In October 2010, the Australian Human Rights Commission published a “discussion paper” on “discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and sex and/or gender identity.” According the Commission, there are the categories of “LGBTI” – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexuals and intersexuals. That would seem rather comprehensive, but the Commission is only beginning:
“Gender can be understood as a person looking, dressing or acting as male or female. Some people do not have a gender identity that is either exclusively male or female. Some people do not have a gender identity that is linked to their sex. The phrase sex and/or gender identity is used in this paper as a broad term to refer to diverse sex and/or gender identities and expressions. It includes being transgender, trans, transsexual and intersex. It also includes being androgynous, agender, a cross dresser, a drag king, a drag queen, genderfluid, genderqueer, intergender, neutrois, pansexual, pan-gendered, a third gender, and a third sex. It also includes culturally specific terms, such as sistergirl and brotherboy, which are used by some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”
Whatever these various terms mean, biologically, there are two sexes. On very rare occasions, according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, hermaphroditism can occur, but this can be corrected surgically and through hormonal treatments.
Here is what the Bible says about “sexual identity:”
God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them … ” (Genesis 1:27-28a).
Two genders, one humanity, one divine image stamped upon it. The two genders of humankind are biologically complementary and designed, in the context of marriage, to multiply the race. Without such a distinction, human sexuality would be reduced to the painfully absurd categories noted above.
There is more to gender differences than reproductive capacity: Men and women are “wired” differently, neurologically. According to Renato Sabbatini, Ph.D., of Brazil’s Institute for Education in Medicine and Health:
… neuroscience has made great strides in the 90s, regarding the discovery of concrete, scientifically proved anatomical and functional differences between the brains of males and females … this new knowledge may help physicians and scientists to discover new ways to explore the brain differences in the benefit of the treatment of diseases, the personalized action of drugs, different procedures in surgeries, etc. After all, males and females differ only by one Y chromosome, but this makes a real impact upon the way we react to so many things, including pain, hormones, etc.
Men and women – human beings in two sexes – are distinct, and were made as such for a purpose. In the words of theologian Bruce Ware, “While God did intend to create male and female as equal in their essential nature as human, he also intended to make them different expressions of that essential nature, as male and female reflect different ways, as it were, of being human.”
Those who jettison the sexual identity gifted to them by God do so not only in defiance of His will but to the detriment of their own well-being. Fundamentally to alter oneself, through surgery, drug treatment, or simply wearing makeup and clothing not commensurate with one’s gender, is in essence to tell one’s Maker that He made a vast mistake, and to deny oneself the full benefits of that gender identity with which God has gifted each person.
This is painful to contemplate, especially when one considers the grandeur with which the loving Author of life has made us. Peter May, M.D., who served on the General Synod of the Church of England, notes that image-bearing includes such God-like characteristics as creativity, intelligence, an aesthetic sense, morality, and relational and spiritual capacities. However, notes May, Jesus demonstrated most vividly what the trueimago Dei is:
Beyond the image is the reality. The Image of God in us not only helps us to see who we really are, but also reveals God to us. But we are not left searching through a haze to find hints and images of the One who made us. For the Christian testimony is that the one in whose image we are made, has come among us and revealed himself. “No-one has ever seen God, but God the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (John 1:18).
The image of God each of us bears has been dented and scuffed and pounded by the sin we have brought to it. Yet it remains, and in Christ can be renewed – and, one day, will be fully.
To bear such an image, in the genders God has bestowed, is to reflect, even in our limited and sin-buffered way, something of the moral brilliance of One Whose light and life ignite the universe. In Christ, this is nobility, dignity, joy. It is being fully human.