Increasingly, when you fill in any kind of form you are asked what gender you identify as. Some people find this confusing and difficult to answer.
Going through puberty and becoming an adolescent is about the journey from being a child and cared for by your parents, to becoming an independent adult. It is a difficult and unsettling time for many young people and one of the biggest questions they want to find an answer to as they get older is, “Who am I?”.
“What does it really mean to be a man or a woman?” “Are we free to identify as the opposite sex or neither?” are also questions that some people are asking today.
Equal but different
The Bible is very clear, right from the beginning, that God created male and female – He made them different and together they reflect His image (Genesis 1:27).
Men and women are equally important, but they are also importantly different!
In Genesis 2, we see that God created Eve to be Adam’s helper . Perhaps you think that makes it sound like she is less important? But, the word ‘helper’ is used of God Himself, for example in Psalm 54:4 “Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life”.
Many people think Christianity puts women down, when in fact it does the opposite. The way Jesus treated women was totally different from the way society viewed them. Some of His closest followers were women and He cared for women that other people looked down on. Often feminists forget that women are different and are designed differently for an incredibly important role that only women can do.
What do people mean by the words ‘man’ and ‘woman’ today?
Until very recently, ‘I am a man’ meant that someone was born in a male body and ‘I am a woman’, in a female body. Now many people are talking about a feeling deep inside them that identifies whether they are a man or a woman and which can also change over time. Christians should show grace and truth to those who are struggling with this sort of gender confusion. But the Bible teaches that being a man or a woman is part of who God created us to be and our maleness or femaleness, except for in some rare medical conditions, is shown in our physical bodies.
Whether we are male or female is determined at the moment of conception, when a sperm containing either an X chromosome or a Y chromosome joins with an egg which contains an X chromosome.
Every cell in our bodies (except the sperm and the egg as mentioned above) has those two chromosomes XX for girls and XY for boys and these determine how our bodies develop, what hormones we produce, and how we grow up. This cannot be changed. So even if someone decides they feel like the opposite sex and have medical procedures to try to achieve this, it will only ever give the outward appearance of the opposite sex – their chromosomes can never change.
The Bible tells us:
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.
This tells us that God carefully designed each one of us. He doesn’t make mistakes; we cannot have been ‘born in the wrong body’. Being male or female is not about what you wear, what toys you liked to play with as a child, what your interests are, what job you do or even how you feel. As a child I liked collecting fossils and making dens, I liked maths and science at school and I am a doctor, I was never into make-up or frilly dresses. But I am a wife and a mother – God created me female.