourselves because He made us.
The statement, “You’re a girl now, but you don’t have to be,” is another way of saying, “Your life is your own, and you choose what you want to be.” It’s another way of saying, “God’s not in control, you are.” It’s the same lie Satan told Eve in the garden, and it’s the lie he never ceases to tell today.
The church is having to deal with these questions and statements from their young people and adults alike. Biblical counselors, especially those working with teens and young adults, are facing incredibly tough questions and situations regarding gender, sexuality and God’s Word. Yet the answer is what it has always been: eternal hope, joy and freedom from sin and shame that comes from knowing Jesus.
Our culture is painting a narrative that reads, “You do whatever you feel, and let everyone else do what they feel, and we’ll be all good.” Yet Paul paints a much different picture.
I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Philippians 3:8)
Unbelievers, including those struggling with gender dysphoria, need to see the “surpassing worth of knowing Jesus.” They need to realize that the gratification of knowing Christ far outweighs the gratification of giving in to one’s feelings.
Show Them Love
As a follower of Christ, a teacher and a fellow human, I want to support and be compassionate toward gender queer and all unbelievers I meet. I want to point them toward the peace and rest they’ll find in Christ. Yet too often I see Christians portrayed in the media as judging and shaming unbelievers for their sexual sins. That’s not a proper response.
But what is?
The first step we take in responding to such issues is searching God’s Word for wisdom. As Paul writes in Colossians 4:5-6,
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
There is so much we can pull out of this text that is relevant for responding to transgenderism, homosexuality, apathy or any other sin in our culture. We must first “walk in wisdom.” If we plan to shed light into this darkness, we should know the terms being used. More importantly, we should know people who are struggling with these issues and understand what each individual experiences. Understanding their experience will help us be compassionate.
Our compassion should be multiplied by the fact that they are “outsiders.” They are outside the fold of God. It deeply grieves me to know that fellow humans are seeking rest for their souls, but are unable to find it. They are living a life separated from God, aimlessly wandering. Why should we expect people outside of God’s Kingdom to live according to His laws? They aren’t even aware of them. We should be gracious, peace-seeking and compassionate as we by the Holy Spirit’s power attempt to move them toward the knowledge of Christ. In doing so we’ll “make the best use of our time.” We won’t push them further away from a relationship with God. Rather, we demonstrate our love for them and for Christ, and move them towards repentance.
Finally, Paul tells us, in light of the wisdom we’ve sought and the fact that they are outsiders, that our conversations with them should “always be gracious, seasoned with salt.” There’s no need to speak down or speak judgment to any sinner. Recognize that we were in the exact same place before we knew Christ. And while their struggle may not have been ours, we lovingly tell them all Christ did to set them free from sin.
But like John said in 1 John 3:20, “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.”
I can speak from experience and say that making these claims to someone whose identity is centered on their sexuality or gender will not result in fast friends. When you enter this space with the truth of Scripture, be prepared for people to disagree sharply with you — or to dismiss you and God’s Word altogether.
It would be so easy to let these things be, dusting our hands of their plight and walking away. But if we believe God and His Word, that is the least loving thing we can do. Just as Christ patiently and lovingly pursued us, likewise we should patiently and lovingly purse lost souls for Christ.
Engage with divine wisdom.
Engage with radically loving compassion.
Engage with deep humility.
Engage with Christ-powered boldness.
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Image Credit: Michał Parzuchowski / Unsplash