Today, gender is seen as only a “social construct,” an idea that is formed primarily, if not only, by society. “Sometimes boys grew up to be women. And girls grew up to be men,” writes Leah Raeder, a current fiction author.1 Our culture is determined to eliminate the idea that an individual’s gender is determined at conception. We are attempting with every means possible to remove the understanding that gender is fixed.
Even beyond that we celebrate those who in our minds “destroy the status quo.” Bruce Jenner – a perfect illustration – became an instant household name when he transitioned to Caitlyn Jenner; a choice for which he was strongly commended by our cultural elites. “I think he is going to have a tremendous impact on popular culture,” says Dwight Stones, a Olympic high-jump medalist. “The parents of kids who are suppressing this, or trying to find a way to reveal themselves to the people they care about, are going to know who Bruce Jenner is. That might smooth the way or make the reality a little less difficult.”2
As I watch our culture’s understanding of gender evolve, it leaves me wondering whether it’s truly important to distinguish between male and female, men and women. Does it matter or is it fluid as our culture says? Are men and women different?
Before I address the question of gender, I ask you to honestly consider it – whether you are one who celebrates gender fluidity or one who holds staunchly to clear distinctions between men and women. What you and I believe on this will affect every area of our lives – relationships, work, faith, home-life, etc.
Answering the question honestly may be difficult or even awkward, but, as Christians, we cannot shrink back from God’s truth. Both Scripture – our ultimate authority – and biology validate distinctions between men and women; distinctions given by a Creator who knows us best because he created us.
Distinct and Valuable
Scripture reveals that in the beginning, God created mankind in his image and likeness, male and female.3 Each was created distinct and valuable, and both reflected the image and likeness of God.4 “God created woman as a uniquely formed gift for man — and man as a gift for woman.”5 Out of the creation of male and female flows God’s intention for marriage and the family. God designed our gender and sexuality, not to make us feel trapped in our biological gender, but to reflect his character and lead us to joy, family, relationships, pleasure, marriage, and children. God gave us these things because he loves us, not as a prison.
Biology Shows Distinction
Not only does God instruct us in Scripture on male and female distinctions, but our biology reflects it; a biological difference indicated in ways even beyond means of reproduction and hormones. Science is continuing to find ways in which men and women differ. Here are just a few examples:
– “As a rule, a male brain is about 10 percent heavier than a female brain, reflecting general difference in body size.”6
– Women’s brains show “significantly stronger patterns of interconnectivity across brain regions — including across the hemispheres.”7
– “On average, the areas of the brain involving language and fine-motor skills mature earlier in girls, while the parts of the brain involved in targeting and spatial memory mature earlier in boys.”8
“Although some women are stronger than some men, the average man’s heavier bones, bulkier muscles, broader shoulders and larger heart and lungs make him physically stronger than the average woman.”9
The characteristics listed above are taken from among hundreds. “Some are average or relative differences, while others are absolute… They are real physical differences, differences that impact individuals, families and cultures.”10
As displayed by both Scripture and biology, male and female distinctives are determined and unchanging, but how do you and I, as Christians, live in a culture that believes gender is fluid?11 How do we interact with those who, like Caitlyn Jenner, live a transgender lifestyle? In all honesty, I don’t have any black and white answers. There are two things, however, I believe we need to keep in mind.
We do not need to fear when responding to our culture. Regardless of the repercussions, we can confidently speak the truth about gender and sexuality. Our confidence is not built on sand, but rather on an objective truth, unchanging and steadfast. In addition, you and I can be bold, not because we have all the answers, but because God will be faithful to give us the words to speak in each situation.
Avoiding pride and condemnation is essential when interacting with our culture. We must approach all people with a spirit of grace and love – not that we avoid the truth about gender, but rather present it as one who is also in need of grace. Look for opportunities to befriend those around you, always keeping in mind God’s generous grace that led him to die for us, even though we rebelled against His design. When we remember this fact, our interactions and conversations with our culture will change. We will love them as people created by God while searching for ways to share His grace with them. [For more on interacting with homosexuals, read “A Biblical Response to Homosexuality” by Seth Lehman]
The Glory of God
As Christians, we have the answers to the questions posed at the beginning of this article. Gender distinctions are important. God created these differences for His glory and our joy as validated by both Scripture and biology. Therefore, rather than striving to change our God-given gender, we should seek to honor God through our femininity and masculinity.
|Aaron Beery lives in Elnora, Indiana, and has one brother and two younger sisters. He is receiving Biblical counseling training at Elnora Bible Institute while working as the school’s administrative assistant. He enjoys playing piano, singing, reading and horseback-riding. He hopes to use counseling in this sin-cursed world to speak into people’s lives for the glory of God.|
1. “Quotes About Gender Identity (53 Quotes).” (53 Quotes). N.p., n.d. Web. 03 June 2017.
2. Lyall, Sarah, and Jacob Bernstein. “The Transition of Bruce Jenner: A Shock to Some, Visible to All.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 06 Feb. 2015. Web. 27 May 2017.
3. Genesis 1-2
4. Johnson, Jeff. “Created in God’s Image as Male and Female.” Focus on the Family. Focus on the Family, 2015. Web. 27 May 2017.
6. Carol Ann Rinzler, Why Eve Doesn’t Have an Adam’s Apple: A Dictionary of Sex Differences, (Facts on File: NY, 1996), p. 4.
7. Cahill, ibid.
8. Ibid., p. 108.
9. Ibid., p. 129.
10. Johnson, Jeff. “Male and Female: Biology Matters.” Focus on the Family. Focus on the Family, 2015. Web. 27 May 2017.
11. In rare cases people are born intersex. I understand this challenges the idea of fixed gender. I believe this is a rare problem which is a result of life in a broken world. Sin affects every area of life, even our biology. If someone is interested in further reading on this subject, I recommend What Is The Meaning Of Sex by Denny Burk. He covers this on Pages 169-183.