From a young age, Brandon showed symptoms of gender dysphoria—a feeling of distress with one’s biological sex. Before he was even walking, his babysitter said, “He’s too good to be a boy,” meaning he was gentle, quiet and compliant—traits stereotypically linked to girls.
In preschool, Brandon invariably played with the little girls. By elementary school, he was coming to his parents weeping and saying, “I feel the way girls do, I’m interested in things girls are. God should have made me a girl.”
By age 14, he was searching the internet for information on sex change surgery.
It is now considered “standard practice” to treat gender-dysphoric children with puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgery. But is it really a good idea to turn children into lifelong medical patients? We are talking about powerful drugs with negative side effects, not to mention surgeries that amputate healthy body parts.
Moreover, these invasive procedures do not actually change a person’s sex. Doctors tell us that “every cell has a sex”—and no treatment can alter every cell in our bodies.
How did Brandon’s parents respond to his gender distress? They assured him it is perfectly acceptable for a boy to be sensitive, emotional and relational. That does not mean he is “really” a girl. God may have gifted him for one of the caring professions, like psychology or health care. Boys can and should be merciful and “servants of all,” as our Lord taught (Mark 9:35). The greatest man who ever lived, Jesus, described Himself as “gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29).
Of course, God also delights in making girls who do not fit the cultural stereotypes—girls who are athletic and competitive. God does not divide His spiritual gifts by gender but gives them to both women and men according to His purposes (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).
Eventually, Brandon chose to base his identity on his God-given biology. The biological correspondence between male and female is not some evolutionary accident. It is part of the original design that God pronounced “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Our sexual nature is part of the created order that is “declaring the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). Each of us is called to “glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
Modern society prides itself on being scientific, yet it has embraced a transgender ideology that denies the facts of science—disconnecting gender from biology. A BBC documentary says that at the heart of the transgender debate is the idea that your mind “can be at war” with your body. And in that war, it’s the mind that wins.
But why accept such a demeaning view of the body?
Even secular people are starting to recognize that transgender ideology expresses “body hatred.”
Yet therapists often fast-track children into transitioning without asking questions about why they came to feel so alienated from their bodies. In states and cities that have conversion therapy bans, it is actually illegal to help a child explore underlying issues related to sexual orientation or gender identity. And it will become illegal across all the states if Congress passes the deceptively named Equality Act (pending in the Senate).
That’s why it’s up to us. Brandon’s parents fought for him. And we need to fight for our children—in our homes, our churches, the schools and the political realm. We need to help them find their God-given identity in a culture that tells them there are no signposts—that even their biological sex gives them no clue about who they are.
We will be most effective in communicating Biblical truth by using positive language, urging people to live in tune with God’s original design. The Biblical ethic treats the human body as a good gift from God. It teaches us to honor our body, to respect our biological identity, to live in harmony with God’s purpose. Our bodies have the dignity of being temples of God’s own Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).
We can take our cues from our forebears in history. The early church faced philosophies like Gnosticism that denounced the body as “the prison house of the soul.” Gnosticism taught that the physical world is evil because it was created by a low-level deity—an evil god.
In this context, Christianity was revolutionary. It teaches that the world was created by the Most High God, who is good, and therefore it is intrinsically good. The fall into sin does not negate its inherent goodness—just as we can look at a work of art that is damaged and still see its original beauty.
Christianity’s greatest scandal, historically, was its claim that this same God had entered into the material realm, taking on a physical body—“the Word became flesh” (John 1:14). The incarnation of Christ is the ultimate affirmation of the dignity of the human body.
And at the end of history, God is not going to scrap the material universe as though He made a mistake the first time. He is going to redeem it and restore it, creating “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1). The Bible affirms the resurrection of the body (1 Corinthians 15:52-54).
This positive Gospel narrative can reach hurting young people. We can only be healthy, and we can only thrive as humans, when we base our identity on who God created and redeemed us to be. And that redemption is found only in a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, the One through whom “all things were made” (John 1:3). ©2019 Nancy Pearcey
Nancy Pearcey is professor of apologetics and scholar-in-residence at Houston Baptist University. She is the author of several books, including “Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity” and “Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions About Life and Sexuality.”
Header: Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, explains during a press conference that the ultimate goal of the Equality Act is to destroy religious freedom as we know it.
Photo: Courtesy of the Family Research Council