From the unpacking of the sociological, the scientific, and the scriptural elements of this topic, it should be readily apparent that this is a fairly complicated topic, yet it is not one in which the Christian is unable to figure out the challenge and form an appropriate response. So then, how do we respond to both the deconstruction of gender as well as to those who are genuinely in distress?
By first understanding the ontological truth that we are all broken. The implication of original sin is that all of God’s good creation has been tainted by it, including us and our bodies. As such, we need to understand that we are not in our optimal state and, that all of us fall far short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We are all broken. Whether physically, mentally, or spiritually. This is why, as Christians, we need to approach this topic in complete and utter humility, knowing that we are just as broken as those who are struggling with the issue. It would be entirely disingenuous to think we are better, and this is why we need to be very careful and wary that we are not seduced into constructing a façade. That we have everything ‘down pat’ and are ‘above and beyond’ the capacity to be influenced by sin.
Those who struggle with gender dysphoria have a genuine issue which needs to be treated with uttermost care. The feelings of gender dysphoria are not sinful in themselves. In our sinful, fallen, bodies we need to realize that some are predisposed to be more inclined to certain things; which are ultimately against God. Like, in how some of us are more predisposed to pride than others; others may wrestle with temptation and lust more than others. So too, it must be understood that these feelings that these people wrestle with are not necessarily sinful at all; and these people need to be given the love and care they deserve as fellows’ humans made in the image of God. Gender concerns are not always a mental disorder, nor are they always a “choice”. We need to remember that people with gender dysphoria do not choose to struggle with these concerns.
However, at the same time, we need to acknowledge that choices made from wrestling with these concerns can be sinful. As established earlier, gender is not something that should be bridged; it is a sacred institution given to us by God – and any attempts to change one body from one gender to the other is a violation of this framework. Another additional verses come to mind, which demonstrate this careful protection of this gendered distinction. Which is from Deuteronomy 23:1, wherein it states: “No one who has been emasculated by crushing or cutting may enter the assembly of the LORD.” This verse, in the context, is talking about those who were not allowed to be at the Israelite assembly as they were deemed as unholy – or rather, going against God’s established framework. In Deuteronomy 23:1, the reason as to why a eunuch (as in, one who is emasculated through the crushing of the testicles or the cutting of the penis) was not allowed was because it violated the physical sexual integrity of an individual as given by God’s ‘very good’. The Bible is incredibly clear, there are two genders that God created, ‘male’ and ‘female’ – there is no other. Whilst, we do have the physical anomalies due to sexual development disorders; this in no way shows a that there is a gender outside of these two. Thus, Christians cannot endorse any deviation from God’s created order; nor can we endorse transferring between the two.
Yet, at the same time, we need to ensure that we approach individuals struggling with such gender concerns in a way which is redemptive. As in, we need to recognize the very real difficulties that they are genuinely undergoing. We need to listen, we need to feel their hurt and pain. However, most of all, we need to be able to share with them God’s word about who they are before a Holy and Sovereign God, what Jesus has achieved, and the necessity of repentance and faith. As we walk with them, and lovingly point them towards the actions achieved at Calvary, we need to fervently pray for the regeneration within them by God’s Spirit. And if, by the grace of God, this person does really want to give their life to God, we need to help them truly understand the impact of sin, which is the absolute rejection of God through the rebellion against Him as Lord and Creator.
It means helping them understand that God didn’t create sex or gender as malleable, but as ‘male’ and ‘female’. It means showing them that by following the individualistic philosophy of ‘we are whatever we want to be’, we are logically elevating ourselves as the God of our lives. It means demonstrating to them how we have spurred God in His own creation. By the guiding of these individual through such things, we must also point out what their identity is in Christ, and firmly help them understand that becoming a Christian requires nothing short of coming to Christ as you are and letting His truth transform you as you follow Him. This means helping them establish that their identity is not who they envisage themselves to be, but rather helping them assume a Christocentric identity with the idea that they are a ‘new creation’, a child of God, created in His image, to glorify Him. It is a fundamental Gospel reality, that as we come to Christ – we find our identity in Him and only in Him; we are to deny ourselves in all ways, as we pick up the cross, and follow Christ. Our desires, should be Christ’s desires.
This will mean that we will want to help reclaim their God-given identity, and this will mean that we will likely call them by their original name and identify them by their birth sex. After all, if we believe that God is sovereign and like David, in Psalm 139:13, that God knitted us together whilst in our mother’s womb; then it means we need to be obedient to his creation, and to his sovereignty. Whilst this is not necessarily going to change the fact that this individual feels distressed regarding their gender identity, it will be our job to walk with them, to care for them, and to fundamentality demonstrate to them that peace does not come through anything we do but rather through what God has done, and who we are in Him. We need to help them to see that we are all living in bodies which have been tainted by the physical consequence of sin, as we all bear imperfections, conditions, and ailments. And in a fallen world, peace will never be fully felt nor seen here due to the constant discord that surrounds us, but it can be found in Christ and the hope we have through Him; knowing that all who believe will eventually have better, renewed, bodies; free from the discord they face here on earth. This is especially so, with the false hope of transitioning which is being presented to them – that it will make everything okay – it won’t, and it won’t necessarily make anything more bearable. It is only through Jesus Christ, that we have a hope of eternal life where our brokenness will be undone. Where we will be raised with perfected bodies, free from the taint and corruption of sin. All distress – all the brokenness in this world – will fade away in the eventual coming to past of this truth: God “will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away”. This is the only true hope that can ultimately satisfy – not only individuals with gender dysphoria, but all people – all of us – who are broken.
If we buy into the notion that we should encourage these individuals – especially those who profess Christ — to consider transitioning in order to manage their distress, then we are simply replacing the one, true, hope with a cheap imitation; An imitation marked as solution which can never truly resolve the distress. And judging from the research regarding high mortality rate of those who transition and the numerous stories of those who desire to revert after having undergone such operations, that is precisely what ‘transitioning’ is — a false hope. Christian, I implore you, do not jump onto the societal narrative to encourage the ‘hope’ that transitioning supposedly provides, but instead, point them to the one and only hope that we have, so it may become theirs as well. Let us carry their burdens, helping them to see the finish line which is in Christ, and in Christ alone.
Written for and published in Evangelical Action.