‘Living with Uncertainty’ Meditations: 43. Q.5. Who am I?
Rom 8:22-25 (Msg) All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy..
The Question: Years ago, before communications became what they are, people suffered identity struggles because things happened to them that they did not understand and they felt alone and misunderstood or they felt isolated and ashamed. That has changed, but with the changes has come much confusion and purported truth, especially for Christians, can become confusing. The question that a number feel, has come out into the open: who am I?
A Mistake? A question that some may feel is, am I a mistake, or why did God make me like this? Let’s start with an identifiable easy-though-horrible problem, that of Thalidomide, a sedative drug discovered at the end of the 1950s, prescribed to many pregnant women in order to relieve pregnancy nausea, which resulted in thousands of babies worldwide to be born with malformed limbs. Is that person a mistake, does God love them? A mistake in that humanity was staggeringly careless so they were born deformed, but no less a person who God loves and who can enter into a relationship with the living God.
Confused Gender: And so a person is born with mixed genitalia. Confusion and uncertainty are natural. A child has all of the physical aspects of being a girl, say, but feels a boy from a very young age. Gender used to be defined by physical makeup but today is often defined by personal or social perception. In the two illustrations we’ve just used, the situation can be changed by an operation and/or by hormone treatment (which can be two-way: ‘female’ to ‘male’ or vice-versa). Are such people (note ‘people’) loved by God and capable of a relationship with God? Of course. In neither case was the ‘cause’ of their difference down to them and they certainly could not be ‘blamed’ for it.
Biblical Perspectives: The Jews of Jesus’ day blamed a man’s parents for his blindness from birth (Jn 9:1,2) and Jesus rejected that analysis not, I suspect, from it not being true because there could have been something about the lifestyle of the parents that produced a blind baby, but more because such an analysis is neither helpful to the blind person nor loving of them, and just maybe God wants to step in and change the situation. The work of ‘Mercy Ships’, a Christian charity that provides free surgery, reveals that in Africa today, often because of poor diet or poor health care, children can be born with a variety of physical deformities. The answer is not to denigrate such a nation or such people but to say, how can we help?
In gender discussions, the path is not always made clear by quoting such scriptures as, “male and female he created them.” (Gen 1:27) This was clearly how God made the world with clear gender distinctions, but with the advent of the Fall, we observe (as we noted in the study on Suffering) the result of the general Sin of mankind (we’re not identifying the individual) means that diseases occur, and viral, genetic misfunction or cell breakdown occur so that although we may be able to suggest, ‘this is the norm according to God’s original design’ some people experience something different from that norm. To ‘blame’ them is to blame the human race, and as Jesus pointed out, blame is not helpful.
Clarifying Confusion: Unfortunately, in recent decades, because of the crusading by those who do not match that so-called ‘norm’, I believe we have overstated the case and there are sometimes mixed motives, unwise public behaviour and confusion for many that challenges reality. Let’s take what used to be stated as basic behavioural development. It is often clearer in girls, it seems, than in boys. Development of young girls into and through puberty, traditionally has been seen to include a stage of preference for those of the same sex, hence teachers will often testify to observing ‘school-girl crushes’ of younger girls for those several years above them. It is a developmental stage, and most usual development means the girl will pass through that stage and turn her attention to members of the opposite sex so that one day they will choose a partner with whom they will have a family. Male + female = child. (That never changes however we manage it!)
However with the propaganda produced by the crusaders of alternative gender lifestyle, such a girl is so often today branded as ‘lesbian’ which in most cases will not be the case, simply factually and because of it was we would move to a test-tube civilization, a far cry from God’s design and will. Psychology used to suggest causes for the development of such tendencies and attempts to nail it down to genetic makeup have proved dubious and so, subsequently there tends to be an abandoning of the ‘why’ question and it turns to just how we can get on and live our lives as we perceive ourselves today. As this trend has developed and the whole area been opened up to public acceptance we have in recent months (this is 2020) found a number of doctors testifying to the fact that so often those who opted for gender transformation surgery now bitterly wish they had never done it, and trends are starting to move towards imposing long periods of reflection before such surgery goes ahead. Time it seems, means people change how they feel about themselves, which suggests purely psychological perceptions may be muddying the water.
Questionable Motives: Now before we say anything else, let’s recognise what is real and what is not. So, as we have observed earlier, there may be those who struggle with mixed gender conflicts, and that is real. That needs to be a starting point that we hang on to, but let’s dare to ask for honesty in this discussion and say history of homosexual or lesbian experience does show that for many the drive for acceptance has simply been to legitimate and make acceptable a life-style for which the word ‘promiscuous’ may appear loaded but has described what has been often accurately reported in the earlier days. From a Christian standpoint we need to acknowledge that according to the biblical teaching, promiscuity whether straight or gay is unacceptable in God’s design, hence Gen 2:24, the family mandate, is in the singular and elsewhere God declares His hatred of divorce (Mal 2:16) because it does violence to the parties to it. The pattern of ‘one man plus one woman for life’, remains God’s design and anything less, is less than that. Sex for thrill with multiple partners of whichever gender is a pure example of self-centred godlessness and so, of course, for those whose life at all levels rejects or ignores God, we should perhaps not expect anything else. The big question is not about their lifestyle, it is about their unbelief and their eternal destiny (which we will consider in the next study.)
Holding a right outlook: The truth is that we will all hold particular beliefs and those beliefs lead to different forms of behaviour. For Christians on all sides of the divide, holding a right attitude before God is the important issue. For those who struggle with the changes that society is accepting as ‘normal’, the important issue is to maintain love for those we see ‘flouting traditional behaviors’. For those adopting optional lifestyles, flouting it in the face of traditional teaching is both juvenile, immature and ungracious. What you do behind closed doors is down to you and God. If someone is of the opposite and traditional camp, realize that you proclaiming your freedom to do what you like is purposely trying to upset them, and time alone will prove who is right. In thirty years (or sooner if God turns up in revival) we may all be thinking quite differently.
To conclude: This is a subject which warrants much more but for the time being let’s suggest the following:
- Whatever your place in life, know that God loves you.
- If you are holding to an alternative lifestyle to that espoused for centuries in the Christian tradition, do it before God and not flouting it before the world otherwise, I believe, you face divine censure for your lack of care for others. Be respectful of others..
- If you are one who holds the traditional position, ensure you hold an attitude of love towards others else the same applies to you. Be respectful of others.
- If you are a leader who struggles to bring together opposing believers, seek His wisdom and His grace, teach your people on both sides to be gracious and humble and pray for Him to intervene and express His will to His people.
- The world’s acceptance of alternative lifestyles to that traditionally espoused by Christian believers (and the way they have done it and encouraged it) is, I believe, activity of the enemy who always seeks to cause division and an opportunity for the people of God to be seen in a bad light (which often results in opposition if not outright persecution). Pray against this, don’t just sit back and let it develop badly.