Monday, June 8, 2015

Gender Reality and the Greatest Gift

Monty Python Video: HT: Triablogue

 Reality – it always goes back to how you know what reality is. But the question is whether we are constrained to our gender, however we want to define it, or whether we more than our gender. How you answer that question reveals your reality.

Some would define gender with regard to our physical state. Others would define gender with regard to our inner desires, whether those be related to sexual inclinations or fashion sensibilities. It’s pointless to try to address all the permutations of desire and identification that qualify the second definition. Suffice it to say that if one has genitalia of one gender and has some internal inclination to be the other gender, the desire is often to modify the physical state to match the internal state. So if gender is defined internally, there is a sense in which the physical is an important part of that identity. Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that someone is confused. If gender is defined by some internal inclination, then the physical shouldn’t matter… except that it obviously does.

The Christian point of view (aside from the oft-referenced sexual sin for which we all bear some guilt) is that positively that we are created in the image of God for the express purpose of glorifying God by simply bearing his image. Sin distorts and twists that image so that the image of God is unrecognizable. The difference between people and animals is that people are moral agents and animals are not. Moral agency is that way by which we bear the image of God for moral agency reflects his character. We are not to bear false witness because God is a true God – he is faithful to reality. We are not to murder because God is Creator of life. We are to worship no other god because there is no other god. We are not to commit adultery because God is faithful in his relationship to us. We are not to covet what we do not have because God is faithful to give us what we need in order to accomplish his purposes.

And so we should not covet a gender we have not been given.

Let’s look at gender in this light: that what we have been given is a gift, like any other gift from God, to use to glorify him. I have some musical talent. I can practice and refine it. But I know people who don’t have that talent. They can practice diligently and gain some modicum of technical proficiency. However, there’s a level of talent that they can’t acquire by practice alone. I’m not gifted in dealing with children. I know this because I’ve tried. I have been as faithful to raise mine as I can be, and I’m grateful that I have a wife who is gifted with children who I can rely on to use her gift with children in our family. What kind of relationship would we have if I stepped in so that my wife couldn’t use her gift with kids and fancied myself the big expert with our kids? It would erode any trust between us, screw up the kids, and demonstrate that I was out of touch with reality.

There are certainly people who are out of touch with reality who fancy themselves to be gifted in areas where they are not gifted. Performing arts is a common place for this. My talents end at a certain point. There are people who are far more talented than I am. However, there have been entertainment franchises set up for the purpose of showcasing a multitude of moderate to low-talent acts in order to discover the potentially undiscovered diamond-in-the-rough. So we’ve seen programs from the Gong Show to American Idol. It’s obviously unreasonable to pursue a talent that someone simply doesn’t have. Gender is no different.

Our gender identity is a gift like any other given by God to be used to glorify him. It is tied to our physical construct, whether we are male, female, or ambiguous.

It does no good to change gender if we are alone. People modify their appearance or testify to their feelings as long as there are other people to observe it or interact with it. It does no good to work with children of you have no children to work with. It does no good to play music if you have no audience. No gift is valuable if it can’t be used in a social context. Now there are survivor experts who go out and survive on their own. That’s a gift where it can be thought that the only one to benefit is the survivor. However, there is no use in surviving if there is no one to come back to. There is no use in gender if it can’t be used to procreate or to even function as a eunuch in a highly specialized societal role.

But we are far more than our gifts. Our gifts now are limited. We live in a fallen world and we are finite creatures. Our bodies are broken and are dying. We have but a few years in this state to accomplish only a few things and we have been given gifts in order to use toward this end. To set aside a real gift for the appearance of a false gift is counterproductive. In the resurrection, we will receive full measure of the gifts that God has for us. Even then, the greatest gift is to bear God’s image eternally. That is the greatest gift, and we are able to pursue it now.