We continue to see sex and gender in the news, and it doesn’t look like that will go away. In fact, the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that employers can’t discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity may spur controversies on religious freedom and women’s sports. That’s another blog, though.
All this makes Womenary’s Gender Seminar highly relevant. I hope you find it helpful too.
The main takeaways from Chris Legg at the Womenary seminar:
1. Sex does not equal gender.
There are only two sexes: male or female.
2. Gender is how people identify with their sex within culture.
Legg says it’s basically a way to verify biological sex without checking their pants. Gender can be expressed on a continuum (but not a spectrum).
For example, some women are more feminine than others. Therefore, you hear the term girly girl or tomboy. One woman may prefer high heels, makeup, and evening gowns. Another may prefer jeans and a T-shirt. Both are within a normal range. Both are female. The same goes for men. You can see a rugged, mountain man type like Phil Robertson. You can also find a male opera singer like Stephen Costello. Gender is not a combination of male and female.
3. Gender has become confusing because of our postmodern and post-Christian culture.
What does that mean? People no longer believe in absolute truth — including male and female. More people reject traditional labels and categories. They celebrate diversity and pluralism. Therefore, people can design their own identities — including gender.
4. We need to show compassion to those with disorders of sexual development, which may include body dysmorphia or gender dysphoria.
5. There is a difference between someone stumbling through sin and someone cherishing the sin.
6. Christians must follow the Bible — even if we wish it said something else.
7. The Bible encourages appropriately identifying with your biological sex.
A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this (Deuteronomy 22:5, NIV).
8. Christian doctrine does not teach that we should not suffer.
People may suffer with sexual or gender disorders.
9. The Bible must become bigger than our brokenness.
We are all broken in different ways. Some may struggle with sex or gender identity issues.
10. God defines our identity, and we cannot change that.
We cannot redefine our identity based on our feelings.
11. Gender dysphoria is when a person feels like they have the wrong body.
They may have the physical characteristics of a male at birth but “feel” more like a female. Fundamentally, Legg says, this an identity problem that links to obsessive disorders. Legg compared dysphoria to a person with an eating disorder. They think they are fat — even when they are not. This is not sin. It’s a mental illness.
12. Body dysmorphia is when a person believes his or her appearance needs to be fixed.
Those who suffer from body dysmorphia have a disconnect between their perception of reality and actual reality. When they look in a mirror, they see their features as distorted. It’s much like something we might experience when looking in a funhouse mirror.
Many times people who suffer from a mental condition also have other disorders at the same time, so you may see these conditions overlap.
As you can see, this topic can be complicated and highly emotional. If you’re interested in reading further, Legg recommends the following authors: Sam Allberry, Ed Shaw, Mark Yarhouse, and Rosaria Butterfield.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic — and if you’d like to see a revised pop up on this topic.