We live in a society that prioritizes and prizes feelings over facts. In many ways, how one feels becomes the ultimate source of truth. This leads people to live in ways that conflict with reality. A life lived in defiance of reality is dangerous.
Just because someone feels like a bird, or identifies as a bird, doesn’t mean they can live like a bird without real consequences. The moment they jump from a building, a tree, or an airplane to express their bird-ness, and flap their arms like wings, gravity is going to ruthlessly punish them for their error. Gravity doesn’t care about feelings. It continues being gravity even when denied.
Many today do this with gender and sexuality. It is common for people today, especially those in their teens and twenties, to wrestle with gender dysphoria (feelings of being mismatched with their biological gender) or homosexuality (feelings of attraction and desire for the same sex). Often, the justifier to act on these impulses—whether living in a transgendered identity or acting on sexual desires—is that it is a sincere feeling. Feelings trump reality.
That last statement will cause many to object in anger or frustration, “But these feelings are real, so it is reality.” I do not doubt the realness of the feelings. What we must reject is the authority of those feelings over the authority of living in the reality of how God made the world. That reality is fixed, and it trumps the reality of how we feel today, this week, or this year about a given subject.
As it pertains to gender and sexuality, the point I’m outlining here is: Our bodies tell the truth. Our bodies are fashioned and formed by God. In our mother’s womb, God knits us together (Psalm 139:13). He purposefully forms us as male or female. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. The choice of our gender is not arbitrary or random, but part of God’s greater design in purposing our lives before even the first atom of our physical self materialized (Psalm 139:16).
God determines our maleness or our femaleness. It is not an accident or a mistake. Our bodies are not discardable extras that can be refashioned and retooled to change who we are. They reveal important things about who we are. Your body isn’t lying to you. This is a concrete reality that ought to take precedence over feelings to the contrary. Additionally, our gender informs our sexuality. When God determines our maleness and femaleness, He is simultaneously revealing the boundaries of what sexual activities are permissible.
This is reality. Our bodies tell the truth about our gender and sexuality. When people choose to live contrary and in denial of that reality, there is a price to be paid. We are watching that unfold today. The CDC reports that over half (54%) of Lesbian / Gay / Bisexual high school students have seriously considered committing suicide relative to 19% of high school students overall. The data for adults is also striking, as the NIH reports that the homosexual suicide rate is consistently two to four times higher than among heterosexual adults. Those identifying as transgender are particularly likely to commit suicide. Despite the narrative that surgery helps those identifying as transgender to physically reflect their felt identity, one study reported by the NIH indicates those undergoing gender reassignment surgery have a suicide rate seventy times higher than the overall adult population.
These statistics shouldn’t shock us. Imagine you were the designer of a brand-new car. You took meticulous care to design every aspect of the vehicle, from its body style, interior, engine, and all the features. Let’s say—for the sake of making our scenario clear and a little bit fantastical—you designed the car to specifically work and run at its optimum capability on vinegar. Yes, vinegar. You have designed the very first car that runs on vinegar. Now imagine someone bought your car—they loved it—but they completely ignored the way you designed the car to run. They decided they didn’t like vinegar, and would rather use beer, baby shampoo, or olive oil as fuel. Each of those liquids share a similar color with vinegar. And after all, “It’s my car…” they might say, “…I can do what I want!”.
They are right. They can do with it what they want, but the designer (you) has made the car to work on vinegar, so when they use these alternative fuels, the car isn’t going to run. The engine is going to lock up. They are going to have real problems. They can kick the tires and get upset, but they have chosen to operate the vehicle in a way the designer never intended for it to function. And they will pay the price for it. It will break the car.
You likely see where I’m going with this analogy. God has designed our bodies. He has assigned both our gender and sexuality. Operating according to this design is what brings flourishing. Denying the design and rebelling against it brings disaster. We are living in that reality in our society right now. Denial of reality is breaking many men and women, boys and girls.
Our feelings need to take a backseat to the greater reality of God’s design for our bodies. We are not made to operate them on our whims. We are to submit to God’s blueprint and help others to understand this truth. They need it. Too many people are flapping their arms as they free-fall to the pavement. Pointing our culture to God’s design for gender and sexuality isn’t unloving – it can very well be life-saving.