With the Obergefell decision in June of 2015, the sodomy lobby got everything it wanted. What next? It used to be LGB rights. Now it’s LGBT rights and the “T” isn’t like anything that came previously. Before Obergefell, transgenderism was fittingly arcane. Needing a new cause, the activists mobilized their money, resources, and sophistic attempts to legitimize transgenderism. Younger people are proving particularly vulnerable to the agitprop. The friction and abrasion of the transgender newspeak breaks through the barrier of young people’s untaught prejudice, blowing up the citadel of Natural Revelation and common sense until people accept the separation of gender and sex as ordinary as a porn habit. With rebellion thus sugarcoated, the activists have been drugging the public mind.
Transgenderism is best thought of as a stubborn cult. The idea that gender is unrelated to biological sex is the non-negotiable starting assumption. Gender, we are told, is that deeply held, internal sense of the self—how people think of themselves. Biological sex, we are told, is that external category “assigned at birth,” the mere material substance that can be marooned if it contradicts the inner sense of self. But transgenderism is far more than a hair-brained theory about gender and sex, it’s an all-encompassing belief system that subordinates nature to the subjective desire for open-ended limitlessness.
The immediate precondition for transgenderism was twentieth-century existentialism, which stressed that since existence preceded essence, people create meaning. Each subject must seize the experience of their existence and look within to discover the authentic self. Freud taught that a person is their sexual desires, which means that the authentic self is an inner sexual perversion. The French existential philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Simone de Beauvoir rejected the oppressive limits of a God-governed and law-constrained cosmic order. Camus argued that true freedom only comes when people accept the absurd. Rather than yielding to the telos of God, people invent their telos. Transgenderism shares with existentialism this same vision of moral irresponsibility that leaves behind the possibility of transcendent limitations.
What is the spiritual danger of disdaining the limits imposed by embodied existence? How is the soul damaged when it is alienated from the ordered telos of nature? Carl Trueman uses the illustration that 200 years ago if a person went to the doctor and said they are a woman trapped in a man’s body, the doctor would have said, “That’s a problem of your mind and we need to bring your mind into conformity with your body.” If a person goes to the doctor today and says the same thing, the doctor says, “That’s a problem with your body and we need to bring your body into conformity with your mind.” Think of the difference. For the person 200 years ago, what was the ground of identity? The body—that which was received from God. For the person today, what is the ground of identity? The self—that which each person creates on their own. This is metaphysical rebellion—a theological ambition to overcome the authority of nature.
It’s a fool’s errand to overcome, replace, and reconfigure biological bounds. There is wisdom in submitting to limits—children to parents, students to teachers, and each person to the body God gave. Each time someone goes to sleep at the end of an exhausting day, they are submitting to their body. God, in His wisdom, gave humans a body that requires sleep. Roughly one-third of life is spent in the purely helpless state of sleep, perhaps as a daily reminder that we are dependent creatures. God, in His wisdom, gave humans a body that requires food. If a person spends one-hour eating every day and lives to be eighty years old, that is 29,200 hours spent eating, not counting the time spent preparing to eat. Sleeping and eating are examples of submitting to the body God allotted. Accepting biological sex is also part of the act of submitting, acknowledging that the soul is tied to the body God gave each person, male and female he created them (Gen. 1:27).
What is the relationship between soul and body? Are they two things independent from each other? Or is there a psychosomatic unity such that the soul is dependent on the body? In other words, is the “self” insulated from biology? The entire transgender gravamen hinges on this question. If body and soul are intrinsically linked in one person, and if biological sex is innate, then it is unnatural for the sexuality of the mind to contradict the sexuality of the body.
Human life involves bodily reality, which is to say that each person must live within the vassalage of their incarnation. All true faithfulness begins with receiving the flesh. Without this insistence upon the body—an agreement between body and mind—it can be no more than a half-life. Divorcing body and mind is at root a resistance to incarnation as if a person can be separate from what they are. To live without submitting to the body is instinctive anarchy—a life without rules. Sagacity requires taking the universal dogmas for granted. G.K. Chesterton said, “If you choose to lump all flowers together, lilies and dahlias and tulips and chrysanthemums and call them all daisies, you will find that you have spoiled the very fine word daisy.” Likewise, men are one kind of person and women another. If you call a person of the male sex a woman, you have, first, rejected universal dogma; second, destroyed the essential meaning of embodied life; third, spoiled two very fine words, man and woman;
Secular biology fails before it begins. The textbook diagram of a person is a picture with arms, legs, and lungs. This, we are told, is a human being, reduced to a merely scientific and medical definition. But God’s image-bearers are body and soul to the degree that a body without a soul is not a human being. Anatomy is a material model, a physical structure that, if it is a real human being, has a matching internal reality stamped on the soul. If the body is male, the spirit has the mind to match.
During Jesus’ three-year earthly ministry, he challenged faulty descriptions of Israel’s law, land, and calling. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses the formula, “You’ve heard it said but I say to you,” offering proper meaning for murder, adultery, and righteousness. Not only was it a rebuttal of the Pharisaical mislabeling of the world, but it was an injunction that the church must classify the world with the right words. Only then will our message resemble the purposeful order of God’s world. Language must be mobilized to intentionally raise some walls like God did when he separated the light from the dark and waters above from the waters below. God’s people must give things their proper names, like Adam when he named the animals. Until we faithfully use language within the covenant community, we will never be prepared to go outside the walls and transform the culture.
Too many Christians stand on the boat and watch the wind and the waves, yet touch neither a sail nor a pump, expecting to continue the trip as deadhead passengers, carried through the storm to a safe landing where they are snug, dry, and right side up. Faithfulness is more than looking at the storm and doing nothing. Because the metaphysical revolt happens through language, Christians can’t call boys Caitlin and girls Elliot. Neither can we use “them” as a singular pronoun, lest we are implicated in the theology of rebellion. Our job is to be apostles of the obvious, which starts by using Christian vocabulary. It’s murder rather than “women’s reproductive freedom.” It’s sodomy rather than “gay.” It’s oppression rather than “progress.” It’s archetypes rather than “stereotypes.”
The impulse to reject the body, mutilate it, or overcome it, is as insane as trying to live by never eating or sleeping. Human beings are the image-bearers of God, and this includes the human body. There are specific expectations tied to biological sex, not just within the walls of the house, but even in worship. First Corinthians 11:2-16, for all its complexity, establishes a distinction between men and women during worship. “Nature itself” teaches us that women worship as women (as under authority) and men worship as men (without any self-glory).
And so it is that the human body is a divine directive of moral responsibility for all of life. To accept the body is to accept the duty as we receive it: bounded by space and time and limited by biological design. There is a cost to getting human nature wrong. When a human being is nothing more than physical parts, then doctors and scientists become the high priests of human existence. But those leading the transgender craze get human nature wrong ontologically, anthropologically, and metaphysically. A person with the XY chromosome is a man, no matter what surgery was performed or puberty-blocking hormones were prescribed. To say otherwise is not only a lie, but a lie that can’t be sustained sine die. Lies involve two parties, those who tell the lies and those who believe them. The transgender movement is a social contagion that has contacted many people. As a result, there is a tremendous amount of sexual confusion and sin. But the sin of transgenderism is not beyond the power of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is the only true remedy for sexual brokenness.
Ryan Anderson, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment (New York; Encounter Books, 2018), Chapter 3.
G.K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World (Pantianos Classics, Orig. 1910), 49.
Peter Kreeft, The Best Things in Life: A Contemporary Socrates Looks at Power, Pleasure, Truth, & the Good Life (Downer’s Grove, IL: IVP, 1984), 129f.
Peter Leithart, Against Christianity (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2003), 52-55.
Ahmari Sohrab, The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos (New York: Convergent, 2021), 241-245.
C.R. Wiley, The Man of the House: A Handbook for Building a Shelter That Will Last in a World That is Falling Apart (Searcy, AR: Resource Publications, 2017), 93.
Jason Cherry is an elder at Trinity Reformed Church in Huntsville, Alabama, as well as a teacher and lecturer of literature, American history, and economics at Providence Classical School in Huntsville. He graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary with an MA in Religion and is the author of the book The Culture of Conversionism and the History of the Altar Call, now available on Amazon.
 We should point out that the language of gender “assigned at birth” is, from a metaphysical perspective, pure hooey. In truth, gender is determined at fertilization and is based upon the chromosomes inherited from the father (in the sperm) and mother (in the egg) and fused together to form a zygote. The sex is determined at that moment and the chromosomes determined the production of the sex organs.