I have struggled for many days about whether or not to post this, and so after the encouragement of some friends, I have decided to do so. If you read this, please commit to it and read through to the end, particularly my post script.
Often I will stay out of hot button issues just because I hate fueling fires unless said fire is necessary for warmth and light; however…there is one recent controversy which has left me completely bewildered.
To put it bluntly, I’m astonished at whole issue of “gender identity.” For the life of me, I cannot fathom why this is an issue at all. Whatever happened to common sense and reason? Gender is somewhat startlingly evident by certain physical markers, thus it is not a detail that is difficult to assess.
And while I am a Christian — and openly so — I feel strongly that the concept of gender has less to do with any one person or group’s Christianity or lack thereof than it has to do with any one person or group’s ability to be sensible. I am puzzled as to why this thing is often made a point of Christian vs. Non-Christian when it is solely a matter of facts vs. fiction or reality vs. fantasy. This is not a hateful viewpoint; it is a rational one. It is patently absurd to haul words like “love” and “hate” into the thing at all.
You see, a person’s identity is not and has never been a basis for reality, but identity certainly should be affected by reality. We teach this to every three-year-old who zooms around the room wearing a pillowcase for a cape. He may indulge this fantastical identity as a superhero to a point, but the moment the tyke attempts to fly from the upper story window ought to be the point at which the loving parent intervenes with a healthy dose of reality.
To put it another way, I may identify myself as a 7-foot tall, black NBA player, but an appointment to be fitted by the Big and Tall Men’s shop, a peek in the dressing-room mirror, or about six seconds on the court would lay that fantasy to rest rather efficiently. The reality of my shortness, pasty whiteness, and sports-related ineptitude would give lie to my belief.
Why is it, then, that the reality of physical gender has become such a stumbling block? I’m not saying that people might not be genuinely confused, but isn’t it more loving to help them deal with the reality of their circumstance rather than redefine what is and is not “real?” As a culture, have we forsaken reason altogether?
I wonder sometimes. It frightens me to think of whole groups of people careening through life without a tether to anything so concrete as reality, though I daresay that the sensation of free-floating must be, at times, even more frightening to them. When I think of it in those terms, it makes me terribly sad.
But since many insist on dragging Christ’s name into this mess, I will address the matter from that standpoint as well. Perhaps it is inevitable, for He is never far in my thoughts on any matter; this one is no different.
If this world has entirely forsaken facts for feelings, then I do have an appeal to make to my brothers and sisters in Christ. This is one of those points at which we must, must rally around the cross. We have a solemn duty to uphold the truth of the One who first created us and then ransomed us through no merit of our own — and truth as He created it and not as we interpret it. We must be humble, but humbly accepting His truth and not the world’s version. Truth and reality were not our creation and therefore are not ours to rewrite, and I fear we cannot bend truth to please mankind when to do so would dishonor our Creator.
Besides that, I do believe that fallout will come of this eventually, perhaps not for all but for some. The initial thrill of abandon caused by casting off anchors to truth will diminish. Soon confusion and fear will set in as lives affected by this faux freedom find themselves in dismay, floundering in the deep with nothing to indicate up from down; no beacons to indicate a right turning from a wrong one.
At that point, we need to be there; a levelheaded people of Truth standing on the firm foundation of the Rock of Ages, ready to give an answer to the hope that is within us to a deluded and frightened world; a hope that is in Jesus Christ alone.
Make no mistake: Jesus did come to save sinners and He does come to all of us just as we are. That is truth. However, it is only a part of the truth. He comes to us as we are, dressed in filthy rags , blind and disease-ridden, but He does not leave us there.
Because of His love for us, He heals the blindness, cleanses us of the disease, and dresses us in His own garment of righteousness. In fact, He gave his life to pay a debt we cannot pay.
We have no choice, none of us, but to come to Jesus just as we are: sinners enslaved by sin. However, we cannot remain as we are and still walk with Him. There must be a change, a yielding to His authority and a dying to self, even to self-identification.
As His ambassadors, we who are in Christ must hold fast to truth. Who will speak truth and life into madness and decay and show the way out if it is not those who belong to the Way, the Truth, and the Life? If we fear being labeled “intolerant” more than we fear tolerating wrongness, what good do we do? Does love ever tolerate those habits or practices that cause ultimate harm to the beloved? Not at all!
Do not become confused by shifting ideologies nor afraid to speak intolerantly of deceit, my brothers and sisters! Love people enough to tell the truth, enough to be intolerant of those things that may cause temporary pleasure but will bring eternal harm. Jesus is, was, and always will be the only hope we have in this world, and it is His truth — THE truth — that provides genuine freedom.
“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31b-32)
Post Script — Because of the current social climate, I feel it important to add this. When it comes to the whole issue of gender or sexual identity, I am absolutely not picking on one sin over another. The reason I speak so passionately against sexual sin is that I was once enslaved to it. Though all my iniquities were committed with men, they were not by any means lesser sins. They were grievous and horrible, and although I have received forgiveness, I still carry memories that I wish I could shed.
I know the danger, I know the corruption, and I was rescued from it by the grace of God. It is from genuine love that I long for that same rescue to all who remain enslaved, wherever in the spectrum of sexual sin their particulars may fall.
That being said, I reiterate that do not see the gender identity issue as much an issue of “worse” sin — again, it is simply a matter of facts vs. fiction. I am not appealing to a lost world to act saved; I am appealing to all mankind to act rationally.