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We recently heard about parents who are letting their 5-year-old twin boys "decide" whether to be male or female. Ironically, many professing Christians who condemn sexual self-identification in society practice an even deadlier form of self-identification within the church.
Recently I spoke with a lady whose daughter-in-law works with pre-schoolers in a daycare center. Two of the children under her care are five-year-old boys. Their parents send them to the daycare center dressed as boys one day, as girls the next, and so on, depending on what these little ones "choose". Their parents believe that they should not make a "gender choice" for them, but should leave the decision - as though there were one to be made - up to their children. Today Target Corporation, one of America's largest department store chains, permits people to use whichever restroom they choose, depending on whether the individual self-identifies as a man, a woman, or something allegedly in between. Nearly every secular humanist college and university also pursues this folly. In the name of political correctness, the ungodly ignore the plain fact that their perverse arrangement places women in jeopardy if men who are sexual predators decide to use their restrooms, and vice versa - to say nothing of the peril in which this places small children and teenagers.
The Sin of Sexual Self-Identification
Hell-bound society's darkened state of mind ignores a simple Biblical fact: We have no right or authority to self-identify as male or female. Scripture declares that God created human beings male and female from the beginning. This is true of every individual who is born. God has never made anything else, and He never will. Male and female are not mere states of mind. They are part of the decree of God:
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Genesis 1:26-27).
Any person who seeks to alter his or her physical sexual characteristics, or to identify as being of a different sex by dress or behavior, or to identify with lower beings in God's created order, is in open rebellion against the ordinance of God. The dictionary defines perversion as "altering anything from its original course, meaning, or state to a distortion or corruption of what was first intended." We are on solid Biblical ground when we call such a person a sexual pervert.
"A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman's garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God." (Deuteronomy 22:5).
Any parent who would give a child the impression that he can "decide" to be male, female, or some other gender monstrosity, falls under the condemnation of Christ:
"It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend [Greek skandalise, set a snare for] one of these little ones." (Luke 17:2).
The Sin of Spiritual Self-Identification
Ironically, many professing Christians who condemn sexual self-identification in contemporary society practice an even deadlier form of self-identification within the church: Many self-identify as Christians, and encourage others to do so, when they are nothing of the sort. Some self-identify as Christians based on nationality, others because they come from a family of Christians, and still others because they are members of a particular church. Some self-identify as Christians based on their efforts to follow Biblical standards of morality.
On the other hand, even some who unrepentantly self-identify as sexual perverts, shaking their fists at the God who made them, at the same time pridefully self-identify as Christians. Growing numbers of post-evangelical churches are welcoming them to their congregations, their leadership, and even their pulpits.
No pose of self-identification makes anyone a Christian. It is God who makes a Christian by His work of regeneration:
"For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:5-7)
It is the Spirit of God who places an individual into the body of Christ:
"For by one Spirit we were all baptized [literally, placed] into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free - and have all been made to drink into one Spirit." (1 Corinthians 12:13)
We do not make ourselves Christians; we do not place ourselves in the eternal Body of Christ; we do not regenerate ourselves. We have no righteousness of our own, and perfect righteousness is God's holy and just demand.
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith. (Philippians 3:7-9)
"You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness." (Habakkuk 1:13)
For an individual to merely self-identify as a Christian is, once again, to shake a fist in the face of God and to deny His authority to declare what we are by nature:
As it is written:
Jesus Himself spoke against the sin of spiritual self-identification, just as clearly as Christ the Lawgiver spoke against sexual self-identification:
Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men - extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.'
And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:9-14)
The Pharisee, despite the spiritual perversion his sect repeatedly demonstrated - rank unbelief, superficial morality, hatred of God, perversion of His law - self-identified as a man in right standing with God. The tax collector understood his true identity in the eyes of God - a hopeless sinner in need of His salvation, unfit even to lift up his eyes before God, whose only hope of access to His presence was the outpouring of His mercy.
What About You?
Dear reader, this is the vital question you must face: By whose authority do you claim to be a Christian? Do you claim to be a Christian because God has made you one, delivering you from what you are by nature, or merely because you are living in the sin of self-identification? Spiritual self-identification only deepens a sinner's state of eternal damnation. Abandoning any pose of spiritual self-identification, bowing the knee to God's identification of our wretched state and deepest need, and calling upon Him for mercy through Christ, is the instrument of faith bringing eternal life.
Dr. Paul M. Elliott is a founder and president of TeachingTheWord Ministries, and the regular speaker on The Scripture-Driven Church broadcast.
Raised in a Christian home, Dr. Elliott came to personal saving faith in Christ at an early age in the 1960s. He was a manager and consultant in the business world before God called him to the ministry. A frequent conference, seminar, and pulpit speaker, he holds a doctorate in Biblical exegesis, and has written four full-length books and hundreds of articles and booklets. Dr. Elliott and his wife live in Westminster, Maryland and their home church is in nearby Hanover, Pennsylvania.
Founded in 1998, TeachingTheWord is committed to the task of evangelizing the world and edifying the saints, which is Christ’s Great Commission. TeachingTheWord seeks to support individual believers and the local church by carefully communicating Biblical truth, and addressing issues confronting individual Christians, families, and churches.
TeachingTheWord’s ministry is based on the proposition that Christ’s church must be the Scripture-driven church; God’s inspired, inerrant Word must be our sole authority, and our infallible critic, in every area of life and ministry.
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