Whenever I’m on the set of a movie or TV show, I often meet people who are homosexual. As soon as I mention that I’m a pastor, I could feel the atmosphere get cold. They’ve been judged before. By pastors, churches…Christians. It takes a few minutes for them to see that I’m not there to judge them. They see that I’m quite friendly, and even as a pastor, they say that I’m like “a normal person.” Imagine that.
But even with all the laughter and friendliness, when I invite them to my church, there’s a tangible hesitation. They feel unwelcome. And it’s
No wonder they don’t want to come to church.
So how should Christians and churches respond? How do we act around our homosexual friends and neighbors? And what do we talk about? And foundationally, what do you think about the issue, Biblically? Social commentary and logical arguments abound on the internet, some wrapped in religious clothes, but where does your Biblical understand lead you in light of all the scientific and social information about homosexuality and transgenderism (including genderqueer, pangender, gender fluid, etc)?
In her new book, Love Thy Body, Nancy Pearcey shows us a well-balanced description of the issue and how to approach it Biblically and socially. Pearcey is a highly intelligent philosopher, well read in secular and theological literature, and is a good writer.
In chapter 1, Pearcey makes it clear that all these issues pertaining to sexuality is really a war of worldviews. What is the human body? Is there a sense of self regardless of the body? She first uses Abortion as an example to discuss the philosophy of worldviews, and how they affect everything we talk about.
In all my theological studies, I have never studied the theology of the body. It was a given, a non-issue. Well, due to a critical misunderstanding of the body, as God’s creation, Christians have no theological response to the modern issues of sexuality, e.g. Homosexuality, Transgender. I expected to read mostly social commentary, but this book is theologically and biblically based, because both deal with worldviews, which is the very foundation of the author’s points.
Biologically speaking, the male human body is designed to be in union with the female body. But the postmodern society is asking, “Why should my body direct my psychological identity?” There is a disconnect. “When a person senses a dissonance between mind and body…the body is dismissed as irrelevant.”
Today’s thinking of gender and sexual identity has evolved from even 10 years ago. Sexuality and Genderism is not based in science or even a scientific search. 10 years ago, people were looking for a gene that influences homosexuality in the DNA, or a gender identity influenced by chemistry in the brain. Now, the leaders of the movement proclaim that is a moot point. Regardless of my male physical body or what goes on in my brain, I could declare my preference to be considered a female. I don’t have to undergo a sex change operation, nor do I have to alter my physical appearance to look female (like the old drag queen stereotype). Who I am in the inside has nothing to do with biology.
When factual science, based on biology and chemistry (as opposed to social science), is taken out of the equation, gender and sexual preference is all subjective. Employers must recognize these preferences or face heavy fines, all without any proof of surgery or hormone treatment. With the rise of postmodernism, physical traits or biology takes a back seat to the inner feelings. These feelings are not innate since birth, unchangeable. They are in constant flux, even among the leaders of the movement. It’s not about being recognized as queer or homosexual or pangender by the mainstream. It’s about not having to check a box - male, female, or trans. They don’t want to be put in a box. I can be male today but female tomorrow.
Then how are these feelings formed? Some of them seem quite unchangeable. Pearcey says we must take “individual responsibility for our identity,” and we interpret our identity by “sifting through” our cultural grids, through the norms therein. Is it weird for a little boy to be gentle, sensitive, and emotional (instead of shouting with army toys)? Does this indicate he may be transgender or homosexual? No! Boys can be sensitive, just like girls can be take-charge, assertive, and adventurous. Instead of letting gender stereotypes play out, Christians must speak out against this subversive type of meta-bullying. The “speaking out” isn’t against this little girl who is questioning herself why she doesn’t play with dolls like all the other girls. It’s against society and the laws that want to question what a “male” or “female” is. Identity is based on biology, not social culture. When this cultural grid better reflects reality, people will have a healthier barometer by which to discover their identity. It should be socially acceptable for a girl to like “manly” things and want to fight like a soldier. She’s not “in the wrong body.” Nor is she supposed to “act like a girl” because of her biology. These gender stereotypes end up confusing people when they think there’s another option: they’re “in the wrong body.”
The Bible is against the old Gnostic teaching that the physical body is not part of the authentic self. “Male” and “female” are not mere social constructs. They are rooted in biology and creation. There’s a need for Christians to speak up and present the Biblical worldview, not for moral condemnation, but rather to present “a more appealing, more life-affirming worldview,” because they care about people. She continues, “holding up a moral ideal for sexuality has nothing to do with self-righteousness, [but] it stems from the conviction that certain acts are healthier and more fulfilling because they are in line with the way God created humanity.”
Instead of speaking out against male-bodied transgenders who go into womens’ shower rooms at the gym, Christians must show compassion to those who are struggling with their sense of self. They “despise their own bodies and reject their biological identity.”
I encourage everyone to read this new book by Pearcey. It really tackles all the good arguments raised by these issues of sexuality. In addition, not just on an intellectual level, her motive stems from the desire to build strong relationships with the real people struggling with these deeply personal issues. Far from a stance of religious condemnation, this book is a call to reach out and actively help.
I would like to thank Baker Books for sending me a copy of Love Thy Body.