Today we are thinking more deeply about gender – maleness and femaleness. To help, Brian Sutter and Craig Stickling share their insights on this important matter. In this episode of Breaking Bread, we discuss biological sex and its outward expression in our gender.
Terminology is important. The words we use make a difference. Further, the meaning of the terms we use change. It is important we are informed on the definition of terms.
- Biological sex – The binary sex determination that occurs genetically and is coded by chromosomes. Those who have XX pairing are female and those who have XY pairing are male.
- Gender identity – How a person categorizes their felt gender experience.
- Gender dysphoria – The distress a person experiences when their felt gender identity does not match their biological sex assignment.
- Gender expression – How a person lives out their gender assignment.
- Gender roles – Expected rules, roles and experiences that we assume on being male or female.
We live in a changing world. Yet, some things remain the same. What is new to the scene and what is not?
- Gender dysphoria is not new to the scene. Distress over the felt gender experience has been around for a long time.
- Varying gender expressions is not new. Men and women have lived out their respective gender in a wide spectrum of ways.
- Today the meaning we make of our gender expression is taking on new conclusions. With increasing freedom, individuals are reflecting on their gender expression and drawing conclusions on their gender identity outside of the assigned biological sex assigned at birth.
- Culture today is straying from a biblical understanding of gender assignment. Today, many people view gender identity as not being constrained to the binary male or female as it has been in the past. Due to this, here is more emphasis on freedom of gender choice. Gender in today’s culture is often understood to be on a spectrum.
How can we understand the varied gender experience?
- There is not a spectrum of gender assignment; however, there is a spectrum for gender expression. God created each person male or female, yet how we live out that gender varies.
- There are common experiences held by most men. There are common experiences held by most women. However, no two person’s gender experience is alike. Rather, we each have a unique gender expression that can glorify God’s biological sex assignment.
How can we help ease the gender dysphoria some experience?
- Some gender roles come from biological differences between male and female. Others are constructed and maintained by culture. It is important that we are thoughtful about what it means to be a man or a woman. We should be slow to calling into question those who don’t fit gender stereotypes that are not sacred to the biological sex.
Three Lenses through which We View Gender Dysphoria
On divisive cultural topics like gender identity, sometimes we miss each other. Talking past each other. Unable to relate or understand with one another. To help with this understanding, Brian Sutter presents three lenses that capture three different “starting points” for the persuasions we hold.
Mark Yarhouse in his book “Understanding Gender Dysphoria” presents three lenses through which we view the gender identity debate. By understanding these lenses, we will understand our persuasions and the persuasions of others better.
Integrity Lens: “There is right and wrong in the world.”
- Intent – The view of gender being created by God as either male or female.
- Strength – This lens focuses on identifying what scripture says and holding closely to it. It fights for truth, right belief, and holy living by proclaiming truth even when it is contrary to culture.
- Weakness – This lens can be cold, unloving, and judgmental. It can forget that sincere individuals can struggle with these issues. It can reinforce incorrect stereotypes about the Christian church.
Disability Lens: “There are reasons for why we see brokenness in the world.”
- Intent – This lens intends to be compassionate, understanding that all of life is touched by the fall and that human beings experience brokenness in all areas of life – including their gender.
- Strength – This lens views individuals dealing with gender dysphoria with love and compassion. It seeks to provide information, support, counseling to help people work through gender dysphoria issues.
- Weakness – This lens can overly identify the person dealing with gender dysphoria by their struggle. It can accidently view the individual’s life as ‘on hold’ until the individual is “cured.”
Diversity Lens: “God is love.”
- Intent – This lens intends to understand and celebrate the uniqueness of each person while providing them with acceptance and community.
- Strength – This lens recognizes the value of all people regardless of whether gender dysphoria is a lived experience. It doesn’t force people into molds. It desires each person to be included and loved in a caring community.
- Weakness – This lens may elevate gender dysphoria to be the most important part of a person’s identity. It may overlook unbiblical lifestyles and may not see a need for conforming to the teachings of the Bible.
Each lens has strengths and weaknesses. We each need to understand the lens we view gender dysphoria through, mitigate its weakness and adopt the strengths in the other lenses.
Sexual & Gender Identity with Grace & Truth Podcast Episodes
Conviction of truth. Compassion for people. Context for our society. And comfort in Christ. These are our goals. Join Ted Witzig Jr. in this two-part series on the important topic of gender and sexual identity with grace and truth.
Answers to Gender & Sexual Identity Questions Webinar
The topic of gender and sexual identity has become a major issue facing Christians today. This webinar is designed for mentors who are walking with others through questions of gender and sexual identity, providing important context for mentors to consider as well as common questions often raised in this area. Learn how to offer support, help, and hope in this area as you watch our webinar recording.