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Devin Michelle Bunten began a recent New York Times op-ed piece with a bang:

“Men menstruate. Some have even given birth. Women with penises and prominent larynxes walk the streets and use the ladies’ restroom. Nonbinary people wear binders and use they/them pronouns. It’s 2020.”[1]

It’s 2020, indeed.

But regardless of the year, Bunten’s words provoke a good deal of head-scratching because they not only detach language from reality but also fragment the human body from the human person by insisting that who someone really is can be different from what their physical bodies reveal them to be.

Still, the quote above reflects the worldview of transgender activists working frantically to put policies in place that they believe respect trans lives. For the activists this entails bringing the external world into conformity with a transgender person’s internal sense of one’s gender, and then requiring others to talk the same way.

As I assess the article theologically, I cannot go along with Bunten’s arguments because 1) the Christian worldview requires honesty in communication and 2) the Christian worldview is creation affirming.

Let me explain.

Language Must Be Connected to Reality
As Christians, our theology teaches us that communication with other image-bearers should be characterized by honesty.

According to the Bible, God created the world and made human beings in his image. This implies that we participate in an ordered and meaningful universe. Since God created this kind of world, along with human beings capable of rational interchange, it follows—and Scripture discloses—that God communicates with the aim of communing with creatures.[2] Within this moral universe the purpose of language is to convey reality. Language, therefore, is not a tool we employ in order to deceive, but a gracious gift designed for meaningful communication.

Placing these thoughts within the context of human community leads to a striking conclusion: A well-ordered society depends on a well-ordered language.[3] Why? Because language disconnected from reality is language dislodged from truth, which implicates us in lying to our fellow citizens, thereby dishonoring their humanity.[4] The corruption of language dehumanizes because communicating falsehoods serves a sinister purpose—namely, power. For this reason, philosopher Josef Pieper (1904–1997) once observed that when genuine communication is absent, despotism is present.[5] Or in George Orwell’s memorable words, “The foundation of tyranny is the corruption of language.”[6]

Since distorted worldviews lead to bad policymaking, Christians should oppose views that corrupt language and hinder human flourishing. From a Christian perspective, genuine human flourishing must acknowledge the created order and aim to bring one’s behavior and that of society into conformity with the Creator’s intentions.

Implications of a Creation Affirming Theology
That there is an order to creation and that Christian theology is creation affirming leads to the following conclusions:

First, since Christian theology is creation affirming, people are whoever God made them to be and not who they declare themselves to be. In the Genesis narrative, gender is pre-fall, indicating that our bodies are central in determining who we are, and that we should embrace the gender given to us by our wise and good Creator. While gender dysphoria is a product of living in a fallen world, it should not serve as the basis for denying the distinction between male and female, divorcing gender from sex, and/or insisting that “gender exists primarily between our ears—in our brains and minds—and not necessarily by what is between our legs, our genitalia, or in our accompanying XX or XY chromosomes.”[7] Contrary to those claims, the Christian worldview informs us that our feelings are not the determining factor of our identity. Rather, we are who God created us to be. And since our bodies reflect who we are in this life, our resurrection bodies will also be gendered/sexed bodies, just like our Lord Jesus.[8] (See footnote below regarding intersex people.)

My second point follows from and expands on the previous one: Given that there is an order to creation, and that Christian theology is creation affirming, it follows that we are embodied creatures and not reprogrammable machines. The Judeo-Christian worldview rejects the Gnostic body-self dualism that divides the material and non-material, spiritual world. It does not view the human body as a mere instrument that houses within it someone other than what their physical bodies reveal. Therefore, when Bunten argues that words like male and female are “words for bodies, not people with hearts and souls and minds,” Christians cannot agree. Our theology teaches us that souls are not detached from bodies—who we really are is not distinct from our physical bodies. Even cross-sex hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery would not change someone’s sex. Severing an appendage does not negate the fact that sex differences manifest themselves at the molecular level. Transgender men will still go through menopause. These truths lead to an important implication: Just as God wills the good for his creatures, so likewise must we will the good for our fellow citizens. Seen in this light, helping an image-bearer try to will himself or herself into non-existence is not the loving thing to do.

Third, given that there is an order to creation and that Christian theology is creation affirming, it follows that our sex organs have a specific purpose and function. God created two sexes—male and female (Gen.1:27). His design is that men and women express their sexual love for each other in the one-flesh union of marriage (Gen. 2:24). As depicted in Scripture, marriage is neither a human invention, nor a social convention, but a creation ordinance established by God as a heterosexual, monogamous, permanent relationship. The man and woman leave their family of origin, unite together, and form a new family. Accordingly, the state does not have the right to redefine marriage because the state is not the author of marriage. Any government, then, that redefines marriage subverts the created order, corrupts language, and abuses its power.[9]

Given the direction of our current culture, convictional Christians are in for a turbulent ride. Regardless, the call on our lives remains the same: Love God and love other people.

But one thing’s for sure: We do not have the luxury to sit this one out. We must enter the realm of ideas thoughtfully and graciously. We must sift everything through the lens of Scripture as we respectfully engage those with whom we disagree while refusing to reduce them to political causes.


[1] Devin Michelle Bunten, “Sex Does Not Mean Gender. Equating Them Erases Trans Lives,” (accessed 23 June 2020).

[2] Scott R. Swain, Trinity, Revelation, and Reading: A Theological Introduction to the Bible and Its Interpretation (New York: T&T Clark, 2011), 16.

[3] For much of my thoughts here I am indebted to Josef Pieper, Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power, trans. Lothar Krauth (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988).

[4] Ibid., 16, 20–21.

[5] Ibid., 29–30.

[6] I believe the quote comes from Orwell’s 1984, but I found it in Anthony Esolen, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture (Washington, D. C.: Regnery, 2017) 15.

[7] PFLAG, Our Trans Loved Ones: Questions and Answers for Parents, Families, and Friends of People Who Are Transgender and Gender Expansive (2008, 2015), 27. Even the liberal cultural commentator Douglas Murray concedes that the transgender movement is simply making up the science to fit its worldview. See his The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity (New York: Bloomsbury Continuum, 2019), 186.

[8] What about intersex people? Those with disorders of sexual development (DSDs) do not constitute a third sex because there is no third gonad. What develops are dysfunctional ovaries and testes. Therefore, intersex people are still either male or female. Pediatric endocrinologist Quentin L. Van Meter notes, “The exceedingly rare DSDs are all medically identifiable deviations from the sexual binary norm” (Declaration of Quentin L. Van Meter, M. D., U. S. District Court, Middle District of North Carolina, Case 1:16-cv—00425-TDS-JEP, Exhibit 1. In the case of DSDs, then, doctors seek to identify the predominant underlying sex and provide the necessary treatment, which sometimes includes hormones and surgery).

[9] Douglas Farrow, Nation of Bastards: Essays on the End of Marriage (Toronto: BPS Books, 2007), 18.