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Clarity about Gender and Identity

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Like sexuality, gender identity is a powerful part of the human experience. And like sexuality, the topic of gender identity is presently clouded in a great deal of confusion and emotion. Gender dysphoria is simultaneously a genuine struggle some people go through and a bobble exploited by those who want unfettered autonomy. Thus, the motivations for discussing and even advocating for acceptance of transgenderism are different. Both need a clear response.

For example, when Miley Cyrus called herself pansexual or even “a genderless soul,” she wasn’t experiencing any genuine sense of gender dysphoria. She was expressing her desire to autonomously self-identify. There is a vast difference between that kind of desire and a desire for the well-being of those with genuine gender dysphoria. A crucial step toward clarity on this issue is understanding that important distinction.

Amid the confusion of Christians mistreating people with gender dysphoria to prop up their sense of self-righteousness, and progressives mistreating them to advance their agenda of autonomy, those with real identity struggles are forgotten.

Christ alone understands who we are through and through. And because of that each one of us in our fractured states needs to come to Him. That doesn’t guarantee that everything will be fine at the instant of belief. But if Jesus is the one who makes all things new—and His resurrection from the dead proves that He is—then we will find congruence and wholeness either in this life or in the next. We will be understood. That’s not a matter of mere preference. It’s a matter of fact.

The need of the hour is for biblically faithful compassion. The church needs to open its doors and Christians need to open their hearts so that those struggling to find resolution to their dysphoria—and those who are struggling to find clarity amidst other confusions—can find community and, ultimately, their true identity in Christ. In Christ, they can be understood.

It’s crucial that we understand the interconnectedness of our minds and our bodies. God’s original intent is for harmony between one’s soul and one’s body. This is why Christians, of all people, should be compassionately concerned with helping people find mind-body congruence. For the Christian, the mind and the body are both important and were meant to work harmoniously. That’s the very hope of the bodily resurrection Christians are waiting for.

This biblical perspective defends our integrity as whole human beings in contradistinction to the secular effort to reduce us to our chemistry and jettison any idea that we have an immaterial mind or soul. If we are mere machines, then we can see why some think that the body should be changed to match the psychological gender experience. But any attempt to reduce the struggle over gender identity to brain structure and biochemistry is an illegitimate attempt to reduce us to mere meat computers once again.

That is why the invitation of Christ has come in this order: recognition, repentance, redemption, regeneration. When we recognize our need for the Savior (because of our sins in general, not because of our dysphoria), repentance happens and then we are redeemed. But that redemption works itself out in our lives over time. It is the Holy Spirit who lives and works in us to conform us to Jesus’ likeness. It is not an overnight process, which means the church must do a better job of helping that process along. The church needs to foster community.

With that regeneration of our spirit comes the renewal of identity. We shed our artificial, fractured identities, those that we and the world have constructed for ourselves, so that we can gain a restored, genuine identity in Christ. When we exercise unfettered autonomy, we lose sight of our sacredness and become prisoners to our own freedoms. But when we find our true identity in Christ, we bind ourselves to His lordship and find a liberating means to become who we were truly made to be.

Questions
  • Why is it so important for Christians to avoid the mistake of conflating legitimate gender dysphoria with willful rebellion against God? How can this result in unwarranted judgment or exclusion from church, two forms of mistreatment that can interfere with someone’s ability to find their true identity in Christ?
  • The Bible affirms that we are functional composites of body and soul; we are not our brains or mere “thinking meat.” Given this truth, why are attempts to reduce the struggle over gender identity to brain structure and biochemistry doomed to fail?
Bible Passages
  • Genesis 1:27
  • Matthew 19:4–6
  • Matthew 23:37
  • Luke 13:34
  • Deuteronomy 32:18
  • Isaiah 66:13
  • Galatians 5:16
  • Matthew 16:25
Devotional by Abdu Murray @ RZIM
 
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