Used to be that the only “trannies” we heard of were transvestites, and then only occasionally. But no more. The trans prefix must be the most popular one on the market today, as new words are flying off the shelf at an increasing rate. It was not that long ago that Bruce Jenner aka Caitlyn Jenner made transsexual appear on every magazine cover in the checkout lane at the grocery store. But that seems so yesterday now. For that news was quickly followed by Rachel Dozelal, the black white woman, coming out as transracial. Now the latest trans-fad is transageism, as the news tells us of a 52 year-old man who believes his true identity is that of a six year-old girl. He has abandoned his wife and seven children, and has even been “adopted” by willing “parents” to make his life complete now.
If a decade ago a Bork said we were “slouching toward Gomorrah,” today let a York say we are speeding toward it.
For those who look at this world from a Biblical perspective, seeing the sin and folly of these people and their movements is not difficult. Yet perhaps understanding their motivation to do what seems so unnatural would be helpful in ministering to them and those sympathetic to their causes. We should see that in each of these cases, and others like them, the fundamental issue is one of self-image. Each of these people do not like who they are. They prefer to be someone else.
As such, they are unknowingly revealing Biblical truth. Men and women are made in the image of God. Yet our fall in Adam has corrupted our hearts and minds, perverting and ruining the glorious reflection we are to be of our holy Creator. Consequently, sin and death’s corrosive influence brings to our restless hearts thoughts of both self-loathing and covetousness. We hate who we are. We want to be someone else. We are on a “trans” quest. So we seek to go from one image to another, be it from man to woman, white to black, adult to child, or __________ to __________ (stick your name in the first blank then your idol-image in the second). This seething discontentment resides in all human hearts.
Here’s where the ageless gospel needs to come in and speak to the spirit of this age. For there is another trans-word that we should be telling the world about. Transformation! Those redeemed by Christ have the image of God in them restored. Listen to the Apostle Paul describe this work. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (II Cor. 3:18). At the heart of the gospel is the Spirit’s transforming work.
What is so incredible about the gospel’s power in re-making people in the image of God is that it does not destroy a person’s created constitution, as the examples given in the first paragraph seek to do. Rather, the gospel restores a person to whom he or she was always meant to be. The Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck said, “Conversion is a turning back to God, but at the same time a coming to one’s self.” Over time the Spirit of God works on the personality, talents, and relationships of a Christian, cleansing him from sin’s corruption and bringing to life in Christ the true design that always existed for that person.
For this to occur, this generation must be told to repent of its self-identifying ways and believe in the Christ who tells people who they are truly to be. The paradoxical truth of the gospel is that you do not find yourself until you lose yourself for Christ. In other words, you must know Jesus in order to know you. You must let him tell you who you are. As Rosaria Butterfield states in Openness, Unhindered:
Christian unity cannot be crafted by abdicating or disguising the named identity that God gives to us. We are called to define ourselves in and through him alone.”