A recent CNN story made the following statement:
“It’s not possible to know a person’s gender identity at birth, and there is no consensus criteria for assigning sex at birth.” *
Mind you, this was not an opinion piece but a hard news story. How did we reach a place where something as basic as the gender of a newborn is neither obvious nor fixed? To understand that we must understand something Francis Schaeffer said in his book How Should We Then Live?:
“The direction in which science will move is set by the philosophical worldview of the scientists.”
When science began in the west, it began with an understanding there is a God who created all things, a God who is perfect in his being and attributes and who created with consistency and purpose. Those early scientists were exploring the natural world by, as the title says, thinking God’s thoughts after him. In fact, science writer Loren Eiseley points out that the discipline we know as science with an emphasis on experimentation and mathematics arose in no other culture in the world save Western Europe. He says:
“…it is the Christian world which finally gave birth in a clear, articulate fashion to the experimental method of science itself.”
Today, however, the western world is decidedly non-Christian. We’ve long since abandoned belief in God and with it the idea that truth is external to ourselves. We look at the natural world and see only randomness and chance rather than design and purpose.
Richard Dawkins in his book The Blind Watchmaker says of biology:
“Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”
Notice his assertion that things appear to have been designed. How does he know they haven’t, in fact, been designed but only appear so? Because he makes an a priori assumption that God does not exist. Returning to the statement by Francis Schaeffer, we understand how we’ve become a society so confused we can’t look at a newborn baby and proclaim “it’s a boy!” with any certainty. The philosophical worldview of today has no category for certainty outside the individual. There are only two possibilities regarding truth. Either it is derived from what Schaeffer calls “universals,” things that are true for all people, at all times in all places, or it is derived from “particulars,” the lives and experiences of individuals which vary from person to person, place to place, era to era. We live in a culture where belief that truth comes from these “particulars” has metastasized. Therefore, “it’s a boy!” is meaningless if it originates anywhere except the mouth of the one about whom the claim is being made. An individual can say “I’m a boy” but to claim that about anyone else is considered presumptuous.
Christians must understand this. What seems nonsensical to us is consistent with the worldview under which many of our friends and neighbors operate – not to mention the HR departments where we work, the schools in our communities and the government agencies making decisions that impact our lives.
Therefore, we must address this at a worldview level, which means we must address it using the truth of the Gospel. That which is grounded in particulars cannot be countered with particulars. A person who views their experience as the source of truth has made an idol of their experience and man-made idols can only be pulled down with universal truth.
Paul made this clear when preaching in Athens to those in his day who saw man as the measure of all things:
“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.” – Acts 17:24-26
People don’t believe they can determine the gender of a newborn baby because they don’t believe there is a “God who made the world and everything in it.” We must labor to make that truth and the God behind it known for the sake of our family, friends and neighbors. Love demands it.
Additional reading on this topic: Do Not Nod Your Head to Lies
* After the attention this statement received, it has been updated to read: “It’s not possible to know a person’s gender identity at birth, and for some people, the sex listed on their original birth certificate is a misleading way of describing the body they have.”