Some of you have experience teaching someone how to drive. I can remember back to my first time operating a vehicle that I gave my mother a bit of a nerve-wracking experience. I can imagine that you parents and teens are recalling similar happenings. I must confess that our family is just about to start that journey with our oldest. And while there are indeed moments we are all looking forward to in the future, the present will most likely have some sudden jolts and bumps along the way.
Likewise, it seems in today’s culture we are in a series of spins, jolts, bumps, and turns.
In March of 2022, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was being interviewed and assessed as a U.S. Supreme Court nominee. She was asked what seemed like a straight-forward question: “What is a woman?” However, she dismissed the question essentially saying, “I’m not a biologist.”
In all, prior to the last few years of human history, defining gender (man/woman) was uncontroversial. People accepted that gender was biological and binary. Yet, our politically correct culture promotes feelings of identity spectrum regarding gender over science; suggesting sex and gender are distinct with the latter proposing 105+ different gender expressions. I don’t say this sarcastically or harshly but recognize that people’s feelings about love or gender dysphoria can feel very real, yet also be confused, and wrong. Behaviors should not operate or be affirmed based upon one’s inward feelings but established standards – which for the Christian is the Bible.
A question that arises from the outside is: “Why does God care about who I love or how I identify?” And for many inside the church, the entire discussion about what is going on outside of culture is either confusing, unconnected, or irrelevant. Yet, the LGTBQ+ movement is progressing so that whether a church, or society in general, one must pay attention and address how to interact with this movement.
An aim of this series “Confronting Cultural Creeds” is to equip Christians and our church in how to respond with grace and truth. When I say “grace,” I do not mean that we are hesitant about truth or code for evolving to compromise. Grace simply means that we seek to live and speak how Jesus did in the gospels with those who behaved differently than God intended.
Again, this series is a take off Rebecca McLaughlin’s book, “The Secular Creed,” which is: Black Lives Matter / Love Is Love / Gay Rights Are Civil Rights / Women’s Rights Are Human Rights / Transgender Women Are Women. We are choosing to approach these topics with a sharpie instead of a sledgehammer, because we believe that Scripture is the source for the concepts of equality, love, and diversity. Therefore, we are not trying to crush people but confront them with the mirror of God’s word and caution them for the consequences of walking away from Jesus.
Personally, when I share about these topics I think of specific people in my past and relationships I have in the present… *Names Changed
So, I speak not from theory or ideology, but doing my best to practice theology in reality. Grace and truth are not just ideals, but they are exemplified in the most human person of Jesus. Jesus was the prototype for humanity and is our aim for our beliefs and behaviors.
Two more brief comments in this long introduction 🙂
- Parents having these “talks” with children are vital – even early ages bc public education in schools & tv shows are! There is not simply one single talk on the topic, but multiple conversations with age-appropriate terminology with progressed and pointed communication. I can recommend resources if interested.
- People who disagree with me about this topic may be listening today or in future. Know that I am thankful you’re listening and perhaps able to learn things from a different perspective than your own. I try to read books that I knowingly will disagree, so I can understand perspectives. Further, I want to reiterate that our church has a welcoming approach, in that we welcome all sinners… though we do not affirm sin. The gospel of Jesus is available to any sinner, of such I stand first in line needing God’s mercy and grace. So, know you are welcome in our church, and we are open to conversations as we seek God’s grace and truth.
EXAMINE Confronting Creeds: Gender Matters (Gen 1-2)
3 principles on gender matters…
God’s design is beautiful.
The Bible opens with the phrase, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen 1:1) One’s trust of these words results in the purpose and principles for how they live their life. If one believes the source of their life was random, then it is rational for their behavior to not align with Scripture. However, the evidence of creation having deliberate design and appealing aesthetic is astounding.
The Bible opens with the phrase, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen 1:1) One’s trust of these words results in the purpose and principles for how they live their life.Tweet
- For life to exist, the fundamental regularities and constants of physics: the speed of light, the gravitational constant, the perfect calibrations, and precise values to produce matter, galaxies, stars, planets, and human life are contingent upon the necessary existence of God. Consider “Fine Tuning” arguments…
- Gear parts in a bag shaken do not create a watch; must be a watch maker.
- Ink factory exploding to create collected works of Shakespeare and the Holy Scripture.
- A Poker player dealing self 20-straight hands of four aces in the same game w/o cheating.
- Something cannot come from nothing. Atheists must answer, “Why is there something rather than nothing?”
- Earth in “Goldilock Zone – not too hot/cold” – the exact degrees away from sun (freeze or fry); tilt of earth (gravity); chemical levels on earth: Nitrogen, Oxygen, Carbon Dioxide (breathe or suffocate)… Scientists say the odds of a planet like earth existing are so heart-stoppingly astronomical that the notion that it all “just happened” defies common sense.
So, affirming God as Creator, we examine creation. Genesis 1 outlines God creating the world with order and design in six days. After each day’s creation, a phrase is repeated: “and it was good” (tov = beautiful). Further, the climax of God’s creative activity is humanity, whom He makes “in His image” (Gen 1:27), and God’s evaluation of creating people was “very good/beautiful – wonderful/exquisite” (Gen 1:31).
It is important for us to understand God’s design is not haphazard but completely meticulous. And we’re starting with the principle that God’s design is beautiful because God is better than sexual preferences and gender identity! If we don’t believe that, then we turn God’s gift of sex and self into an idol.
And it seems our culture is in a battle for beauty. Sin is not beautiful. And though sexual sin and self-identity exploration may at first seem satisfying in the short-term, let me assure you the statistics are destructive. Sexual sin always promises to please but fails to fulfill; it takes you farther than you want to go, keeps you longer than you want to stay, and costs you more than you want to pay.
Disobedience to God’s word and doubt of God’s character looks more like defecating throughout the restaurant’s pantry and then complaining why your food is distasteful rather than something pleasant.
- Understand beauty not with human eyes but divine eternity. We can see many beautiful things and people in creation. Seriously, we were meant to be impressed with creation and enamored with creatures. But we must look beyond creation and creatures to the Creator, because “God has prepared for those who love Him what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart imagined” (1 Cor 2:19). “Oh, how abundant is the LORD’s goodness, which He has stored up for those who fear Him and for those who take refuge in Him” (Ps 31:19).
- We must also read and understand the Bible, so we don’t romanticize an idol. Everyone has some standard for their life. For the secular world their Bible or cultural creeds are essentially based on individualized truth (be true to yourself). Yet, customized preferences get into conflict with changing personalities and periods of time. Eventually, the foundations built on individualized pleasure results in oppression and anarchy.
For the believer, the standard and authority for understanding the design for our life is outside of self to Holy Scripture. We do not ask if faith in Jesus fits our identity or inclinations. We are not creating God in our image but instead reflect His image and submit ourselves to His identity and whom He calls us to become.
Our culture is in a battle for beauty. We must choose between God’s design or self desires as good, wise, and beautiful.Tweet
God’s design is balanced.
A second principle we see in Scripture is God’s design to balance His creatures. Genesis 1:26-28 “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness… So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” Further, Genesis 2 elucidates the creation of male and female with, “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him… So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brother her to the man” (Gen 2:18-22).
What we understand is that God balanced creatures – both animals and humans – as male and female, with humans being distinct in the image of God. In other words, there is something in God’s image/being that reflects both genders. So, both male and female gender are distinct and balanced. God designed it so that male and female anatomy is complementary to be fruitful and filling His creation. To remove God’s design of gender in a human is to ignore God’s sovereignty and to reject God’s authority and diminish God’s plan for procreation.
Clearly from Scripture, we know that what makes someone male/female are not stereotypes (boys play trucks/girls play dolls) but science.
- Genetic chromosomes
- Men have XY chromosomes.
- Women have XX chromosomes.
- External anatomy determines gender.
- Males have penis & scrotum.
- Females have breasts & vulva.
- Internal organs determine gender.
- Males have testicles.
- Females have ovaries & uterus.
- Endocrine system producing hormones determines gender.
- Males have higher testosterone levels – facial hair, muscle mass.
- Females have higher estrogen levels.
Further, we should also recognize a very small number (.018% population) of persons are born with atypical genetics or ambiguous genitalia. In these rare cases, further genetic or ultrasound testing, or other assessments may be needed.
This leads us to the specific topic at hand, known as “transgender”: people with an internal sense of being male/female/other that does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. By contrast, the term “cisgender” describes someone whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth.
It is worth repeating that Jesus and the New Testament affirm the Genesis blueprint for sexuality and gender (cf. Matthew 19:4-6; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 5-6; Ephesians 5-6; Colossians 3; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; 2 Timothy 3; Hebrews 13:4; 2 Peter 3;13-14; Jude 1:4-7; Revelation 21:8).
And while Gen1-2 is God’s ideal design, today we live in a Gen3 world that is profoundly impacted by sin. Therefore, we should not be surprised that people struggle with confusion, temptation, and sin on sexuality, gender, and any number of other topics.
To Adam and Eve, rejecting God’s design appeared good not harmful. Their decision has become an inherent pattern in humanity, so that we can easily be deceived over God’s good design. We are tempted to think self-pleasure, self-expression, and self-ambition are the heights of reaching human good. We ask, “Who or what does it harm if I satisfy my needs/identity?”
But this temptation thinks solely horizontally and neglects the vertical. We do not realize that our desires conflict with God’s design, and how our choices will have natural consequences.
Studies reveal that many transgender individuals may stem from trauma, and are sadly at exponential risk of a host of mental health challenges: mood and anxiety disorder, depression, and self-harm tendencies.
The cold reality is that adolescents, as well as some adults, are known to be curious, explore boundaries, and even challenge norms. Children are emotionally vulnerable and need space to ask questions and discern perspectives. For most children, gender dysphoria resolves by adulthood. Yet, today we have school boards, doctors, and parents making irreversible, life-altering and fertility destroying decisions upon children who will grow to experience significant physical/health challenges, not to mention the emotional anxiety and mental distress. In some cases, parents are either shockingly excluded from these decisions, or they are lied to in telling them stopping gender transition will lead to suicide (ex: “You can either have a dead daughter or an altered son”). Horrifying for all parties!
Overall, medical therapies and treatments are a broad and complex discussion, especially that which pertains to the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of an individual. I/we believe individual and multiple discussions should take place between family members, trusted friends, church leadership, and specifically professional medical counsel. Ordinarily, professional counsel and professionally prescribed medicines such as anti-depressants, and other positive mental health strategies can be helpful and less invasive for temporary or ongoing life challenges. Further, I/we would advise against an effort or action attempting to reverse natural biology or God’s design of human development. People who experience thoughts/feelings of gender dysphoria, or same-sex attraction, are not necessarily destined to such experiences permanently. Many who choose puberty blockers or transgender therapies undergo invasive procedures with irreversible consequences, and persons are still left with a sense of incompleteness.
Even further irony among the secular creed is that “trans-rights” are glaringly competing against “women’s rights” in the ideological agendas. The LGBTQ+ ideology and transgender equality is at odds with its allies of classic feminist values. “The revolution is eating its own.” Women’s voices and classic feminists are now being labeled as transphobic.
For example: from 2017-2020, Will Thomas competed on the University of Pennsylvania’s swim team. Yet, from 2021-2022, Will transitioned to Lia and competed on the women’s team from 2021-2022. Lia had significant success on the women’s league and became the first openly transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division 1 national championship in any sport.
Yet, biological males are pushing aside female athletes from scholarships, competitive victories and medals, and overall crowning accomplishments. The quest for equality is now steamrolling over people’s connection to reality.
- The biggest take away on this principle of balance/complementarity is being willing to listen to various perspectives and respect differences. Listening and learning does not equate to living or affirming a lie.
God’s design is blessing.
In Genesis, God’s original design ended with a shameless man and a secure woman in married bliss and living in a perfect and productive garden. Even more detailed, the Bible is filled with language about intimacy between husband and wife, and how that is a picture for the special union between Christ and the church.
When we follow God’s word and ways, we are not doing so blindly. We have generations of history that recount the blessing of God upon those who trust His wisdom – even when it doesn’t always make human sense or feel comfortable.
Ps 19:7-11 “The instruction of the LORD is perfect, renewing one’s life; the testimony of the LORD is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise. The precepts of the LORD are right, making the heart glad; the command of the LORD is radiant, making the eyes light up. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the LORD are reliable and altogether righteous. They are more desirable than gold – than an abundance of pure gold; and sweeter than honey. In addition, Your servant is warned by them; there is great reward in keeping them.”
- Following the Bible’s commands about sexuality and gender might go against the grain of your thinking. But, God’s blessing isn’t about being affirmed by culture but accepted into His kingdom.
1Jn 5:3 “For this is what love for God is: to keep His commands, and His commands are not a burden because whoever has been born of God conquers the world.”
My wife has had 5 children by natural birth, with the lowest birthing weight of our first child at 8lbs 10oz. Each one increased weight and had unique birthing stories that I will spare you the details, except one minor particular. With our first child, Danielle received the epidural and it worked overtime, so much that she even slept during contractions; she was actually +2cm and numb with difficulty to push. The last child had no time to even consider an epidural. Z almost was almost delivered in the hospital lobby as she was rushed upstairs and I stayed behind since I had the other kids. After a few moments, which seemed like forever, grandparents met us in the lobby and I did a sonic-run upstairs. Immediately upon entering the maternity doorway I’m seeing nurses wheeling a bed from a holding room to a regular room and calling for a doctor with Danielle screaming at every person in earshot “He’s coming!”
Our bodies experience significant pain in this world. Whether it’s labor, or physical injuries of back, neck, hips, or knees… or emotional tolls of grief and hardship.
Romans 8:18-23 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us… For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
My friend, none of us are satisfied with our Genesis 3 body. However alienated we feel from our flesh, it will be redeemed. We yearn for resurrected bodies without confusion, tears, temptation, trials, tragedy, nor death! And we know this because of the agonizing pain and heartbreaking sorrow of the greatest man who ever died – the Lord Jesus Christ.
None of us are satisfied w/ our Genesis 3 body. However alienated we feel from our flesh, it will be redeemed without confusion, tears, temptation, trials, tragedy, nor death! And we know this bc of the agonizing pain & heartbreaking sorrow & life-giving hope of Jesus Christ.Tweet
 Some insights from What Is a Woman? (str.org).
 Rebecca McLaughlin “The Secular Creed: Engaging 5 Contemporary Claims.” You can also access a free e-book link: https://media.thegospelcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/05104344/the-secular-creed-oct21-3.pdf On the topic of transgender, a host of sources but primarily Andrew Walker, God and the Transgender Debate.
 To intro but please review each: Luke Gilkerson, The Talk: 7 Lessons To Introduce Your Child To Biblical Sexuality. Or, Jim Burns, Teaching Your Children Healthy Sexuality. Or, Jessica Thompson & Joel Fitzpatrick, Mom, Dad… What’s Sex?. And Justin & Lindsey Holcomb, God Made All Of Me. Or Hillary Morgan Ferrer, Mama Bear Apologetics Guide To Sexuality.
 See Tim Keller’s Reason For God and chapter 8 for full discussion.
 Alvin Plantiga, “Dennett’s Dangerous Idea” in Books and Culture (May-June 1996): 35.
 https://ysph.yale.edu/news-article/transgender-individuals-at-greater-risk-of-mental-health-problems/, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-17794-1
 See paragraphs from Rebecca McLaughlin, The Secular Creed, pp.90, ff.
 McLaughlin, The Secular Creed, pp.87, ff.