Gender Dysphoria

Posted: April 14, 2018 by keystoneyouth in God's Greatest Invention
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Introduction:

  • If someone walked through our doors tonight who was obviously transgender, how would you respond?
    • Whisper to someone else, avoid them, go up and tell them they are living in sin, make a joke to friends about them, welcome them in, ask them their name, treat them as any other human being?
  • I wish I could sit down and have a conversation with each of you to get a feeling of where you’re at on this issue… but my guess is that I’m talking to 3 or 4 groups of people tonight when it comes to this issue.
    • 1) “It’s all good!”
    • 2) “Eww, yuck!”
    • 3) “It’s personal.”
    • 4) “I want to respond well, but I don’t know how to.”
  • In many ways, this lesson is meant more for the last 3 groups then it is for the first.
    • Because In case you haven’t picked up from the previous lessons in this series… I believe the Bible teaches that the gender we are born with is the gender we are to live according to, and so to live in opposition to that gender is to live in opposition to God’s good design and therefore live in sin.
    • Just as I believe to act self-righteously, show favoritism, gossip, and slander someone else are all to live in opposition to God’s good design and therefore sinful.
  • My goal in this lesson is to increase compassion in us for those who may struggle with their gender and to offer hope to you if you are personally struggling with your gender.
  • Before we get started, let me define a couple terms for you.
  • Gender Dysphoria – “A person who experiences discomfort or distress because there is a mis-match between their sex assigned at birth and their gender identity. This is also the clinical diagnosis for someone who doesn’t feel comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth.”
  • Transgender – “An umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth.”
    • A transgender man is a biological woman who identifies as a man.
    • A transgender woman is a biological man who identifies as a woman.
  • Clarify the difference – I don’t believe the person who struggles with gender dysphoria but is not openly identifying and living as the opposite gender is living in sin. But I do believe the person who openly identifies as transgender and is living as the opposite gender is living in sin.
    • Here’s another example: For me to be frustrated with my wife is not necessarily a sin… for me to act on that frustration by giving her the silent treatment, yelling at her, or trying to put her down is a sin.
  • However, I would say that gender dysphoria is a result of sin tainting this world. It is a form of brokenness that people may experience as a result of sin effecting our hearts, our minds, and our bodies.

Big Idea: Christians live as broken people that are being transformed by Jesus.

 Main Points:

  • Everybody is broken.
  • Everybody believes some gospel.
  • Everybody still wrestles with sin.
  • One day, Jesus will fully restore everybody.

Everybody is broken (Romans 8:18-23)

  • In this passage, Paul tells us that creation and everyone in creation is groaning.
  • Paul compares it to a woman who is in childbirth. There is a pain and a suffering that belongs to this world that everyone experiences.
  • Why are we groaning?
  • Because we are all broken. Sin effects every part of us and the entire world and so we experience a sense of brokenness – not being who and what we should be.
  • For the person experiencing gender dysphoria the brokenness that they are facing is, “Who I feel like I am doesn’t match up with my biology.”
  • This is incredibly painful.
    • “These are authentic experiences, where their heart’s desire is telling them one thing about themselves while their body is saying something else. No one should dismiss this, or belittle this, or joke about this. To feel this way is to experience real, deep pain.” –Andrew T. Walker, God and the Transgender Debate, 67
  • The person who feels drawn to look at pornography and yet doesn’t want to, knows what it’s like to experience this pain. The person who refuses to eat even when they know they should knows this pain. Every Christian experiences this type of brokenness in some way.
  • How foolish then is it for us to treat one form of brokenness as worse than another.
  • Picture with me that you and a group of three friends got in a car accident. You were jamming out to Justin Bieber, missed a stop-sign and slammed into another car. Each of you is pulled out of the wreckage with an injury. Three of you have broken arms as a result of the crash. Meanwhile one of you has a broken leg. How ridiculous would it be for the three with broken arms to look condescendingly on the person with a broken leg, “I can’t believe you broke your leg! You’re so weak!”
  • That’s what it’s like for us to don’t struggle with our gender to condescendingly and self-righteously look down on those who do struggle with their gender. We need to repent of this.
  • What this means to the person struggling with gender dysphoria: The pain you are experiencing is real. It may not go away by simply trying to stop feeling that way. It is not a sin for you to feel this way, but it is a sin for you to act on this feeling.
    • Caveat: For many people, especially those who are younger, gender dysphoria does go away with age. When children report these feelings, 70-80% of them report the feelings eventually going away.
  • What this means to the person seeking to love those who struggle: The more that we see our own brokenness, the better equipped we will be to love the person who is struggling with gender dysphoria.

Everybody believes some gospel (Romans 8:1-4)

  • So how do we fix what is broken? That’s the big question.
  • That’s the first thing we ask whenever we deal with something that is broken… “How can I fix it?”
    • This past week my car got backed into as I was waiting to pull out of a coffee shop. I got out and saw that there was a huge dent on my driver’s side and the first thing I though was, “What body shop do I know close by that can fix this?”
  • The answer to how we fix our own brokenness will ultimately reveal what gospel we believe in.
  • A gospel is what you believe will make your life better. It’s the good news you look to in order to fix your brokenness.
  • For the person experiencing gender dysphoria, the gospel that is often presented is, “Bring your biology in line with your feelings.”
  • Start identifying as the gender you feel you are, start dressing like that gender, start taking hormones of that gender, and get a surgery that makes you fully look like that gender.
    • Or, don’t identify as any gender, whatever you are feeling on the inside, live according to that.
  • But the promise of healing that is offered to the transgender person through this gospel is false.
    • Walt Heyer was born biologically a male, but struggled with feeling like he was a woman. After a failed marriage and trying to deny what he was experiencing he went to a gender therapist who told him that he should pursue hormone treatment and a sex change. Here is what he has to say, “The gender conflict seemed to fade away, and I was generally happy for a while. It’s hard for me to describe what happened next. The reprieve provided to me by surgery and life as a woman was only temporary. Hidden deep underneath the make-up and female clothing was the little boy carrying the hurts from traumatic childhood events, and he was making himself known. Being a female turned out to only be a cover-up, not a healing.” –Walt Heyer
    • “Sex change” is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women.” –Paul McHugh (The University Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine).
  • The gospel that says if you just conform your biology to your feelings you will be healed is false.
  • But a problem with Christianity is that far too often our response to those who struggle with being transgender is simply a list of do’s and don’ts. “Just stop acting like a woman and start acting like a man.” That’s not a gospel at all – that’s a law that seems utterly impossible to someone who is transgender to keep.
  • This is where Paul’s words in Romans 8:1-4 confront us.
    • Paul is saying the gospel that God offers to us is, “He gave himself up to heal you.”
    • You don’t have to pump your body full of hormones. You don’t have to undergo a physical surgery. You don’t have to just try really hard to stop having these feelings. None of that is going to bring healing. It’s just going to be a cover-up.
    • But come to Jesus, with all your brokenness and your pain, come to him with all your confusion and guilt, come to him and find forgiveness. Find freedom from the anxiety, guilt, and shame that you are feeling. Why? Because he took on all that pain for you at the cross.
  • Too often the message that gets communicated from Christians toward those who are gay, lesbian, or transgender is, “Get your act together and then we will love you.” Which communicates, “Get your act together and then God will love you.”
  • But that is entirely false and it’s no gospel at all… the gospel is God loved you when you were at your worse, come to him as you are, find the love, acceptance, and healing that you will never find in some hormone therapy, a surgery, and a name change.
  • What this means to the person who struggles with gender dysphoria: No amount of surgery and hormones will heal you. They may cover up the problem for a while, but they don’t bring healing. God offers the acceptance, forgiveness, and freedom that you are longing for in Christ.
  • What this means for the person seeking to love those who struggle: We need to give the gospel – the radical promise that God love and accepts anyone who place their faith in Christ.

 Everybody still wrestles with sin (Romans 8:5-6)

  • Now it is massively important to get this next part… coming to Jesus doesn’t mean that all your problems go away.
  • Anyone who has been an honest Christian for any amount of time knows that.
    • Unfortunately sometimes as Christians we can present the gospel as more of an infomercial then real life. “Are you sick of hurting, sick of feeling pain, sick of struggling along in this life? Then I have great news for you… today only for the price of putting on a smile and saying that you accepted Jesus you can have a perfect life. No pain, no struggle, your pets never die, and you never run out of money. That’s right! And if you accept Jesus in the next 5 minutes we’ll even add on that everyone in your family won’t experience any pain or hurt either.
  • That’s not Christianity… Christians will still struggle under the weight of brokenness in this world. Christians will still be tempted by sin on a daily basis. Christians will still fall to temptation at times until the day that they die. Things wills still go terribly wrong in the lives of Christians.
  • The gospel doesn’t promise to make all the problems go away. But it does promise that we will receive the Holy Spirit. And that Holy Spirit will enable us to fight against temptation. We no longer have to give into our feelings and live according to how we feel at the moment (the flesh). We can live to please God and live according to his designs.
  • Not only that, but God promises to use all of our struggles and pain in our lives for our good… they serve to make us more like Christ.
  • What that means for the person who struggles with gender dysphoria: You may struggle with gender dysphoria to the day that you die. You may feel like a man trapped in a woman’s body or a woman trapped in a man’s body long after you came to Jesus. But by God’s Holy Spirit he will give you power to fight against those feelings and not indulge them. And by God’s power he will use that to make you more like Jesus.
  • For every Christian, there is a great cost to following Christ – for the Christian who experience gender dysphoria that cost may be to daily say no to the feelings you have.
  • What this means for the person seeking to love those who struggle: We need to have patience and wisdom in how we respond. They may never fully get rid of those feelings. The call is not to get rid of those feelings, but to not indulge them.
  • Seeing where there has been a great cost for us in following Christ will help us to empathize with Christians who may be struggling with their gender.

 One day, Jesus will fully restore our bodies (Romans 8:23-25).

  • Paul says that the hope that we cling to as Christians is not that everything will be perfect in this world, but that one day in the future Jesus will fully restore everybody.
  • That all the brokenness that is a part of this world will be healed, all the temptation will be gone, and every effect of sin will be completely destroyed.
  • Revelation 21:1-4
    • “What everyone who is transgender is looking for – and what everyone who thinks they may be transgender and everyone who knows they are not are looking for – is a way to make their mind’s perception, their heart’s desires, and their body’s construction “match” – to feel wholeness, rather than dysphoria. And that’s exactly what the gospel promise – not by us seeking to transition from one sex to another (which is impossible), but by waiting; not by us tearing up the blueprint rebelliously, but by living faithfully and patiently even though it’s painful, until one day there will be transformation. Unlike the partial, frustrating, and ultimately unfulfilling and conflicting transformations that the world offers, this is real, joyful, complete and fulfilling transformation.” –Andrew Walker, 87
  • I love the videos of people who can’t hear, finally hearing for the first time. There’s this moment where all the sudden their body works in a way that they longed for it to work. Something they hoped for and longed for becomes a reality and you can see them be overwhelmed with joy.
  • That’s a small picture of what the future is like for us… Everything finally as it should be. That’s the hope we have in Christ, and that’s the hope we have to offer to those who struggle with their gender.

Small Group Questions

Which of the four groups mentioned in the beginning would you honestly say you are more prone towards? Why?

Why are we as Christians sometimes afraid of those who wrestle with gender dysphoria? Why do we keep them at an arm’s distance?

If we know someone who identifies as transgender, do you think we should call them by their given name or the name we choose? Should we call them he even if they identify as a woman or vice versa? Why?

 Do you agree that it is not sinful for someone to have feelings of being the opposite gender but not identify as the opposite gender? Why or why not?

 How should we respond if a family member or close friend confesses to us that they are transgender or struggling with feelings of gender dysphoria? What would you say? What questions would you want to ask?

 How can we respond to those around us who may call us intolerant or bigots for holding to a position that says transgenderism is wrong? What can we say? What questions can we ask?

 What are things we might say or do that would reinforce shame in those around us who are struggling with their gender?

 

 

 

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