Monthly Archives: June 2015

Sex Changes & The Sneetches

It occurred to me that I have been seeing so many posts on social media about people getting sex changes lately that it reminded me of The Sneetches, that old Dr. Seuss book. Originally, it was just because people were changing their outward appearance, like the Sneetches did by getting the stars on their bellies removed and put back on. However, then I started thinking about it, and actually there’s more there than I originally thought. Of course, the comparison is imperfect, and it breaks down, but humor me for a moment.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story of the Sneetches, I feel sorry for your lacking childhood, but it’s better late than never!

Now, what drove the plain-bellied Sneetches to desire stars? Well, one group was saying that they were superior, due to their physical appearance. The plain-bellied Sneetches didn’t bother to realize that they could have their own groups, doing all the same things, but rather they envied the other Sneetches, and wanted what they had.

Then, in swoops a sly salesman, who has just the technology to change their appearance, thereby giving them exactly what they always wanted. Surely now they can be included with the other group! Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out that simply. The salesman sold the other group the same bag of goods, and suddenly, the new thing to be envied was the lack of stars! Quickly! Change your appearance! All to belong to the group you feel like you should belong to! All for a nominal fee. After all, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be the best, and there’s no reason anybody should be able to judge you.

Of course, you will say, that isn’t the case! This isn’t merely a matter of taste! (couldn’t help myself)

You’ll say that the issues are deeper! In reality, all you’ve done is made the issues cheaper. (last one. promise.)

The general idea is that you feel, inside, the opposite gender that you were born as. Which is fascinating, because this seems to reinforce an idea that society has long been against. The idea that there are a set of feelings that belong to one gender, and a set of feelings that belong to another gender.

The Sneetches who change are heroes and brave, and the Sneetches who don’t (and anyone who suggests they shouldn’t) are not true to themselves, and aught to be shunned and looked down on. Don’t invite them to the discussion table, or the frankfurter roasts.

What of McBean? Well, a mere $3/$10 scheme seems laughable when compared to the tens of thousands of dollars the process costs today. But can you teach a Sneetch? Will there come a day when we can “be comfortable in our own skin” , realize that “being different is ok”? Well, probably not without the idea that everyone is made in the image of God, and thereby has worth in themselves, and that gender differences aren’t actually a bad thing. Maybe one day we will even be able to discuss what those differences are, and how they compliment one another, without racing to be the first one to get offended.

Though for now, McBean has us running about, until we don’t know “whether this one was that one. . .or that one was this one. Or which one was what one. . .or what one was who.” with McBean raking in the green over our confusion. Hopefully, one day, I’ll be happy to say, that all the Sneetches got very smart on that day.

 

SDG

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Ontological Confusion & Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner

There’s a lot of talk about Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner lately, what with the gender reassignment surgery and marketing campaign media exposure. Personally, I had never even heard of the individual until all this happened. I think something that’s missing from the talking points is any discussion about ontology. Though, honestly, I would never expect the media to talk about ontology!

Without getting too technical, you can think of ontology as the study of being. As it relates to humans, this would be questions like “who am I” , and you can see how that’s entirely what any discussion of sexuality/orientation/identity falls under. John Piper tweeted the following question: “Is Caitlyn Jenner the father of Bruce Jenner’s children?” and in so doing, put his finger on some of the ontological problems that the sexual revolution has brought about. Is that a question that can be answered? Some of the current cultural norms are that sexual orientation is fluid, and it is also a different thing from gender identity. You see where these ideas and more, ultimately relating to ontology, hit the real world in the following interview at the Washington Post.

For example, one of the Jenner children asked what she should call Bruce, after he completes the transition, and he says “I’m dad, you can call me dad,” Jenner said. “I will always be your dad.” but how can that be? Is it possible that he views his role as father as being above and beyond his new feminine name and sexual identity as a woman? How does he work that out, I wonder.

Another interesting thing is the following quote:

Jenner said that at one time, he was sure he would have sexual reassignment surgery. Now? Nothing is certain. He’s been on female hormones for about a year and a half, but hasn’t made up his mind about the medical procedure. But when and if he does, he said, it will be so quiet that no one will know.

The article is from April, and here we are in June with the story being the most publicized one out there. The juxtaposition is almost laughable, and one wonders what happened to make him change his mind.

More to the point, there are several times in this article and in interviews elsewhere that he says that he will (future) no longer identify as Bruce or that she will (present) identify as Caitlyn. Why are these things important? Because it’s an identification of a “me” identity that is completely detached from gender. While this makes for good, emotional media when uttering phrases like “I never identified as a man” and “I was always a woman”, you need to realize that it cuts both ways. If the “I” is detached from the male sex, it is also detached from the female sex. Interestingly, Jenner realizes this, and tries to ground it in the soul.

Jenner said he explained his transition this way to his kids: He feels he was created by God who said, “Hey, let’s give him the soul of a female and let’s see how he deals with that.”

This is a statement that is completely untenable, but it does represent his attempt at grounding the moral confusion he’s going through. Even though he uses the term “soul” what he really means is that his “inner self” deeply feels one way. In Freudian psychological terms, what he’s referring to is the “id” , dispensing with both the “ego” and the “super-ego” (though my psychologist friends will likely correct me). Essentially, this is the same thing different aspects of culture tells us. Just look deep inside yourself, and you’ll find the real you, and that place can save you, give you purpose, and make you happy. Granted, there are plenty of things that are still looked down on by even secular society that can come from that place. Even more importantly, there really is no way of telling almost anything about that place. How do you know when you’ve “hit bottom”, so to speak? Could it be that Bruce has dug down and found Caitlyn, but that a couple years from now she will be able to dig down even deeper and find Bruce again? Or how does one know that the inner self won’t shift? In fact, that is what culture tells us tends to happen, right? After all, things like sexuality are fluid, and so people can go all over the spectrum. On what grounds are we supposed to believe that sexuality is fluid, but gender identity is grounded and unmoving, provided that you can only find out what your true gender identity is? We’re not told.

If you’ve made it this far in the article, and are #teamjenner, as it were, I would be curious to know how you answer some of these ontological questions. Around the same time as all this, I found an article regarding people known as Transabled people. If gender identity works the way we’re told that it is, are there other things that work that way? If not, then how do you know? The arguments, it seems to me, are identical.

If you’re on the other side, how do you respond, particularly from a Christian viewpoint? With truth and love. Here are a few article which give better advice than I could.

Al Mohler

Russell Moore

Jon Bloom

SDG

p.s. I’ve been doing weekly blogs on apologetics at my church’s website, here, which is a excuse large reason why this blog has been quiet lately.

Update: Here is an excellent article whose author is far more articulate than I am, and comes at it from a different perspective.