The Absence of the Female Superhero: Troubling or Telling?

wonderwomanWith the recent surge of super-hero movies, some have asked: “Where are the female super-hero movies?” Many are demanding a Wonder Woman movie, but Hollywood, in the midst of clicking off Superman and Batman movies at a blinding clip, has yet to craft it. A slew of articles emerged this week, trying to navigate this super heroine desert.  The most common response is two-fold: not enough interest, not enough cash.

Jason Free was criticized for saying this in a USA Today piece: “Not trying to sound like a jerk, but typically women in leading action roles don’t sell the way strong male figures do.” The article continues:

“Is that because men wouldn’t go to the box office to see a movie about a female superhero? Perhaps. And, making things worse, men are the majority of comic book readers. A whopping 93 percent of people buying comics are male, according to The Nielsen Company’s market research done for DC Comics in 2012.”

“The results are “troubling,” comicsalliance.com said at the time, because they “raise serious questions about DC’s ability to expand their audience base, and the accessibility of their content to both female and younger readers.”

“Making things worse.” “Troubling.” These descriptions fit a discussion about the state of public education, not banter over comic book characters and movies. Why the outrage over a lack of female super heroes? Many fear this oversight casts women as inferior to men in strength and ability.  

Our culture demands the annihilation of gender distinction. Anything challenging that ideal is immediately interpreted as a step backwards into the dark ages of pregnant wives waddling about the home, starching their husband’s shirts with dinner simmering one room away. Husbands kiss them on their foreheads and retire to the living room after a long day, feet up and the evening paper, pleased with the wife’s home economy.

The reality: men and women are different creatures. Our culture cannot acknowledge this in a civil and intelligent way – much less the implications of those differences – without yelling “Misogynist! Sexist! Bigot!” There are reasons the majority of cultures have banned women from frontline combat. There are reasons women are not playing in the NFL. There are reasons less than 2% of firefighters are female. Both men and women have physical limitations that no hormone supplement or surgery can “fix,” despite the frantic rush to try.

Werner Neuer provides insightful evidence for that which humanity has always known, as expressed in the common, historic division of labor:

“The male skeleton is usually stronger than the woman’s. The bones are thicker and heavier. The greater strength of its bone structure obviously equips the man’s body better than the woman’s to overcome physical obstacles and carry loads. The man has greater steadiness, strength, and stress resistance due to his stronger bones.”

“The striated muscles in men are more strongly developed and constructed than women’s. They serve above all for dealing with external obstacles…The man’s superior equipment in this respect and his stronger bone structure indicate that by nature the male rather than the female is designed to overcome external, environmental obstacles, to reshape and master the environment.”

Female super hero movies are fewer because the female body is not designed for the tasks of Superman. This is not earth shattering news. If being a super hero was the ultimate test of personhood and worth, this would be troubling news for females indeed, but it is not. Gender distinctions have propagated and ensured the survival of humanity since creation.  The rebellion against these differences has created a path of delusion, convincing many that freedom from God’s design is not just possible, but necessary.

Those who take this path believe a lie similar to the one Eve believed in the Garden of Eden. The serpent convinced her God was withholding something good. Men and women experience and yield to the rules of their bodies every day. Some think these rules are unfair and prevent their happiness. They respond by either ignoring the rules or trying to change them. In doing so, they are not free, but imprisoned by the task of disproving the Creator and the bodies He created.

As an avid runner, I buy good running shoes. I do not run in my hiking boots. Is it unfair? Is it discriminatory? No, it’s smart. Hiking boots are built for rocks and rivers, not pavement and speed. They are not inferior shoes, but different shoes. Genesis 1:27 says: “So God created man in His own image. In the image of God He created Him; male and female He created them.” Nothing is lost for either gender in recognizing our differences. If God determined humanity needed to exist as one generic gender, women and men would not exist. He instead created two equal but not identical people, both bearing His image, designed for different but equally great things. Our physiological differences are gifts, not curses.

With so many demanding more female super heroes on the silver screen, it is only a matter of time before we will see another on a poster, cape rolling in the wind under a curtain of long, dark hair; 120 pounds of metal, diamonds and muscle behind piercing green eyes, ready to slaughter and seduce men. Call me old fashioned, but the female heroes who inspire me do no killing or sexual conquering. They love fiercely, work diligently and sacrifice frequently. They don’t have posters.

-Emily

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Miley Cyrus and Our Corruption

mileyvmasMiley Cyrus stole the headlines from Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Awards for her shocking performance of “We Can’t Stop.” She emerged on stage with tongue out from a giant robotic teddy bear and danced in a graphic and sexually suggestive manner. At the end of her routine she stripped down to a flesh colored bikini and began an even racier duet with Robin Thicke that left many in the audience visibly uncomfortable.

It was the most talked about performance after the VMAs, even outpacing N’SYNC’s brief reunion with 4.5 million Twitter mentions.

But was it really “shocking”? This is the MTV Video Music Awards after all. At the inaugural show in 1984 Madonna writhed around in a wedding dress singing “Like a Virgin” and in 2003 at the same event had a three way kiss with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Nothing in Cyrus’ routine from the twerking to the sexual-positions-as-dance-moves, to the shameless song lyrics departed from our new cultural norms.

Miley’s performance grabbed headlines and tweets not because she grabbed certain body parts but because of the narrative behind it. That narrative is one of corruption. Miley Cyrus was once Hannah Montana, a popular Disney character who lived as a normal teen by day and a pop star by night. Her image was wholesome, family-friendly. Millions of fans bought her merchandise and copied her example. In a USA Today article from 2008 she was asked if she planned on being a good role model for her fans and said:

Yeah. That was the plan from the beginning. That’s kind of the point of everything that I do. I always try to bring in just being a good role model and setting high standards for yourself.

On Sunday, this same Miley emerged on stage from a giant teddy bear, surrounded by dancing teddy bears, and wearing a teddy bear outfit. One of the most compelling images of innocence is a child clutching a teddy bear. This symbol of childhood innocence was injected with hyper-sexualized dancing and Miley’s popular song, “We Can’t Stop,” which describes the singer at a party where everyone is taking ecstasy, getting drunk, dancing like strippers and looking for a casual hookup. Next came Robin Thicke singing his song “Blurred Lines” about his desire for a good girl he can treat like a sexual animal while Miley provided backup vocals and complimentary body gyrations.

This theme of corruption – of Hannah Montana and of our daughters in general – may be why the crowd looked ill at ease with the performance. It may also be why much of the huge Twitter response was negative and why fellow artist Josh Gracin tweeted:

Thanks Miley Cyrus… Now I have to explain to my 11 yr old daughter why she can no longer follow your career.

Rather than hide from the corruption it was embraced with imagery and songs to provoke a reaction – a different kind of shock than we have gotten from Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, and Lil’ Kim.

In the corruption of Miley Cyrus we see the corruption of our children. The cute princess clutching her teddy bear as she is tucked into bed at night becomes a casual hookup at a college party, an indecent picture texted to the junior class, an object tailored to please others. The adorable little hero who wants to fight the bad guys becomes a frat boy who can’t recall every sexual conquest, a porn addict immersed in fantasy, a freshmen compromising his values to win acceptance. The sexual revolution reduced individual persons made in the image of God into bodies frantically chasing objects that will satisfy their appetites.  It’s what happened to Hannah Montana and it is what’s happening not just to our children but to us as a whole.

By the grace of God, many still see this corruption as a bad thing, as revealed in the reactions to the VMA performance. Yet, there may come a time when nearly all of our culture openly embraces the corruption caused by sin. In Romans 1:28-31, Paul describes the progress of humankind from the innocence of Eden to the full corruption of sin:

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

The gospel tells us we are all corrupted because of sin. Psalm 53:3 says, “…together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.” Yet Jesus took our corruption upon himself so we could be innocent and pure again. In Jesus Christ, God “…has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (2 Peter 1:4).

 

There may come a time when we no longer see the corruption caused by our sin. When the culture is so blind that God has no choice but to give it up to what ought not to be done. The fact that we can still see our corruption and mourn is a sign that God’s grace is at work. We are all, like Hannah Montana, corrupted, but we don’t have to stay that way. The only answer for all of us sons and daughters of this world is the good news that what was corrupted by our sin can be made pure and whole again by Jesus.

-Brian

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Friday’s Fantastic Five! 6.7

FridayFantasticFive

Yes, Marriage Will Change – and Here’s How – Mark Regnerus
A startling article grounded in solid social science that predicts gay marriage’s effect on the institution of marriage as a whole. Sexual permissiveness may be the shape of marriage norms in the future.

Ex-Feminists: Do marriage and parenthood make people more conservative about women and families? – William Saletan
Saletan dissects the recent Pew Research data on America’s views of marriage, parenthood, and working moms. While it may appear that cultural trends make the difference in people’s views, it may be actual experience with family that is driving the data.

Listening to Young Atheists, Lessons for a Stronger Christianity – Larry Taunton
Taunton’s Fixed Point organization interviewed active college atheists across the country to find out what led them to their unbelief. The results are surprising as many came to atheism out of a weak, nominal Christianity. A must read for the church.

Reaching Muslims with the Gospel of God: An Interview with Abdul Saleeb
A great interview with a Muslim who came to Christ and now reaches out to other Muslims. This short interview will be helpful to Christians who are reaching out to or know very little about their Muslim neighbors.

The Graduation Song – Rhett & Link
A hilarious wake up call for all those graduates out there…

Oh-Oh It’s Magic (Or Not): What to do with Magic Mike

ImageMagic Mike opened at the box office in the number two spot grossing 39.1 million in its first weekend. After Showgirls it seems women are finally getting their day in the sun, basking in the glow of male strippers/dancers and loving every second. As one viewer tweeted, “Does this movie need a plot?! Matthew Mcconaughey and Channing Tatum…are you kidding me?!” The Internet Movie Database articulates it this way: “A male stripper teaches a younger performer how to party, pick up women and make easy money”. In turn, women of all ages are turning out in droves to theaters. Adult entertainment isn’t new; women taking their place in the audience and not the screen is new.

The sexual revolution did not happen overnight and it’s far from over. Slowly and certainly, women in recent years have been encouraged to not only embrace their sexuality but shamelessly chase it. Not only is porn for women more common today than in years past, but it’s also more acceptable. Romantic sagas like the Twilight series have been labeled “women’s porn” because women traditionally crave romance and sensitivity instead of sex. Ladies in the church have been told to guard their hearts from the accidental wink of the guitar player in the worship band and not to lust after his declaration to kiss his bride for the first time at the altar. The days of believing girls struggle only with crushes and emotions are over. Women (Jesus-loving, Christian women) struggle with real sexual sin and it cannot be ignored or dismissed.

It seems obvious Christians would immediately see the problems with Magic Mike. Since all do not, here are some answers to common objections Jesus-followers use to defend their choice to see Magic Mike and why this movie should not be on your must-see list this summer:

It’s Just a Movie

What does that mean? The “it’s just a” phrase is frequently tossed around in reference to television, music, books and video games also. Presently, American culture is created, maintained and reflected through these mediums. It is not just a movie…it is a collection of words and images designed to not only entertain but send a message. Magic Mike’s message: ladies, satisfy your lust any way you choose with no guilt; our way is the most fun and don’t forget to bring your friends.

It Doesn’t Have an Effect on Me

It is ignorant to believe everything we see, read and hear does not significantly impact our hearts, souls and minds.  Once entertainment is consumed, there is no objective way to measure its effect or contribution to your person. There are times you cannot control your intake (a billboard or overhearing a conversation from your cubicle)…this is not one of those times. Inviting this level of depravity into one’s soul will have a great impact and will not point you to the greatness of Jesus’ name.  What will it impact? Your heart, soul and mind: in seeing Magic Mike you are not loving and worshipping God will all of them. Your marriage (present or future): watching a movie designed to whet appetites and perpetuate fantasies with people you’re not married to gives Satan an open door to cause division, dissatisfaction and temptation. What does Magic Mike point to? Sexual satisfaction with no boundaries, an idea the Bible rebukes.

I Have Freedom in Christ/Scripture Isn’t Specific

Christians are never given freedom to trample God’s grace and truth for a few hours of selfish pleasure…that’s called sin. Furthermore, Scripture is specific. Christians are to meditate on things which are praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8), to keep their eyes from viewing worthless things (Psalm 119:37), to fix their eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2), to guard their hearts (Proverbs 4:23), avoid sexual immorality (Acts 15:29, Romans 13:13, 1 Corinthians 6:18, Galatians 5:19, Ephesians 5:3) and to put to death fleshly deeds (Romans 8:13, Col. 3:5). The message of Magic Mike is intrinsically opposed to Scripture.

There are times when liberty wins and Christians can freely disagree and differ in their practices. There are other times when Christians are blinded by their desires and do not align their practices with their faith.  Viewing Magic Mike is not a liberty Christians can take. If you are yet unconvinced, consider this: viewing Magic Mike flies in the face of the sacrifice of Jesus. It is not an act of worship or surrender of the will to the One who gladly surrendered His own will to buy back sinners. When your friends are texting you, asking if you want a ticket to the show, meditate on the words to this famous hymn:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus.

Look full in His wonderful face.

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.”  – Helen Lemmel, 1922

-Emily

Intolerant Chicken: Chick-fil-a Spices Up Campus Debate

When I attended Virginia Tech I loved having a Chick-fil-a on campus. Sometimes you have a craving for a Chick-fil-a chicken sandwich and nothing else will satisfy. Apparently, some college students don’t feel the same way. Taylor Cotter of Northeastern University in Boston spent a year gathering 300 signatures – about 1.5% of the student body – to keep Chick-fil-a off campus. In March, the student senate voted to end negotiations to bring a franchise to Northeastern. The school’s administration supported the senate, saying, “We are proud of the decision that affirms our university’s commitment to be an inclusive, diverse community that is respectful of all.” Chick-fil-a has faced similar opposition at Duke, Bowling Green University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Gainesville State College, Indiana University South Bend, Mississippi State, Texas Tech, the University of North Texas, and New York University.

What has Chick-fil-a done to incur such academic wrath? There are few restaurants as friendly and inviting as Chick-fil-a whose employees hand out waffle fries with a smile and a “my pleasure”. The problem these schools have has nothing to do with Chick-fil-a itself but with its charitable affiliations through the WinShape Foundation. The goal of WinShape is to help shape winners. It accomplishes this through a college program, camps, retreats, projects to strengthen marriage, and homes for children who are victims of broken families. Some of the organizations WinShape supports in its mission are accused of having an anti-gay agenda. These organizations include the National Christian Foundation, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Serving Marriages, Alliance Defense Fund, Christian Camp and Conference Association, Campus Crusade for Christ, Georgia Family Council, and the Family Research Council.

These offending organizations are labeled anti-gay largely because they remain biblically Christian. According to the Equality Matters Blog, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes is bad because they say homosexuality is a sin and dare to allow the testimonials of homosexuals who left the lifestyle. The Alliance Defense Fund is bad because they defend Christian groups shut out because of their beliefs on sexuality. The Christian Camp Association is bad because they maintain homosexuality is wrong. Campus Crusade for Christ is bad for holding events promoting only heterosexual marriage. I could go on, but you get the idea. For maintaining Christian convictions on human sexuality held for 2,000 years and for strengthening traditional marriages these organizations and the WinShape foundation are labeled bigoted and anti-gay. Chick-fil-a is also assigned the bigoted and intolerant label; all without refusing service or employment to anyone.

Donald A. Perry, Vice President of Corporate Public Relations at Chick-fil-a, insisted that none of the organizations has an anti-gay agenda but as Christian groups they do uphold and support traditional marriage. He went on to say, “I want to assure you that the historical intent of our foundation and corporate giving have been toward compassion, principally by serving youth and families.”

Chick-fil-a’s problems on campus portray a new reality unfolding in the United States.

First, historic, biblical Christianity is no longer acceptable in many parts of our cultural landscape. For its entire history, the Christian religion has held that marriage is between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:24, Matt. 19:4-6, Eph. 5:31) and all sexual activity outside of marriage – including homosexuality (Rom. 1:26-27, 1 Cor. 6:9) – is sinful. Much of our culture can no longer agree to disagree on this issue. Those who hold to historic, biblical Christianity will be shunned, banned, and labeled no matter how lovingly they hold their convictions. If they are willing to ban the best chicken sandwich on the planet, there is no limit to who might be next.

Second, the new “tolerance” is surprisingly intolerant. I wonder if the administration of Northeastern realized the irony of their statement approving the student senate’s decision to end negotiations with Chick-fil-a. They said, “We are proud of the decision that affirms our university’s commitment to be an inclusive, diverse community that is respectful of all.” How can a decision to ban an organization from campus because of its views be considered inclusive, diverse, and respectful? The Win Shape foundation reflects the convictions of millions of American Christians yet those convictions are banned because they are not acceptable to a minority of students and the administration.

Third, America is becoming increasingly polarized. The thought behind this witch hunt is “if you’re not totally for us, then you’re completely against us.” Such a mentality toward those we disagree with is destructive. It assumes the worst about our neighbors and undermines the entire American multicultural experiment. This nation cannot survive if people label any individual, group, church, ethnicity or company that disagrees with them a hateful bigot. Those on both sides of an issue must listen to those they disagree with and not seek to condemn, label, and ban.

What should followers of Christ do with these new realities? First, hold unswervingly to the truth no matter where the cultural winds blow. Don’t abandon what God has said in His Word in a vain quest to be liked. Jesus said in John 15:19, “…because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you.” Second, love those on the opposite side of issues and model true tolerance. True tolerance isn’t blindly accepting every view, but respecting those you disagree with, allowing them to live as they desire, and supporting their freedom to do so. Some may hate us for opposing them, but we must love and pray for them as Christ said in Matthew 5:44, “…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Third, vote your convictions and defend your rights. We live in a democracy where we can influence culture, hearts, and minds. This must be done graciously whether we win or lose the debate. Remember, this is not our home (John 18:36) so we are free to speak our mind and be content with the results.

Finally, go buy a sandwich from Chick-fil-a. They’re delicious! The cows will love it. The chickens will hate it. But you can’t please everybody.

-Brian

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Obedience is the Secret: Underwear Model Chooses Jesus Over Career

No matter your culture, faith, ethnicity or class, most every woman on the planet would be thrilled for many reasons to win a model search and secure employment with one of the world’s top lingerie retailers, Victoria’s Secret. This fate fell to Kylie Bisutti in 2009 when she beat 10,000 other girls in the company’s annual modeling competition. Bisutti signed with VS and modeled not only clothing but lingerie and swimsuits. In an interview with Fox News, she confessed this was her dream:

“Victoria’s Secret was my absolutely biggest goal in life, and it was all I ever wanted career-wise. I actually loved it while I was there, it was so much fun and I had a blast.”

Curiously, at this year’s Victoria’s Secret runway show, Bisutti was nowhere to be found. Why? She realized her career clashed with her Christian faith.

“I’m Christian, and reading the Bible more, I was becoming more convicted about it….It was pretty crazy because I finally achieved my biggest dream, the dream that I always wanted, but when I finally got it, it wasn’t all that I thought it would be.”

Who will benefit from Kylie’s decision?

“My body should only be for my husband and it’s just a sacred thing….I didn’t really want to be that kind of role model for younger girls because I had a lot of younger Christian girls that were looking up to me and then thinking that it was okay for them to walk around and show their bodies in lingerie to guys.”

Wow. Yes and amen Kylie.

Before Bisutti, others (professional athletes and singers who are Christians for example) have freely admitted the difficulty of maintaining their faith in the midst of fame and fortune. Why is her story noteworthy? Because she’s an attractive Christian girl? No. Because she relinquished money and fame? Possibly. Because of the criticism and mocking she might receive from colleagues and the press? Maybe.  Her story is important because she valued obedience to Christ above all.

Bisutti submitted to the Holy Spirit’s conviction. She gave Jesus lordship over her marriage and career and allowed the word of God to penetrate her heart so deeply that obedience to God became more valuable to her than anything. Instead of giving a flippant shout-out to God while the cameras were rolling and never acknowledging Him otherwise (as do some celebrities who claim Christianity), she counted the cost of discipleship and chose Jesus, in the face of Victoria’s Secret and the whole world.

When the media catches wind of a famous self-proclaimed Christian, many of us cringe, hoping and praying they don’t embarrass or undermine the faith. In this case, Christians can rejoice and be challenged by this genuine glorifying of our Savior in the public square.  Most of us have never been underwear models and have not experienced Bisutti’s dilemma. We can sit back and say, “Well of course she should have quit…that’s a no-brainer for a Christian. She shouldn’t have gotten involved in that business at all!” That’s a moot point. All Christians get into stuff they shouldn’t from time to time. The first of Martin Luther’s famed 95 theses is, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’, He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”

God knows we won’t always get it right; it’s our response to missteps that’s important. Christians must constantly evaluate their choices and determine if they line up with Christ-likeness and God’s calling according to the Bible. No matter the situation (great or small, obvious or barely noticeable), God requires our obedience which is the highest act of worship. Will we follow Kylie’s lead?

Fox News interview:

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2012/02/02/kylie-bisutti-left-lingerie-modeling-because-it-didnt-mesh-with-her-christian/

More of Kylie’s story

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/02/10/from-victorias-secret-model-to-proverbs-31-wife/

Emily

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Boy, Girl, or Something Else? Gender Confusion Reaches Children

We live in confusing times. One facet of life that seems straightforward – gender – is rapidly becoming more confusing. In April, a controversial ad for J. Crew depicted the company’s president, Jenna Lyons, painting the toenails of her son, Beckett, hot pink. The caption below the picture read, “Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.” This ignited a brief skirmish between those who, disdaining  gender stereotypes, celebrated the ad and those who saw a mother encouraging her boy to paint his toenails hot pink as transgender propaganda.

Fast forward one month to the story of a couple in Toronto who have decided to raise their newborn baby without gender identity. They will keep the baby’s gender secret and allow “it” to choose “its” own identity from the toys “it” plays with to the clothes “it” wears. Naming the child “Storm”, Kathy Witterick and David Stocker announced to friends and family in an email, “We’ve decided not to share Storm’s sex for now — a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm’s lifetime.” The kind of genderless world Storm’s parents envision may be a pipe-dream – wishful thinking won’t change biology or anatomy – but it is a world dreamed of by more and more.

Or take the case of Andrew Viveros. Last week the transgendered teen known to classmates as “Andii” was voted by seniors at McFatter Technical High School in Davie, FL to be their prom queen.  He is the first transgender prom queen at a public high school in the United States and won the title over 14 girls who competed against him. In an article in the Miami Herald Oscar Viveros, father of Andrew/Andii, offered this advice to parents in similar situations: “Let them grow to be whatever they want to be, as long as they’re good. Let them blossom into whatever they want to be. Support them 100 percent.”

The message builds from Beckett to Storm to Andrew with increasing clarity. The individual is god. No one can restrain “my” freedom and “my” choices. “I” will not be determined or ruled by anything. Parents, institutions, cultures, norms, communities, families, and now biology and God himself have no authority over the little god of self. Of course, this thinking is ultimately ridiculous. A man may wish to be a woman or vice versa, but hormones and surgery can still not change the biological reality. You may want to have the basketball skills of Lebron James, the intelligence of Stephen Hawking, and the voice of Scotty McCreery, but no amount of self-determination or identity manipulation will change the reality that you have the basketball skills of Napoleon Dynamite, the intelligence of Larry the Cable Guy, and a voice that sounds like a hyena attacking a wildebeest. We may want to be free of the authority of our family, community, culture, and God, but we are not. So we rebel against that authority and against God.

This is how sin began in Genesis. Adam and Eve were presented with nearly limitless freedom except for one provision in Genesis  2:17, “…but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat.” But that wasn’t good enough for our forebears. They refused God’s authority, doubted His goodness, questioned His character, rebelled against their Creator, and attempted to become gods themselves. While the results of their sin was disastrous, we have continued their project ever since.

At the heart of these stories of gender confusion is a rebellion against our Creator who “created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” God has created each of us with a gender identity of male or female; to reject this is to reject His design. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:14-15, “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?” Paul is not passing on tips for hair stylists; in this context he is encouraging the church to avoid gender confusion in the way they fellowship and worship. Men should look and act like men and women like women.

At the beginning of the music video for her song “Born This Way”, Lady Gaga announces that the current generation is a “race which bears boundless freedom.” While the idea of boundless freedom is silly (All freedom has limitations – I can’t breathe underwater, buy a Lamborghini, or even eat a cement block) it summarizes the attitude of our time. This ultimate freedom of the self to determine its identity and course and to follow its desires and urges is what has spawned the present gender confusion.

Christians have been graciously redeemed for a better way – not of rebellion against the Creator but of obedience to Him. Freedom isn’t found in self-determination but in self-surrender. Our example isn’t the person who “did it their way” but the One who “though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:6-8). Our lives should declare with the Psalmist, “With my whole heart I seek you, let me not wander from your commandments” (Ps. 119:10).

As Christians, let us celebrate the Creator’s good gift of gender and not embrace the confusion. Our freedom is found in Christ and in joyful obedience to God’s design and commands; not in the freedom of becoming our own god through self-determination. At the same time, let us love those caught in the confusion with the love Christ showed to us in our rebellion. We can never look down on those made in God’s image; my sin leaves me just as guilty before a holy God as the most gender confused among us. Christ loves and died for those who struggle with this particular form of rebellion. May the Becketts, Storms, and Andrews of this world find the joy and freedom only surrender and obedience to the God Who died for us can bring.

-Brian

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