The Close Connection Between Transgenderism and the Gospel

Mar 18, 2021 by David Fowler

The Close Connection Between Transgenderism and the Gospel
Tuesday morning, over coffee, I read a story about actor Ellen Page’s transition to Elliot Page. Later that morning I went down to the legislature to testify on a bill prohibiting a governor or local government from limiting attendance at a worship service. On Wednesday morning, I realized in a new way the close connection between what is driving the transgender phenomenon and what Christianity actually speaks to.
More specifically, when I put the story about Page and my testimony together, I began to grasp more clearly than ever how shallow my understanding of “Christianity” has been and how profoundly glorious the gospel really is. 

What Elliot Page Said Is True of All of Us

Page said, "I was finally able to embrace being transgender and letting myself fully become who I am." In other words, Page has been trying to figure out what it means to be human. Being Elliot rather than Ellen was the actor’s supposed answer. 
But all of us are like Page at a very fundamental level. To live a satisfying, meaningful life, we all have to figure out what it means to be human. Of course, we can suppress that need by all manner of things that keep us from thinking about it, but such suppression is simply proof that the need is really there. 
And that led me back to the legislation on which I testified.

My Testimony on Worship Attendance Limitations

My sole aim was to explain why a Christian would consider worship as essential to the flourishing of a human being as food and drink, which Jesus, quoting Moses, said was not sufficient for human flourishing (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4). My three minutes of testimony is at this link.
My testimony was rooted in the belief that human beings were made in the image of God. Only in the last couple of years has this Biblical proposition begun to become meaningly precious to me. And Wednesday morning it really bore down on me.

The Image of God: A Gift Beyond Compare

If one believes in the Triune God of the Bible, evidenced in the Old Testament and made clearer in the New, then it was an indescribable act of grace, condescension, and goodness that God imprinted on our very being an image of Himself.
Why is this so? Because God created us, unlike the animals, in such a manner—in His image—that it is possible for us to have personal knowledge of Him, and in order that He could communicate to us all things pertaining to life (which He alone possess as God) and right living according to our nature (2 Peter 1:3).

An Example of This Incomparable Gift

With a God who is one in essence and three in persons (which is not a logical contradiction, there being a distinction between essence and personality), it is possible to root the reality and essence of love in Him, namely, an eternal love among the eternal three persons of the Trinity that is also in perfect harmony because of their one essence. It is perfect love.
Within such a Being, love is possible and can be actualized without anything having to be created in order to express that love. This cannot be said of the monotheism of Islam or the impersonal spirit or essence that is intrinsic to pantheism. It could not be grasped by the Jews, and Deists intentionally cut themselves off from God.  Materialist can only imagine a thing they call love, because love cannot arise from or even be explained purely in terms of atoms and molecules.
Admittedly, it is hard to wrap our creaturely minds around the concept of a Triune Being. Indeed, Scripture says the Triune God is a great mystery. It is difficult because there is no adequate creaturely analogy by which we can understand it (which shouldn’t be surprising given the infinite distance in essence between an infinite creator and a creature that is distinct from its creator).  
But perhaps the best analogy and most relevant to this point is the one suggested by Augustine in relation to human love. Human love requires (1) the lover, (2) the object of love, and (3) the love that is being communicated.  Without all three, “love” does not exist.
Thus, when we truly believe God made us in His image, we can also believe that God is able to communicate to us a love that is holy, a love of God that, when apprehended, we cannot help but return to God. For those who doubt that God is love, being made in the image of God is one proof of it.

What This Means to Us

If the Bible tells us the truth about God’s Triune nature and about the image of God being stamped on our being, then we would more readily believe and know that our greatest good, greatest glory, and highest end in life, is to know and be in relationship to the God whose very essence is love (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
And with this knowledge, we, with melted, transformed hearts, and renewed minds, would willingly give our whole being back to Him from whom it came. It would become increasingly “natural” for us to do so “because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).  This is what caused me to testify in the manner I did.

Why My Testimony Did Not Focus on First Amendment Rights

As I prepared to testify, I was reminded of the following words from 17th Century Puritan minister John Owen. This is what he said with respect to the Apostle Paul’s statement in Romans 4:20[1] about Abraham and the relationship between growing in faith and giving glory to God:
Glory relates not only to the thing itself that is glorious, but to the estimation and opinion we have of it,— that is, doxa; when that which is in itself glorious is esteemed so. . . . And, in this respect, that which is infinitely glorious in itself, may be more or less glorious in its manifestation and the estimation of it. So glory is not any of God’s excellencies or perfections; but it is the esteem and manifestation of them amongst and unto others.
For a person like me, who professes to have “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6), I realized I would have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) had I not “testified” to the “indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15) of a humanity that was made in the image of God. I would have fallen short had I not said something of the sheer goodness of a Heavenly Father who would make a way for that image to be restored when I had fallen away from His glory to seek my own glory in other ways.
Going forward, I pray I will not fall short in esteeming the glory of God, whatever the context may be, and the glory that can be had in Him. 
Only God can anchor the restless hearts of those, who, like Elliot Page and I, want to find our authentic self, and that is because He made us in His image. As Augustine said, the heart is restless until it finds its rest in Him.

[1]“He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God.”

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. 

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