09 September 2015

The Gender Debate and Dress-Up's Expiration Date

Playing pretend and playing dress-up is a natural part of life for children.

This blogger went through a phase at a very young age when I desired to be a cat. A year or two later, I recall wanting to be the character Penny from Inspector Gadget. Let's face it, that computer book she carried was pretty fantastic, and she always managed to defeat Dr. Claw, even if everybody thought it was ultimately her Uncle Gadget who had saved the day. Later, I aspired to be a pop singer, and was certain I was destined to be a star.

Well…many, many years later, none of these whims have come to pass. Why? Because sometimes what you think you want to be reality, simply cannot be reality. I could not be a cat because I was a human. I could not be Penny because, well, she was a cartoon character. And I could not be a pop singer because I am tone deaf and uncoordinated. Nobody pays money to hear a wounded sparrow sing and trip her way across a stage.

It has been said that you cannot always have what you want. As it turns out, in spite of what public school may have told us growing up, we cannot always be what we want, either. The days of playing dress-up eventually come to an end when we realize our innate characteristics and our limitations. Eventually, we all grow up, and the days of playing pretend must end.

This is because some attributes are simply unchangeable. Recent days here in America have challenged this notion. Men have decided that they are really women; whites have decided that they are actually black. But are these notions reality, or are they mere delusions that society is ignorant enough to celebrate?

God has made men to be men and women to be women (Genesis 1:27), and He alone determines the color of a person's skin (Jeremiah 13:23). Further, He did not make these choices arbitrarily and then keep them hidden from the recipient until a convenient time. The color of a person's skin does not make them a member of a different race (we are, after all, all members of the human race), nor should it innately entitle them to different opportunities or treatment, favorable or unfavorable. And gender is not a matter of the mind or society's nebulous idea of the 'heart,' but is a matter of biology. Period. So why is this under debate?

This matter of gender is indeed one that has been front and center in Western society of late. To be sure, much has already been said about it and this writer does not claim to bring anything new to that discussion. Still, it does not seem a waste of time to once again examine God's Word on the matter, for men are still easily led astray by the distortions of the devil.

Engaging in the so-called 'gender debate' to the point of denying one's birth gender is ultimately a form of blasphemy against the Creator. Not only did God create mankind, both male and female, but He created both male and female in His image.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Gen 1:26-27)
In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. (Gen 5:1b) 
The fact that man was made in the image of God means that man has been set apart from the rest of creation to resemble his Creator. To be sure, God possesses a myriad of attributes that man will never wield (i.e., incommunicable attributes such as omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, sovereignty, eternality, immutability, transcendence, etc.). However, man reflects God through many of His communicable attributes, such as reason, relationship, love, mercy, speech, knowledge, justice, etc. Further, at the time of creation, man, created in the image of God, was set in dominion over the rest of God's creation (Gen 1:26) and, until the Fall, man was morally pure and able to enjoy perfect fellowship with his Creator. Says Charles Feinberg of the creation of man:
In sum, the creation of man is clearly separated and delineated by a special counsel and decision in the Godhead, marked off by a special nature (in the likeness and image of God), and characterized by a special dominion and sovereignty. (Charles Feinberg, "The Image of God," Bibliotheca Sacra 129 (1972); 239). 
A proper understanding of man's place in creation, and of the imago dei, is essential to the Christian's forming of a right theology and a right anthropology. When this element of the doctrine of man is flippantly dismissed, and when men are relegated to the basest level of mere animals, it can only be expected that man's actions will follow suit, and will be executed in a more and more base and depraved manner. In fact, understanding man's position at creation is vital to a comprehensive understanding of the depths and gravity of the Fall. Read what David had to say about the significance of man in Psalm 8:
What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?

Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!

You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,

All sheep and oxen,
And also the beasts of the field,

The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
(Psalm 8:5-8)
Man has a dignity that has been conferred upon him by the holy Creator God. Yet man, in his fallen depravity, seeks to undermine that dignity by attempting to deny and alter that which God has created.

An even more amazing truth, however, is that man finds supreme dignity in Christ because He is the perfect man, the Last Adam.

How does this relate to the so-called gender debate? God created man and woman in His image, with a conferred dignity that is theirs because of who their Creator is. God determined that each man and woman would be a man or a woman according to His good, sovereign design. Though man was marred at the Fall, it is through Christ that man may again be reconciled and redeemed to that position that was intended for him from the beginning.
For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (Rom 5:17)
So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (1 Cor 15:45) 
When men determine from a reasoning within their depraved, fallen minds that the way in which God created them is not correct and right and good; and when men take upon themselves to usurp the role of God and His good, creative acts, men not only insult and blaspheme the God who made them, they denigrate the dignity which God has been gracious to bestow on them.

Of course, such actions are a result of the Fall and man's indwelling sin. Men hate the One who gives them life, preferring instead to worship the creation over the Creator.
For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Rom 1:25)
The matter of gender and "gender identity," then, goes far beyond the surface and far beyond the surgery. It is a matter of the soul, and those on the wrong side of the "debate" clearly do not revere or even understand the God whom they blaspheme. May this God, who is holy and righteous and just, exercise also His grace, mercy, and forgiveness, and bring many of these willfully stubborn and confused souls to repentance and faith in the God-man and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Further Reading
Just One Bite

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