Recently I attended an information session about Puberty Talks at primary schools. We were informed that the Australian Curriculum For Schools now includes the following definition:
Gender Identity - Refers to a person’s sense of being masculine or feminine, both or neither, and how they identify. Gender identity does not necessarily relate to the sex assigned at birth.
In line with changes made in 2013 to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, this definition shifts personal identity from our created reality to personal desire, decision and perception. This is what our children are being taught, and this is a genuine cultural shift.
How do we assess this change? How do we engage with it? What does it mean for children?
Gender and Complexity
I write this as a male who has never had any concerns with being a male. I have not had sexual desire for other males. I have struggled with asthma, hereditary kidney disease, skin conditions - things that would rightly be called disorders in my body. But to the best of my knowledge I have not suffered with disorder with regard to my sexual organs or sexual function.
How do we help those who experience discomfort with the way they were created and the sex given to them by their Maker God? What does someone do when they experience sexual desire for the same sex? What about the person who finds themselves having a disorder with regard to their sexual organs and/ or function?
The Gender Revolution
Last Friday 25th August in Australia was Wear It Purple day. A time when particularly school children are confronted with the question, will they ‘Wear It Purple’? But of course here lies the challenge of the whole thing. Because we must try and answer the question as to whether we are just being asked to stand in solidarity with fellow human beings? Or are we being asked to agree to a particular solution to the problems being faced by a segment of society? Are we being asked to agree that if someone has same sex desire, they should act on that desire? Are we being asked to agree that if a young child feels uncomfortable with the way they have been created, that they should attempt to change it through serious and life changing physical procedures? And who gets to answer those questions?
The Gender Devolution
We might think that what we are experiencing at this point in history is a totally novel turn of events, but the Bible describes something very similar happening in the first century. It is worth an extended quotation:
'The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.' Romans 1:16-32
The normal course of human affairs is that we turn away from God, and in turn, because of His right anger at our rejection of Him as our Creator, He hands us over to 1) sexual immorality, 2) homosexual activity and 3) every kind of wickedness. It is worth observing here that the Bible is talking about societal trends, ways that we can see the wrath and anger of God being revealed in human history.
Of course in the West, and Australia specifically, this trajectory is amply illustrated. In 1971, 86% of Australians indicated that they followed the Christian religion. This basic measure of our societies recognition of God has since that time steadily decreased, to the point where only 44% in the 2021 census indicated affiliation to the Christian religion, with ‘no religion’ being the affiliation of fastest growth (now 39%).
At the same time, sexual immorality has increased. Basic way to illustrate that is to consider cohabitation before marriage rates, which in 1975 stood about 18% and now stands at over 80%. Homosexual Sex has moved from being illegal in Australia before 1973, to being fully legalised by 1994, and now outright celebrated. This is not to ignore or dismiss the reality of same sex desire, with all the complexity and difficulty that brings for a human individual. But in the same way that the Bible speaks of the inappropriateness for heterosexual desire to be expressed and acted on outside the very specific context of marriage between one man and one women, well in the same way it speaks of the inappropriateness of homosexual desire being expressed and acted on.
In our society we have now come to the point where boys who are not comfortable with being boys and girls who are not comfortable being girls are affirmed as trans-children and then encouraged down a path towards hormone blockers and gender reassignment surgery. They are taught that they can ignore the biological sex ‘they were assigned at birth' and take on whichever gender identity they should choose. But the reality is that this cutting off identity from our God created nature, is not quite so possible as it would seem. To quote the scientific analysis Sexologist Patricia Weerakoon in her recent book, The Gender Revolution, p69:
‘Many believe that the ‘affirmation’ process genuinely enables them to change sex. This is, of course, a dangerous lie. The truth is that you cannot ultimately change the embodied reality of your biological self. Your genetic makeup will remain the same from the moment you were conceived in your mother’s womb to the moment you die. Any changes you make, any medicines you consume or surgeries you undergo, are purely cosmetic. A biological male has cells with XY sex chromosomes. He may look like a woman, but he will never be a woman. He will never produce female eggs/ ova. He will never get pregnant. A biological woman may look like a man, but she will carry her cells, all of which contain XX chromosomes, to the day she dies. She will never produce sperm. She will never be a man.'
Yet this lie becomes the foundation for allowing children to begin down a path in their teenage years that can have serious ongoing health consequences (Weerakoon, p140, notes osteoporosis, decreased cognitive development, loss of fertility and sexual function).
The point being made in all this, is that we are not experiencing a revolution to some enlightened state of being, but we are experiencing a devolution back to the way things were in the first century. A state of affairs that Romans 1 describes as being a revelation of the anger of God against us, as a result of our rebellion against Him.
What are we to do?
The True Gender Solution
The wonderful news of the Bible is that despite the fact that each of us in our own way has rejected God and so stirred His righteous anger against us. Despite this fact, God in Jesus Christ, has acted to turn His anger away from us.
‘God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood —to be received by faith.’ Romans 3:25
The language of Christ being a sacrifice of atonement, picks up the fact that God’s anger fell on Jesus. This means that His anger could be turned away from us. Instead of facing the revelation of His wrath and just punishment like we deserve, we instead face the smiling face of our Father God. He has dealt with His anger in himself: one God, in three persons.
As we receive that sacrifice and trust God that His anger has been dealt with, we can walk again in thankful obedience to Him. We can have hope for our broader community, praying in hope, ‘Your Kingdom come’ (Matthew 6:10).
‘Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.’ (Romans 5:1-2)
It is worth noting, that despite the state of the society we live in, we do not need to live in despair. We can have hope and so we are freed to step forward boldly in that hope.
What might a life of hope look like in our gender confused world?
Walking Out The True Gender Solution
In Romans 6:11-14 we read,
‘Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus… do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master.’
Whether we are tempted to ignore our Creator and His Word, to specifically act on sexual desires that do not fit with God’s intention for us, or to act in ways that show no understanding, no faithfulness, no love, no mercy. Whatever our particular challenge, God’s Word tells us that we are to count ourselves dead to that. There is hope in Jesus that we can choose a better path, that we can walk in obedience to Him, no matter what we feel and no matter what the world around us says.
Romans 9 to 16 gives plenty of unpacking of this life where you ‘love your neighbour as yourself’, knowing that ‘love does no harm to a neighbour’ (Romans 13:9-10). This life of love includes compassion on those who are rebelling against God, submitting to governing authorities and being careful not to judge other brothers and sisters in disputable matters.
These are complex times as our world runs fast away from God. But our great hope lies in receiving the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. In walking in newness of life with Him. This will include the refusal of exchanging the truth for a lie and also the refusal to sit in the place of the Judge of all the earth. It is fitting to close with a final quotation from Romans:
'Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.'
About the Author
Jai Wright is a Christian Minister, who founded and leads MAKE Church in Mackay, Qld. He recently published the book, Life Plugged In: Connecting with the Source of Peace, Power and Purpose.
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