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Remind Them That They Are Good

Posted: June 06, 2016 by James Harvey

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

All that God made he declared good, including our gender. However, unless you have successfully unplugged from modern life for the past several months you know that our culture is now encouraging children and youth to question the basic goodness of their sex:

Do you feel you have more in common with female classmates? Do you find it hard fitting in with the girls? Are your interests more aligned with those of opposite sex than of the same sex? Are you picked on or bullied because the aura you project is regarded as too masculine to be a girl or too feminine to be boy?  If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then maybe you should try it. Try seeing what it feels like to be the opposite gender.  You can take it one step at a time.  Experiment.  Don’t let your biological sex get in the way. 

Such thinking is the fruit of decades of philosophical development.   Philosophers and social theorists have argued that gender is not tied to biology, but to social constructs.  Anatomy is not determinative; our blouses and button downs make us girls and boys.  Performative theory says that our gender identity is determined by repeated actions, not our biology.  So we can see why bathrooms are important.  What do all humans do regularly?  Exactly.  According to performative theory where we do this determines our gender.  Each human can chart their own course and become who they wish to be. Sounds very American if you think about it—a brand of American self-actualization completely untethered from the influence of the Bible. 

Scientists observe that the difference between male and female is more discreet at the chemical and anatomical level than many assume.  These discreet differences are by design.  They are points of contact between distinct genders who share a common human nature.  But the performative theorist sees such discreet differences as accidental and vulnerable to adaption if desired.     

It is true that creation doesn’t always function properly; we live on the other side of the fall.  Frailties, infirmities and abnormalities influence the development of gender.  There are even rare cases of people who are clearly gendered, but whose genitalia did not develop properly or who have an abnormal number of sex chromosomes. But such cases don’t justify elimination gender as some argue.  We view special cases in gender through other categories Scripture, categories which ultimately give hope.  God preserves the goodness of his creation as a testimony to his glory.  He sends his Son to restore all things through the cross.  And he promises a consummation in which the imperfect will be perfected.  We maintain the goodness of gender in this life, but there are better things that await us all in the life to come. 

Our gender should not be untethered from our biological sex regardless of our affinities, temperament or degree of resonance with our peers.  Dressing trans is not wrong because a boy decides to wear a dress.  It is wrong because he does this not accepting that, as a male, he is declared good.  He is not embracing the gift of God’s creation, but is seeking to recreate himself. 

Some boys and girls are truly remarkable when compared to their peers.  Jacob stayed home to cook while his brother Esau went hunting.  David played the harp to calm Saul’s heart and wrote amazing poetry. Stereotypes fail us. There are young people who are extraordinary outliers.  And, being an outlier can hurt. The immature taunt and shun outliers.  These young people who are hurting need healing. From God? Of course.  But also from mature adults and peers who understand that embracing one’s God-given gender is the foundation for developing their unique gifts and temperament.  We build upon foundations. We don’t tear them down.  And we remind young people that God made them good, very good, as male or female.