By / Aug 26

The ratio of baby boys to baby girls born in India now appears to be normalizing, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of India’s National Family Health Survey. Since the 1970s, the ratio of boys to girls has been artificially skewed, leading to millions of “missing girls”—the estimated number of how many more females there would be if there were no sex-selective abortions and mistreatment or neglect of females.

For most of human history, until the early 1980s, there has been a slight, yet consistent, excess of baby boys over baby girls born in any population. During that period the sex ratio at birth (SRB) tended to fall within a narrow range, usually around 103 to 106 newborn boys for every 100 newborn girls. 

But scholars have observed that the ratios can become heavily skewed when three preconditions are met: a widespread desire for sons and/or aversion to daughters; parents seeking to have smaller families; and the availability of ultrasound technology and abortion services (which became more widespread in the 1970s). 

Since the 1980s, biologically impossible ratios have been found in various countries around the world, including Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, El Salvador, Egypt, Georgia, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Libya, Macedonia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Portugal, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Spain,Taiwan, Tunisia, Yugoslavia, and Venezuela. 

When China implemented a one-child policy in the late 1970s, the SRBs in some regions of the country increased to between 120 and 130. As demographer Nicholas Eberstadt has pointed out, this is “a phenomenon utterly without natural precedent in human history.” Because of China’s one-child policy, there are an estimated 30 million to 60 million “missing girls.”  

China ended its one-child policy in 2016 and adopted a three-child policy in 2021. Today, China is tied with Azerbaijan for the highest SBR in the world, at 115. Two other former Soviet republics—Armenia (114) and Georgia (109)—also top the list of highest SBRs. From 2000 to 2020, Vietnam and Albania had the world’s fourth- and fifth-widest average annual sex ratio at birth (111 each). 

India remains near the top of the global list, with an average sex ratio at birth of around 110. The size of the population means the country has an outsized impact on the overall number of girls killed by sex-selective abortion. China currently has the world’s largest population (1.426 billion), but India (1.417 billion) is expected to claim this title next year. Because of sex-selective abortion or neglect, an estimated 142.6 million females went “missing” between 1970 and 2020, according to a 2020 UN report. Two countries—China (51%) and India (32%)—accounted for more than two-thirds of that total.  

As Pew Research notes, countries where males heavily outnumber females at birth also tend to have a high childhood mortality rate for girls, either because girls are being killed soon after birth, or because they are neglected by their parents during childhood.

Religion in India has historically been a determining influence on the preference for baby boys, and thus on the SRB. In 2001, Sikhs had 130 boys for every 100 girls. The Sikh birth ratio today is around 110—closer to the country’s Hindu majority (109). Muslims in the country also have an artificially high rate at 106. At 103, the Christians in India have an SRB ratio that is closer to the natural balance. 

The one bright spot in the analysis is the influence of Chrisitanity in India, especially in the southern area of the country. As the report says, Christianity has been a boon for women:

Women, in particular, may have benefited from these types of changes. Christian missions in India have emphasized evangelical work among women since the 19th century, operating schools for girls as well as for boys. There were also missionary programs dedicated to educating women and training them for employment, such as the Mukti (Salvation) Mission. In addition, many Christian organizations prioritize maternal and child health by improving women’s access to health care facilities. Some scholars trace Christian missionary work to long-lasting benefits for Christians and cite the Christian emphasis on empowering women as a partial explanation for Christian girls’ better health outcomes.

There remains a significant need for more evangelism within the country. According to the Joshua Project, India has the largest number of unreached people of any nation—1.3 billion people within 2,135 unreached people groups. 

These realities around the world are a call to action. First, we can pray that God will raise up missionaries and that the gospel will spread throughout the land. We can also pray that people will be saved and that Christianity’s influence will bring about an overall cultural change. We must also advocate, in our communities and on an international stage, for the dignity of every person—including the preborn—to be recognized and upheld. And we must be willing to step up and care for children who need a loving home and come alongside parents who need help raising their kids. Finally, let’s pray that God will use all of these efforts to lead to a future where no country will have millions of “missing girls.”  

By / May 10

Evelyn Bassoff, a psychologist and author of Between Mothers and Sons, tells the story of a celebrated bullfighter from Madrid who disappeared one evening during his own victory party. After searching the entire house, one houseguest finally found him in the kitchen, washing dishes. The guest was aghast. He couldn’t swallow the idea that a bullfighter — the pinnacle of masculinity in Spanish culture — would be engaging in what he thought of as a woman’s work. When he asked the bullfighter what he was doing, the bullfighter looked him in the eye and stated, “Sir, I am a man. Everything I do is masculine.”1Evelyn S. Bassoff, Between Mothers and Sons: The Making of Vital and Loving Men (New York: Penguin Books, 1995), 18. Cited in Nate Collins, All but Invisible: Exploring Identity Questions at the Intersection of Faith, Gender, and Sexuality (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017), 218.

Recently, I wrote about two foundational truths that parents should teach their kids about gender. The goal of teaching these truths is to help your child, like this bullfighter, grow in confidence in their given gender. 

First, because God made mankind male and female, a person’s gender corresponds with his or her biological sex. Gender is, in this sense, fixed. It cannot become whatever we want it to be, because our gender is a part of our personhood. Being a man or a woman is a gift we receive from God.

But while our true gender is fixed, it’s important to affirm ways in which gender expression varies from person to person—even in the Bible. Think, for instance, about the two patriarch brothers, Jacob and Esau. They were both men. But Jacob imaged forth God’s orderly rule in the kitchen: he made a legendary lentil stew! Esau, on the other hand, expressed his masculinity as a hunter (Gen. 25:24–28). 

Jacob and Esau were different boys, and it’s not just Jacob and Esau. There are a range of ways masculinity and femininity are expressed across relationships and cultures today as well. In Scotland, for instance, a kilt is a cultural expression of masculinity.2Walker, God and the Transgender Debate, 31–32. In the United States, wearing one might seem more appropriate for a schoolgirl. As I described in the previous chapter [of A Parent’s Guide to Teaching Your Children About Gender: Helping Kids Navigate a Confusing Culture], the man and woman in the Genesis 2 narrative expressed their gender in the context of their relationship. Their gender expression was personal and relational. This is always the case. Gender always takes a cultural shape, and it doesn’t emerge identically across all times and cultures.

This is where raising kids can get tricky. What should we teach our children about gender expression? Are there biblical gender norms that are essential to teach our kids? If so, how do we distinguish between what is part of God’s design for gender expression and what has been culturally constructed since the fall?

Teaching our children about gender expression

The Bible never gives us the impression that it’s essential to teach culturally constructed gender stereotypes to children. Phrases such as “Boys don’t cry” or “A woman’s place is in the kitchen” should be eliminated from our vocabulary. We shouldn’t think there are certain traits that will make a boy manlier or a girl more of a woman. Even the term “gender roles” can be unhelpful when it gives the impression that manhood and womanhood, masculinity and femininity are cultural personas or scripts to which children must conform.3Russell Moore, “Gender Roles,” Video posted July 2, 2019. Accessed online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmeTPNLHw18/. That’s not the kind of conformity we want our kids to embrace. Instead, parents should call both their daughters and their sons to be transformed, that is, to live in conformity with the character of Christ. As kids of both sexes grow in maturity and, if converted, transform into Christ’s likeness, the integration of their body and soul will ensure that they grow to maturity as women and as men.

This doesn’t negate sexual difference. Parents are responsible to teach their children, who already have a given gender, the kind of character that’s necessary to be a godly son or daughter, brother or sister, wife or husband, mother or father. 

Boys need to grow up into godly sons and potential fathers who can provide for and protect others. Girls need to grow up into godly daughters and potential mothers, that is, influential helpers who cultivate the relational structures necessary for nurturing others.

Teaching boys

For young men, this means parents should prepare them to live as servant leaders — to work to cultivate good, to fight to protect what’s true, and to take initiative:

A boy’s gendered body is a gift that enables him to help fulfill the creation mandate and the Great Commission:

  • Work for good. A typical man’s physical strength may allow him to provide for his family. Adam was created with an orientation toward work. Genesis tells us the Lord formed the man from the ground (2:7), and then he placed him in the garden “to work it and take care of it” (2:15). If a husband or father refuses to work and provide for his family, this amounts to denying the faith (1 Thess. 3:10; 1 Tim. 5:8). A lazy man fails to steward the strong body God gave him (Prov. 12:24). He fails to conform his life to Christ, who sacrificed his body for our sake (1 Peter 3:18).

    We must teach our sons to cultivate their bodies, minds, and relationships—not for selfish gain, but for the sake of God and others. If a young man doesn’t love God, he’ll work with the wrong goals in mind (Gen. 4:19–24; 11:1–9). We can teach young men to get a job and start investing early — not so they’ll be millionaires by 40 but instead to learn the character and skill necessary to serve others and potentially provide for a family. Boys need dads and other older men to model service in church and community. They need to see men working with humility for the sake of justice and mercy (Micah 6:8).
  • Fight to protect. Our goal should be to raise young men with self-control, who will use their physical and emotional strength to protect others. Some men fail to control their strong emotions and become foolish hotheads (Prov. 14:16–17). Others use their physical strength for violence and abuse (Gen. 4:1–16). Adam neglected his strength. He should have spoken up to protect his wife from the serpent’s lies (Gen. 3:6). But in Adam’s failure, we receive the promise of one who does fight, protect, and who will crush Satan on the final day (Gen. 3:14–15; 1 Cor. 15:25; Rev. 20:10).

    We have an opportunity to participate in Christ’s victory when we fight for what is good and true (Rom. 16:19). Throughout the Scripture, we’re given examples of men who use their strength to protect others. Abraham went to war to save Lot. David fought again and again to save Israel. Not all our sons will learn to wrestle or do martial arts, but they can all learn to speak up and fight for what is good.

    Perhaps the most important battle we fight is the fight against our own sinful passions. As Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 4:3–6: “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.” In a world that is rampant with pornography, training our sons to fight the good fight by confessing their own sinful passions is essential.
  • Take initiative. Think about how God commissioned Adam — before the fall — to live as a servant leader. He names Adam as head and representative of the human family (Rom. 5:15; 1 Cor. 15:22). But ultimately Adam failed (Gen. 3:6). Only Christ truly showed us what it means to serve as head by humbly considering others as greater than himself (Phil. 2:3–8). If we’re going to raise young men to serve as faithful covenant heads of families, we must teach them to serve sacrificially.

    When a cup spills at the dinner table, a boy shouldn’t wait for mom to grab a paper towel. Teach boys to jump up and move toward the problem with eager humility (Prov. 3:27). This is important. We must show young men that serving others as a son and brother does mean taking initiative, but it doesn’t always require being in charge. Even if our boys enter a headship role as husbands or fathers, they need to learn that these leadership roles require spirit-empowered service (Eph. 5:23; John 13).

Teaching girls 

A girl’s gendered body is also a gift that enables her to help fulfill the creation mandate and the Great Commission. Just as we prepare young men to be servant leaders, we should call young women to live in conformity with Christ’s character as influential helpers:

  • Give help and influence. When God made the woman for Adam, he created “a helper suitable for him” because it wasn’t good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). Through her gendered orientation toward relationships, a woman reflects God’s character as help and salvation for his people (Ps. 33:20, Ps. 70:5; Ex. 18:4). Every woman should be inspired, and every prideful man humbled, to see that each major era of biblical history begins with a woman: Eve — Genesis 3; Miriam and Pharaoh’s daughter — Exodus 2; Hannah — 1 Samuel 1; Mary and Elizabeth — Luke 1. Notice too that it isn’t required to be a mother to have saving influence: Miriam and Pharaoh’s daughter didn’t give birth to Moses, but God used them to bring deliverance to the Hebrew people (Ex. 2:6).4Wording adapted from Daniel Montgomery, “Gender Questions, Week 3: Women and Femininity,” a sermon at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY (Dec. 16, 2007).

    The woman was made as co-ruler with the man (Gen. 1:26); there’s shared authority in that statement. There is strength and dignity in the woman who contributes to both home and society by running the family business and leading in trade (Prov. 31:10–31). But oftentimes influence accomplishes more than authority ever could — both for good and evil (Prov. 8–9). Eve didn’t need to flex her muscles to influence Adam to eat the fruit; she simply gave it to him. Her actions had destructive power. Teach your daughters that their actions and words have influence (1 Tim. 2:9–10; 1 Peter 3:1–5). Then teach them to ask, “Is what I do and say a help or a hindrance to others? Do I think about how I can help and serve, or do I only consider how I want to be served?”
  • Nurture and empower others. After the fall, God named the woman Eve, mother of all the living (Gen. 3:20). This was a grace. The man and woman received the wages for sin but not yet fully; the woman’s body could still give life. This is a great gift. In raising children, both a man and a woman’s nurturing presence are necessary. But a woman’s design for nurture is unique. Her body is crafted by God to incubate and sustain a baby’s life from conception to birth. Her milk alone can sustain her newborn for the first part of the baby’s life.

    Not every woman will become a wife or mother, but every one of our daughters can provide life-giving care for others. Paul instructs every woman to display leadership in the church by serving as spiritual mothers (Titus 2:3–5). We see examples of this in Priscilla’s ministry to Apollos (Acts 18:26 — her name is listed first before her husband!), in Philip’s prophet daughters (Acts 21:8), and in Timothy’s grandmother Lois (2 Tim. 1:5). Such women model what it means to nurture others in the faith through strong influence as teachers of God’s Word.

Now that I have outlined some particular encouragement parents can give to their daughters and sons, please allow me to make a clarification. I’m not saying that men shouldn’t contribute to society’s relational structures. A father shouldn’t be all authority with no nurture.5Moore, “Gender Roles.”  Nor am I saying that women shouldn’t provide for and protect their families or communities; consider Deborah the judge (Judg. 4–5)!

Throughout the Scriptures, we see that both sexes are necessary for God’s people to fulfill their essential functions in the world. Both sexes are necessary to fulfill both the creation mandate (Gen. 1:28) and the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19–20). Wendy Alsup describes it this way:

At the most basic level of human existence, both sexes are necessary for bearing new image-bearers into the world, an incredible, though often downplayed function of these sexes. But whether individuals ever have biological children, the two sexes are integral in bearing and growing spiritual children. The importance of each sex is lost if we dismiss the distinct elements of their giftings or roles given in Scripture for doing the work of discipling the next generation of believers.6Wendy Alsup, “Equal but Different: A Complementarian View of the Sexes” in Cultural Engagement: A Crash Course in Contemporary Issues, ed. Joshua D. Chatraw and Karen Swallow Prior (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic, 2019), 107–108. 

It’s the importance of using the distinct giftings that we have as men and women to disciple coming generations that we need to pass along to our kids. Our goal as parents should be to celebrate our child’s biological sex, their true gender, as a gift for ministry and prepare our kids both to receive this gift and to employ it with Christ-like character. 

  • 1
    Evelyn S. Bassoff, Between Mothers and Sons: The Making of Vital and Loving Men (New York: Penguin Books, 1995), 18. Cited in Nate Collins, All but Invisible: Exploring Identity Questions at the Intersection of Faith, Gender, and Sexuality (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017), 218.
  • 2
    Walker, God and the Transgender Debate, 31–32.
  • 3
    Russell Moore, “Gender Roles,” Video posted July 2, 2019. Accessed online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmeTPNLHw18/.
  • 4
    Wording adapted from Daniel Montgomery, “Gender Questions, Week 3: Women and Femininity,” a sermon at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY (Dec. 16, 2007).
  • 5
    Moore, “Gender Roles.”
  • 6
    Wendy Alsup, “Equal but Different: A Complementarian View of the Sexes” in Cultural Engagement: A Crash Course in Contemporary Issues, ed. Joshua D. Chatraw and Karen Swallow Prior (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic, 2019), 107–108. 
By / Apr 22

Some people argue that because babies are occasionally born inter-sex, “male” and “female” are not clear categories, but that everyone is on a spectrum with completely male at one end and completely female at the other. They also say that our bodies don’t have to define whether we are a man or a woman, but that if someone’s feelings don’t match their body, they should be able to decide whether they want to be recognized as male or female—or perhaps as “non-binary” or “gender non-conforming,” meaning they don’t want to be recognized as either a man or a woman. 

Someone who was born with a male body but later identifies as a woman would be described today as a trans or transgender woman, and someone who was born with a female body but identifies as a man would be described as a trans or transgender man. Transgender people often take new names. For example, someone called John might switch to Jane and ask people to talk about “she” or “her” instead of “he” or “him.” Someone who identifies as non-binary or gender non-conforming might ask to be talked about as “they.” So what does Christianity say about all of this? 

To begin with, it’s important for us to listen to other people and understand their feelings and experiences. When I was a kid, I didn’t want to wear dresses and play with dolls. I wanted to sword fight with my brother in the woods. My mum made me do ballet. I hated it. Someone once gave me a pink “My Little Pony” for my birthday. I flushed it down the toilet. (Don’t try this: it’s really bad for the toilet!) I don’t recall wanting to be a boy. That was never an option in my mind. But at my all-girls school, I acted every male role I could. As a teenager, I never wanted to paint my nails, wear makeup, shop for clothes, or talk about boys. Girly things weren’t my thing. 

Some teens feel like I did, except much, much more. They feel like the body they were born with doesn’t match how they feel on the inside. Some people choose to dress in ways typical of the opposite sex. They might also take medicines or have surgeries to make their bodies look like the opposite sex. If you have never felt this way, it can be hard to understand why someone would do this. Sadly, people who feel this way have often been laughed at or bullied. It is never right for Christians to mock and bully people. Jesus calls us to love others—especially if they are different from us. But Christians also believe that God made us male and female on purpose. So how should Christians think about someone wanting to change their gender identity? 

First, we know that Jesus cares a lot about our feelings. He knows us from the inside out. He knows what we love and what makes us scared or sad. He knows when we feel like we don’t fit in and when we wish we could be different. He loves us so much that he died for us! So if you are a boy, but you desperately wish you were a girl, or if you are a girl who longs to be a boy, Jesus sees you and knows you and loves you with an everlasting love. 

Second, the Bible tells us that God created everything through Jesus (John 1:3). Jesus made you. If you were born a boy, he meant for you to be a boy. If you were born a girl, he meant for you to be a girl. This doesn’t mean that it will always be easy, or that you have to do everything other people expect from girls or boys. As we saw earlier, Jesus cried, and cooked, and loved babies, and when people beat him up, he didn’t fight back. If you’re a follower of Jesus, it’s okay to be different. Unlike lots of women, I hate fashion and shopping for clothes. But my husband, Bryan, likes both those things—and that’s okay! But the Bible also teaches us that we shouldn’t always trust our feelings. We find our true selves not by following our feelings, but by following Jesus, so when our desires don’t line up with following Jesus, we need to trust him. 

Following Jesus always means trusting him with our desires, even if it’s really hard. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16:24–25). But Jesus doesn’t ask us to do this alone. He gives us his Spirit, and he gives us his body (other Christians) for help. So if you are struggling with being a boy or a girl, look for a Christian friend to talk to about your feelings. If you feel comfortable with your body, try to be the kind of person who could support a friend who was struggling in this way. 

How should Christians relate to transgender people? 

If you’re a Christian and some of your classmates identify as transgender or non-binary, your job is not to avoid them or make fun of them. Your job is to tell them about Jesus and show them his love—just as you would to others. Loving people doesn’t mean agreeing with all their decisions. My non-Christian friends make all sorts of decisions I disagree with. They’re not working from the same roadmap. But I can still love them and listen to them. In fact, listening to someone’s story is often the best starting point for showing love. Everyone wants to be known and understood. At times, though, loving someone means telling them when you don’t think they’re making the right decision. 

In one of my favorite moments in the Harry Potter series, Neville helps Gryffindor win the House Cup, because he stood up to Harry, Ron, and Hermione when he thought they were doing the wrong thing. Dumbledore gives Neville five points for this act of courage saying, “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”1J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (London: Bloomsbury, 1997), 221.  Questioning whether it’s the right decision for someone to live as the opposite sex, perhaps even taking medications or having surgeries to change their bodies in ways they can never reverse, can be seen as being hateful in our culture today. But telling a friend that you love them as they are, and that you think the body they were born with is good isn’t hateful. All of us make decisions in light of what our friends and family think and sometimes we need encouragement from our friends to accept ourselves. 

It can be easy to think that making a change to our bodies is the key to happiness—whether it’s getting thinner, or stronger, or taller, or having larger breasts, or changing whether we are seen as a boy or as a girl. But just as it’s not hateful to tell a friend you love her just the weight she is, it’s not hateful to tell a friend you love her as a girl, or that you love him as a boy, even if our friends don’t fit the stereotypes about boys and girls that say, “Girls should be like this, and boys should be like that.” What’s more, when you think about it, if we no longer let our bodies tell us if we are male or female, those stereotypes are all we have left. Let me explain. 

What do “man” and “woman” mean? 

Earlier this year, the actor (Daniel Radcliffe) who played Harry Potter in the films of J. K. Rowling’s books made a public statement: “Transgender women are women.” When he said this, he meant that people who were born with a male body but feel like they belong in the world as a woman should be recognized as women just as much as people who were born with a female body. Daniel Radcliffe said this in response to J. K. Rowling herself saying that—while she personally thinks it’s okay for people to live in the world as the opposite sex—the bodies we are born with and grew up with still matter, and that someone who was born male should not be treated as female in every situation. Some people were very angry with J. K. Rowling for saying this, and Daniel Radcliffe wanted to make clear that he didn’t agree. But Daniel Radcliffe’s statement highlights an important question: What does “man” or “woman” mean? 

Up until recently in our culture, for me to say, “I am a woman” would mean—first and foremost— that I was born with a female body. There are significant differences between male bodies and female bodies. Even beyond what we can see with our eyes, scientists could tell whether you were a boy or a girl by examining a single cell from anywhere in your body.2See David C. Page, “Every Cell Has a Sex: X and Y and the Future of Health Care,” Yale School of Medicine, August 30, 2016, https:// medicine.yale.edu/news-article/13321/#:~:text=Humans%20have %20a%20total%20of,X%20and%20one%20Y%20chromosome.  But if Daniel Radcliffe’s claim that “Transwomen are women” is true, and being born with a female body isn’t at the heart of what it means to be a woman, then what does it mean to be a woman? Does it mean wearing dresses and makeup, or wearing your hair long rather than short? Some women in our culture do those things, but no one would say that was the definition of being a woman. Does it mean other people thinking you were born with a female body? If so, then the identity of a transgender person would depend on people not knowing the truth about his or her past. 

In conversations about transgender questions, people often talk as if there is something deep inside of us—not connected with our bodies—that defines whether we are male or female more than our bodies do. But while some people struggle with their gender identity throughout their life, others who feel uncomfortable with their bodies as teenagers find that those feelings change as they get older.3There is much controversy over the exact numbers, but it seems that some significant proportion of those who experience gender dysphoria in childhood find that it resolves in adulthood. For example, a study published in 2013 in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, followed up with 127 adolescent patients at a gender identity clinic in Amsterdam and found that two-thirds ultimately identified as the gender they were assigned at birth.  If there was something other than our bodies that more truly defined us as male or female, we would expect that sense of identity always to stay the same throughout someone’s life. Many people today think that Christians are foolish for believing things that cannot be measured with the tools of science. But the idea that there is a thing deep within us that tells us if we are male or female against the evidence of our physical bodies does not line up with science at all. And we are still left with the question: What does it mean to be a man or a woman, if it doesn’t relate to our biological sex? 

As a Christian, I am not surprised that our society is struggling to define what it means to be a man or a woman. Without belief in a Creator God who made humans in his image, we are left without a real definition of what it means to be a human being, so no wonder we don’t know what it means to be a male or female human. Without belief in a Creator God who gives us moral laws, we are like cartoon characters who have run off a cliff and keep running in midair for a few seconds before we crash to the ground. 

As a Christian, I do believe that there is a voice deep inside me that tells me who I am. That voice is God’s Spirit, who unites every believer to Jesus like a body to its head, or a wife to her husband. The Spirit speaks through God’s Word (the Bible) and guides his people. But from a Christian perspective, this voice inside isn’t disconnected from our bodies, because the same God who lives within us by his Spirit also created our bodies. Jesus tells us that God created humans “from the beginning male and female” (Matt. 19:4). If we’re trusting in Jesus, he knows us from the inside out, and he makes us belong even when we feel like we don’t fit. Growing up, I often felt inadequate as a woman. I still sometimes feel that way today. But when I do, I trust Jesus that he made me a woman on purpose and that he loves me just as I am. 


Content taken from 10 Questions Every Teen Should Ask (and Answer) about Christianity by Rebecca McLaughlin, ©2021. Used by permission of Crossway.

  • 1
    J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (London: Bloomsbury, 1997), 221. 
  • 2
    See David C. Page, “Every Cell Has a Sex: X and Y and the Future of Health Care,” Yale School of Medicine, August 30, 2016, https:// medicine.yale.edu/news-article/13321/#:~:text=Humans%20have %20a%20total%20of,X%20and%20one%20Y%20chromosome. 
  • 3
    There is much controversy over the exact numbers, but it seems that some significant proportion of those who experience gender dysphoria in childhood find that it resolves in adulthood. For example, a study published in 2013 in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, followed up with 127 adolescent patients at a gender identity clinic in Amsterdam and found that two-thirds ultimately identified as the gender they were assigned at birth. 
By / Aug 22

“There’s no more nature.”

So one character tells another in Samuel Beckett’s absurdist 1957 play Endgame. Theatre of the Absurd, including Endgame, portrays the human condition absent any purpose, rationality or meaning – a picture, essentially, of life after the death of God. The term “endgame” refers to the final stage of a game when all meaningful moves have been played out.

I was reminded of Beckett’s play, and this particular line, upon reading a recent post at Slate presenting a melodramatic scene of a doctor announcing the sex of a newborn child (never mind that the sex of most children is identified via ultrasound well before birth). This horrific event, the article claims, occurs when “the doctor holds your child up to the harsh light of the delivery room, looks between its legs, and declares his opinion: It's a boy or a girl, based on nothing more than a cursory assessment of your offspring's genitals.” Rather than accept this “opinion,” the article contends that parents should let “a child wait to declare for themself [sic] who they are, once they're old enough…”

While the article is clearly intended to be shocking, its argument has, in fact, been a long time coming. Theories about the “constructedness” (as opposed to givenness) of human sexuality and even of natural law itself have been trickling down from the ivory tower for decades, as evidenced in another passage fromEndgame about a toy dog one character is making:

(Enter Clov holding by one of its three legs a black toy dog.)

CLOV: Your dogs are here. (He hands the dog to [blind] Hamm who feels it, fondles it.)

HAMM: You've forgotten the sex.

CLOV (vexed): But he isn't finished. The sex goes on at the end.

In other words, our bodies are no longer ourselves. Rather, we are what we make ourselves to be, including our maleness or femaleness.

Post-structural theorists who traffic in these deconstructive notions openly acknowledge that what is at stake is no less than an attack on the logocentrism that is the heart of both Judeo-Christian tradition and Western civilization. Yet, despite the ever-widening circulation of such ideas, it’s hard to take the Slate essay seriously – but not for the obvious reasons. 

Such absurdity is, after all, to be expected “when gender identity is severed from its natural connection to sexual identity,” as Denny Burk, associate professor of Biblical studies at Boyce College, wrote in response to the article. Even more, with the procreative purpose of sex all but played out (as it is in our brave new world of reproductive technology and mix-and-match family-making), neither sexual identity nor sexual activity is connected to bodily form, but instead is but a game of genital roulette played out with any number of ambiguous chambers.

But the reason the article cannot be taken seriously is simply that it doesn’t take itself seriously. For if our physical bodies have nothing whatsoever to do with our identity as male or female, then, to paraphrase Becket, there is no more male or female. Why would a child assigned at birth as an “it” need to choose a gender at all? Why even retain the binary of female/male? After all, genderqueer is here, while Facebook offers 56 gender options for user profiles. The only logical outcome of the article’s argument is asexuality.

The irony, of course, is that identity depends upon difference.

The vision offered by Christian theology departs radically from the seductive tyranny of caprice. Just as each person is procreated through the triune, differentiated, nature of sexual union – male, female, offspring (a triad that reflects the triune nature of God) – so, too, each person’s identity and selfhood are created through differentiation or individuation. Such diversity is the essence of God’s character, His acts of creation, the procreative human act and nature.

Nature has not yet been played out. Her dictates are often harsh and always inviolable, yet her gifts are grand. It’s the grandness of those gifts that Christians are called to bear witness to, and that includes the gift of being created male or female.

This article was originaly published at Think Christian.