February 21, 2021
Or, Pronouns Are Not a Preference
Series: Centers and Circumferences #12
It’s hard to imagine anything so obvious and obscene, so laughable but heart-breaking, so inarguable yet argued, as those who can’t (or won’t) tell the difference between the sexes. We are in a very bad, not good day when male and female are subjective, debatable, pliable, and at times indiscernible. At least we’re moving toward a totally wireless society, because pretty soon it’s going to be a hate crime to plug things into a socket.
The sphere of sexuality is ubiquitous, even inescapable, and seems to somehow be becoming more exhausting every day. Understanding sexuality as a noun affects the nature of our identity, which affects what we pursue as ideal. Understanding sexuality as a verb affects the narrative of our relationships, especially our view of marriage and family and generations. While our Christian sub-culture thinks that the wider culture has gone crazy, they think we are in a cult. It used to be, “Do you want to be my girlfriend, yes or no?” And now it’s “Am I a girl? I don’t know.”
This Centers and Circumferences series has the aim to consider Christ’s lordship over various spheres of life under the sun. We are seeing how Christ provides the focal point–the center, and has interests extending out to the edges–the circumference. Sexuality, considered today as divided into gender identity and orientation, is different than, for example, Kuyperianism and Economics, in that sexuality is built into our person, part of our DNA, in a way unlike a man’s paycheck or purchases.
In what I’ve read by Abraham Kuyper I can’t recall him explicitly addressing the subject of sexuality. But there are some principles of Kuyperianism and its weltanschauung (world-and-life-view) that will help us keep our heads. To be clear, Kuyperian Sexuality is not about his sexual appeal.
As the elders also maintain, we are a church that teaches Dispensationalism, which comes from an approach to reading the Bible that, ironically, led to our becoming Kuyperian Dispensationalists. It turns out that Dispensationalists have not offered much when it comes to cultural issues, and even if they have, it isn’t from their Dispensationalism, it is almost always in spite of it. This series has been more of an opportunity to show that we Dispies can think outside of being Left Behind, not necessarily our attempt to contribute. But tonight I’d like to consider sexuality as a Kuyperian Dispensationalist and then tell you what I see as some really good news when it comes to our current cultural degeneration.
We need some encouragement for our souls, for raising our kids, for endurance in the re-education camps, for withstanding the propaganda, and for giving glory to God in whose image we are made.
Our culture has been circling the sexuality drain for a while. We have problems, serious and public. The gaslighting game is strong, and we are told that we’re the crazy ones. Trying to talk about what is “natural” is taken as oppression by those who want to be “free.” While we don’t glory in the depravity, we are to see it for what it is.
> “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11)
Pornography is explicit and accessible in ways unimagined by previous generations, which messes with both the noun and verb of sex. It removes context, relationship, and the liturgy of porn teaches that physical release is the only goal. It messes with our brains, our expectations, and our consciences.
Schools have embraced explicit sex-education at the earliest grades with crude materials. It ends up causing more confusion and leads young people into despair. Therapists have become auto-supporters, referred to as “gender affirming therapy”; many of them believe it’s wrong to challenge or ask questions, and threaten concerned parents that if the parents ask too many questions, their transitioning kid may feel so un-affirmed that the son or daughter will commit suicide.
Abortion is called “health care,” under the guise that women can’t have healthy lives competing with men for pleasure and productivity and power if they are “stuck” with a child. It leads to later guilt from killing one’s child and some abortion methods ruin her from being able to have a child later.
Then there is drag queen story hour at the public library (even here in Western WA), the “Cuties” so-called “documentary” on Netflix last year about sexual exploitation of children that itself was exploiting them, decades of Feminists and Lesbians, LGBTQ+ YouTube and Instagram “help” and support, PRIDE month and parades, delay of marriage and no-fault divorce, so-called gay marriage, marriage to robots, and more miserable Christian families modeling no better alternative.
Our new executive regime seems hell bent on shoving our faces in folly. Our President and Vice President are fully on board a train that has left the tracks. Biden’s Equality Act is deranged, though it’s not as if Trump was going to help us treat women better. Biden’s choice of Rachel Levine as “health secretary” is a science laughintstock. Conversion therapy, even prayer for your own kid (in Australia) that might suppress his or her orientation or identity is becoming against the law. Many who think it’s gross for them think it’s okay for others.
Solomon did say that there is nothing new under the sun. If you think back to Genesis 6, whatever the nature of it, the depravity warranted a global flood of judgment to wipe out the wicked. In Genesis 18 the men of Sodom groped at the door in blindness so that they could violate the visitors, and Lot offered his own daughters instead. His daughters proved themselves more pragmatic than pure not long after in Genesis 19. David’s adultery with Bathsheba, and murder of Uriah, is tame by comparison. Even Romans 1 is hard to outdo. Having read some about the Caesars, I don’t know if Jeffrey Epstien and his clientele were worse, but they do get more media exposure.
I’m sure there are numerous resources, but I was benefited by reading a few. I don’t recommend all of these as audiobooks while driving around with littles in your car.
When I was younger, the teenage girls had body-image issues, they thought they were fat and developed eating disorders. The boys had lust problems and wanted to have sex before marriage. Now it is trendy for girls to have gender dysphoria, to be uncomfortable about being a girl, and be told that it might be because she’s not a girl. Some of them buy breast binders (an upgrade from duct tape), take hormones, get “top surgery” or seek gender reassignment surgery. Plume is a service with the tagline, “Gender-affirming hormone therapy from your phone,” where ostensible 18 year-olds can sign up to get hormone blockers sent to them in the mail without their parents needing to be aware. There are no more Tom Boys, now they are just Tom.
This is not fine.
Where did all of this come from? How did we get here? We are nearing the end of a cultural revolution that is much older than the 60s and hippies. We are in a cultural revolution where your “self” is defined without history, without family, without biology, without logic or science, but by self-sentiment. Authenticity is about attitude, not anatomy. Identity is not a given, it is a freedom, and technology has allowed more sad people to pretend collectively that we can change who we and what is making us so sad.
We want to be acknowledged, but not examined, let alone attacked. We want community, but we want that community to affirm us, not expect us to conform to fit it. Schools and churches, even therapists and teachers, are the culprits of this cruel and unfair control.
As Trueman points out in his book this is an anti-culture. It is the worst sort of F.O.G., a fellowship of grievances. This is the only way that LGBTQ+ could become a collective group. Lesbians used to be angry at gay men; gay men didn’t have to hide like lesbians, and feminists were mad at men anyway. The only reason they can be included on the same side is against heterosexuals. Transgender and Queer both depend on denying the very categories that define what makes a Lesbian or Gay person. One example I read was of a lesbian whose parter decided to transition to a man. In order for the lesbian to maintain her identity, she would have to deny the identity of her partner. So she calls herself Queer, which is nothing other than muddling the identity and orientation norms. The only common ground is hatred of what is natural and honorable. They hate the institutions that remind them of it, including the normal nuclear family, and even their own bodies.
It is not creating anything fruitful, because there is no real goal or telos. Human nature has no meaning other than trying to find meaning, or be less sad.
> “These worlds, with nothing beyond themselves by which they can justify their beliefs and practices, are doomed to be volatile, entropic, and self-defeating.” (Trueman)
Acting like you can choose your pronoun is an act of defiance. And it turns out, pronouns are not a preference.
Please note that Kuyperian is a nickname, it is shorthand. Kuyper himself attributed the root of his principles to Calvinism, but as I’ve said before, I considered myself a Calvinist for almost 20 years (from 1993 to 2011) while failing to recognize the implications of Calvinism that affect the center and circumferences of all the spheres of life. So these days I prefer to identify as a Kuyperian; you do not need to identify as one.
There are three biblical emphases made by Kuyper that really help when it comes to sexuality. These are the sorts of things that help us understand why Christians think differently, and transfer that understanding to another generation.
As a Calvinist, I was overwhelmed when I first grasped God’s choice to rescue me who didn’t even know I needed rescuing. When I really saw sin’s blinding power to keep a man from believing and that God had opened my eyes to the glory of His Son and Christ’s sacrifice for sinners, it was the kind of humbling that exalts.
> “Long my imprisoned spirit lay > Fast bound in sin and nature’s night > Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray > I woke, the dungeon flamed with light > My chains fell off, my heart was free > I rose, went forth and followed Thee” > —honorary Calvinist, Charles Wesley
As I came to see God’s sovereignty in salvation, I did agree that God was sovereign over all things, but still didn’t give due credit. I might say I thought that the doctrine of God being sovereign over everything was mostly an object lesson for sake of magnifying His spiritual work.
Kuyper helped to distinguish not only Calvinism from Lutheranism, but Calvinism from evolutionism. Luther’s emphasis on justification by faith alone is true, Calvin emphasized God’s sovereignty. In lifting up God’s power, Kuyper lifted up God’s power in particulars.
God. Elects. Everything.
Another way to say this is that God makes decisions and distinctions all over the place. In Genesis 1, He divided land and sea, dark and light, day and night, seeds by kinds, birds by kinds, fish by kinds, and animals according to their kinds. Not only were there differences, there were orders, a greater light and a lesser one, the great sea creatures and the rest. All the decisions and distinctions were His will, and He called them all good.
When He made man, God also elected to distinguish, to limit, and to complement the sexes.
> “So God created man in his own image, > in the image of God he created him; > male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
God elected mankind to rule over the rest of creation, to “have dominion over” the other creatures. God also elected one man to become one flesh with one woman (Genesis 2:24), and “blessed them” to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28).
As someone has said, Genesis 1:1 is the most offensive verse in the Bible. Genesis 1:27 and 28 are close behind. God elected for there to be XY chromosome combos and XX chromosome combos. God elected male and female, and He elected them to be His reflections. He elected whether you are a he or a she. If we are reflections, and we are, then self-definition and becoming whatever we choose to be is impossible. Our fundamental identity as living beings is determined by One who is outside of ourselves.
In the middle of the 19th century, Charles Darwin theorized a story of beginning and being and becoming without God. Then Friedrich Nietzsche claimed that God is dead; there is no standard Maker. Then Sigmund Freud said that we’re all sexual beings looking for satisfaction. Our technology has finally advanced to the point both that we have enough food with enough leisure time to watch Instagram how-to videos on gender transition. The hormones and surgeries seem plausible because no one really agrees on what human nature is anyway.
Don’t take for granted your worldview with a transcendent God who exists, who has revealed Himself and His expectations and who exercises His will over who is tall and short, rich and poor, great and small, sick and healthy, male and female. Nothing is by chance. Self-determined sexuality is an illusion of unbelief.
If grace is getting something good that you don’t deserve, then everything good to a sinner is a gift, not wages (the only wages earned by a sinner is death). In salvation, we are given particular grace, a special good that is only for the elect. Saving grace grants regeneration, repentance, faith, forgiveness, fellowship, eternal life, and inheritance.
Kuyper also emphasized common grace, truly good things, that are undeserved things, given by God because He is generous even to those He chooses to glorify Him in judgment; “he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). He gives sinners colors, tastes, music, stories, spouses, and offspring with baby skin and scents. All of those goods can be enjoyed to some degree, and none of them were earned.
Common grace, like particular grace, is God’s to give, or not, to whom and to what extent He pleases (think Psalm 135:6). In the course of history, more common grace to unbelievers seems to increase when there are more Christians.
Particular grace saves, common grace makes accountable. God gives good and takes note of those who don’t thank Him for it. This is the standard behavior of the unrighteous in Romans 1.
> “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (Romans 1:18)
> “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:21)
God says that just rulers and laws are good. God says wisdom is better than foolishness. God says some things are “natural,” things that should be common sense. Perhaps the ultimate example of “natural” is also in Romans 1.
> “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” (Romans 1:26-27)
Those who won’t acknowledge transcendent truth eventually lose connection to natural truth, to simple reality. The more godless a culture becomes, the more unnatural it will become. Of course, by the end of the chapter, men not only do it with a guilty conscience they throw pride parades and force people to bake them cakes.
> “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:32)
Professing to be wise, the Supreme Court have minds as dark as their robes.
Common grace is God’s favor to men that enables them to act inconsistently with their core ingratitude. Christians can thank God when they see such inconsistencies, and can to one degree or another recognize opportunities for limited partnership in cultural morals, but we cannot depend on common grace for culture-building, not for long. As for non-Christians, they are gifted with a taste of good, which serves to make them more accountable.
One of the biggest blessings of Kuyper’s ministry to me is that he demonstrated that God cares about the terrestrial as well as the celestial, the temporal as well as the eternal. This includes our bodies. They are His design, His gift, His concern.
Without claiming exclusive causation, at least consider the inconsistency of a Christian who criticizes those who want to divorce identity from biology while at the same the Christian defines identity only as spirituality. We have acted as if God doesn’t care about our bodies, just about our thoughts. That’s not what God’s Word reveals.
> “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)
> “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Too many Christians have defined the pursuit of theological knowledge as maturity, so do we really wonder that unbelievers define something other-bodily as their liberty? Christian husbands have not embodied love, Christian wives have not embodied respect, Christian parents have not raised parents. Christian families, so called, have made family ugly, unsexy.
It is of great importance to look to God, to see what He has divided, what He has united, and how He has done it.
While the doctrine of the Trinity is the place to start for developing categories for love, for relationship, for intimacy, for diversity and unity, there is something about Dispensationalism that puts one in a better position to contribute to the recognition and celebration of male and female. What I understand to be the central mark of Dispensationalism is the distinction between the nation of Israel and the church. We believe that every promise God made to the elect nation in the Old Testament will be fulfilled, either already or not yet, and that those promises are not being fulfilled spiritually or figuratively in the church (of Jews and Gentiles). We see Jews and Gentiles as distinct.
With that in mind, consider this comment from Paul to the Galatians 3:27-28.
> For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek….
Has that just undone Dispensationalism? He continues:
> there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Is Paul now saying that gender is a meaningless distinction for Christians? There are at least some professing Christians who do make such a claim, in the name of Christ. They argue that in Christ gender roles in the home and in the church are at least radically redefined, if not undone altogether.
But a Dispensationalist is one who knows how to see categories, who can acknowledge shared blessings without flattening every distinction. He can see that the Galatians needed to learn the need for faith instead of for works and signs, and to learn that Gentiles could share in Christ by faith, and yet with Paul in another place still call the Gentiles “a wild olive shoot” (Romans 11:17) grafted into Christ along with the “natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree” (Romans 11:24).
Male and female are both saved by faith through grace in Christ; the means and manner of salvation are identical. They are co-heirs of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:8). And yet their identities (ethnicity and gender) are not interchangeable. A hammer and a saw are both tools, but they are not meant for the same use.
I said at the beginning that there is some good news to share.
The good news is that Jesus died and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3). This means our faith is not in vain. This means we are forgiven from our sin. This means we were raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). This means we do not need to be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2).
The gospel is “the power of God to salvation” (Romans 1:16), to the Jew first and also to the transgender. Yes, to the Jew and Greek. And yes, transgender is not actually accurate; gender is a given. But Paul proclaims the power of God directly before all this suppressing of the truth about God. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, which includes the male or female glory.
Paul told the believers in Corinth, know for their sinfulness, that the sexually immoral would not inherit the kingdom. He also said, such were some of you.
> “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, NASB) > He told them to flee sexual immorality, and that they were not their own. They had been bought with a price and were glorify God in their bodies.
We see some of our brothers and sisters being canceled for their claims, and there certainly looks to be more condescension, and fines, and lawsuits coming our way. But as discouraged as we might be, and as vigilant as we must be, seek His grace to obey Him in your body, in your heart and in your relationships and in your families. Submit to His sovereign election, give thanks to Him for every good gift He’s chosen for you. Be honored to reflect Him as an image bearer, male or female.
And keep worshiping God. Fathers, love your daughters; God has given you to provide the security they long for. Mothers, do not coddle your sons; let them grow up to carry heavy things. Refuse to send your kids to an educational institution that can’t tell male and female apart. Pray that God would grant revival. We may have a decreasing expectation of common ground, but we have been given reason to not be ashamed of the gospel.