The debate over sexuality in America has moved far beyond what behaviors are okay and what is off-limits. Buried beneath, there is questioning over what it means to be human.
Our culture essentially says our physical bodies have nothing to do with the way we should live our lives.
Earlier this month, discussing transgenderism, Laverne Cox asserted to TIME Magazine that biological gender “doesn’t necessarily mean anything inherently.”
That sentiment transcends stretches across culture. As seen in growth of support for homosexuality, bisexuality, polygamy, polyamory, “throuples,” and gender-questioning children, the prevailing worldview is this: your thoughts and feelings about your identity determine your reality.
That’s why “natural marriage” arguments (e.g., marriage should be defined as monogamous heterosexuality because that’s what biology requires for reproduction), as sensible as they are, have fallen on mostly deaf ears. Twenty-first century man—like the gnostics—is attempting to divorce the physical body from reality.
Where have all our disembodied identities come from?
Perhaps social media is partly to blame.
Transcending Your Physical Life Through the Web
Social media, far from inherently evil, is nevertheless more than a communication medium. Beyond selfies and hashtags, it has constructed a brand new psychology for this generation.
For those most immersed in the technology, “life” is no longer the sum of your waking, sleeping, eating, breathing, working and relating to others. It is also a construct derived from your digital self-image—your Facebook “about” section, the flattering angle of your face in your profile photo, the brands and content you’ve “liked,” your Twitter roll, and your relationship status.
Consider how this might influence your thinking. “Gender” is now no longer confined to what you see in the mirror. It’s also a label on Facebook in the “about,” “sex,” and “interested in” fields. It’s what your digital audience perceives in your photos, relationship status, and posts. You are free to be whatever your feel yourself to be.
If you don’t understand how digitalization could alter a person’s psychology on gender identity, consider how much time and effort you possibly put into your own digital identity.
Maybe it was all that time you spent picking the right profile picture, regardless of whether or not it accurately represented your appearance. Perhaps it was the 20 minutes you wasted over lunch telling Facebook which movies you have and haven’t seen—data that alters your perception from your followers.
The lesson is this: the more time you spend creating an intangible image of yourself, the less time the God-created, physical version of you matters. And that’s dangerous, considering that image-making is at the heart of human sinfulness (see Romans 1:22-23).
And when sexual identity is violently torn from the body and reduced to a construct of the mind, anything goes. Clinging to our self-idolatry, we grow in such love for self that we come to believe God would never ask us to disavow our sexual desires.
Tragically, this is how women come to be regarded as “fathers,” men with wives and children can become women from 9-5, and we can all choose any bathroom. Polygamists gain traction by using the same argumentation as the LGBT movement. Our headlines are full of broken people groping in the dark for self-actualization.
But it’s nothing new.
This futile grasp for identity is the natural result when people forget the God who made them and shift their focus to lesser things, according to Romans 1.
It’s not at all unlike what happened at the Tower of Babel, when early man sought to rise above the plain of the earth and ascend to the level of God’s abode, leaving his human limitations behind.
This has the demonic agenda of Babel, the forerunner of Babylon, for millennia. The king of Babylon—just like Satan himself—said in his heart, “I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:13b-14, ESV).
The spirit of Babel takes many forms today. “Transhumanism” calls us to rise above the our frail humanity to gain new abilities prolong our lives, merge with machines, increase our intellect, and progress in our evolution. After all, once God is removed from the picture, what’s to stop man from overcoming death, aging, and human limitation.
God’s reaction to this attitude has always been to humble those who exalt themselves. To the king of Babylon (and Satan) he said, “But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit” (Isaiah 14:15a). And at Babel, God confused the languages of the workers. In Daniel’s day, he turned proud King Nebuchadnezzar into a madman (see Daniel 4). And at the end of the world, all of Heaven will rejoice when God smites the all such rebellion (see Revelation 18).
Man has always sought, apart from God, to rise above the trappings of his body and experience a new identity. The post-gender binary, post-marriage, post-heteronormative LGBT movement is one small part of this quest.
But what if we reversed the paradigm? What if who you are physically was interconnected with your identity—who you are spiritually? What if body and soul were always meant to be intermingled?
Back to Basics: Spirit and Body
From Genesis to Revelation, the overwhelming testimony of Scripture is that man is both spirit and body, not just one or the other.
- Adam didn’t become a “living soul” until God breathed his spirit into his body (Genesis 2:7).
- The natural state of man was immortality—that is, perpetual life inside the body—and it wasn’t until man disturbed this relationship by sinning that death and bodily ailment entered the human race as an unwelcome intrusion (Genesis 2:17, Romans 6:23).
- God’s plan through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is to undo this curse, forgiving those who trust Christ and making them sinless and immortal, giving them perfect bodies for all eternity (1 Corinthians 15:45-57).
On the subject of sex, according to the Bible, the act of sex is far more than physical—it is the blending of two whole persons. The meshing of two souls into one moment of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual union. Dr. Michael Brown, author of Can You Be Gay and Christian?, recently noted, it is because Eve (wo-man) was formed from a part of Adam (man) that only a man and woman can experience the deep unity of the sexual relationship.
Our bodies matters. God didn’t just make us wispy clouds of feelings and images that long for expression. He gave us a physical bodies in a physical world so that we could honor him in them. Man is more than just his mind, more than his desires, more than his feelings, more than his spirit and more than his body—he is flesh and spirit.
And unfortunately, because everyone has sinned in the body, God requires us all to leave our bodies (death) and answer for everything we did while they were in it. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
The whole of man—spirit, body, soul, heart, mind, will—is infected with the disease of sin, because we have all forgotten God and disobeyed him, cutting ourselves off from him.
The Only Man Who Ever Rose Above
It is not surprising that humans from every culture and time have always wanted to rise above their limitations—whether it’s rising above biological sex or any other reality. We all know there’s a problem in the human condition.
The good news of the Gospel is that God does not merely intend to rescue us from this dying, decaying, frail life. He intends to restore it.
God does not merely want to save you from Hell and take you to Heaven; he wants to create a New Heaven and New Earth and raise us from the dead to live in it—with him (see 1 Corinthians 15, Revelation 21)!
But all attempts for man to free himself from the physical suffer two problems: (1) they ignore the fact that our whole being, physical and spiritual, is totally corrupt through sin, and (2) they attempt something that only God can do.
Dear LGBT friends: the tension in our identities, the disagreement between our minds and bodies, and the guilty conscience from God we bury beneath mountains of human approval, are all testifying to the fact that you and I are trapped in bodies of sin and death (Romans 7:15-25). We cannot alter that condition. It is impossible for any human to repair alone.
God alone offers the way to repair guilty sinners. Christ, being perfect and righteous in every way, humbled himself and took on a human body. His body was limited like ours, but not sinful in any way. Physical, yet still perfect. Free from the bodily curse of sin, in perfect harmony with God.
Yet this God-man, Jesus Christ, suffered the full weight of God’s punishment. He was always perfect, yet God treated him like a disobedient sinner. God the Father arranged for careless men to nail his Son to a piece of wood, lash him, beat him, spit on him, and mock his character. God’s furious wrath against sin was poured out on the only innocent man who ever lived. The Maker of all life died.
In his perfect body, Jesus absorbed the wrath of God against all our bodily sins and imperfections (see Isaiah 53:5). In his spirit, he was crushed with the scorn of God’s judgment that only we deserve. But he took all those things to the grave with Him and left them there.
By rising from the dead to a perfect, immortal body, fully approved by his Father, Jesus Christ now offers you the solution to every problem in your human condition.
Sin? Forgiven. Inability to meet God’s standards? Christ’s righteousness is imputed to you. Broken identity? Found in a perfect relationship with your Maker. Death and physical imperfection? Solved when Christ returns and we are raised from the dead to live with him forever in a perfect world.
All you must do is place your identity in him. Surrender your life to Christ, and he will grant you all of the priceless blessings of being identified with his own perfect Son, beginning now and consummating in eternity.
The message is not a message of hate. God’s hatred for sin was unleashed on Christ so that you could receive nothing but God’s love. We must repent and turn away from sinful lifestyles, even if we don’t have the strength to change our desires. Christ gives us the strength to change. After all, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).
Brothers and sisters in Christ, our battle is not merely with flesh and blood, but spiritual forces (see Ephesians 6:12). Let us see through the outward problems to the lies that lie beneath, and answer spiritual lies with the Gospel.
This article has been edited from the form in which it originally appeared on Christian Life News.
Image credit: Jason Howie (CC 2.0)