Tag Archives: theology

Male or Female Is Reality

You may not realize it, but the current controversy concerning gender, which has expressed itself as a debate over what bathroom a person should be permitted to use, is actually a philosophical and theological issue. In fact, scientific fact is proving to have impact only if interpreted with a subjective bias. It is a fact that someone born with XY chromosomes is male, and a person with XX chromosomes is female. The subjective bias enters when we attempt to look at exceptional cases and apply them as a general rule for everyone. As many as one in one-thousand persons are born with a degree of genetic abnormality, which rarely affects physical characteristics but may arguably impact some behavioral traits. The case is made by LGBT advocates that this is evidence of gender fluidity, and is applied to everyone. The result is, the puzzling separation of gender identity and physical sexual characteristics. In other words, a male who believes he is a female as we’ve seen showcased by the media in Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner. The LGBT lobby is promoting this concept successfully.

Philosophically this is an ontological issue. Ontology is the study of reality. What is real, and what is the fundamental nature of the real? It is also an issue that concerns epistemology, which is the study of how we know what we (think) we know. More recent philosophy has shown no interest in ontology, preferring to make the case that everything is limited by our epistemology in any case. In fact, since Wittgenstein many have simply given philosophy up as little more than word games. That is to say, if we cannot really know anything for certain, how can we talk about what is real? Everything is what I or we say it is? We tell stories to make sense of reality. These stories are called metanarratives. There is no truth, at least in the traditional sense of absolute truth. There are just stories. When a community agrees to a particular metanarrative, then that story becomes their truth. Do you see why I’m making the case that the current controversy over gender is philosophical?

The progressive/liberal/left believes in and supports the type of thinking I’ve outlined above, which has been labelled “postmodernism”. When I was a young person in church, this was called “relativism,” but we applied it to morality. Now it is being applied to all of reality. In the case of the gender issue, many of those who support transgenderism fail to recognize that a person is fundamentally male or female. Rather, the person is what they say they are. In so doing, they ignore biological reality in favor of personal choice and subjective perception. Now, when I say “they” I am not referring to a person who presents a genuine exception to the biological norm. As mentioned earlier, there are persons who are born with genetic, and even more rarely with physical, abnormalities. Those born with both male and female physical traits are now called “intersex.” These persons must discover for themselves whether male or female best describes them, and how they wish to proceed with their public lives. However, the LGBT community, and those who support their political ideology, promote the idea that this is the case for everyone.

The exception is not the rule. There is actually a fallacy of logic on full display here. My introductory logic text from college, written by Dr. William Kilgore, calls it “Converse Accident.” It is illogical to make the exceptional case into the rule. The left commits this fallacy regularly.

It is a titanic expression of egotism to presume that there is no reality other than the one I, or my community defines and describes. It is arrogance on the highest level to make reality as your community has defined it the rule for everyone else. This is precisely what is occurring in the United States today under the influence and political control of the left. It was reported today that President Obama will mandate all public schools permit a child to use the restroom or locker room of their choice, depending upon their self-identified gender. Nobody else gets a say in this. That is not democracy.

There is an essential reality, though. When a person or community lives in accord with reality, they are healthy and sane. The alternative is what we see increasingly on display in the United States today, unhealthy thinking and moral insanity. There is irony in the rationale used by leaders like President Obama, or the U.S. Supreme Court, when issuing undemocratic directives. They appear to truly believe that they are upholding the civil rights of minority groups. Many people have been persuaded that this is the case, and that is why the normalization of lifestyles and behaviors once considered abnormal, even immoral, continues unabated. However, framing this as a civil rights issue doesn’t change reality. From birth a person is either male or female, regardless of personal feelings, identity or lifestyle choices. This is a scientific, biological reality for the overwhelming majority of persons.

There is also a spiritual reality, which underlies the material one. This is where theology becomes important to this debate. God created persons male or female. That is true even for those who have been born with some degree of biological abnormality. In this life, you are created and born male or female, and you are destined to be either a woman or a man.

Jesus Christ responded to a question about divorce with the following reinforcement of the creation account found in Genesis of the Bible’s Old Testament.
But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”” (Mark 10:6–9, ESV)
From the beginning of creation God made them male and female. That is to say from the beginning of the creation of humankind, but it also applies to your creation as a person in the image of God. You are either male or female. This doesn’t depend upon how you feel about yourself. It doesn’t depend upon whether you enjoy activities that our society or culture has typically associated with men or women. It doesn’t depend upon physical characteristics such as body hair or muscular size. You are a man, or you are a woman. God created you to take on that special role and responsibility. I’ve written and spoken about this extensively elsewhere. Here’s a link to a recent Mother’s Day message about what it means to be a woman. How Women Are Like God

There is a great deal of concern expressed over the high suicide rate among the transgendered (and rightly so). Suicide and bullying of transgendered persons are often cited as important reasons for changing our policies and attitudes toward this population of persons. Public acceptance of the transgendered person, it is presumed, would limit suicidal behavior. That is possible. It woudl certainly seem to limit bullying. However, I would like to make the case that the transgendered person is struggling with something deep within themselves: their own identity. For a person born with normal chromosomal and sexual characteristics who feels strongly that they are actually supposed to be the opposite gender, there will always be an internal conflict. This is cognitive dissonance, an ongoing war between what this person is in reality, and what this person is striving to be by choice. That war will not end with surgery, hormonal therapy, or public acceptance. It will not end until the person embraces who they really are biologically and spiritually: a man, or a woman.

There is a way things are supposed to be. However, we are living in a broken world in rebellion against God and his created order. The only way to find health and sanity is to agree with God as he has revealed himself in his inspired book, the Bible. The only way to find life and fulfillment, the only way to discover whom you have been created to be, is to believe in and follow the One who called himself Son of Man, Jesus Christ. He is the perfect human; all that God intends for us to be is found in Jesus.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12, ESV).
Receive (believe in, fully embrace) Jesus the Son of God and Son of Man, and be what you were created to be.

Son of God Movie Review

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I’ve watched the majority of Jesus flicks, including The Passion of the Christ (2004, stunning film), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988, disturbing film), and Jesus of Nazareth (1977, made for TV movie). Initially, I wasn’t all that excited about the current film, but my hopes were elevated in days prior to it’s release. So, I caught a $6.50 discount showing on opening day. This is my review.

If you want a fast edit, here it is. The movie was okay, not bad, but certainly not a great film. If you liked the Bible mini-series that was televised in the Spring of 2013, then you’ll enjoy this. If you are a believer, you’ll likely enjoy some or all of it, and perhaps find yourself emotionally moved. For non-believers there is an inescapable cheese factor that can be off putting. Jesus looks like a rock star from the 70’s or 80’s with male model looks, but bad hair. I could also envision a few sarcastic people laughing or rolling their eyes at some points. I thought it was worth $6.50. However, I probably wouldn’t see it again in the theater unless I brought a guest whom I believed would benefit. I might show some clips at our church one day.

Here is what I appreciated. It is a faith filled film. The major contours of Jesus’ life are followed. He is portrayed as the Son of God, crucified, resurrected and returning. These are the most important issues. That is why I can recommend the movie.

There were a number of factual errors that irritated me. Like the Bible mini-series that birthed it, this film plays fast and loose with the facts. I’m not speaking about debatable issues, but historical details found in the Bible text. For the most part this movie is based on John’s gospel. It includes Nicodemus, the woman caught in adultery, and the resurrection of Lazarus. All of these characters and their stories are found exclusively in the Gospel of John. However, when relating stories found in that gospel, there is a consistent disregard of the facts: events are reordered, truncated and sometimes told inaccurately. Several examples follow (spoiler alert).

In this movie’s version of raising Lazarus, Jesus enters the tomb, breathes on the dead man and speaks part of John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life.” The Gospel of John records that Jesus actually stood outside the tomb and called, “Lazarus, come out!” at which point the dead man exited still bound in grave clothes. The Lord had assured Lazarus’s older sister Martha “I am the resurrection and the life” prior to his arrival at the tomb. Okay, I can already anticipate that some of you are thinking I’m being overly picky, but if you don’t think that sounds important, hang on, there’s more.

In the movie, when Jesus first appears to the disciples, he is glowing white. Thomas won’t look at him. In fact, the doubting disciple looks down and says something like, “I don’t believe it.” Jesus goes around and touches each disciple on the head, when he touches Thomas, the doubter believes. This isn’t even close to what John’s Gospel records. In fact, it seemed silly to me that Thomas looked down and said he didn’t believe when there is a brilliant white figure standing about eight feet away lighting up the room. In the Gospel of John, Thomas was absent on the first Sunday evening when Jesus appeared. He’s often called Doubting Thomas because he said he would need to see and put his finger in the nail prints and put his hand into Jesus’ spear pierced side before he would believe. When Jesus appeared the next Sunday Thomas was present and made the greatest confession of Christ found in the Bible. Thomas called Jesus “My Lord and my God!”

The movie is called Son of God. What’s wrong with portraying the event as it happened? I’ve made a feature length film, and a number of shorts. I understand that the filmmakers wanted to truncate Thomas’s two appearances and just communicate that his doubt was alleviated, but what they did doesn’t work, doesn’t seem authentic, isn’t accurate, and misses a perfect opportunity to reinforce the main idea: Jesus is the Son of God.

Why am I so hung up on this issue of details? The filmmakers aren’t dealing with a novel or a comic book here. They’re seeking to portray God’s Word. This is history, holy history. It is the most important life ever lived, the most important event that ever occurred. We have accurate, inspired records of Jesus’ life. What really happened is really important. Let me give two final examples.

First, there was an error that is also found in the film The Passion of the Christ. While the soldiers are crucifying Jesus, they tear his tunic in half. The historical reality is, the soldiers were careful not to tear Jesus’ tunic because it was woven in one piece and therefore valuable. They gambled for it instead. Why is this detail important? It fulfilled a Messianic prophecy found in the Old Testament, which John’s gospel carefully points out (John 19:24). The movie does show the soldiers shooting dice at the foot of the cross, but we are left to wonder why.

Secondly, the holes in Jesus’ hands after the resurrection are so large they seem cartoonish. They are the size of silver dollars. Other than the fact that this appears unrealistic, it is also clear that if the nails had made large holes like this it would have caused broken bones in each of Jesus’ hands. The Gospel of John points out another important Messianic prophecy that was fulfilled at the cross. The Roman soldiers did not break Jesus’ legs to expedite his death as they did with the other two crucified criminals. Instead they pierced his side with a spear to verify that he was already dead. John’s gospel tells us this fulfilled the prophecy that stated, ”Not a bone of his will be broken” (19:36). Jesus was crucified on the day Passover lambs were slaughtered, and the Jews were forbidden from breaking any bones in the lamb. Jesus is our Passover lamb! Many times details really do matter. Facts always do.

So, by all means, go see the movie Son of God. However, get the facts straight by reading your Bible. I am concerned that many people will not. If you are a believer, then use this film to tell people about Jesus. Invite them to a church that teaches the Bible and proclaims the Gospel of the crucified, risen, returning Savior of the world.