“Sex, Identity, and Scripture”Categories: M. W. Bassford, Sermons
Last week, Josh Collier preached for the congregation here about the challenges facing young people and their parents. He described the typical progression from churchgoing child to atheist: teenager has questions, gets fluff instead of strong Biblical answers to those questions, and looks for answers from YouTube skeptics instead.
I have to be honest, brethren. That sermon convicted me. It made me want to be sure that I, personally, was a preacher who tackled tough questions head-on instead of spouting feel-good claptrap from the pulpit.
In particular, Josh mentioned that many teens have questions about gender and sexual identity. I think Clay did a great job of laying out an entire philosophy of Biblical sexuality during his sermon series late last year, but this morning, I want to zero in specifically on those questions. Our society has all kinds of things to say about sexuality that are completely at odds with what Christians have traditionally believed. What does the Bible say about these things? Over the next several minutes, let’s consider sex, identity, and Scripture.
I think this discussion must begin, though, with an exploration of LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR. Paul lays out what this means in Romans 13:8-10. Here, we learn that as Christians, we are responsible for treating those around us in a consistently loving way. With respect to our subject this morning, it means several things.
The first of these is that love means respecting others’ choices. God has given all of us the gift of free will, and as part of that, we have the freedom to make the wrong decision. Those around us are entitled to their choices, even when, and especially when, we don’t agree with them.
Being a Christian means that we don’t try to coerce others into doing what we think is right. It means that we don’t harass, bully, insult, or belittle them. It means that we always speak of them respectfully, even in our conversations with one another. It means, in fact, that we treat them with the same kindness and consideration we hope they would extend to us. All this is true whoever the other might be.
However, love doesn’t mean approving of others’ choices. This is one of the big lies that the world tells. They try to get us to believe that loving someone means endorsing their behavior, and if we aren’t willing to endorse their behavior, we don’t actually love them. In fact, says the world, we hate them.
I reject that, and I reject it emphatically. The Scriptures tell us that love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, and if I love someone, and I see them being unrighteous, how could I rejoice in that? How can I pat someone I love on the back and tell them they’re doing right when I know that their feet are set on the path to hell? That’s not love. It’s selfishness and deceit.
The flip side of this is that love speaks unwelcome truths. This doesn’t mean that all of us have to march down the street telling passersby that they’re going to hell. It does mean, though, that we must remain steadfast in proclaiming Biblical principles that others find offensive. It also means that when those we love are entangled in sin, we must have the courage to speak up. All of this is universally true too.
Now that we’ve reminded ourselves of our duty to treat everyone in a godly way, let’s consider the Bible’s teachings on GENDER IDENTITY. Our analysis here should begin with the words of the Lord in Matthew 19:1-4. The question of transgender, of course, is not one that had arisen 2000 years ago, but the principles that Jesus lays out here tell us which way we need to go.
He reveals that male and female are not social constructs. Instead, they exist because God created them male and female. Gender is a biological fact. If you were to test my DNA right now, you would find that I have an X chromosome and a Y chromosome. If you were to test my wife, you would find that she has two X chromosomes. This is because God intended for me to be male and for her to be female.
Everybody knows that biological gender is a fact and, if pressed, will acknowledge it. However, many in our society will insist that one’s feelings about maleness or femaleness are more important than that biological fact. From a Biblical perspective, this doesn’t make sense.
Instead, we must regard our DNA as God’s decree about who we are. Because we are created as male and female, God expects us to conduct ourselves according to His laws for male and female. If we do otherwise, we are deceiving ourselves about our true nature, and our conduct does not honor Him.
Some attempt to rebut this argument by pointing to genetic exceptions. There is some extremely small percentage of people out there whose DNA has become mutated so that it is not obvious whether they are male or female. I acknowledge that these exceptions exist. Unlike Adam and Eve, none of us have perfect DNA, and no one has had perfect DNA for millennia. Mutations are part of living in this fallen world.
However, we should not allow this extremely rare biological ambiguity to justify uncertainty about God’s will in cases where no ambiguity exists. The vast majority of trans people are unambiguously male or female in a biological sense. Their problem is not confusion. It is unwillingness to submit, and we must consider them accordingly.
Finally, let’s examine the subject of SEXUALITY. Again, the words of Jesus are extremely relevant here, this time in Matthew 19:5-6. As Clay observed several months ago, this passage lays out the God-approved pattern for sexuality. Godly sex involves the joining of husband and wife. Anything that is not husband and wife coming together is not godly intimacy. This involves various forms of heterosexual immorality, but it also includes the practice of homosexuality. Those who practice any of these things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Notice, though, what it is that is outside of God’s will. Today, the issue of sexual practice has become confused with identity, so that people who never have been intimate with anyone will describe themselves as gay. In the Bible, though, “homosexual” is not some kind of global human identity. Instead, the Bible is entirely concerned with temptation and whether we give in to it.
It is not a sin to be tempted. Jesus Himself was tempted. If there is some Christian who is tempted to homosexual acts throughout their life, but they resist that temptation, they are righteous in God’s eyes. Admittedly, those who are inclined only to their own gender must be celibate, but that’s no more than we expect from any unmarried Christian. Only husband and wife have the right to be intimate.
Being tempted is not a sin, but giving in to temptation is. When we repent, we can find God’s forgiveness, but if we don’t repent, we never will be right with Him. Our society today endorses all sorts of sins, but in the end, we know that God will judge the sexually immoral.