As of November, Germany will allow birth certificates the option to leave the “gender” blank, allowing the child to choose their own gender later in life. While this currently only applies to those children born with indeterminate sex (one in about 1500 cases), critics of the policy are claiming that it does not go far enough.
According to Charisma News, “Gov. Brown [of California] is about to sign a bill that permits schoolchildren as young as kindergarten age to choose whether to use a boys' or girls' restroom based on their gender preference.”
These sentiments are symptomatic of a growing notion, world wide, that “gender” is a quality that transcends biology. People are more than just the sum of their parts. After all, children have been told for decades that they can be whatever they want to be, and should not be restricted by race, economic class, disability or… gender.
Businesses insist on buildings and restrooms that allow access to the handicapped; restaurants and grocery stores strive to offer menu options that meet the dietary restrictions of customers, and educational programs require that all children have their educational needs met to the highest extent that technology and training will allow.
By this standard, if a person feels that their sex as determined by biology restricts them as a person, should they not have the option of customizing it as they see fit and expect society to be compliant with their choice?
To a great extent this concept that a person’s “true self” is more than just their body is a result of religious and philosophical speculation that has gone on for centuries or longer. Beauty is only skin-deep. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.
This concept of human spirituality has strongly influenced the popular notion of the “afterlife.” This notion involves the person’s spirit, the immaterial representation of their true selves, leaving their dead body and migrating to some spiritual realm or being reborn into another, different body. The Judeo-Christian worldview that has saturated western thinking for millennia includes this idea that a person goes spiritually to either heaven or hell where they enjoy spiritual satisfaction or spiritual torment for eternity.
The twenty-third chapter of the book of Acts sees the Apostle Paul arrested and dragged in front of a Jewish council. The charge? He was preaching on the resurrection from the dead. In fact, Paul preached on resurrection so often that the Greeks at Athens came to believe that “resurrection” was the name of his god. The concept of bodily resurrection from the dead was lynchpin of Paul’s theology:
English Standard Version (ESV)
“51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.””
It is not the biblical message that bodies will be discarded in the afterlife. In fact, it would be a mistake to say that there is such a thing as “afterlife.” There is mortal life and there is immortal life.
This being the case, the biblical view is that a person’s body is a permanent part of their identity, and what they do in their body, they do also in their spirit:
English Standard Version (ESV)
“Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.””
In a sense, Christianity is the only worldview that has this view on personal identity: that a human is a spirit and a body, and that one is not extricable from the other.
Interestingly, Materialism (or Naturalism) is a worldview that claims that a person is ONLY their body. This worldview denies that there is a “spiritual self,” or more accurately any kind of “self.” People are merely biological machines acting out the programming they receive through genetics and environmental factors. Naturalists tend to be sympathetic to the idea that a person should be whatever gender they want to be, since this desire is the result of some combination of chemical drivers in the brain.
Spiritualists, also, are sympathetic to the idea that a person should be whatever gender they want based on the reasons from the beginning of the article: their spirit is their true self, not their body. The core of this argument is that since all people are spiritual beings, there is no essential difference between men, women, and the transgendered.
Naturalists argue “equality” from a slightly different basis: all humans are descended from common biological ancestors, and all biology is recycled material. How can one distinguish kind and quality from that which is purely material?
Only Christianity’s view of mind/body unity distinguishes in kind, linking a person’s gender as an essential quality of their very nature.
Since it is the philosophy of what makes a person “human” that drives agendas such as those listed at the beginning of this article, these are not disagreements that are likely to go away based on argumentation alone. Core worldviews must be altered.