Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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In the News: “Sex” and “Gender”

Image The latest cover for Vanity Fair Magazine has been revealed, and features former Olympic decathlete Bruce Jenner, who now gender identifies as a woman. The caption — “Call Me Caitlyn.”

With surgical advancements, some have determined to change their physical characteristics from male to female, or female to male. With hormonal therapy, augmentation, amputation, reconstruction — it is possible to mask a person’s sexual characteristics, and look like the opposite sex. The first time I became aware of this was way back in 1975 when a man named Richard Raskind had what is referred to as sex reassignment, or sex change surgery. From that point on known as Dr. Renee’ Richards, he petitioned to play in the ladies bracket of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in 1976, and was denied. He sued, and won, and actually played in both singles and doubles in 1977. He played on the women’s tour through 1981.

When Raskind began cross-dressing while in college in the mid 1950’s, transsexualism (a state where a person’s sex at birth conflicts with their psychological gender) was considered a form of insanity. Sixty years later “Caitlyn” Jenner is being praised for “her” bravery and courage for the Vanity Fair photographs and interview.

I came across one comment, castigating the judgmental responses of some to these events. The statement read, “Sex and gender are two different things.” I want to address this comment, which I think is central to the issue of whether this kind of behavior is defensible or not.

If you look to a dictionary to define the terms sex and gender, you will find them to be synonyms. That is, they are words with similar, but not identical meanings. They are commonly used interchangeably, but when a distinction is made the word sex is used to refer to a person’s chromosomes, and the resultant sexual characteristics that physically differentiate between a man and a woman. The word gender, according to Medilexicon’s medical dictionary refers to “The category to which an individual is assigned by self or others, on the basis of sex.”

Notice that gender is a category that is assigned on the basis of a person’s sex. In other words, a female is normally gender categorized as a female, and a male a male. Any other assignment is abnormal. It is an aberration.

What is the appropriate response for a Christian to such things? First, it is God who assigns sex. This is shown in Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Second, God also has assigned gender roles on the basis of sex (cf. Genesis 2:20-24; Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 Corinthians 11:2-16). The inescapable conclusion is that if a man is born a man, he has obligations to God that he can accomplish only as he acts as a man. A woman has a place and obligations before God that she is not able to disregard simply because she wants to be a “he.” A simple example — A woman who had sex reassignment surgery, and “gender identifies” as a man, would still be disobeying God’s command for women to “keep silent in the churches” if she were to fill the pulpit (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:34).

This is just another example of sin. As in dealing with all sin, Christians must not act hypocritically, and must not be hateful in dealing with the sinner. However, we must not fail to condemn the sin, or fail to call the sinner to repentance. And, we must not become so familiar with this or any other example of ungodliness to reach the point where we accept or promote the sin (cf. Romans 1:28-32).