For the previous articles in this series please click on the links below.
Chapter One: Transgender: Hellbound or Holy?
Three considerations rule the collective mind in our world today. Whether it is advertising, sitcoms, TV news, or talk radio nearly every story you’ll hear or see comes down to these three…
How good does it feel, how easy is it, and how does it look? Think about the number of times you ask yourself versions of those questions everyday. For me it is likely hundreds, and I’m known for being so introverted as to almost treat other people as a figment of my imagination. The desire for comfort, convenience, and appearance intrudes into every aspect of our lives.
In our churches it takes many forms. Forms of worship are often tailored to be acceptable to the demographic the church is interested in drawing in. The “dress code” is the same. Conscious decisions are made all along the way of developing the culture within individual houses of worship based on the factors of comfort, convenience, and appearance. In most cases this is completely legitimate. Where one many may be transported into the presence of God by the demure and unaccompanied singing of decades old hymns, others may receive the same imbuement of holiness from something more akin to a rock concert. If the worship opens the individual up to the movement and presence of the Holy Spirit there can be no real basis for objection. However, when our pastors, elders, bishops, and conferences seek to reinterpret the revealed will of God in the scriptures to suit the cultural moods of the day then we have seen the ultimate ascendency of comfort, convenience, and appearance over bedrock human faculties like logic, reason, sound doctrine, plain reading, and yes even love.
The counterculture of decades past is increasingly the culture of today, and in today’s culture the words comfort, convenience, and appearance may be replaced with words and phrases such as: tolerance, multiculturalism, acceptance, affirmation, right side of history, etc. As with the concepts they ultimately call back to all of these terms have a proper place in shaping society. They always have, but when they are employed to attempt to persuade God’s people to accept what God has condemned we would do well to be wary.
These days a number of issues and sub-issues are being discussed on these terms. The one I’ve chosen to focus on for the foreseeable future, due to it’s relevance, is the Transgender issue. It is fraught with these hyper-emotional arguments without ever focusing in on the base issues. For example, there are evidently now more than fifty gender identification options. This is a layer on top of the confusion about whether or not a person can be born in a body with certain genetic makeup and yet have a sense of themselves being a gender other than the one the genetics indicate. This has become such a serious matter that fines have been proposed in New York City for businesses that do not use the correct pronouns when referring to their customers or potential customers. In the UK men are being referred to as “Transphobic” if in the course of becoming intimate with a date they had thought was a biological female, they find out “she” is a pre-operative transgendered female and decide to cut the date short. It’s enough to make a person mourn the death of reason in our time.
I’m not denying that any individual may have a sense of themselves that does not conform with hard edged stereotypes of binary gender (male/man/boy, female/woman/girl). It should not be controversial to say that there is a degree of cultural conditioning in my view of what a Man is and what a Woman is. Just as it should not be controversial to say that there are fundamental and scientifically verifiable differences between the sexes as well. Finally, it should not be controversial to say that between these ultimate expressions of Male and Female, Man and Woman lies a spectrum of ways we see those “identities” expressed in the real world, where things are ultimately messy. The real question is does this give us the basis for disregarding and ultimately tossing out the created order of sexual and gender identity in favor of a confused and irretrievably convoluted set of self-determined and self-defined pronouns? I submit the answer is a hearty and resounding NO.
In our minds and spirits we know this even when we don’t know how to express it. There is no logic in saying binary gender is nothing but culturally agreed upon stereotypes and then identifying yourself through a mish-mash of the symbols of those stereotypes. The bearded man wearing a dress does not destroy the stereotypes of male and female, he affirms them in new ways so obvious he apparently can not see them. The hard truth is that no person or thing can rightly draw its identity from within itself. We are defined by how and by whom we came to be. This is why atheism ultimately leads to spiritual meaninglessness and why transgender identity can never be more than an expression of the deep brokenness of man and the world God has given him.
Opposing the Transgender movement at this time and in these ways (by the use of reason, logic, and scripture) is not comfortable, it is not convenient, and if they have their way it will appear to be anything other than right, loving, and acceptable. In the end the transgendered person can not be made to bear the opposition of the confessing church to their entire movement. We must welcome them in by offering the comforts true doctrine and Christian charity allow. We can not forget that the only hope that any man, woman, or child has in this life is Christ, regardless of their individual sin. As for our brothers and sisters who would compromise and accommodate the movement, we must oppose them in truth and love. We must be strident in our disagreement while ever seeking to draw them back into right fellowship. If, however, they insist on going their own way we must cut them loose. Cast them out, shake their dust off our feet, and acknowledge that they have taken to themselves new Gods. They have raised up idols not made of gold or stone but made of flesh and blood. They have exalted their own comfort, convenience, and appearance above their True King. They have chosen to worship the created things as though they were the creator. God will not hold them blameless for those lead astray by their misguided pursuits.