I plead with you, my dear friend, to consider neither the suppression of self, nor the unrestrained expression of whatever you consider your “authentic self.” To be misled into what you are told as “authentic” but against the way you are made is really the triumph of the “plastic self.” God’s will is for you to be the best version of yourself.
My Dear Friend of the LGBTQ+ Community:
This is June Pride – the month of celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. Let me assure you that I do not write this out of contempt, much less, with any condemnation. I would not have earned any right to address any individual about sin, unless I am ready to confess with Paul, “I am the worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
Let me not waste your time addressing masculinity and femininity in physical behavior or social habit. That boys should be playing toy guns, while girls cuddle their dolls – these are social constructs that do not define male or female. For good measure, I also will not raise the important issue of gender intervention in children through puberty blockers and the like. It is significant, and especially heinous where, as in many American states, this is mandated without parental authority, let alone, knowledge. The significant number of those de-transitioning (getting back to their original sex after undergoing ‘gender-change’) cannot be ignored. I will just suggest for your reference the book, Irreversible Damage, by Abigail Shrier.
Let me be to the point on the advice given one with gender dysphoria to just “be true to oneself,” or something similar: “find your authentic self.” Behind this language is the rejection of the body as defining of one’s gender. It may be admitted that the body reveals one’s birth-sex; but it is militantly denied that it is equivalent to gender. The latter is to be decided by the self. The body may be male, but the mind may decide that the “authentic self” is female. And vice-versa, a female body may be reversed by the mind’s decision than one is male. And the world is expected to accept – on threat of all mechanisms of canceling at the disposal of today’s culture influencers.
NO to Self-Suppression
First of all, let me stress that I am with you in rejecting the option of suppressing self. This finds its worst form in asceticism – depriving the self of legitimate pleasures and enjoyment, because it will only defile the already native sinfulness of the body. I do not believe this is a Christian option. It is the Gnostic heresy that despised the nobility of the physical as part of God’s creation. The Word of God holds a dignified view of the body. It teaches, “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Tim. 4:4-5 ESV).
That said, I want to admonish your choice which is at the other end of the spectrum. You opt for unrestrained expression. You are made to believe that it is your way to happiness. This is the kind of self, described by theologian-philosopher, Carl Trueman, “The modern self assumes the authority of inner feelings and sees authenticity as defined by the ability to give social expression to the same. The modern self also assumes that society at large will recognize and affirm this behavior.” [ Strange New World: p. 19; Crossway (2022) ]
The problem with this option is its failure to see that there is in self a dimension that is broken. The Scriptures call this sinfulness, or theology uses the word “depravity.” To depend on what the heart dictates is to encounter the reality of what a prophet of old declares, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” (Jeremiah 17:9). No, my friend, no matter how plausible and even singable, the advice “Listen to your heart” is a dead-end street to disappointment and self-inflicted misery.
From Self-Expression to Best Version
My plea, from the compassion of Christ, is be true to your creation. If you sense a militant contradiction of your feeling, listen to those who have gone through the same struggle but have overcome: once-transgender, but now straight, not by sheer resolve, but by the grace of God. Sam Allberry writes of his thoughts in Is God Anti-Gay? “Desires for things God has forbidden are a reflection of how sin has distorted me, not how God has made me.” Christopher Yuan writes his testimony in Out of a Far Country: “I had always thought that the opposite of homosexuality was heterosexuality. But actually the opposite of homosexuality is holiness.”
Nancy Pearcey in Love Thy Body has a very pertinent observation: “The sovereign self will not tolerate having its options limited by anything it did not choose — not even its own body. By contrast, Christianity assigns the human body a much richer dignity and value. Humans do not need freedom from the body to discover their true, authentic self. Rather we can celebrate our embodied existence as a good gift from God. Instead of escaping from the body, the goal is to live in harmony with it.”
I know the foregoing to be true. While I have never been myself a transgender, I know the lies I tell myself to justify my own lusts and impurities. They never lead to a good end.
I plead with you, my dear friend, to consider neither the suppression of self, nor the unrestrained expression of whatever you consider your “authentic self.” To be misled into what you are told as “authentic” but against the way you are made is really the triumph of the “plastic self.” God’s will is for you to be the best version of yourself. This is made possible through Christ who made the new creation of one new humanity (Ephesians 2:15). You will then express in awe of God’s old creation, “O Lord how manifold are your works! In wisdom, You have made them all” (Psalm 104:24). Then, you will accept the beauty of God’s creation of man in His image: “Male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).
In pleading for Christ,
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Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:20 ESV