A Conversation About Categories

There are particular buzzwords in the air these days. Of course, there are buzzwords in the air every day – and always have been. One of the hot-buttons these days is “transgender”. With the media circus surrounding Bruce Jenner, it is in an impossible glare. The media’s feeding frenzies know no bounds, and the level of rhetoric and sheer hyperbole is shocking, even to a jaded student of mass media narrative creation.

The problem is, the left is in a pickle when it comes to “transgender” – much as it is in a pickle concerning “bisexuals.” With the latter, on the one hand, there is the push for monogamous same-sex unions. On the other hand, there are “bisexuals,” who, by their very stated desires, require polygamous unions with both sexes. Similarly, there is an ideological incompatibility between feminism and transgenderism. An old school feminist rejects, most vehemently, the idea that inclusion into the ranks of female is accomplished by surgical means. The “war” between these two ideologies can be introduced here, in a general way.

The entire conversation about “gender identity” is anything but simple. In fact, it is complicated terribly by the ever-multiplying definitions that are tossed around by various proponents. It is also complicated by the odd, and often jarring insistence on binary genders, in movements that you might be surprised to see those insistences in. If, of course, you weren’t aware of why those retentions exist. As Biblical complementarians, we need merely to look at the Scriptural witness to see the basis for such surprising “holdovers” from the creation ordinances.

That brings us, however, to that frank discussion about categories. The entire gender discussion in modern society revolves around the same category that most anthropological heresies do. So, let’s be frank here, as we must. The real issue with “gender identity” is anthropological heresy – which, in turn, arises from a theological one. Mankind, seeking to exchange the Creator for creation, supplants God’s ordinance with their own.[1] ἀπὸ δὲ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως (from the beginning of creation[2]) God has made them male and female. In a similar phrase, ἀπὸ κτίσεως κόσμου (For since the creation of the world[3]) His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. They know God. They know how things should be. However, [f]or even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

The knowledge of God here discussed is explained over the course of the previous verses; it is revelatory, it is sufficient, it is inescapable, and it is clear. It is revelatory, because the text tells us it is. God made it manifest to them. It is sufficient, because (a) God is who has made it manifest, and (b) It renders men indefensible before God. It is inescapable, because man is a creation of God, in His image, as well as a part of creation – he cannot escape himself, and neither can he escape his environment. It is clear, again, because God has made it thus. The text says, expressly, that what God has revealed is clearly seen, and understood. Paul’s argument is inexorable, it is perspicuous, and it is unavoidable. Men are without an excuse, because they know God, know who He is, what is required of them, and that they have a necessary covenantal relationship with Him as His creatures. Yet, they neither glorify God as they are required to do, nor do they thank the God they know for what they know He has given them, in His common grace. In their suppression of the truth (which they are in possession of) their foolish hearts are darkened. All of their deliberations, their speculations, or arguments (διαλογισμός), are useless, worthless, or futile (ματαιόω). They have no apologetic for their lack of proper response to the God they know, and are required to glorify and give thanks to.[4]

The narrative of the “trans” movement is essentially both old and new come again. It is a confusion of categories intended to blur the distinctions, yet validate their “identity.” On the one hand, there is the push to “identify” as a particular “gender” – but in the process of so doing, there is a concomitant push to redefine that gender. Interestingly enough, this very idea clashes with the the feminist redefinition of gender – and will inevitably clash with other, even more “progressive” ideas concerning gender – many of which already exist (especially in non-western cultures, apart from a judeo-christian moral ethos), but have not yet had the public glare strike them as fully. Indeed, it is difficult to reconcile the seemingly contradictory goals of bisexuality and polyamory advocates with their collective identification with homosexual advocacy – as can be seen in the ubiquitous LGBTQ alphabet soup. Lesbian and Gay – but bisexual? We hear the drumbeat of “monogamous same-sex unions” – but how can that possibly work with “bisexual” in the mix? Transgender? Or the even more dizzying spectrum of ideas found within Q?

Endemic to the problems raised by “gender identity” is that same dizzying self-contradictory problem of mutual exclusivity. On the one hand, we are told that “self-identification” is the basis of this “identity” – but that merely begs the question. Identified with what? If all we really have are subjectivistic labels, what, exactly, are they labeling? How can they be referenced meaningfully by anyone who is not the subject? If, in essence, all rules can do is prove the exceptions, what then do we actually know, objectively, about these so-called identities? What ontological status do they or any other ontological category, have – or can they have?

With the abject failure of subjectivist philosophy to say anything meaningful about anything whatsoever – why should we expect subjectivistic gender theory to say anything meaningful? The flood of self-contradiction is not a danger by any logical standard. The problem is that they exist because there are no logical standards in operation in the context that such things are discussed. All the angst-ridden nobody-understands-me drivel aside, there is a core of truth to it. Nobody can understand something which intentionally sets out to erase intelligibility. Any quest for “freedom” which undertakes a project of category demolition which as a stated aim, is the erection of intentional, subjectivistic pseudo-categories is doomed to never be understood – or meaningful in any rational sense. So, have a conversation about these categories – with your children, family members, co-workers, or friends – but don’t buy the redefinitions when they are gibberish. You don’t have to agree that “`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves. Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.” That is nonsense. Just like gender identity is.

  1. [1]Romans 1:23
  2. [2]Mar 10:6
  3. [3]Romans 1:20
  4. [4]Whipps, Exposition of Romans 1:16-2:16 – The Knowledge of God, In Antithesis Vol. 1, No. 1, pg 52

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