The debate over sexuality in America has moved far beyond what behaviors are okay and what is off-limits.
Buried beneath, there is a deeper misunderstanding of what it means to be human.
The argument in our culture is about whether anything physical—i.e., our bodies—has anything to do with the way we should live our lives.
John Piper got to the heart of this issue earlier this month, discussing transgenderism and Laverne Cox’ assertion to Time magazine that biological gender “doesn’t necessarily mean anything inherently.” (Of course, if you’re a naturalist, the case could be made that your “inherent” sexual desires are just a physical as your genitalia—since they’re the product of chemical reactions in the brain.)
But the issue applies beyond transgenderism. Whether it’s homosexuality, bisexuality, polygamy, polyamory, “throuples” or gender-questioning children, the LGBT worldview is this: your thoughts and feelings determine your reality.
Twenty-first century man—just like the gnostics before him—is attempting to divorce the physical body from reality itself.
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.
So what part of daily life is reinforcing this perspective?
I daresay that—to one degree or another—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. It has constructed a brand new psychology for this generation, the root from which such things as “selfie culture” spring.
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 a construct composed of 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” and your relationships status.
See how this might influence your thinking. Depending on who you are, your “gender” is now taken as transcending what you see in the mirror (which only you, and none of your social followers, generally see). It’s part of the image you exude through non-physical means over media. It’s what displays on Facebook under “about” in the “sex” and “interested in” categories. It’s what the faceless digital audience perceives in your photos, relationship status and status updates. Mix and match. 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 which all your social media followers view and incorporate into their perception of you. Or maybe it was the image you portrayed to your real-life friends when you refused to sign up for Facebook, finding identity in your lack of a virtual alter-ego.
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 when sexual identity is violently torn from your physical body and reduced to a concept of the mind—or wording on a profile page—anything goes. Clinging to our idolatry of self, we start to think that God would never ask us to disavow our desires. So, women can be “fathers.” Men with wives and children can become women from 9-5. Anyone can choose the bathroom they like. Or polygamists gain traction by using the same argumentation as the LGBT movement. Society, quite literally, crumbles. All hell breaks loose as broken people grope in the dark for self-expression.
This futile grasp for identity is the natural result when people forgot 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.
We see bold declarations of this attitude elsewhere in culture outside the LGBT movement. “Transhumanism” is all about rising above the ashes of our frail humanity to gain new abilities prolong our lives, merge with machine, multiply our intellect, and progress in our evolution. After all, if you cease to acknowledge God (whether or not you’re actually an atheist), what’s to stop you from overcoming death, aging and human limitation?
This has the spiritual heritage (and demonic agenda, arguably) of Babel/Babylon for millennia. Scripture tells us that the king of Babylon—just like Satan himself—said in his heart, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 13b-14, KJV).
God’s reaction to this attitude has always been to humble those who exalt themselves in such a way. To the king of Babylon (and Satan), He said in the next verse, “Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit” (v. 15a). God confused the languages at Babel. He turned King Nebuchadnezzar into a animalistic madman for his pride, to show that it was God who had full control over man’s place in the universe (see Daniel 4). And at the end of the world, all of Heaven will rejoice when God smites the country that is heir to Babylon’s spiritual attitude (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.
Back to Basics: Spirit and Body
But what if we reversed the paradigm? What if who you are physically wasinterconnected with your identity—who you are spiritually?
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 (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)
Of course, in the Bible, 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. As 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 truly experience the deep unity of the divinely designed sexual relationship.
Your body matters. God didn’t just make you to be a wispy cloud of feelings and images longing for expression. He gave you a physical body in a physical world so that you could honor Him through the way you treat those things.
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 man has become a sinner in his body, God requires everyone to leave their body (death) and answer for everything they did while they were in it (judgment—see Hebrews 9:27, 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.
LGBT friends, please hear and understand. The tension in your identity, the disagreement between your mind and body, and the guilty conscience from God you’ve buried beneath mountains of human approval, are all testifying to the fact that you—and I, before Christ saved me—are trapped in bodies of sin and death. You cannot alter that condition. It is impossible for any human to repair alone.
God alone offers the way to repair guilty sinners. He, being perfect and righteous in every way, humbled Himself and took on a human body. Limited like ours—but not sinful in any way. Physical, but perfect. Free from the bodily curse that everyone else pays for forgetting God. Perfect harmony with God, His body and His spirit, because He had no sin.
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 divine consequences of all our bodily sins and imperfections. 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? Fueled by His Holy Spirit that fills every believer. Broken identity? Found in a perfect relationship with your Maker. Death? Solved someday in the resurrection.
All you must do is identify yourself with Him. Surrender everything in your life to God, and He will grant you all of the priceless blessings of being identified with His own perfect Son—both now and in eternity.
The message is not a message of hate. God’s hatred for sin was unleashed on Christ so that you could receive God’s love only. Repent; turn away from your sinful lifestyle, even if you know you don’t have the strength to change your desires—because when you turn to Christ, He will give you that strength you currently lack. After all, “if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you” (Romans 8:11, NIV).
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us know what idolatry and schemes of the enemy lie behind the sins of our culture. Our battle is not merely with flesh and blood, but spiritual forces. Let us see through the outward problems to the lies that lie beneath, and destroy those lies with God’s truth.