As part of my research into the novel exegetical exercise of “queering the Bible”, I came across Genderfork, which is a website that serves as a safe haven of support for people who don’t self-identify in the typical male/female, gay/ straight paradigms. Its motto is “beauty in ambiguity” and the community posts short profiles of themselves and says what label if any they identify with and what sort of third-party pronouns they like to be addressed by.
One person said “I identify as… “Genderqueer, Androgynous, Boi, Gender-Fluid,” another said ” Masculine-Feminine Switch, Dyke-leaning pansexual girlfag.” One said “Ambiguous Gender Ninja.” and another described themselves as “Transgender, Two-Spirit, Polysexual, BiDyke.” One said “”Gender-bending gender-Awesome” and others gave the shorthanded “Gay,” “Soft Butch”, “Queer” “Cis-gender,”, etc. One person said, ”I identify as a vaguely butch vaguely femme male-bodied anarcho-queerion.” Lastly, a “they” named Crispin said that “I identify as a Schrödinger’s cat of gender, I never know what I am until I try to observe it. One day I’ll observe and be a straight man, five minutes later I may find myself to be an asexual androgene, or a genderqueer woman, or none of the above.”
Its been an interesting time of introspection to develop a fully-orbed response to this. Because here’s the thing- there are Christians who will read something like that and be at a complete loss. In their state of revulsion and sanctimonious piety, they’ll hurl epitaphs at these ambiguous ones and dump their bodies into hell themselves if given half a chance. Others in their ignorance will fight and argue using strawmen. They’ll throw philosophical sophistry bombs while raging about the damage “them queers” are doing to society. Others still will present rude, unsophisticated, damningly stupid biblical arguments which serve as little more than to kindle the fire of resentment and recoil. All of which is unfortunate and is a blight on our faith, because we have so much more to offer than that. We have beautiful, wonderful, exhilarating and redemptive things to say- so let’s not lose our opportunity.
We live in a pluralistic, post-modern society, where created and contradictory self-identification is not seen as bad or confused, but completely legitimate. In a way, queer folk can be thought of what happens when Jacque Derridas intermingles with the critical theories of Eve Sedwick. It’s gender deconstruction and reconstruction absent the societal norms which we have traditionally understood and navigated. For all practical purposes, we have discarded the laws of non-contradiction so that we can be whatever we want to be, whenever we want to be, and it doesn’t matter if they overlap or bump up beside each other or are at odds with each other in any way. Its a tribute to our post-modernism; a pomo-sexual revolution, and the whole time we are being told that far from being confused, those with this mentality are free, clear-headed thinkers. They have attained a higher level of consciousness than we have and have become unshackled and unburdened from “heteronormative” ways of thinking.
Has a failure to polarize sexuality into distinct camps done damage to society? Not in the way that is commonly understood. Fluid, borderless and “create your own label” sexual identities is the natural progression for a society that “loves the world and the things of the world.” So it’s not damaging society as much as it is reflecting society and changing societal norms. It’s not causing a rift in our societal evolution so much as it is our societal evolution with the challenge not to stop it but to navigate through it and recognize it for what it is.
So what is our response? Our responses are manifold. We don’t laugh at or mock people who are dressed like this or look this way. We don’t make jokes out of it or use the occasion to demonstrate our own sin. We are the first persons to engage them and love them through friendship and relationship. We stand up for them and offer them protection from all verbal, emotional, and physical violence. We never for a minute regard their socio-sexual expressions as sin without being bruised by the weight of our own. We step in and repel any ignorant misconception, misstatements or fallacies regarding anyone expressing themselves on whatever end of the sexual matrix they feel they are on. And lastly once all of that is done, we never lose sight of the core of our convictions as Christian believers, and we verbalize with compassion the good news that Jesus is sovereign over all gender and sexuality. This is the reality that he has in his wisdom and glory created it for a specific purpose and function, which we proclaim the truth in conjunction with the gospel, and never apart from it.
What is the truth? To quote Albert Mohler,
“The Bible addresses human sexuality from a holistic perspective of God’s intention and design. In contrast to both pagan sex rituals and our modern obsession with sex, the Bible places sex within the total context of human nature, happiness, and holiness. Taken out of this context, sexual anarchy reigns as sex is set loose to be an end in itself.
God created human beings as male and female, both in His own image [Gen. 1:27]. Thus, gender is not a mere biological accident or social construction. The contrast and complementarity between the man and the woman reveal that gender is part of the goodness of God’s creation. Modern efforts to redefine or redesign gender are directly contrary to the Bible’s affirmation of maleness and femaleness as proper distinctions. God’s glory is seen in the maleness of the man and the femaleness of the woman. This pattern of distinction is affirmed and enforced by liturgical orders and restrictions on dress, hair length, etc. Any effort to confuse or deny gender differences is expressly forbidden and opposed by Scripture, especially as seen in Old Testament legal codes.”
As image bearers of God, made in the image of male and female, we don’t see a plurality of options or purposes. We don’t see a “he made them male-ish” and “female-ish” but rather two distinct and yet complementary groups with complementary qualities and characteristics, so that the woman in union with the man would be “one flesh.” There will be occasions which may mix or obscure these marks, but these are rare exceptions and in their rarity, they serve to reinforce the norm. God has grounded the gender identities of men and women in the permanent details of their sexed bodies. Jesus himself has very specific ideas about what is male and female and how that ought to be expressed sexually and through gender roles. [man is infused with maleness” and female is designated as woman-ness, which must by necessity be different from man and maleness]. Everything that is contrary to that, no matter how much it may be genuinely felt, biologically anchored, or sociologically accepted, is to be rejected and recognized as the ruthless embodiment of sin-scrapped rebellion that it is.
Yet in His mercy, Jesus died for every sin, whether it be heterosexual, homosexual, and everything invented by the human mind that could possibly lie in between. There are grace and forgiveness for everyone who repents and puts their faith and hope in Christ. Our heart of stone is removed and we are given a heart of flesh to fuel our new nature, which abides in Christ. No longer are we slaves to sin and to our former nature, but we are free to love and worship him and experience true joy apart from the shallow fleetingness that is “happiness”. Through him, we get to become his friends, sons, and daughters, no longer under the threat of his wrath, but free and forgiven in his love. That’s the template we work from.
As it were, as we emerge from the ravages of our slavery and come into the freedom of sanctification, there are rarely any silver bullets when sin is concerned. Having one’s sexual orientation inclined towards the same-sex as a believer is a weighty, weighty burden. In light of this, I would suggest that the biblical command for anyone who is struggling with same-sex attraction or sexual dysphoria has two prerogatives. The first is to take this to Christ in prayer, asking that God would redeem their sexuality so that Christ might help them become “reoriented,” so that they would be counted in the “and such were some of you” category in 1 Corinthians 6. This is possible. It’s not some fantasy or mythical state to be achieved, but rather is a true and genuine promise from God. If the Lord in his sovereign mercy does not make this a reality, and that feeling of attraction to the same-sex, or that feeling of attraction to the opposite sex from perspective of being a different sex, or that feeling grotesque displacement from your physical body does not go away, then living a life of celibacy is the final call, all the while praying for the first. It is a painful cross to bear. It is lonely and frustrating and at times bleak. It is a bloody war; a vicious and heartbreaking battle. But in the whole process, God will be slowly refining you in the slow burn of sanctification, and his pleasures and promises are better.
To the “Masculine-Feminine switch, Dyke-leaning pansexual girlfag” such notions will probably be regarded as horrific, scary, and an attack on their being and nature. [Note, I would regard blurring of the line and failing to polarize sexuality ultimately as the true ferocious, deviant, and mephistophelian attack on women, but that specifically is a different argument] In a very real way it is though- scary as hell. It is the destruction of their worldview along with their enslaved heart and the recreation of a new one. Its a deconstruction of all the lies they’ve absorbed over a lifetime, and a reconstruction with a truth that has endured a hundred lifetimes.
As Christians, all we can do though is approach each person as calmly and loving as we can. Not as a project, but so that we can genuinely like who they are as people. Not as self-righteous, but from a posture and position of constantly being bombarded with our own sins and inadequacies and the price that had to be paid for them on the cross. Not as timid, reserved, or uncertain about what we know to be true, But bold, zealous, and confident in the work of Christ to act in these circumstances. That’s what we need to communicate and what we need as Christians to start being the driving force for our forays into the world. Let us be unmoving and unyielding in our convictions while being extravagant and immoderate in our joy and affection for each other’s souls.
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