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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

male or female or both?

I've just read an incredible news story.  Incredible because of the lies it contains.

If you have a jaundiced view of journalism, you may think most news stories contain lies.  But this one was not a lie of the political or interpretive kind.  It was a lie from Satan.

The article told the story of a woman in Australia who was granted identification papers saying her gender was not specified.  In other words, she is legally not male or female.  Those papers have since been revoked, but she is fighting to get them certified again. The story explains that "she" was born a normal boy, but didn't "feel" male so, as a young adult, he had surgery to make him female.  Then one day, realizing that many of her feminine traits were coming from the hormone pills she was taking, she felt that was fake too.  So, now "she-he" has embraced this new nothing kind of gender.  She wonders why she has to be male or female: why can't she just be human?  She even goes barefoot now because she feels shoes are too gender indicating.  She says she is both male and female.

The article also quotes a gender specialist who says many ancient cultures had a third gender, and it was only in the 20th century that male and female norms were set.  That may be true, but former cultures also practiced human sacrifice and other horrors.  Precedence doesn't justify repeating all behaviors. He further states that it is common for a person who has had a sex change to begin questioning their gender again after the surgery.  He gets close to the truth when he says that gender is not merely wrapped up in the physical apparatus; it is now believed to be rooted in the brain. 

But the whole truth is that gender is God-given and is inprinted on the soul.  God created humans in His own image - male and female.  He chose two complimentary sexes to represent Him; each images Him in different ways.  To ignore either denies His design.  To swap one for another insults His plan for each life. 

But having a "one is the same as the other" approach is becoming fashionable in our culture.  Take Lady Gaga, a young woman whose music and video "art" is openly and proudly lewd.  She says she loves "androgyny" and admits to encounters with both men and women.  It has become the new rage - experimenting with one's gender as though it were a dessert one can have as either chocolate or vanilla or swirled. 

Our Creator lovingly portayed Himself in the genders - each is valuable and significant.  The gifts of each are necessary for the appropriate function of the earth and the family.  Who one is really will not change, no matter what is done to the outside.  In my opinion, it is the direct work of the Enemy to cause men and women to question their gender.  It is an attack he has used with great success and it strikes at the very heart of God's creative work. 

Once a person questions who he or she "is," everything else is also suspect.  If I cannot believe something about myself as basic as my sexuality, what else might be subject to question?  In the 20th century, contrary to the specialist's belief, gender was not solidified as much as it was questioned.  Beginning with the Roaring Twenties, assaults against traditional feminine and masculine roles saturated the culture.  So it is not surprising that the current issue is whether gender really matters at all.  It is the natural result of the gender debate.

Elisabeth Elliot, one of my favorite authors, writes about the "mystery" of God-given gender and their relation to each other.  In her book, The Mark of a Man, (written for her nephew, Peter) she says about gender difference:

The distinction was God's. We wouldn't have thought of it.  Imagine a sexless world.  If you're looking for Dullsville, that would be it, wouldn't it?  We've had enough hints of what it would be like in the unisex world of blue jeans.  When men and women accept the sexual difference and enjoy it, they put color and design and variety into life.  When they begin to deny it or to feel that it should somehow be blurred, they take all the color out (except for denim blue - and they are careful to take even some of that out, with Clorox, before the color is acceptable!) 

It's hard to tell the men from the women at a college weekend retreat:  the down-filled vests, the turtlenecks, the jeans, the waffle-stompers, the hair hanging in the eyes, the backpacks. 

"Oh, wow!"  some of them would say, "She doesn't like us!"

Alas.  Another distinction gone by the board.  You are smart enough to see, Pete, that I'm not condemning.  I'm describing.  And if the description fits, kids squirm.  I'm only holding up a mirror, saying, "Look at yourselves!  What do you see?"  If it's monchromatic, it illustrates my point:  To equalize is to deprive of glory.      (Fleming H. Revell, 1981, pg. 32)

While I'm not condemning denim or turtlenecks or backpacks, etc.(and I don't think she is either), I believe Mrs. Elliot is onto something here.  The genders bring color and glory to the world.  Making them the same or erasing their importance will plunge any society into a grey world where even the basic things of life are topsy-turvy.

I must note that, in our imperfect world, there are malfunctions of every kind.  Babies are sometimes born with "ambiguous genitalia" - not clearly one or the other.  Such cases require wisdom and careful thought by parents, doctors, and others involved in deciding how the little person should meet life.  Not being qualified to speak on this subject, I will say only that I believe God can give the discernment needed to face this challenge as He does for any other difficulty faced by the human family.   And certainly, it is a subject that brings another angle to this discussion.

The issue of gender distinction is one of greatest importance and it will become even more so in our lifetime.  The news stories will become more unbelievable; the mores of culture will become even more outlandish.  But the principles our Creator planted in our world will not change, no matter how they are scoffed and trampled.

And as for me, I am glad to have the security that God made me, that I am what I am by His design, and His plan for me is wrapped up in how I bear His image.  It sure beats going barefoot.
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