‘Let the earth bring forth a living soul.’ (Gen 1:24) Why did the earth produce a living soul? So that you may make a difference between the soul of cattle and that of man. You will soon learn how the human soul was formed; hear now about the soul of creatures devoid of reason. Since, according to Scripture, ‘the life of every creature is in the blood,’ as the blood when thickened changes into flesh, and flesh when corrupted decomposes into earth, so the soul of beasts is naturally an earthy substance. ‘Let the earth bring forth a living soul.’ See the affinity of the soul with blood, of blood with flesh, of flesh with earth; and remounting in an inverse sense from the earth to the flesh, from the flesh to the blood, from the blood to the soul, you will find that the soul of beasts is earth. Do not suppose that their soul is older than the essence of their body, nor that it survives the dissolution of the flesh. Avoid the nonsense of those arrogant philosophers who do not blush to liken their soul to that of a dog, and who say that they were once women, shrubs, or fish. Have they ever been fish? I don’t know, but I’m not afraid to affirm that their writings show less sense than fish.” –St. Basil the Great, (Hexaemeron, Homily VIII)
In his homilies on the six days of creation, St. Basil the Great takes a couple of detours to provide us with a defense against the various Gnostic doctrines of Manichaeism. There are two things in the above quote that are particularly noteworthy. The first thing to note is how St. Basil talks about the close relationship between the soul of a creature with the blood (Lev 17:11, 14), and the second thing to note is how he does not believe one could be anything other than what their physical bodies suggest.
In speaking primarily against the transmigration of the soul (reincarnation), St. Basil mocks the idea that any man was once a woman, or an animal, or a plant. According to St. Basil, our souls are not older than our bodies, nor are they ever inconsistent with our bodies. He would say there is no such thing as a “female soul” indwelling a male body, or vice versa. If a man were to “self-identify” as a woman, animal, or plant, then they may have a malfunction with their mental faculties.
The Pre-Op Dilemma
In recent days there have been a lot of articles and NPR programs about transgenderism ever since Target changed their restroom policy to allow anyone to use whatever restroom that corresponds to their “gender identity.” Because of this, the entirety of the United States is basically split into two groups of people who yell at each other without actually possessing arguments that correspond to the opposing belief system.
For example, the Conservatives will say something like, “Women shouldn’t be forced to allow men into their restrooms.” The Progressives will then reply, “You’ve already been sharing the restroom with transgender people.” These two arguments will be made until both sides are blue in the face, yet nobody ever explains what should be obvious. The Conservatives are talking about the “pre-op” transgender, and the Progressives are talking about the “post-op” transgender. If a woman were alone in the bathroom and in walks a post-op transgender person, obviously there wouldn’t be an issue because the person looks female, and there is nothing suspicious about a female entering a female restroom. However, if that same woman sees a pre-op transgender person walk in the restroom, she will immediately know a man just walked into the woman’s restroom.
In 2015, Planet Fitness removed one woman’s membership after she saw a man enter the woman’s locker room and complained about it. Imagine yourself in her shoes. What if you were a woman, alone and half-dressed, and you see a man enter the locker room. That is a scary and vulnerable moment, so it is understandable why she would be upset. Any woman with any real social awareness would have done the same thing, yet she was penalized for warning others about this revelation, and unfairly judged for prejudice.
The Transmigration Of The Gnostic
Gnosticism (with its foundation in Dualism) has historically taken many forms. The human being may be exempt from reincarnation, but heresy sure isn’t. Once you examine the philosophy of transgenderism, it doesn’t take long to see it is merely a reincarnated form of Gnosticism. This isn’t exactly surprising, since the Western world has grown increasingly Gnostic ever since the Enlightenment. Even our entire monetary system has devolved into a series of immaterial digits typed into a computer. It was only a matter of time before “gender“ became no longer synonymous with “sex.”
The real conversation shouldn’t be about what bathrooms transgender individuals should use, because that isn’t the root issue. The conversation needs to be about whether or not a subjective concept of gender even exists. Why doesn’t CNN or FOX host televised philosophical debates about this topic? They host debates for presidential elections, which seem to be infinitely more mindless, yet they neglect all matters of substance. Why do people seem to allow a subjective and unverifiable means of self-identification go unchallenged? Civilized public discourse needs to become normative in our culture, because there is no other way to successfully examine and challenge an opposing philosophy [YouTube comments really confirmed that one].
Gender, as defined by the neo-Gnostics, does not exist. One cannot borrow the language of objective sex identification (Male/Female) to describe something that is in the realm of neither objectivity nor sex identification. How can a man claim he is a woman, when “woman” is objectively defined only by visible and verifiable analysis? If a man claims to be a woman, let him be asked what he thinks “woman” means. It is impossible to speak of such things without bringing anatomy into the conversation, because there is no “gender” beyond the physical body. There are natural complementary dualities of the universe (described in ancient China as “Yin” and “Yang”) that are thought of as male and female, such as giving/receiving, planting/growing, heaven/earth, sun/moon, open/closed, etc. However, those terms (Male/Female) only have meaning as long as our physical bodies continue to exist the way they always have.
In other words, there would be no male or female without the frame of reference being a specific physical anatomy with a specific function.
The Role Vacuum
America seems to have been confused for a while now with regards to the nature of “man” and “woman.” It wasn’t long ago when a woman meant not voting, not working, cooking, loving the color pink, and not being interested in sports or cars. A man used to mean sports, cars, alcohol, and being an contentious jerk. Then all of a sudden women started doing everything contrary to their former roles, and the men began to think that maybe there is more to being a man than watching football.
The former roles that the culture created were misguided and inaccurate from the start, so when the feminist movement came into existence, it created a cultural vacuum that left people (who used to classify gender based on “gender roles”) unsure of how to objectively define gender. I believe this is why the definition of gender transformed into the subjective concept it is today. However, the reality is that the true meaning of gender should be synonymous with biological sex, and the burden of proof is on those who disagree.
Scripture says a man must not wear women’s clothing (Deu 22:5), because God is the one who decides what is male and female, not us (Gen 1:27). We don’t get to decide our gender anymore than we get to decide our biological parents. However, the problem is nonetheless a real one. There are real people who actually suffer from gender dysphoria, so how should Christians respond?
Well, we definitely shouldn’t gather the family and obnoxiously march through the aisles of Target, yelling at people, with a bible raised high. We should instead express the love of Christ to all transgender people we meet, that God may restore in them the knowledge of their own value. At the same time, the federal government should not create laws that accommodate “pre-op” transgenderism in public bathrooms, because it is nonsensical to enforce a law that protects unverifiable statements.
Christians should actively pursue conversation and public discourse within the right context. Whether it be a civilized debate at a college, a thought-provoking blog post, or a personal conversation at a coffee shop, there is a right way to approach this issue. In all things, we must love our neighbor, even when we couldn’t disagree more.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (Jhn 13:35)