Gender and Sex
Are They Different?
By Wendell Cantrell
To say there is some confusion over this would be a huge understatement. A real life situation brings the issue into focus. Bobby, a seven-year-old Colorado boy, is wearing dresses, identifies himself as a girl, and wants to join the local Girl Scouts’ troop. The troop leader initially refused, saying quite accurately that he has “boy parts.” That stance has changed as The Girl Scouts of Colorado have since said, “We are an inclusive organization and if a child lives life as a girl, then he or she is welcome to join.” The Girl Scouts went on, “When a family requests membership for their daughter, we do not require proof of gender, we respect the decisions of families.” 1
You see, in today’s world, gender is about more than anatomy. It is mainly about emotions, actions, and decisions. Our postmodern culture ultimately rejects any rigid categories. We are all on a continuum from masculine to feminine. They feel that we have the right to determine whether we want to be male or female any particular day we want (seriously). The editor of World Magazine,2 Marvin Olasky, was recently speaking of a rather interesting colleague at the campus he has since left. This colleague declared, “On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I am male. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays I am female.”
Cherie MacLeod, executive director of PFLAG Canada, an organization that supports the parents and friends of gay and transgendered youth, estimates that among the children who are dealing with gender confusion, only 10% go on to identify as transgendered. MacLeod applauds the Girl Scouts for its stance and feels compassion for the troop leader who initially barred Bobby from the organization. “You can’t really fault them. It’s an evolution. I’m glad they are offering diversity training to on-the-ground leaders.”3
The American Psychological Association defines gender identity as a person’s internal sense of being male, female, or something else. Gender expression refers to the way a person communicates gender identity to others through behavior, clothing, hairstyles, voice, or body characteristics. Sex, on the other hand is assigned at birth, refers to one’s biological status as either male or female, and is associated primarily with physical attributes such as chromosomes, hormone prevalence, and external and internal anatomy. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for boys and men or girls and women. These influence the ways that people act, interact, and feel about themselves. While aspects of biological sex are similar across different cultures, aspects of gender may differ.4
One can only imagine the home that this young boy is growing up in. So let’s not criticize this youngster as we know nothing of his home life other than from media reports. We all have faced challenges growing up, but this one is huge. Without guidance from his family or society, where is this boy headed?
We, as believers, have to remember that the Christian worldview embraces an objective moral, as well as physical order to the universe. Human beings of all beliefs have discovered over the centuries that without moral order there is no flourishing. We need to go back to Genesis 1:27 for the foundational truth, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” In this one verse we are reminded that we are His precious creation and not some accident of evolution. Furthermore, we are created in His image. Even in his fallen state, man retains something of the image of God, for every human being is potentially the beneficiary of the blood of Christ and an heir of everlasting life. Finally we are created male and female.
Society would have us believe that if there is a God at all, He is not involved in our world. Right or wrong is what we decide. Male and female is what we choose. These lies are totally unworkable, regardless of the numbers jumping on the transgender bandwagon. We must continue to lovingly speak God’s truth regarding His creation. Let’s do it for Bobby!
Are we living in a culture that desires to even pass statutes that incorporate our tendency to deify our feelings? Recently, California passed a law that makes it illegal to try to alter sexual orientation (called reparative therapy) of minors because of the current ideological dogma that homosexual feelings determine identity and demand behavior. A similar law in New Jersey is being challenged in court this month by a couple wanting their son to undergo gay-to-straight conversion therapy. They say the law targets their religious beliefs about the upbringing and education of their child.
We understand that feelings are caused by a wide variety of influences and we all may have to live with strong feelings of various types till we are called home. There is an ongoing debate about whether redemption and sanctification eliminates the homosexual or transgender feelings in all cases. We need to turn our attention to the behavior aspect.
God has very definite things to say about immoral sexual behaviors, which thanks be to Him, can be changed. God’s power is often seen, not by the removing of our temptations and difficult circumstances, but by the gracious giving of strength to persevere and live for Him in the midst of strong feelings. We all need regular reminders to ignore the headlines that tell us we are governed by our feelings, remembering the good news that we have the power, through the Holy Spirit to live above those daily sinful inclinations.
A brief note to parents: Be thinking and praying about how to explain GLEE clubs (gay, lesbian, and everybody else) to your middle schoolers. As I was finishing this article, I noticed that these “support groups” are now forming in Ft. Worth districts.
Questions or comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(2) World Magazine, May 4, 2013