“I will be who I will be”: Exodus 3 and Gender Identity

Jan 16, 2023 by

Our western culture is being swept by a tide of neo-gnostic idealism where the psychological will of the internal self can override the limits of bodily materialism.  So, men attempt to change into ‘women’ by hormonal drugs and surgical intervention, likewise women into ‘men’. This notwithstanding the fact that every cell in their bodies declares their real and biological identity – every human being’s DNA is either male or female. In the Judeo-Christian understanding we are created by a sovereign God whose purpose for us is stamped in our biology. This purpose is manifest in the joining of male and female in marriage to procreate and exercise dominion in the earth.

Jordan Peterson has pointed to a psychological and spiritual truth that lies at the heart of contemporary gender ideology and the desire to remake our identity in opposition to our created biological reality. He highlights the scripture in Exodus Chapter 3 in which God reveals himself to Moses as YHWH, the enigmatic Hebrew name of God which simply put can mean both “I am who I am” and “I will be who I will be”. God identifies himself as self-existent and independent of anybody else for his self-understanding and self-expression. Transgenderism is in essence a rejection of an identity and purpose given by the Creator, and the hubristic arrogation of the right of identification to ones-self. Furthermore, also the right to change this self-identification in the future (I will be who I will be).

The self-identifying of transgenderism is in essence a claim to be our own creators – our own gods. It is in fact the same sentiment expressed in Genesis 3:5 by the enemy, “you will be like God”. Self-deification is a serious affront to God; The prophet Isaiah points to self-deification as that which lies at the heart of Babylonian idolatry, “You felt secure in your wickedness; you said, “No one sees me”, your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, and you said in your heart, “I am, and there is no one besides me.”” (Isaiah 47:10)

Of course, Genesis expresses the fall in the story of Adam and Eve, the consequences of which are the myriad categories of human brokenness. When awareness of sin breaks into human consciousness, there is the instinctive reaction to sew fig leaves together to hide one’s nakedness. Human shame is a powerful motivator and human beings seem to have limitless ways of trying to deal with it – including trying to change their gender. However, as many have discovered, rather too late after transitioning, fig leaves don’t really help. It is only through Christ’s atoning work that the alienation from our creator can be overcome and all the psycho-spiritual inner healing that is necessary begun.

Remaking ourselves and our sexual ‘identity’ is nothing new. The cult of Cybele in the ancient Roman empire required its male priests known as Galli to castrate themselves and on cultic occasions to parade through the streets of a city wearing women’s clothing, elaborate hairdos, perfume and playing musical instruments. Paul saw these and other pagan cults as a manifestation of an exchange; an exchange of the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. For we are made in God’s image, but in our unregenerate state we suppress the truth regarding the image of God by altering and trying to erase that image. How else do you explain the utter lunacy of a man who thinks he can transform himself into a collie dog[i]? For some it may even be a sign of the rejection of God himself, a railing against him by erasing and defiling his image. It would do well to remember the theological reason given for the death penalty in the case of murder – “…for God made man in his own image.” (Genesis 9:5-6) Violent attacks on God’s image are in some sense attacks on the very person of God.

Presently we have Church of England priests who have attempted to erase their created identity and self-create a new one[ii]. The fact that they loudly proclaim their transgender identity and write liturgies to celebrate this supposed identity is an indication that the church has in some quarters opened its doors to a pagan culture that is quite as degenerate as that of ancient Rome. We just have the technology to take it further. Strange that the Archbishop of Canterbury can see the vandalism of a cemetery in Jerusalem as a desecration but says nothing about the attempted erasure of the image of God by a transgendered priest.

It is perhaps understandable given the fallenness of human nature, that western culture once based upon a Christian understanding of the human person could fall back into the darkness of a pagan gender ideology. But when this ideological captivity enters the church, the darkness enters as well. Perhaps one illustration may indicate just how dark things can become.

I recently watched a new documentary on the fall of Berlin in 1945 on Curiosity Channel. The second episode ended with the diary accounts of several members of the Nazi high command as Russian troops closed in on their headquarters. The harrowing suicide of the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels together with his wife was covered in some detail. A photograph of his five beautiful children in a family group portrait was followed by a scene of their murdered bodies. He had killed his own children before killing himself. His reason? He could not see any meaning to life after Nazism.  This man was so captive to a pagan ideology that he could not imagine life without it to the extent he ended not only his own life but also the lives of his wife and children. The point is this; in several Western countries today, children are being encouraged to ‘change’ their gender – is this not an ideological captivity and are we not also sacrificing our children?

Rev Dave Doveton, Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth)  South Africa                                                                                    Epiphany 2023

[i] https://www.indiatimes.com/trending/wtf/japanese-man-spent-rs-12-lakh-to-become-a-dog-570972.html

[ii] https://anglican.ink/2023/01/04/the-church-of-england-accelerates-its-drain-circling-trajectory/

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