CBS News has released online Leslie Stahl’s 60 Minutes report on the state of the transgender debate. You should not let the clickbait headline deter you from watching the story. It is illuminating about where the West is culturally and spiritually. As Carl Trueman properly and provocatively asks, how is that Bruce Jenner can say that he is a woman trapped in a man’s body? How did it come to be that it is now controversial to say out loud what we all know, that the Emperor is in the wrong clothes? How did we become so disconnected from nature and from objective reality? How is it that simply asking and seeking to answer these questions can get one banned from social media, “cancelled,” and, in some cases fired from one’s job?
These are important questions and the answers are even more important because they point to a deep sickness in the Western soul yes, but also to a relatively widespread delusion and psychosis. It is not too much to say that we are witnessing a mass hysteria. The first subject Stahl interviews is a transgender physician. Not long ago, that person would have been the sole subject of an entire segment and the very reasonable question would have been: should this person be allowed to practice medicine? As the report notes, today, there are dozens of clinics staffed by such people ostensibly counseling (recruiting) young people to do as they have done: to resolve their identity crisis by denying their biology. In some cases, as Stahl discovered, these transitions happen within months. In some cases, vulnerable young people are subjected to radical surgery (e.g., mastectomy or castration) after as little as a year. 13-year old children are being placed on hormone therapy. In any other time, in virtually any other culture, this would have been considered lunacy but here we are. According to the CDC, about 1,000,000 people in the USA identify as transgender but the percentage of teens who are deciding that their gender does not match their sex is said to be rising rapidly. In 2018, one study found that as many as 3% of teens surveyed identified as transgender. These kids are the victims of the sexual revolution. Sometimes they are being counseled by well-meaning but confused people. Sometimes, however, they are being counseled by those who need affirmation of their own destructive choices. This is a spiritual contest with emotional, psychological, physical, and social consequences.
Credit to Stahl’s report: she did interview several people who have realized that “transitioning” from one sex to another was a serious mistake. Stahl treats those who have de-transitioned with respect and gives a fair hearing to what has hitherto been a very marginal voice in this discussion.
Christians ought to pray. We need to be aware that a surprisingly large percentage of teens are in crisis over their sexuality and identity. Of course teens have always struggled with their sense of self, their identity, and in figuring out where they fit in the world. All of that is relatively normal but what is not normal and what is new is that there are well-funded agencies and campaigns, led by public figures, that seek to present the transgender ideology as a viable alternative. The Word and Spirit of God are more than a match for this spiritual crisis and challenge.
Christians need to teach the doctrine of creation—not necessarily the length of the days of creation but the very existence of the category of creation. The same God who redeemed his people at Calvary also created all humans in his image. There is a creational, natural, pattern and norm. For most American evangelicals grace has overwhelmed nature so that they no longer have a place for creational patterns. They have no idea of “givenness.” Humans come in two sexes, male and female. Gender is a grammatical category which, in most cases, has been thoughtlessly substituted for the biological category of sex. Because, for most American evangelicals, grace has overwhelmed nature, categories like sex, marriage, and sabbath, each of which were instituted in creation, are largely unknown. They are all too easily convinced that gender is an arbitrary category. Christian teens need to know that they are part of God’s good creation, that their bodies are not inherently evil, material shells in which their souls are trapped. They need to know that their bodies are part of the image of God and good as a matter of creation.
They also need to know that there is grace for sinners. One reason why teens reach a crisis in their sexuality is that they come to think (perhaps because they have been taught) that their sexual sins place them beyond the pale of God’s grace and forgiveness. How many kids decide that they are beyond grace and forgiveness and give up on their biological sex in favor of a trans (or some other of the LGBTQ) identity in their search for belonging and acceptance.
One of the facets that stands out in the piece is the comment by one of the young people that they wished that someone has put up some resistance to their plan to transition. Do we love our children enough to stand up to them or are we adults so needy for affirmation that we will roll over and affirm their every choice, no matter how bizarre?
Sexual abuse plays another significant role. How many young people in this country are the victims of sexual abuse and thus grow up hurt, angry, and confused and who they are? Such children are like homeless waifs just waiting to be collected by some transgender Fagin and given a new identity.
Social media plays a significant role in this crisis as it helps to create an alternate reality, an echo chamber where teens struggling with their identity can readily find support for whatever disastrous choice they might be contemplating. Remember, a fair number of teens think it is a good idea to sneak out of the house to meet up with a stranger whom they met online. There is a case to be made for strictly restricting access to social media until young people are fully grown. I am thankful that I did not have to negotiate social media while I was going through what all teens experience. I am also grateful that I had, through most of my teen years, a relatively stable, two-parent home, something that a lot of teens lack.
©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.
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