Why You Can’t Change Your Gender

Man and Woman

(Content Warning: This post deals with mature themes of sexuality and sexual orientation)

Oh National Media, how we love thee for thy spotlight shining on issues here today and gone tomorrow. Directing our attentions by saying “Squirrel!” and the populous running to that story like a dog from Pixar’s UP. This most recent direction of Vanity Fair’s Magazine Cover has created quite the stir. The story isn’t surprising really, as it addresses fundamental questions regarding who we are.

You Can Change Your Biological Sex

While the U.S. is in awe of the physical change that has been wrought in and through this individual, fiery arguments have developed as to what to call Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner. Who he is. What his legal name now is. And so forth and so on. What is not disputed by either parties, is that he is biologically, now a female.

Thanks to science, it is possible to accomplish incredible things. Biological 3-D printing is opening up transplants with the possibilities of no patient rejection. We understand more of our creation than ever before. But with that understanding in a fallen world, we’ve seen twisting of application of science- like the person we see today.

Ever since Roe v. Wade, society has operated under the impression that people have rights over their own bodies to any extreme. Scripturally however, this body-owning mindset could not be further from the truth. We are but stewards of the physical shells in which we have been given. Granted, from a Christian perspective, this truth is simple to grasp. It is communicating this truth to the world is what has been and always will be- a difficult task.

You Can’t Change Your God-Given Gender

The truth of the issue is that each one of us was created by God with a specific gender in mind. That is, one’s soul apart from their biological shell. Society would say the first is dependent upon the other. The Bible says otherwise. In heaven it is said there will be women and there will be men. Yet, we will be as brothers and sisters. Will who we are in heaven be determined by our current biological setup when we die? Of course not.

One can certainly be a male or female anatomically. Yet, that can in no way determine whether our soul is that of a man or a woman. Our God created soul transcends the mere body in which we live. Our body will eventually be cast away and rot like everything else in this world regardless of whether or not we change core bodily functions or appearances.

That’s why a person can change their bodily appearance all they want, yet still be like what Christ said- a tomb inside. They are still that same lost, desperate, and hopeless individual. Trying to find meaning in things which will not satisfy. Trying make an impact in a manner which won’t last.

I’d challenge you not to get lost in the physical particulars like so many have, but to look deeper into the personal struggles which this person and so many others face. We have a huge opportunity here to be shining examples of Christlike compassion and boldness. Let’s not squander it arguing about what bra size Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner wears.

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Why Conviction Isn’t Enough

Walking in the Spirit Conviction

I’m finding more and more people living “According to their Conviction” these days. It seems to be the new phrase that has replaced “I’m free in Christ” or at least, become a matching phrase meaning the essentially same thing. Many people live according to conviction.  This is good, as we are free in Christ to live apart from sin. We are to be free from this sin, not to desire things which are unlawful, and yet also not live with a spirit of legalism. The one extreme “I can do anything I want” to the other extreme “I must still keep the Torah to be clean” are flawed mindsets which must be overcome if we are to properly live walking in the Spirit.

Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free. Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.  ~Galatians 4&5~

So often in our lives though we mix up, or at least do not properly reconcile, what it means to live according to the “Conviction of the Spirit” Paul speaks of in Romans and Galatians. There are clear evidences of what living according to your heart’s desires looks like. There are also clear evidences of what Spirit given Conviction looks like. What we must not do, is be deceived into thinking our sinful heart’s desires are biblical convictions given by the Holy Spirit.

For if we mix the Spirit’s conviction with our heart’s desire, then we will stray into sin over and over. Because we all know, the heart is incredibly deceitful. 

What are the evidences then? How can we be sure that we are walking that straight and narrow path of honoring Christ with our whole being? Well, one reason I love Paul, is he was a list guy. Like me. In the book of Galatians he outlines in detail, what evidences of the spirit and heart (flesh) look like.

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions,factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. 

Honestly, the evidences are quite clear. One I think is the most prevalent or at least, see most often, is selfish ambitions. Selfishness can be contrived and drawn up in many different ways to look like it is in fact, not so. Which takes us back to the core of ourselves- what does the heart look like? Is it meek and submissive? Is it selfless and honoring to others? We can only truly know our hearts when we line up our actions and true desires with scripture’s standards.

Which brings me to the last bit of this post… What are our standards? What does it mean to live according to conviction by the spirit practically? Remember that passage when the Priests came and questioned Jesus? (paraphrasing here) They asked Him incredibly insincerely  “Great teacher, what is the greatest commandment?” to which Christ replied brilliantly, per usual, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength. The second is like it- love your neighbor as yourself. Upon these rest the rest of the Law.” There, in plain black and white, is our standard. Is what we are doing in Love of the Lord, AND in Love of all others. It is such a simple, yet quite challenging truth. If what we are doing is out of a genuine Love for the Lord first, then others. You will be following the commandments the Lord has set in place.

Finally, here’s the bottom line I’ve concluded about this topic- If a conviction does not align with greatest commandments, you’re doing it wrong. And that wrongness should be changed- not based on what feels right, but what is known to be true. Then, and only then, will one be able to live according to the convictions Paul speaks of over and over. Convictions serving not the flesh, but the Spirit, glorifying Christ.

Christianity, Nudity, & Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Wallpaper

Content Warning: The following post contains much material that deals with nudity, sexuality, and other mature themes. While I believe I’ve presented such material in a tasteful, rather than graphic, manner, be aware this post is certainly not the typical “G” rating that I strive towards in my writings. 

Games of Thrones. There may not be a hotter topic of discussion regarding TV shows among Christian circles. If you are out of the TV-Show loop, Game of Thrones has been described by Kit Harrington (an actor of the series) as “It is a beautifully crafted epic Fantasy. With plenty of raucous sex thrown in.”  Epic fantasy, raucous sex, not even mentioning the violence that exceeds the “R” rating scale (if that is possible.) What more could you ask for? Content aside, many Christians I know watch this series mainly for the given reason; “The story is incredible!” While the Game of Thrones yarn may be a good one, it amazes me how many professing followers of Christ watch, and even go as far as to promote, this series even with the inexcusable content it contains. The fact is that Game of Thrones shows vile immoral sex and deplorable nudity and consequently, the people who watch the series develop an insatiable lust for more and more of the show.

Here’s the deal though. Game of Thrones isn’t the problem. HBO isn’t the problem. It is much much deeper than one series which will be over in a few years. The problem is a complete moral disconnect from what we watch on TV. We view people without clothes, and, as Christians, we think this acceptable? I observe many Christians have no qualms with nudity in movies and television. They justify it by playing the legalism card, saying it does not affect them, and even go so far as to compare it to the stories of the Old Testament (thereby making it okay.)

These attempts at justification are disturbingly naive or indignantly ignorant. In either case, let’s unpack this sensitive, albeit crucial topic. For if we do not draw our line at viewing nudity and the promiscuous acts which often go along with it, then where is that line drawn?

Why Not Nudity?

In order to actually begin to dwell upon this topic, we have to first ask ourselves; “Is there anything wrong with public nudity?” I mean, God created us, our souls, and our bodies. He created Adam and Eve without clothes too. Surely it isn’t that bad. Actually, it is that bad, and we are given a moral law to abstain from viewing people in the nude. This is of course wrong, given the context outside of marriage.

When Adam and Eve sinned against God, their eyes were opened because of that sin. They had lost their perfect innocence and what was the first thing they realized? They were naked and they were ashamed. Public nakedness after the fall has always been shown in Scripture as shameful and demeaning. God also gives commands various times in the Old and New Testaments that, if someone lacks clothing, we should cover him. God set this standard by clothing Adam and Eve.

Digging even deeper, We see, in Job 31, an example where even gazing at a young woman (other translations use “virgin”) would break his holy covenant with his eyes. In Habakkuk  2, there is condemnation in looking upon people who are without clothes. Ham looked upon (an intentional look) the nakedness of his father Noah, and was cursed. Our reaction to nudity should not be even a passive gaze- even that has been declared as sin by God. But rather an active covering. Following the example God has given us.

So you don’t like the Old Testament verses. You’re free in Christ. I get that; I am too, in fact. Here’s the deal though; Christ did not abolish God’s moral Law. He fulfilled it and commanded us to have “not even a hint of sexual immorality among you.” Romans 1 sets a great example of how dangerous it is to, instead of getting as far away as possible from a potential sin, see how close to the edge one can get.

Obviously, I fail at this; everyone does. That does not excuse us from intentionally viewing such immorality with our eyes when you know it will be shown again, and again, and again … Sexual immorality is not just sex. It is thoughts, lusts, and the viewing of nakedness. If it is not so wrong to watch nudity on TV, what is wrong with going to a strip club on the weekend? The input is the same- sinful on all counts. TV just throws in a story to make it more entertaining and give people justification.

The Big Excuse

So you’re still with me so far; still reading at least. I’m sure some of you are thinking this:

Austin, viewing nudity doesn’t cause me to have lustful thoughts about those people. It doesn’t affect or bother me. Paul says meat for some is sinful, and for others it isn’t. It depends on your conscience and is a matter of conviction. I simply don’t struggle with it.

Okay, I’ll take you at your word, as I can’t judge the heart. Say viewing promiscuous sex, shameful nudity, and the like does not conjure up in your mind lustful thoughts. On the one hand, the Bible is clear, since the fall of Adam and Eve, nudity was, and is meant to be associated with sexuality (which is good in proper context.) On the other, viewing such things causes no apparent lustful or sexual thoughts to enter your mind.

When our God-given natures do not line up with our personal declared moralities, we have a problem, and a big one at that. God has put into us sexuality. In the the proper context of marriage, we are told and shown it to be a great thing in Scripture. We are not called however, to let our sexuality be reduced to the state of neutrality of a desensitized state. No one is just naturally immune to the pull of sexuality. In this day and culture though, people have been so steeped in it, that many have lost the natural desire and appreciation for our sexual natures that God has created in us to partake in. How sad it is that this gift of God has been viewed and abused to a point of where one, even a professing Christian, can look at and watch a person in the full nude, and go “meh”, and feel nothing.

That isn’t personal conviction- that isn’t even self control. That is a soul that is so desensitized and is living with a heart so deceived, that it has become sexually neutered in the mind. Have we forgotten that our heart is deceitful above all things? That we are to flee any kind of sexual immorality, instead of trying to reason through it by ourselves? It truly pains me to see so many Christians failing to understand the glory of what God has created. Continuing in this, sexuality will lose the precious meaning that was originally intended.

A Call to Accountability

So, where am I going with this? Essentially, I believe we need to continue to proclaim to all, but especially our brothers and sisters in Christ, to pray about what we watch. Notice, I didn’t say think. We as humans can reason out of any situation if we let our minds justify enough. Especially in this case of media, we need to be vigilant in asking, “Is what I am viewing sinful?

While many aspects in films can be discussed, and I believe do apply to the illustration that Paul gives regarding meat; nudity and sex are not one of them. It isn’t faked, and to look on it is sin. We need to start asking those good questions to one another in a sincere and loving way. Asking about the “why” they watch such sinful content and if they know what Scripture says about it. I’m not perfect in this area, I’ve seen things which I wish I could take back, take Braveheart for instance, and the most recent X-men (which I’ll be reviewing shortly). Those viewings are from a lack of pre-reading diligence, but are in no way excusable. Even accidental viewings are to be repented of- we are still responsible for those. I am still responsible for those.

We are also responsible for keeping each other accountable in Christlike love. Starting from the spot where we all acknowledge we all have struggles, and we are all struggling together to walk in a manner glorifying to Christ. Game Of Thrones has no place in that walk. Nudity has no place in that walk. Therefore, let’s work together to call those stumbling in these areas to get back on their feet. This proclamation will certainly come with ridicule, being called legalistic, intolerant, or even losing friendships. Through Prayer and loving concern though, we can successfully work towards this reality. One step at a time, because our victory is in Christ, and he has already won.

The Post about Controversial Posts

Wrong Internet

I think we’ve all seen it before. That one post about that one thing which that one author is incredibly passionate about. There are bible references, quotes, experiences, and e’rething (not just everything). And then it happens. Another person comes in and comments in disagreement… And you would have thought the world had been shaken out of orbit by the response given by the author. We find it everywhere don’t we? On Political blogs, Christian blogs, Car blogs… anywhere there is opinion there is most always overreaction to the disagreeing side (or vise versa). YouTube is famous for this, and also the quickest way to lose hope for humanity. ;)

One thing I’ve found about the internet which fascinates me is how quickly people will argue about something with a passion. Then, when meeting in person, they remain silent to the point of awkwardness about it. How quickly one will vehemently defend their opinions online against people they’ve never met, yet rarely do so with their best friends.  The reasons for this are many, but that’s not the point of this post, merely an observation.

Before I go on, I’d like to say I do find controversial posts expressing an opinion or belief, with a christ centered heart, an excellent thing. The problem is, often we find one without the other. Most often, I see a heart that is not centered on Christ. I’ve written my share of controversial posts, and read a great many more. One common theme I’ve found is while posters may not be soft headed- meaning they know a lot- that knowledge has puffed them up to being hard in their responses to disagreements. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we’ve all done did it. Figuring out the problem is just the first step right?

Whether you are the initiating poster, or the responding commenter, I’d definitely encourage you to share what you believe or think. If everyone agreed on everything this world would be a dull and quite boring place. Through confronting, questioning, and discussing our ideas, we grow to understand them more. Often not letting them go or changing our minds, but coming to a greater understanding of where the other is coming from, and solidifying the “Why” of your statement.

So when you post a controversial statement or opinion, don’t see a disagreement as challenge to your beliefs. Rather, an opportunity to grow in them and perhaps learn something you hadn’t considered. If more people did this, comment boxes would be a place of beneficial encouragement and dialogue, rather than the degrading speech which is currently found in the large majority of posts today regarding just about anything.

So leave a little bit of Christlike comments and posts in those controversial places. Worse that can happen is you leave a little bit more informed and the person doesn’t change their mind. Which as we all know, mind changing happens all the time online. Oh. Wait…

;)