By Marty Owen
There is no doubt freedom of expression is under attack nowadays by social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook that want to promote “political correctness” in public discourse. The problem with political correctness is that it has always been used by the left as a tool to impose a single ideology, value system and way of thinking and speaking on everyone.
A few years ago, it would have been unthinkable for any social media platform to censor a Christian ministry like Focus on the Family. It would also have been unthinkable for a social media platform to punish any Christian ministry for expressing a Christian viewpoint on human sexuality. Now, however, the Focus on the Family organization has been censored by Twitter and its account blocked for saying that Rachel Levine, a “transgender” member of the Biden administration, is actually a man.
Such a claim by Focus on the Bible is based on the biblical belief that if someone is born male by God’s will, then he remains male throughout his life, even if he later comes to consider himself a female, dress as a female and present himself as a female in public. Apparently, however, social media platforms consider that Christian belief “hateful” and have made the decision to censor Christian ministries that express that belief publicly. It appears that they want to censor any public statements about human sexuality that are at odds with the values that the heads of Big Tech want to impose on Western society. To advance their agenda, therefore, they must condemn Christian statements about gender identity as “hate speech” that assaults the “human dignity” of others.
How should Christians respond to this accusation? Is it an expression of hatred to express in a public forum disagreement with the self-concept a public figure like Rachel Levine has expressed?
First of all, as Christians, we must insist on the fact that it is not “hate” to express disagreement with a person’s self-concept if that self-concept lacks an objective basis in physical reality. It was not hate, for example, for the world to tell Rachel Dolezal that she was not, in fact, a person of color, despite her strong emotional identification with the black community in the U.S. She darkened her skin, gave her hair an “Afro perm,” and eventually, she went on to lead the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Spokane, Washington, after claiming an African American identity. When the reality of her physical roots came to light, however – the fact that she was the daughter of two white parents – she was obliged to resign from her job with the NAACP for having lied about her racial identity. Was it “hate speech” to tell Rachel Dolezal that she was not a person of color? No; it was simply being honest.
Although Ms. Donezal may sincerely believe that she is black, the honest truth is that she is not, despite any changes she has made to her outward appearance. That is because an African American identity is tied to physical realities dating back to one’s physical birth.
Likewise, from a Christian point of view, a person’s “real” gender identity has to do with undeniable physical realities dating back to their physical conception and birth. It is not lawful, from a Christian perspective, to separate gender identity from the bodily form and DNA one has received at conception. The person who makes that separation comes to believe a lie and embrace a false self-concept rooted in what appears to be a “Gnostic” worldview, or something like it. Gnosticism is any ancient religious system that sees the human being as a spiritual entity “trapped” in a material body that serves as a temporary “vehicle” for the spirit, which is the true self. For Gnostics, the body does not define the real identity of the person. That identity is based exclusively on a deep intuition located in the spirit.
Christians reject the Gnostic worldview and the view of human identity that accompanies it. We reject it as the framework for defining our own self-concept and that of others, because we believe that God – the personal God who created the entire universe and who is “other” than us and “over” us – transmits to each of us the real and objective truth of “who we are” through the bodily form He Himself has given us as a male or female at the moment of our conception in the womb. Thus, we can know from the outset of a person’s life whether his or her identity is that of a boy or a girl based on the inseparable link by which God has joined the external bodily form and chromosomal makeup of an individual to his or her inner personal identity.
Consequently, from a Christian standpoint, when a person seeks to define his gender identity in a manner contrary to his or her bodily form and DNA, that is evidence of a deeply confused or troubled mind. It shows that the person has believed a lie about his or her own identity. Saying that, however, is not an expression of hatred; it is simply to recognize that that person is committed to a view of human identity very different from that of Christians, born of a radically different religious worldview.
Certainly, it would be an attack on the human dignity of a person to diminish his intrinsic value as a person made in the image of God or to insult or treat someone rudely and without compassion. However, it is not an attack on a person’s human dignity to disagree with her self-concept because she has a different religious worldview than one’s own.
If expressing publicly the Christian view of gender is considered hate speech, then the authorities will have to put many Christians in jail, because we cannot help but see and confess that the world is as the Word of God and general revelation declare it to be.
Marty Owen has served in pastoral ministry both in the southern United States and in Europe. He is currently serving as a missionary pastor in southern Spain, where he lives with his wife and daughter.
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