Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Anonymous Asks (4)

“Does God not accept or dislike the genders in the LGBTQ+ community?”

Interesting question, and it requires that we define our terms a bit first, as certain groups are currently playing fast and loose with the word “gender”. The following is a little bit of linguistic history nicked from Infogalactic:

“Sexologist John Money introduced the terminological distinction between biological sex and gender as a role in 1955. Before his work, it was uncommon to use the word gender to refer to anything but grammatical categories. However, Money’s meaning of the word did not become widespread until the 1970s, when feminist theory embraced the concept of a distinction between biological sex and the social construct of gender.”

I believe this is more or less accurate. Let’s go with it.

When Dinosaurs Walked the Earth

Having not read John Money (frankly, I don’t know anyone who did), I grew up with “gender” as strictly a grammar term. The questions on driver’s license and passport applications asked you to fill in “Sex” (M or F), not “Gender”. In most places they still do. Nobody outside of certain urban subcultures cared what gender you thought you were, because unless you were from that microscopic percentage of the population born with sex organs of both sorts, the answer was one of two possibilities easily determined by a quick glance downward in the shower.

The idea of “gender expression” was a bit of a joke even into the early 1990s, when the Saturday Night Live character Pat, played by Julia Sweeney, was introduced. Pat was convincingly androgynous. The running gag in the sketches was that nobody could tell whether the character was a he or a she. I doubt you could pull that off today, as finding humor in Pat’s plight would probably be considered hurtful (and calling it a “plight” would make you a “hater”).

New Views and Intellectual Chaos

Today, nobody agrees on how many modes of gender expression (or “gender identities”) exist. It is claimed that gender is a “spectrum” reflecting how an individual experiences the world, not a fixed biological reality. It is said to be a “social construct”. Tumblr recently listed 100+ gender identities, many of which even secular readers claimed made no sense. Because these are subjective rather than objective categories, based entirely on the feelings of individuals, most attempts to pin down the various gender categories leave the door open for substantial future revision.

If you’ve grown up with the “Genderbread Person” in public school, you’ll have some familiarity with the basic concept and all the confusion it creates. There is no science for this. It is simply taught as fact.

The observable reality is that the overwhelming majority of people are born biologically male or female. (Even intersex advocacy groups concede surgeries to correct physical ambiguities at birth are somewhere below 0.2%, or less than two per thousand live births.) The plain statement of scripture is that God created us that way. The Old Testament says it (“Male and female he created them”), and Jesus repeated it. He taught it authoritatively. People who claim to follow Jesus Christ need to accept this and reflect it in the way we dress, speak, move, think and conduct ourselves.

Boys Will Be Girls

Until 1931, sex reassignment was a flat-out impossibility. Early attempts often resulted in death. Men or women could be sexually mutilated (a practice the Bible condemns) but not “reassigned” in any way. Men who felt they would be happier as women (or vice versa) had to be content with mimicking the opposite sex, another practice the Bible condemns as “an abomination”.

The New Testament speaks of “soft” men (the Greek malakos is used for male prostitutes, the effeminate, and the submissive member of a homosexual pair). “Soft men” (and “hard women”) can certainly become Christians, but the same passage in Corinthians plainly states that people who insist on continuing to live this way will not enter the kingdom of God. Those who ultimately refuse to abandon that lifestyle are not genuine believers. Their preferred form of self-expression is more important to them than loyalty to Christ.

Non-Binary Complications

These verses create severe complications and challenges for would-be followers of Christ who feel an acute desire to express themselves in some manner not usually associated with their biological sex. There is no real way for a professing Christian to identify as something other than male or female and be genuinely Christian about it.

There is also a big problem created by the fact that those who choose a non-binary way to express gender have no direction as to how to behave in relationships or in the church. All the instruction we have from the writers of the New Testament about how to behave in our various Christian roles is addressed to “husbands”, “wives”, “men” and “women”. Anyone who rejects these categories is bound to have more than a little difficulty adopting the daily behaviors consistent with a Christian life, marriage and public testimony.

Love That Demands Change

So, back to the original question then: “Does God not accept or dislike the genders in the LGBTQ+ community?” The answer of scripture is that God extends his love to all. He is “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance,” and that definitely includes people who currently identify as something other than male or female. The Lord Jesus loves gender-confused people, and so should Christians who want to be more like him.

But the key word here is “repentance”. Repentance is a change of mind that results in a changed life. If the sexually immoral, idolaters and adulterers cannot inherit the kingdom of God without giving up their sinful lifestyles, how can LGBTQ+ people who refuse to give up theirs expect to be treated any differently by God?

Following Christ demands lifestyle changes from all of us, some of which can at first be quite painful. Later, we come to appreciate the wisdom of God in these matters. LGBTQ+ individuals who are determined to follow Christ are no different from the rest of us in that respect.

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