Is Sexual Self-Identification Enough?

Title: Is Sexual Self-Identification Enough?
Text: Deuteronomy 22:5, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, James 3:1, Matthew 18:5-6
Time: May 11th, 2015

I recently heard on the news that presidential candidate Rick Santorum recently stated, “If Bruce Jenner says he’s a woman, then he’s a woman,” in response to a question posed to him. I did a double-take when I heard it because Santorum is usually a solid conservative Christian voice in the midst of a secular and morally relativistic culture, so I was shocked and a little disappointed when I heard his reply. He went on to say in the same comment that we should learn to love and respect people, and that there’s a difference between judging a person’s actions and judging a person for who they are. We can judge a person’s behavior right or wrong, but not the person. Like I said, Santorum is usually counted on to speak moral clarity in a chaotic world of immoral confusion, but in this instance he’s got it totally wrong. I guess if you are running for president you have to be careful how you answer and lean on the side of cultural acceptability – and there’s no question that our culture is rapidly accepting of homosexuality and now apparently transgenderism too. So we can understand why any presidential candidate would answer in such a tolerance-based way in light of the growing acceptance to all kinds of deviant sexuality in society. But I thought Santorum was running for president as an alternative Christian voice in opposition to the mainstream conservative compromising on social issues such as gay marriage, and so forth? But his reply is anything like an alternative Christian voice, but instead it sounds pretty mainstream from where I’m standing. Now some secular news commentators explain Santorum’s flip-flop or waffle on this question on the basis of money, pure and simple. They claim that he has some wealthy donors that care a lot more about economic issues than social issues, and even some who might be gay or transgendered, so he’s trying hard not to totally offend those who are sympathetic to Bruce Jenner and the likes. For all we know, as a former world-class athlete to another athlete, Santorum might even know Bruce Jenner and doesn’t want to alienate himself from him. It’s hard to say what the motivation is for candidate Santorum for answering in such a compromising way. Maybe he just hadn’t enough time to think it through enough, like in the case of another conservative presidential candidate Marco Rubio who recently stated that he’d have no problem attending a gay wedding of a friend or family member. These two men are wrong in their response because they aren’t answering from a consistent Christian perspective. And if they were to think through the issues they’d realize they are wrong. But why are they wrong? That’s what I’d like to explain this morning. As Christians we need to know why we believe what we believe. We need to know how to think through in a consistent Christian way answers to these issues that we’re confronted with on a daily basis. How would or how should a mature Christian think about such issues? Let me explain.

First, as Christians we should immediately, instinctively go to the Bible for answers. Deuteronomy 22:5, “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.” If you couple this biblical prohibition against cross-dressing with the Bible’s positive teaching on God’s created order of male and female in Matthew 19 and Genesis 1 and 2, you get a very clear picture that what Bruce Jenner and transsexuals are doing is wrong. They are rebelling against God’s created order. Through the providence of God all men and women are brought into this world male or female. Their gender and sex are established by God through the natural process. A male is expected to live and die a male; a female is expected by God to live and die a female. They are expected by God to live within the boundaries he has established for men and women. You might say, we can say, that God calls people either to be men or women, and this calling is established based on the body God gives them at birth that is written into their chromosomes. Every single cell of a man is male, every cell of a female is female. So there is no possible way that Bruce Jenner or any transsexual can actually “transition” from a male to a female, or female to male; there’s no possible way, because in order to do so they’d have to change every single cell of their body from xy chromosome to xx chromosome. Obviously there’s more to manhood and womanhood than chromosomes, but there’s no denying it’s a major factor. So biologically speaking so-called “transitioning” is impossibility. So it’s pure fiction to even use the term “transitioning” because it assumes that it’s even possible to transition, which it isn’t. In addition, does a transgender really think that by removing through surgery body parts and adding body parts he can really make himself into a woman? At best, isn’t he merely altering his appearance, like an actor playing the part of an ape, such as in Planet of the Apes? Would anybody really think that by “dressing up” like an ape makes one an ape? Isn’t that what transgender persons are trying to do, “dress up” – whether through clothing or body alterations — like a woman or man? Do they really think that makes them in fact a man or woman? If so, they are delusional. The Bible teaches against any such confusing of the sexes for a good reason – it is against the will of God for men and women to confuse their God-given sexual status. This is so basic that it hardly needs to be stated, but evidently we live in such a foolish age that even the obvious must be stated again and again. When we turn to the Bible we see that what Bruce Jenner is doing is wrong according to God, and therefore should be wrong for us Christians as well. We don’t start with emotions or politics or polling data or “expert” psychological or sociological statistics; we start first and foremost with the Bible, what God says. That’s where any Christian should begin, including Christians who are running for president.

Second, we should not simply go along with a sinful secular culture’s thinking in order to get along. 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” As I mentioned previously, as Christians we are to look first to the Bible and test everything by it primarily. The Bible claims to be words from God, not just words from men, but words from God. Do we believe that claim? If so, then we need to act like we believe it. If we are placing our everlasting soul in the trust of the words of the Bible in respect to salvation, then we should do the same in every other area of life, including what the Bible says about sexuality. We shouldn’t simply follow the cultural crowd in order to get along with other people. If other people are wrong – because they are following some source of authority other than the Bible – we certainly shouldn’t join in with their error by following them. We should return again and again to the Bible since it’s God’s will and way for humanity. That’s why it’s called divine revelation, because it reveals truth to us that we might not arrive at through natural reasoning or human experience. It’s available to us, God gave it to us, because human natural reasoning or human experience are not reliable sources of authority in all instances. We need divine revelation to cut through all human opinion and human emotions, feelings and intuition. If we relied on human opinion we’d never come to a correct conclusion because human opinion changes like the wind and can be swayed by non-rational or even irrational factors, such as politics. So we see the verse saying, “Test everything,” which means, test everything by the Bible. And it says, “Hold on to the good and avoid every kind of evil.” Well if we are commanded by God to hold on to the good and avoid every evil, then it’s very clear that we shouldn’t simply concede some foolish point of immorality to our sinful culture, like Rick Santorum appears to be doing by his reply to the question posed to him. In response to the question, “What do you think of Bruce Jenner?” he answers, “If Bruce Jenner says he’s a woman, then he’s a woman.” On the face of it, that response is absurd. How can a man, a “he,” claim to be a woman, a “she?” It’s a category contradiction. And that’s what we get when we try to capitulate or concede foolishness to our culture in order to get along with it. When we participate in such foolishness we ourselves sound foolish. It’s the old Proverbs 26:4 adage, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly or you’ll be like him yourself.” No. Rick Santorum knows better than to simply follow along with the foolish current way of thinking and talking about sexuality. I’m sure if he could have a “do-over” he’d answer differently.

Third, as Christians we need to be responsible enough to teach people the truth when we have the opportunity. James 3:1, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” Not only should Christians such as Rick Santorum not simply concede to the assumptions of transgenderism, or in other words, compromise Christianity for the sake of getting along or being polite or being so-called “loving” towards all kinds of diverse people, we should not do it because we’re actually teaching people falsely if we do. The Bible says to be careful what you teach because you’ll be judged by God for how you influence others by what you taught them. According to Rick Santorum, it’s okay for Bruce Jenner to contradict the Bible and contradict natural law and defy logic and reason and mutate and mutilate his body and delude himself and others into thinking that he’s becoming a woman; that’s okay and we should go along with it and have no problem with it. Whether he knows it or not, Santorum is teaching people to essentially take the gay activist party line towards such a thing. He’s buying into the LGBT activists’ talking points on this subject and he’s also teaching others to do the same. Isn’t that what leaders do – teach others by their words and examples? He’s not just saying, “I buy into Bruce Jenner’s transgender ideology and fiction,” he’s also saying in essentially, “And I encourage everyone to buy into as well.” That’s what the teaching effect of leadership does, it influences by word and example. By taking such a liberal and tolerant and accepting and affirming response to Bruce Jenner, Rick Santorum is teaching thousands, millions of people who hear and see him take such an attitude to do the same. “Well that good Christian Rick Santorum says if Bruce Jenner says he’s a woman, he’s a woman. I guess that’s a good Christian attitude.” Wrong. It’s not a good Christian attitude towards this subject. It’s a bad and un-Christian attitude towards transgenderism. It’s a false and wrong attitude to take towards the assumptions of transgenderism. No Christian leader should be taking such a loose and careless and sloppy attitude towards the sin of transgenderism. The Bible is crystal clear on the sin of cross-dressing. It’s clear on the point that men shouldn’t be confusing their maleness with femaleness, and women shouldn’t be confusing their femaleness with maleness. It is against the will of God to confuse the sexes. That’s what we should be teaching people when asked about the subject, not capitulating, not deferring to the sinful world’s popular opinion.

But there’s another biblical warning against careless teaching and influence. “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea, “Matthew 18:5-6 James 3:1. Rick Santorum and other public, visible, influential Christians have a moral obligation to make sure that they never, ever lead people astray from the truth, from the faith, especially the impressionable children and youth of society. Not only does the Bible say that not many should be teachers – or in other words, those who seek to influence and instruct – but it also especially warns against leading children and youth astray. Why? Because, unfortunately, children and young people don’t have the wisdom, knowledge and experience to think things through for themselves, not yet at least, so they have to rely on adults to guide and instruct them correctly. That puts a lot of responsibility on adults to lead children and young people wisely. It doesn’t help children and youth to hear conservative Christian Rick Santorum say, “If Bruce Jenner says he’s a woman, then he’s a woman.” Because that gives young people the false impression that according to Christian Santorum that one’s gender or sexuality is simply a matter of one’s declaration. If a person says they’re male, they’re male. If a person says they’re female, they’re female. But that’s just plain foolishness. Such stupidity leads to laws like out in California where a forty-five year old man can use a women’s bathroom because he self-identifies as female, and the law backs him up! Or in other states where a boy in school can use a girl’s bathroom at the school because he self-identifies as a girl. And parents can’t complain because it’s the law. The school must, by law, allow some kid, some boy who identifies as female, to use the girl’s bathroom solely on the basis of his claim to be a female in a boy’s body. This is utter foolishness, yet it’s law in some states. That’s the kind of message that Rick Santorum is sending to young, impressionable children by simply “going along to get along” with secular foolishness in our culture. What Santorum should have said, to be consistent and clear as a Christian is this, “I’m sorry to hear that such a person is divided within themselves as to their identity, and I hope he finds resolution to his problem.” That’s a polite way of saying it. A more direct answer would be, “I hope Bruce Jenner someday comes to accept the way God made him, male.” We don’t want to sow the seeds of confusion ourselves by sloppy and careless answers. The children and youth that we influence need us to speak the truth. They need to be led by words and examples into the truth. Let’s pray Christians have the wisdom and courage to speak the truth in today’s world.

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