November 12, 2022 | Brian Bill
I want to begin this message called, “Gender Matters” with some ground rules and foundational points.
- The topic we will be addressing may not be appropriate for younger children as I will be using terms some may not be ready to hear.
- Normally, I like hearing “amens” when I’m preaching but I’m going to ask you to refrain out of respect for an individual or a family member who may be struggling with this topic.
- Related to that, it’s important to distinguish “trans-activists” who are lobbying for transgender rights, from others who are confused or misled.
- We will be guided by the Biblical framework we learned from Genesis 1:26 last weekend: Everyone matters to God because everyone is made in the image and likeness of God. Because we are image-bearers of God, our purpose is to reflect, reveal, and represent Him.
- My primary aim is to clearly present what the Bible says about this topic. I’m certainly no biologist or expert on gender matters. As a pastor, I am committed to teach with biblical conviction and with compassion to show how God’s way is the best and is the most beautiful way to live. We’re not to conform God’s Word to our opinions or feelings but instead we’re to conform our opinions and feelings to God’s Word.
Someone told me recently she stopped attending Edgewood because we spoke against homosexuality. She referred to knowing some gay people who were really nice and “her God” would not condemn anyone. I tried to help her see that homosexual behavior is a sin, but God still loved her friends. The issue is not how “nice” someone might be; the real issue is always, “What does the Bible say?”
- We won’t cave on sin or clobber sinners but instead we’re committed to follow Christ as our example. John 1:14 says Jesus was “full of grace and truth.” When a woman was caught in adultery in John 8:11, Jesus ministered grace to her and told her truth: “Neither do I condemn you…go and sin no more.” Likewise, we’re called to minister in truth and with grace as we speak the truth in love. Remember, it’s loving to tell the truth because truth always brings freedom as Jesus said in John 8:32: “The truth will set you free.” Truth is found in a person. And His name is Jesus Christ.
- I recognize a small number of people have a genetic or hormonal anomaly which affects sexual development. In rare cases, their genitalia may be damaged or ambiguous. However, these exceptional cases of intersex people have effectively been hijacked by activists to promote radical gender ideology.
- Children are on the front line as social media, schools, celebrities, and even some libraries are promoting an unbiblical and unnatural gender ideology. This worldview involves a comprehensive sexuality education. One example comes from a picture book written for four-year-old children called, “Gender Fairy,” featuring two transgender children. Here’s one line: “Only you know whether you are a boy or a girl. No one can tell you.” The author explains: “Some children will realize their true identity is not the gender they were assigned at birth, and will choose to make a social transition to live as their true gender.” Other book titles for kids include, “Bye-Bye, Binary,” “I’m Not a Girl,” “Jacob’s New Dress,” and “Gender Swapped Fairy Tales.”
Some school districts are using the “Genderbread Person” to propagate this ideology. One handout reads, “Gender isn’t binary. It’s not either/or. In many cases, it’s both/and. A bit of this, a dash of that. This tasty little guide is meant to be an appetizer for gender understanding. It’s okay if you’re hungry for more after reading it. In fact, that’s the idea.” Other districts are using the “Gender Unicorn” to spread these lies. We shouldn’t be surprised since our own President invited a man made famous by TikTok, who now claims to be a “glittering girl,” into the White House for an interview last month. The President gushed about the need for so called “gender reassignment” surgeries. Our Illinois governor is also very supportive of this.
I like Pastor Rob’s statement regarding why he preached on this topic: “My purpose is to inform your thinking, solidify your [biblical] convictions, fortify your courage, fuel your prayers, and encourage your response.”
Over the past few years, a transgender tsunami has swept our nation. Sharon James writes, “This challenge to the man-woman blueprint, which lies at the foundation of family and society, is unprecedented.” As an example of this, are you aware the third Wednesday of October is now celebrated as International Pronouns Day?
We live in an age of unprecedented confusion about sexual identity where it is now “trendy to be trans.” According to a Pew Research study from June 2022, 5% of adults ages 18-29 identify as transgender or non-binary – that’s over 2 million young adults. Belief in the Bible and in basic human biology has been declared bigoted and “transphobic.”
A Scriptural Survey
Here’s a one-sentence summary of what the Bible teaches: In God’s good design, He created everyone as male or female.
As we continue in our verse-by-verse study of the first chapter of Genesis, we come to Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” These twelve words in Hebrew are arranged in three lines, each with its own poetic repetition and cadence. Just as a poem is often employed to accentuate something with carefully chosen words and images, so God celebrates with superlative language how men and women are created in His image.
The word “so” connects us to verse 26 and expresses “agreement or confirmation.” Three times the word “created” is used, thus emphasizing the uniqueness of God creating mankind as male and female. From this point on, humanity is divided into two groups – male and female. In addition, the fact we are made in God’s “image” is stated twice for emphasis.
We’ve been made differently by design with distinct capacities and roles to fulfill the divine mandate to serve as stewards of the earth.
Let’s ponder the phrase, “male and female He created them.” In Hebrew, it literally reads this way: “As male and female created He them.” Males and females are equal, but not identical because their biological sex is separate and distinct. God created males and females on purpose with different purposes. We’ve been made differently by design with distinct capacities and roles to fulfill the divine mandate to serve as stewards of the earth.
There are three primary characteristics that distinguish males from females:
- Different reproductive organs.
- Different external anatomy.
- The presence or absence of a Y chromosome.
Gender is designed by the Grand Designer at conception, from our DNA to our reproductive organs. God is the giver of gender. Males and females do not have interchangeable anatomy and those differences are not inconsequential. Both the Bible and biology make this clear.
I like how Bethlehem Baptist Church fleshed this out: “We affirm that when God created human beings, He established a male-female binary that is normatively displayed at the chromosomal level of human biology…these biological markers cannot be legitimately chosen or changed based on personal preference, subjective feeling, or societal norm.”
Can you imagine if Adam would have said to God, “I know you made me a male, but I feel like I’m a woman so I’m wondering if you could remove the anatomy you created me with?”
The phrase “according to its kind” or “according to their kinds” is used 10 times in Genesis 1 to indicate there are separate species and genders which are distinct and different. Clearly, God established categories of creation. In addition, the word “separate” is used five times in the first chapter and means, “to set apart.” This is a word of distinction, or differentiation. The creation account in Genesis 1:1-27 shows how God separated many things.
- He separated the light from the darkness.
- He separated the waters above from the waters below.
- He separated the dry land from the waters below.
- He separated the day from the night.
- He separated humankind into two biological sexes.
If we go back to Genesis 1:2, we see how God brought order and design out of the chaos of formless emptiness by creating distinct and separate categories. Sadly, because creation distinctions have now become fluid, our culture has slidden back into a dark chaos, leaving us formless and unfulfilled.
In God’s good design, He created everyone as male or female.
Let’s drop down to Genesis 1:28 where we see how Adam and Eve were made to complement each other in an intimate relationship so they could have children. This is all part of the blessing given by God when He made men and women with different bodies: “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it…’” Because of God’s creative and wise design, when Adam and Eve came together physically in their separate genders, with their distinctive reproductive organs, they were able to produce the next generation. God’s plan was for them to flourish and be fruitful.
When God created humankind as male and female, He didn’t just say it was “good,” like He did with the other elements of His creation. According to Genesis 1:31, when God surveyed what He created, we read, “and behold, it was very good.” The word “good” means, “well-pleasing” and “very” has the idea of being “exceedingly great.”
Notice the progression in these verses.
- Human beings are made in the image of God.
- He made them male and female.
- He made them to procreate.
- He called it all “very good.”
These bedrock truths from Genesis 1 help us resolve many moral matters, including the definition of marriage as one man and one woman united in a covenant relationship for life. We can’t change our sex, nor are we to have sex outside of a monogamous marriage between one man and one woman.
Your gender was designed and determined at conception
God’s way is always best. Contrary to the thinking in our current culture, binary is not bad, it’s beautiful. Gender is not just a social construct or something one chooses as their “identity.” Your gender was designed and determined at conception and as Psalm 139:13-14 says, because God formed your inward parts, you are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” To say it another way, your biological sex and gender are fixed and finite, not fluid.
In Genesis 2:18, we read what happened when God saw that Adam was all alone: “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him.’” God created Eve to perfectly complement Adam in every way and He made Adam to complement Eve. After a delightful description of how God created woman, Adam breaks out into poetry, speaking the first recorded words from a human in verse 23. It’s as if he explodes with delight: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.”
God’s answer to Adam’s loneliness is simple and profound. He created a corresponding partner for Adam. She was like him, she came from him, and yet she was different from him. The Hebrew words tell the story. The word for man is “ish,” and the word for woman is “ishah.” Adam was very cool with this and in the original exclaimed, “Woah, man!” BTW, that’s how we get the word “woman.” Chapter 2 ends with harmony in their home: “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” Unfortunately, that all changes in chapter 3 when sin entered the world.
Next, let’s consider Deuteronomy 22:5: “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” Here we see God prohibits the blurring of gender identity. That’s one big reason “Drag Queen Story Hour” has no place in schools or libraries.
Jesus confirmed the creation of Adam and Eve as different and distinct human beings in Matthew 19:4: “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female?” He said something similar in Mark 10:6: “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’” The Apostle Paul also affirmed God’s creation design of two genders coming together in marriage to become one in Ephesians 5:31: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us our bodies don’t ultimately belong to us: “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.”
In God’s good design, He created everyone as male or female.
Sharon James says it strongly: “To disparage the physical human body is to disparage the God in whose image we are made. To downplay the male-female distinction is to reject God’s design.”
Transgenderism is unbiblical and sinful. That doesn’t mean people who feel this way or act this way are beyond God’s love. In his sermon on this topic, Pastor Rob gave 8 reasons why it is wrong.
- It’s contrary to God’s design for humanity (Genesis 1:27).
- It opposes God’s design for you (Psalm 139:13-16; 1 Corinthians 7:17).
- It’s confusing, and God is not a God of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).
- It makes provision for gratifying the desires of your flesh (Romans 13:14).
- It exchanges God’s glory for man’s (Romans 1:22-23).
- It dishonors the body God gave you (Romans 1:24).
- It’s narcissistic, worshipping and serving yourself (Romans 1:25).
- It’s unnatural and dishonorable (Romans 1:26-27).
This is a good place to address the cultural confusion between the terms “biological sex” and “gender.” If you feel confused, it’s because it’s confusing. Many terms have been newly invented or redefined and have become quickly accepted, even though the definitions themselves are often fluid. Here are some of the terms you might hear. I received some help with these definitions from the book, Gender Ideology.
- Gender. While gender has always been used as a synonym for one’s biological sex, the term has been hijacked by gender theorists. It’s often referred to as the “gender spectrum.” In 2014, Facebook provided 56 gender options. By 2018, 71 options were provided. Facebook has since provided a custom gender option: “Now, if you do not identify with the pre-populated list of gender identities, you are able to add your own.” It’s common to hear someone say that a doctor “assigned their gender” at birth. That’s not true. The doctor simply identified what God determined your gender to be.
- Gender dysphoria is the feeling that one’s emotional and psychological identity doesn’t match the biological sex someone was born with. This is sometimes expressed as, ‘feeling trapped in the wrong body.’
- Gender identity is a common phrase and has to do with one’s sense of who they feel themself to be. It’s important to remember to be human is to be male or female. Write this down: Your sex is your gender, and your gender is your sex. Period. It has nothing to do with what you might feel because it’s written into the DNA of nearly every cell in your body.
- Gender expression is commonly used to refer to how someone presents themself to others as male, female, some combination of the two, or neither. This may include language, clothing, actions, and more. This expression is often fluid and is based entirely on how one may feel. The idea is, “If you say it, that settles it.” We must rise above this confusion and hold up this truth: “If God says it, that settles it.”
- Transgender. This umbrella term is often used to include everyone who feels any dissatisfaction with their biological sex and also for those who want to ‘cross-dress.’ Transgenderism is often defined as the expression of a feeling, that your gender does not correspond to your sex.
- Non-binary refers to someone who does not identify as exclusively male or female.
- Transexuals. People who are biologically normal and healthy men or women who live as members of the opposite sex. They may or may not have taken hormonal and/or surgical treatment.
- Cisgender is a recently coined term used as an opposite to “transgender.” Don’t play the game if you are asked if you are cisgender. Simply say, “No, I’m not cisgender. I am a woman (or a man).”
The theory that binary is bad, and we can construct our own gendered identity is an attack upon our Creator. Listen to Isaiah 45:9 in the New Living Translation: “What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’”
This is really a new form of an ancient heresy called Gnosticism, which taught that the soul was good, and the body was bad. If the body does not matter, one could do whatever one wished with the body because the soul was the true self.
Please know that hormone treatment or surgery cannot reassign sex. Sharon James writes, “It is impossible to ‘change sex.’; you can only change appearance. Our birth sex cannot be changed…no amount of surgery can change a man into a woman, or a woman into a man. The XX or XY chromosomal pattern is set at conception.” Another author states, “People who undergo sex reassignment procedures do not become the opposite sex. They merely masculinize or feminize their outward appearance.”
On Thursday, I received a phone call from an Edgewood member who had just read an alarming story in a newspaper called, Rock Island Today about new K-12 library books depicting teen sexual acts between boys and a book aimed at second and third graders that encourages child cross-dressing. She was upset, and rightfully so. I had the newspaper in front of me and had recently read it myself and felt nauseated afterwards. She kept asking, “Pastor, what can we do? How do we respond?”
I appreciate this statement from Focus on the Family:
“Every human possesses inherent dignity and immeasurable worth. Christians are called to defend and protect the marginalized and suffering among us…there is no place for shame or degradation…biblical humility also guides us. Sin is pervasive and impacts each of us – there is no room for pride or judgment…temptations are common to us all…”
I shared a number of action steps with this member, and I pass them along now for each of us to consider. In God’s good design, He created everyone as male or female.
- Pray. Since this is ultimately a spiritual issue, we must put on our spiritual armor and pray bold prayers. According to John 10:10, Satan has unleashed his attacks on image bearers of God: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…”
- Vote biblical values. There’s no excuse for a Christ-follower not to vote. Now would be a good time to register so you’re ready for the next election.
- Teach children and grandchildren God’s good design. God created everyone in His image, and He created men and women differently by design. Knowing we are created by God as male, or female, is very good news. It liberates us from the pressure of having to come up with our own gender identity. You might want to take this sermon manuscript which is available on the app or website and contextualize it for your children or grandchildren. BTW, our student ministry and Mainspring address topics like this on a regular basis.
- Love. While there’s a place for righteous anger about this issue, let’s make sure we are demonstrating love to people made in the image of God, especially to those in our families. I’ve yet to meet someone who was argued into the kingdom of God or yelled into becoming a Christian. Let’s remember what Romans 2:4 says: “God’s kindness leads to repentance.”
- Protect our vulnerable children. It’s essential to monitor what a child sees on their phone and what they’re exposed to through social media, celebrities, friends, and teachers. Let me be quick to say the majority of teachers support traditional definitions of human sexuality and family. I’m pro-teacher – my mom was a teacher, and my sister has been teaching for over 30 years. I celebrate that so many teachers and administrators from Edgewood are living on mission in our schools.
Let’s be clear. The American College of Pediatricians says this: “Conditioning children into believing a lifetime of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex is normal and healthful is child abuse.” I’ve heard it said like this: “Changing genders is short-term gain with long-term pain.” According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, which is the standard in the industry, “As many as 98% of gender confused boys and 88% of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty.” Let’s not let young children make a life-altering decision before their brains or bodies are fully formed.
- Speak up. Parents must be informed about what is being taught in schools and speak up when necessary at local school board meetings. Unfortunately, those promoting gender theory often present parents as unsafe, bigoted, and transphobic if they don’t support this ideology. Let me say it clearly. Parents are responsible for their children. Parents have rights and are right to question what their child may be exposed to.
- Prepare for pushback. If you stand on biology and the Bible, you will be increasingly marginalized. In addition, your kids and grandkids who take a stand on truth will be teased, bullied, and maybe worse. If you share biblical truth about transgenderism, you may find yourself labeled, canceled, or worse. Some of you have already experienced this in your own family, school, or workplace.
Recently, I read a couple chapters of a very helpful book by Ryan Anderson called, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment. I was glad I was able to do so because Amazon banned the book last year because it didn’t line up with their policies. Thankfully, they changed their mind, and it is now available. I also watched Dr. Phil interview Matt Walsh, who produced a documentary called What is a Woman? and saw how the studio audience turned against him.
- Be hopeful. God can redeem and restore anyone through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Many are de-transitioning because they now realize their transition has not satisfied, and in many cases, has compounded their problems. After describing a long list of aberrant behaviors and sexual sins, 1 Corinthians 6:11 says: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
- Share the gospel. The post-Fall condition of humankind can be seen in many arenas where things have gone awry. We need to be quick to share God’s love and the message of forgiveness, freedom, healing, and hope while gently and strategically guiding a person back to the Creator’s gracious intention and design. The gospel changes everything!
- Churches must speak up. John Stonestreet writes, “With a 900% increase in young people claiming gender dysphoria…love must speak the truth. As gentle as we must be with those who struggle with whom God created them to be…the church has to stand for what is true about humanity, including God’s good creation of the human body and the inherent value each person has since they bear His image.” One would expect churches to unite in speaking out for God’s creation design, and against gender theory. But sadly, some have gone silent, and others have embraced the transgender movement. Last month, a well-known mainstream Protestant denomination added a third gender option for “non-binary/gender-queer” people.
One of our Sunday Growth Groups is called the Bereans. This group spends time each week going deep into God’s Word. Recently, they studied Edgewood’s statement of faith and made some recommendations about adding a section dealing with gender issues. I took what they had done and expanded it. I studied what other gospel-preaching churches have developed and incorporated some of their insight. The deacons and pastoral team also gave some input. We hope to present a final draft to the members for approval in the near future.
We believe that God’s design for His creation and His way of salvation serve to bring Him the greatest glory and bring us the greatest good. God’s good plan provides us with the greatest freedom. Jesus came that we might have life and have it in overflowing measure (John 10:10). He is for us and not against us (Romans 8:31). Therefore, in the spirit of faithfully serving Christ and His church and witnessing publicly to the good purposes of God for human sexuality revealed in the Bible, we offer the following affirmations and denials.
We believe that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female, in His image for one another. Males and females are defined by their anatomical and reproductive organization. These two distinct, complementary sexes are determined at conception, and together reflect the image and nature of God (Genesis 1:26-27). To deny any part of this teaching is to subject God’s purposeful design to the desires of humanity and the influence of contemporary culture. We understand that a person can never thrive or flourish apart from living in harmony with God’s design in creation. Therefore, rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person (Deuteronomy 22:5; 1 Corinthians 11:14-15).
We believe that one’s sex is biological, immutable, unchangeable by medicines, surgeries, or by any human declaration. Our sexuality is designed by God either for complementary unity with the opposite sex in the context of marriage for procreation and mutual delight, or for celibacy in undivided devotion to Christ (Genesis 2:24-25; 1 Corinthians 7:1-9).
We believe that God offers redemption, forgiveness, cleansing, renewal, reconciliation, and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking His mercy and forgiveness through the substitutionary death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He offers power to live free from bondage to sin for those who repent and turn away from disobedience to God’s Word (Psalm 86:13; 103:12; Isaiah 43:1; Mark 10:45; Luke 7:47; John 8:1-11; Acts 3:19-21; Romans 6:18; 8:1; 10:9-10; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 1:13-14; 2:14; 3:10; Titus 2:14).
We believe that every person must be afforded compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity (Genesis 1:26-27; Matthew 7:12; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31). Hateful and harassing attitudes, language, or behaviors directed toward any individual are to be repudiated and are not in accord with our Savior, the Scriptures, or the doctrines of Edgewood Baptist Church.
In God’s good design, He created everyone as male or female.