Fall Tour 2023 Part 2: The Way You Are
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In our last article, we looked at how the world answers the question Who am I? The secular answer to that question is that you can be whoever you want to be.
But Christians have a different answer, one that is not only true but one that also better leads to human flourishing. Every human being is made in the image of God. That’s the way you are.
This reality comes out in the opening chapters of Genesis. In Genesis 1:26-27, God says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness… So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him.”
In his book The Air We Breathe, minister and evangelist Glen Scrivener comments,
“In Genesis 2, mankind is formed from the dust. Materially speaking we are base and brittle, and our lives are brief. But we are also breathed upon by God. There is bottom-up-ness to us and top-down-ness to us. We are dirtbags kissed by heaven. Beloved dust. In ourselves we are [not worth much]. But we are touched by the divine too, and in connection with God we are precious beyond all earthly valuation.”
We can be tempted to focus too heavily either on the dirt or on the divine touch. But the Biblical view holds our dirtiness in balance with our likeness of God. Paradoxically, we are but “dust” as many verses describe, and yet, in the words of the psalmist, we area “little lower than the angels.” Some translations say a “little lower than God” (Psalm 8:5). Why? Because we are made in His image. That’s the way we are.
Even though in Genesis 3 Adam and Eve fell into sin, that did not mean they lost their identity as image bearers of God. No one can lose their identity as an image bearer of God. As evangelist and Old Testament scholar Christopher J. H. Wright explains,
“God does not give to human beings the image of God. Rather, it is a dimension of our very creation… the image of God is not so much something what we possess as what we are. To be human is to be the image of God.”
If unbelieving human beings were to lose the image of God, then they would be worthless dirtbags. There would be no reason for God to say to Noah,“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6).
Fallen human beings still retain the image of God.
Think about it this way. Imagine a great work of art. And now imagine this valuable painting is defaced through vandalism. Such vandalism not only degrades the art but mocks the artist.
So it is with human beings. Psalm 139 describes how we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are His works! When you harm another person or you harm yourself, you mock the Triune LORD of heaven and earth. You deface His intricately painted self-portraits.
But though the image may be defaced, it is always still there.
Male and Female He Created Them
Let’s go back to Genesis 1:27. It is a three-line poem, and the last line is as important as the first two.
“God created man in his own image,
In the image of God he created him,
Male and female He created them.”
Male and female. God designed human beings to be members of one of those two categories. Every single cell in the human body – all 100 trillion of them – bears the genetic marker of our sex. Our sexual identity as male or female is a good gift from our good Creator.
So, what is biological sex? It may seem like a simple and obvious question, but our world is muddying the waters so much that we must state the obvious. Biological sex refers to the physical characteristics of being male or female: your chromosomes, your genitalia, or your hormone balances. Michelle, for example, is a biological female. That’s the way she is.
Until very recently, gender was either synonymous with sex or was a grammatical concept. Today, however,gender has come to refer to the psychological, social, and cultural characteristics of being male or female: whether you are the head of the household, whether you are expected to shave your legs, or what your hairstyle is. Michelle is a woman. That’s the way she is.
Biblically speaking, it is impossible to divorce sex from gender. Rev. Chris Gordon, a minister in the URC in California, recently published The New Reformation Catechism on Human Sexuality. It mimics the Heidelberg Catechism but focuses on modern questions of gender and sexuality. In the sixth question and answer, he asks, “But aren’t we able to make a distinction between biological sex and gender in search of our identity?” Note the emphasis on human choice and searching for identity in that question. The answer:
“No. God established a natural order
in the creation of male and female,
that is good for us
as image bearers of God.
To introduce gender as a new category of personhood
separate from the biological category of sex,
in pursuit of a different sexual identity,
is unnatural to the creation order,
and harmful to the purpose for which God made us.”
And here’s another. Q&A 8 of that New Reformation Catechism asks, “Does God permit us to change our sex?” The answer:
To reverse how God created us as male or female,
due to fallen, unchosen thoughts and self-perceptions
would be an act of rebellion,
and a gross distortion of God’s creative handiwork
in specifically forming us for His own glory.”
In other words, you can try to rebel against this identity of male or female, but fundamentally it’s not something you can change. You can’t change the chromosomal makeup of your 100 trillion cells. You cannot overrule God’s decision to create you male or female. It is part of the way you are.
Let Kids Be
In connection with this ongoing debate and increasing cultural pressure to accommodate self-made gender identities, ARPA has launched the Let Kids Be campaign.
As you’ve heard from us before, ARPA is you. The success of campaigns like Care Not Kill and We Need a Law have demonstrated the way our small Reformed Christian community can have an outsized impact on the national conversation. With God’s blessing, we have been able to do things we never thought possible. We’ve seen national conversations changing even on social issues like euthanasia and abortion.
With this new campaign, we hope to replicate and build upon those successes that came about as a result of your passion and engagement. It is time to join in a unified way on this conversation our society is having about gender ideology.
As we have done with Care Not Kill with its focus on mental illness and euthanasia, or We Need a Law with its focus on sex-selective abortion or pre-born victims of crime or an international standards abortion law, this new campaign aims to tackle one of the most controversial (and critical) aspects of gender ideology – medical transitions for minors. Just as has been done before, we envision this campaign becoming a force for change, one that influences media narratives, engages Members of Parliament, and resonates across the country.
The strength of these focussed campaigns is that we can distill an issue into core messages based around talking points that are easily accessible and memorable points for our supporters. You probably remember, “Canada has no abortion laws” or “Euthanasia should never be a solution for mental illness.” Those messages, consistently repeated and highlighted, have filtered into public consciousness and even been repeated by politicians and reporters. By making the messaging quick, easy to remember, and readily accessible, we can greatly increase the impact of these arguments.
As was seen in recent marches across the country opposing gender ideology in schools, we aim to bring together Canadians from all walks of life to call on our elected officials to end the insanity that is medical transitions for minors.
With your help, this new campaign will engage our communities, raise a red flag in our provincial legislatures, and bring this conversation right up to the national level.
Our goal is to end the barbaric practice of medical transition for minors by encouraging our government to follow the lead of countries that have reviewed the evidence and curtailed medical transitioning for minors. No more puberty blockers, no more cross-sex hormones, no more surgical transitions for minors. Full stop.
We want to live in a country where we let kids be, made in the image of God as male or female. Childhood is a turbulent and dynamic time, and, as we saw already, most kids struggling with gender dysphoria don’t need hormones or surgery. They need time. They need help. They need to know that they already are made in the image of God. Like the Christians who ended other barbaric practices in the past – slavery in the British Empire, foot-binding in China, the degrading treatment of women in the Roman Empire – we need to use our theology to wage war on this new ideology.
This is why we’ve launched the Let Kids Be campaign.
Here are four things you can do right away, what we like to call ‘small acts of faithfulness’:
- Spread the word. As you can find on the website, we’ve created promotional materials like flyers and stickers to help you carry our message into your communities. These tools will enable you to spark conversations and inspire change. Share them far and wide, from classrooms to coffee shops, from city streets to rural mailboxes. Order some for yourself.
- Write a letter to the editor. For years, it was almost impossible to find articles criticizing medical transitioning in the popular media, but more and more are being written and finding their way into national and local news outlets. Join the conversation.
- Write to your MLA/MPP, alerting them to the growing evidence against medical transitioning. Since our society sees medical transitioning as a form of health care, and health care is the responsibility of the provinces, we need our provincial MLA/MPPs to take action more than our federal MP. You can reach your provincial MLA/MPP easily by either sending them an EasyMail or ordering some Let Kids Be postcards to mail to them.
- Pray. Pray that our country would cease the destructive practice of offering medical and surgical transitioning for minors.
Finally, do not be afraid. Be of good cheer.
We have seen positive developments. We have witnessed several provincial governments across the country take a stand and say that parents should be informed and involved if their child starts a gender transition in school. Saskatchewan just passed an entire parental bill of rights in education that touches on this subject. We have seen the grassroots of an entire political party vote in favour of banning medical and surgical transitions. We have seen a million-man march across Canada decrying gender ideology. There is growing evidence about the harms caused by medical transition, and even a lawsuit against medical practitioners who helped one woman transition without questioning her reasons or best interests.
So those are signs of some change coming.
But an even greater source of hope lies elsewhere.
Recently, one of the ARPA staff members was chatting with Senator Ian Shugart, just weeks before he passed away from cancer at the age of 66. Ian was the former secretary to the privy council, Canada’s top civil servant. He’s a Christian who devoted his entire life to public service. And, reflecting upon his life in public service, he had one thing to say: “Christians should be the least cynical citizens in the country.”
Sadly, sometimes Christians are the most cynical citizens in the country.
But why? We know our God reigns. And He is faithful! The repeated message of the Scriptures is that God delivers His people. There is no reason – no reason in the world – why God cannot deliver His Church in Canada from the madness that we see around us.
Our reflection of the image of God is marred, and we are surrounded by marred image-bearers of God. But there is a personal message of good news.
God sent His only begotten Son to this earth. He, as the writer of Hebrews says, “is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3). He restores God’s perfect image in us. He was resurrected to a new, glorified body and enjoys a perfect relationship with God the Father. That’s the way he is right now, and that is the way all those who believe in him will one day be.