--Pastor Jamey Nichols
Truth matters. However, what matters even more is how truth is ascertained!
We have people in our church fighting cancer. When their oncologists make a diagnosis, the patients expect it to be accurate. When chemotherapy is given, it’s expected to be the right blend of chemicals proper for their particular cancer. Accurate. Right. Proper. These ideas are established by research, by trial and error, and by experts who have studied and achieved past successes.
Imagine for a moment that your doctors relied on their emotions to diagnose illness? How about feeling a chemo blend and intuiting the right meds for the sensed type of cancer. Absurd, isn’t it? And yet, that is exactly where our society is going in the area of gender identification. Like making medical decisions, precision and objectivity also matter when making psychological determinations. However, when it comes to a person’s gender, society now expects us to simply trust a person’s feelings.
As early as seven weeks, a fetus’ sex can be established via a blood test. Wait a few more weeks and it can be reliably confirmed via ultrasound. Wait a few more weeks and it can be definitively verified via visual inspection. When baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph had no confusion about whether or not the kid was a boy or a girl! Anatomy tells the verifiable truth about gender identity. It always has for all time.
Unfortunately, our brave new world has expanded its sexual confusion to include a budding infatuation with transgender identification. If you don’t know somebody personally whom psychology calls gender dysphoric, you’ve certainly heard of Bruce Jenner. When I was a boy, he was an American hero. Today he is arguably the most famous face behind the latest sexual trend. How are Christ-followers to respond? What are we to do when someone claims to feel their anatomy doesn’t match the anatomy of their birth? Should we trust in human emotion to deliver information that is accurate and reliable? Are we obligated to accept that human feelings are not and cannot be mistaken? What if I feel that God doesn’t love me anymore? What if I feel I’m not really a Christian? What if I feel like my life isn’t worth living? Can we trust feelings to tell us the truth—really trust them? In many ways, we are actually hurting people by telling them, “If you feel it, it must be true.”
One of the modern challenges facing the church is figuring out how to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). We’re pretty good at the love part of that verse, but we’re tempted to back down on the truth part. In our mixed up American pop-culture, somehow we have come to think that love=affirmation and disagreement=hate. That kind of thinking is down-right dopey and that’s the truth! Sometimes the truth causes temporary hurt. And sometimes the people who need to hear the truth will stop liking you. Don’t let that stop you. John 15:18 reminds us that the world hated Jesus long before it hated his followers, so we shouldn’t be surprised. Pray for Bruce Jenner and anyone else you know whose feelings don’t match their anatomy. These individuals are suffering a psychological malady. But don’t increase their distress by choosing to trust emotions over facts. It may seem like you’re helping them but you’re not. God made our bodies and fixed our gender. Feelings can be deceived. Remember, conflicted emotions are typically born of wounds—thinking and relational. This includes your own emotions as well.
Always hold on to this terrific little maxim: Something is still true even if no one believes it, and a lie is still a lie even if everyone believes it. When Jesus walked the earth he said he IS the truth, and Christians don’t hold that belief based on feelings. We trust his word because it’s reasonable to do so. And, we trust that he made male and female with intentional design. If there’s ever a discrepancy with anatomy and emotions—go with the obvious. Always tell yourself and everyone around you the truth for that is the only way to be free.