Male and female.
Those two words used to be easy to define.
Expressions of masculinity or femininity may have varied but the definitions were as solid as a rock.
It was assumed. It was a given. It was apparent.
But now the terms “male and female” are considered fluid, arbitrary, even dangerous.
What is a man?
What is a woman?
Some hesitate to even define these words any more. Basic checkboxes on a form:
Have been replaced with expanded options, such as:
- Transgender Female
- Transgender Male
- Prefer not to say
How do we live in such radically changing times? How do we respond?
There is the ol’ adage: What Would Jesus Do?
It’s simplistic, and perhaps a little overworn, but still helpful.
The apostle John uses two words to capture the character of Jesus.
Grace and truth.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
In the OT world, these two words are chesed and emet.
Chesed: Lovingkindness, steadfast love, abundant grace.
Emet: Faithfulness, truthfulness, stability, reliability.
Jesus is the perfect balance, the perfect display, the perfect fullness of grace and truth.
He is the Good Shepherd and the Solid Rock.
The tender one and the truthful one.
So how does this apply to our culture’s current struggle with transgenderism?
Jesus responds with grace.
There are many aspects to gender dysphoria that I cannot fathom, that I cannot understand. But I can identify with the struggle to know who you are, to fight your own body, to not feel comfortable in your own skin.
None of us fully understands what it means to be male or female.
We all can struggle with stereotypes, cultural expectations, and media portrayals.
We all can battle our own thoughts, feelings, and sense of who we are.
We all are dysfunctional to some degree.
We all grow up in dysfunctional families.
We all live in a dysfunctional world.
The struggle is not unusual.
The struggle is the norm.
The Bible often describes our current condition in our present bodies with one word: groaning.
We also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23b).
For in this earthly house we groan, because we desire to put on our heavenly dwelling (2 Corinthians 5:2).
It is a Greek word, stenazo, from which we get our English word, stenosis, a narrowing in the spinal cord that often brings pain.
Stenazo describes a state of being stuck in a narrow place. Trapped. Caught in a strait jacket. It is an inward groaning. An unexpressed grief that abides in our soul.
We all groan.
None of us feel “at home” in these ol’ bodies of ours. And if you do now, then you probably won’t feel that way at some point in the near future.
I often think of my sister who died of cancer almost 30 years ago. She often described her cancer as an invader in her own body, as something inside her that was killing her and she couldn’t do anything to stop it.
She longed to be free, to be completely healed from her body of death.
I think of myself as a young kid who was always the smallest in my class, who felt vastly different from my two older brothers, who struggled to prove myself, to fit in.
I didn’t feel at peace in my own body.
I didn’t know what it meant to be a man.
I didn’t know who I was…or who I was supposed to be.
This is a common human experience.
Thus, for anyone struggling with their “gender identity” or wondering what it means to be a man or a woman, we all can identify to some degree.
We can show grace.
We can show love.
We can seek to understand.
This is being like Jesus.
But Jesus also responds with truth.
Jesus does not paint a false reality.
He does not leave a lie unconfronted.
He tells the truth…even if it hurts.
He says “truly, truly” over and over throughout the gospels.
Jesus wants us to live in the truth. It is the truth that sets us free.
To live in an illusion may provide temporary comfort but it ultimately leads to disappointment, disillusionment, deception, and destruction.
We can deny reality but we cannot escape it.
God created us as male and female. It is written in our DNA. It is encoded in our chromosomes. Every cell has a sex. The thirty trillion cells in our body are all stamped with either XX or XY. Medical science and biology all testify to this binary reality.
Yes, genetic anomalies can exist.
Jesus seems to acknowledge as much in Matthew 19. After declaring that God created us “male and female” from the beginning (19:4), Jesus also stated that “there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (19:12).
Jesus acknowledged two basic realities.
- God designed us to be male or female.
- We live in a world where our bodies may not always function the way they were designed.
Thus, compassion is always needed.
But it is never dishonest.
To perpetuate an illusion…to reinforce wrong perception…to try to change cosmetically what is biologically real…is not compassion.
It is not love.
And it will never solve a person’s deeper struggle to know who they are.
Here’s the truth.
We are created by God.
We are impacted by sin.
We are loved by a Savior.
We are saved by grace.
We are transformed by truth.
Grace and truth.
They must always go together.
This is how Jesus lived.
He showed grace.
He spoke the truth.
May we follow in His steps.