27) So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:27 (KJV)
Introduction – The rise of gender and identity confusion
There has been an alarming increase in gender and identity confusion and dysphoria over the last several decades. Many no longer wish to be “male” or “female.”
Those who believe their gender is different from their determined birth sex choose to call themselves transgender.
Others refer to themselves as cisgender, and believe their gender is the same as their birth sex. Still, others believe they are non-binary, that is they do not identify as male or female.“There has been an alarming increase in gender and identity confusion and dysphoria over the last several decades.”
They consider gender to be fluid, and to change over time. One day they might feel female, the other male and on another day neither.
Male and female, the only God created and ordained sexes, have been replaced by man’s own definitions of gender.
These are based on what man feels, perceives and identifies with, not on what God has declared to be right.
Because new terms for gender are based on man’s subjective definitions, there is no support or validity as to the rightness of such definitions.
What makes me a man and you a woman? Who knows, its all relative, we can be whatever we want to be whenever we want. So goes the reasoning when God’s definitions are not followed.
While this sounds empowering and freeing at first glance, it puts undo pressure on us and causes untold confusion.
Deep down, man’s answers regarding gender and identity fail to satisfy the ingrained need we have of knowing who we really are. (Ecc. 8:17)
This is why, regrettably, followers of gender identity movements have had to go to extensive lengths to codify their positions and proclaim their “rights.”
In fact, they have written their own language and rules regarding sexual and gender preferences which are ever changing and inconsistent.“Deep down, man’s answers regarding gender and identity fail to satisfy the ingrained need we have of knowing who we really are.”
Across the United States, “neopronouns” and “non-binary” pronouns are being defined and adopted to accommodate the preferences of those who are confused about their identity.
According to advocates for such deconstructionist language, men can be referred to as she/her, women as him/his while other pronouns can be used that do not refer to any specific gender at all (sie/zie, hir/zir, etc.)
Moreover, third person plurals (they, them, their, themselves) have been seeing greater use instead of third-person singulars (he/she, his/hers, him/her, himself/herself) when referring to someone who does not express a clear pronoun choice.
Many workplaces are now wanting their employees to self-identify in their email signatures which pronouns they want to use. In fact, LinkedIn recently added such a feature to its profile settings.
Furthermore, universities and elementary schools are promoting gender equality and identity curricula and mandatory trainings to impressionable young minds.
Its sad to see how far man is going away from God to seek answers to questions related to identity.
The results of such movements are only just starting to hit home, with many beginning to realize that man-made structures and definitions, apart from God, can never ultimately meet our deepest needs or heal our underlying pains.“Now is the time for Christians to defend their creator, herald the good news about his design for men and women, and rescue people from identity confusion and its deep underlying pains.”
Thankfully, as Christians, we don’t have to “re-imagine” gender. God’s definitions and plans never change. The ways of the Lord are right. (Heb. 13:8, Hos. 14:9)
We have clear answers about who we are, who we were created to be and how to live this side of heaven.
For these reasons, now is the time for Christians to defend their creator, herald the good news about his design for men and women, and rescue people from identity confusion and its deep underlying pains.
The rest of this study seeks to help those afflicted with identity and gender confusion find peace, hope and freedom in Christ.
In the process we will clarify where Biblical Christians stand. We will also speak to the seriousness of gender and identity confusion.
As we round out the lesson, we will give encouragement to Christians who struggle with identity, and will also look at what the Bible says about men and women.
Where Christians stand
Many think Christians hate those who follow gender identity movements. This couldn’t be further from reality.
Our indignation is not with the people who adhere to such movements, but with their sin. In fact, God himself is grieved at the sins of all those who are lost. (Gen. 6:6, Eph. 4:30)
We’re also not against such movements because we do not understand them.
Rather, we understand objective truth and reality regarding gender and identity through God’s revelations of truth. (Ps. 119:160, Ps. 119:174, Prov. 28:5)“Christians who follow the Bible are not anti-anyone, we are anti-sin and pro-God.”
Moreover, we know that the grip of sin runs deep, and how ruthlessly depraved and vile we naturally are, and we understand the pain lying within the hearts of those afflicted with gender and identity confusion. (Phil. 3:21, Matt. 15:18-19, Jer. 17:9)
Another common accusation is that we are afraid of gender movements. Yet, we do not fear such movements at face value. We’re not gender “phobic.”
What do we do fear are the underlying workings behind such movements. These are moving people to eternal death, just as any sin does to those who are without Christ.“Sin causes all men to go their own way and such ways are always to destruction.”
What we really fear is “spiritual wickedness in high places” that is working among people. (Eph. 6:12) Our fear is also that people will miss out on the best of this life and the next.
We want, just like our saviour, none to perish in their sins. (2 Pet. 3:9) Put plainly, we care. We know that sin causes all men to go their own way and that such ways are always to destruction. (Is. 53:6, Prov. 14:12)
Ultimately, Christians who follow the Bible are not anti-anyone, we are anti-sin and pro-God.
We do not answer to politicians, public school curricula, feelings, whims, our hearts or popular movements. We answer to God and his word alone. (Rev. 4:11) As such, we care for lost sinners and want them to come to repentance.
We do not want the them to miss seeing and knowing God because they are blinded by the enemy. (2 Cor. 4:4)
A serious issue
Some might call Biblical Christians ignorant, uneducated and uninformed regarding gender and identity confusion.
However, we know deeply that gender and identity confusion are real and that they are not imaginary. Why? Because we’ve been there too.
We know the tragedy of being among the heathen and learning their works. (Ps. 106:35) There are many Christians who were once lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and involved in sexual immorality.“Many Christians even after being born again in the spirit still struggle with same sex attraction and all struggle with sins in the flesh.”
All of us were involved in things we are now ashamed of. (Rom. 6:21) These worked in us to death, and slayed us. (Rom. 7:5, 7:11)
Put simply, we understand the seriousness of gender and identity confusion because we’re all sinners. (Rom. 3:23)
Moreover, we were all lost sheep wandering aimlessly through life on our terms, and lacking a true understanding of our identities because we were without Christ. (Is. 53:6, Prov. 21:16, 2 Cor. 5:17)
Additionally, many Christians even after being born again in the spirit still struggle with same sex attraction and all struggle with sins in the flesh. (Rom. 7:18-19) Any Christian who says otherwise is deceiving themselves. (1 Jn. 1:8)
However, we repent and we continue. (1 Jn. 1:9) We carry on and allow God to refine, mold and shape us to be more like him, even when its painful. (Is. 48:10, Job. 23:10) Every time we stumble God calls us back and every time we answer. (Rev. 2:4-5)
Why? Because we are not to remain in sin but are to press on. (Phil 3:14, 1 John 5:18, Rom. 12:2, 2 Cor. 6:17, Jn. 8:31) Therein lies tension.
Regrettably, some simply do not want to change. They do not want to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Christ daily. (Matt. 16:24) They value pleasure and self over God.“Christians must come alongside those struggling with sin, help them answer their questions, walk with them and bear their burdens with them.”
However there are also many Christians who do want to follow God and overcome sinful sexual tendencies, even when it is difficult to do so.
Knowing you are washed clean by God but also that you still face sin and temptation regarding your sexuality and identity isn’t always an easy thing to grasp, especially for new Christians.
Christians and seekers often ask, “Why did God create me to be attracted to one sex when I’m attracted to another?” or “Why do I wrestle with my masculinity or femininity?”
Churches and believers must be able to theologically answer the questions that hurting and troubled believers have regarding gender and identity confusion. Again, it is a serious issue.
Merely getting someone saved and expecting them to be fine is not enough. The truth is, after someone is saved is when the Christian life really begins, and when believers are to learn and grow in Christ.
Accordingly, Christians must come alongside those struggling with sin, help them answer their questions, walk with them and bear their burdens with them. (Prov. 17:17, Gal. 6:2) We are commanded to do this, it is the essence of discipleship.
Moreover, pastors and ministers must preach in a loving way to Christians struggling with identity challenges and encourage them from God’s word. It is to this encouragement that we turn next.
Despite what gender identity movements might try to tell you, God did not make a mistake when he made you.
He knew you before you were born. If you’re a Christian he planned and fashioned your salvation in eternity past. (Eph. 1:3-4)“God did not make a mistake when he made you.”
He made you as a man or a woman, and he had and has a plan for you. Do not listen to the underlying mantra of gender identity movements which is that God made a mistake regarding your birth sex. Again, God did not make a mistake when he made you.
The miracle of life itself (the “breath of life”) was given to you by God. You became a living soul by his power, and out of his love for you and desire to share his love with you through companionship and relationship. (Gen. 2:7, Psalm 139:13-14)
There are no accidents with God. You are not an accident. The life you have been born into is not an accident. In fact, God has loved you with an everlasting love. (Jer. 31:3)
Sin was never God’s original intention for mankind. (1 John 2:16) Yet, because of our rebellion in the Garden of Eden, we are all born into a fallen world as enemies of God, our hearts wrecked by sin. (Ps. 58:3)
Therefore, gender confusion itself is a symptom of our sin nature. (Rom. 3:23) Without Jesus, none of us really know who we really are.
Yet, Jesus knows your specific sins and struggles because he took them on himself at the cross, and the punishment you deserved, in order to save and redeem you back to him. (Heb. 2:14)
To the believer who struggles with gender identity, know that God knows your sins and that he did the work to remove them as far as the east is from the west. (Ps. 103:12). You can come boldly to him for help because he fully knows your unique struggles. (Heb. 4:16) “Jesus knows your specific sins and struggles because he took them on himself at the cross.”
We also know that God works on, in and through every Christian in a unique way. (2 Thess. 1:11) God does this because before time he planned good works for us to walk in and do. (Eph. 2:10)
Moreover, while we all face the same sins, the specific sins that we struggle with are not always universal. What I have a really hard time with another believer might not and vice versa.
For some, gender identity and sexuality are great challenges, for others they are not. Regardless, God fully knows us and deals with our unique circumstances, feelings and needs. Don’t let Satan dissuade you from those truths.
If the Christian life is hard for you, keep moving forward. (Heb. 10:22, Ps. 109:105) He is working to finish the good work he has started in you, and he will complete it in time. (Phil. 1:6)
Let God be at the helm of your life. He works on us even when we don’t feel it or see evidence of it. (Heb. 1:3)
In fact, our caring about pleasing God and our acknowledging of our sins are in and of themselves evidences of miraculous changes in our lives that can only have come to us through God’s grace.
Put another way, the mere desire to overcome sin is an indication of God’s re-calibration of our hearts. He is working, don’t miss it!
This is all part of how God conforms Christians back to him. (1 Cor. 1:8) That process isn’t easy. In fact, its downright hard at times. But, we owe it to God to obey him because of what he has done for us. (1 Jn. 4:19) “God fully knows us and deals with our unique circumstances, feelings and needs.”
Moreover, his way is easier than sin and he will ultimately glorify us in heaven. (Prov. 13:15) His is the better way, he is working all for the good of Christians and we have a glorious future. (Rom. 8:28, Jn. 14:3)
No matter how much Satan and your flesh tempt you to return to sin, no matter how good sin appears for a season, God’s yoke and burden are easy and light in comparison. (Matt 11:29-30)
Remember too, you are not your own anymore, you were bought with a price, that is the cornerstone of your relationship with Jesus. “Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor. 6:20)
Christianity is not some grand conspiracy meant to keep “deviant” and “rebellious” persons away from bad behaviors.
No, its to keep us from eternal death and to give us what God really wants for us (life in abundance and eternal), and to give us who we really need (Jesus Christ, our saviour). (Jn. 10:10)“Christians must strive to be set apart and leave behind sinful habits.”
Sometimes though, when all is said and done, we just don’t want to follow God. Somewhere along the way, sin entices us back or we find the road too hard. The key is that we align our intentions with his.
Ultimately, Christians must strive to be set apart and leave behind sinful habits. We will not bear fruit, grow or enjoy blessings otherwise. (Eph. 5:8-11)
If it is any consolation, think about all of the people in the Bible who didn’t want to serve and grow or give up something.
Moses didn’t want to return to Egypt. (Ex. 3:11) Jonah didn’t want to give up his pride and preach to Nineveh. (Jnh. 1:3) Peter did not feel worthy to be called a follower of Jesus after he denied him. (Mk. 14:72)
Yet, all of these men were used by God because they continued in and with him.
The point is, God has a plan, and he wants to show you great things. Trust and follow him, even through the pain.
Get help, pray, seek wise counsel, and rely on Christian friends who are accepting, open and gracious to your struggles regarding gender, identity and sexuality.
Biblical views on gender
So far, we have explored the gender identity movement, clarified where Christians stand and provided encouragement for those facing struggles with gender and identity all while acknowledging the seriousness of the issue.
Now, as we draw towards the conclusion of this lesson, we are going to study what the Bible says about men and women, the only two God created and ordained sexes.“Christians identify as God’s children.”
In so doing, you will be even more encouraged as you see the inherent care and glory in God’s design for you.
So, how are Christians facing gender and identity struggles to respond to such challenges in their lives?
At the highest level, we are called to embrace the unique distinctions and complementary roles of men and women as we work through our confusion. This in and of itself helps us clarify who we are, and who we were created to be.
Above all else though, we must know that if we have accepted Jesus as our saviour by placing our faith in him and asking for repentance from our sins than our identity is first and foremost in him. (Rom. 10:9-10, Rom. 8:1)
Christians identify as God’s children. (Jn. 1:12) That objective truth grounds us. When we don’t feel male or female, when being attracted to the wrong sex grieves us, and when we do not feel loved or adequate we can rest knowing that God knows us as his son or daughter, as male or female, according to how he created us.
In such times we say, “I’m feeling this, but I know it’s not true, for my identity is in Christ and who he created me to be.”“When we don’t feel male or female, when being attracted to the wrong sex grieves us, and when we do not feel loved or adequate we can rest knowing that God knows us as his son or daughter, as male or female, according to how he created us. “
Moreover, we are saints, under no condemnation and are free from sin’s dominion and power. (Eph. 2:19, Rom. 1:17, Rom. 8:1, Rom. 6:18)
God created you as a man or as a woman, and that is something to cherish and celebrate.
In fact, because men and women are created by God, each are his own image bearers. (Gen. 1:27) Jesus also knew this and confirmed it. (Matt. 19:4)
Men and women are each blessed by God with purpose as well. Each of us have been given a great responsibility to be good stewards of the creation God has bestowed to us. (Gen. 1:28)
The Bible clearly shows us that there is meaning and value to each person because men and women are made in God’s image. It also affirms that we have purpose because God has entrusted us with work to do.
However, sin and death have made it difficult for us to be good stewards of creation. They have also made it difficult for us to enjoy our created identities. This then is where salvation comes into play as the great motivator and enabler for our overcoming of sin.“The Bible clearly shows us that there is meaning and value to each person because men and women are made in God’s image. It also affirms that we have purpose because God has entrusted us with work to do.”
Christian men and women follow a new and living way (Jesus Christ) and are lights for the world. (Heb. 10:20, Matt. 5:14)
Faith in Jesus restores men and women to their rightful standing with creator God. It gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit in us, and thus enables us to live for him as he had intended originally at creation. (Phil. 2:13)
We fulfill God’s plans for us by obeying him and following his leading. He equips us to do his will, good works and what is well-pleasing in his sight. (Heb. 13:21)“Our identity is set right when we become Christians.”
Our identity is set right when we become Christians. As such, Christians are to be conformed to the image of Jesus, and are free to be who God created them to be. (Rom. 8:29)
Is that hard? At times yes. But it is worth it, and it is our reasonable duty to obey him, and be set apart from the world. (Rom. 12:1-2) This includes being set apart from the world’s ideas about gender and identity.
This means following God and allowing his grace to work through you. If struggles with identity continue, counseling and therapy are also tools by which God has given us to be more like him. Its all part of the process of sanctification. All he wants is your willingness and commitment.
So, what are Christians specifically called to do regarding gender and their sexuality?
First, part of sanctification is to abstain from fornication because it is contrary to Gods will. (1 Thess. 4:3) This includes all forms of sexual sins. (Lev. 20:13, Rom. 1:26-27, 1 Cor. 6:9)
Second, we are to celebrate being male and female. We are not to alter God’s order and intentionally try to look or be like the opposite of our created sex. (Deut. 22:5)“We are not to intentionally try to be or look like the opposite of our created sex because doing so alters the order of God’s created nature, and is not a true reflection of his image.”
That is, we are not to identify ourselves with what we are not. Doing such goes against God’s ordained and right order, and does not shine his light to the world.
It is worth noting that the application of this might be somewhat different depending on one’s culture.
For example, dress and customs might prescribe certain attributes that identify one as male or female within a certain culture more so than in another. For example, in some cultures men were skirts and women pants.
The key is the heart, we are not to intentionally try to be or look like the opposite of our created sex because doing so alters the order of God’s created nature, and is not a true reflection of his image.
Thirdly, we must fully comprehend and apply the Bible’s definitions and attributes of male and female to our lives. Put simply, we are to act how God has intended for us to act.
At creation, God established a perfect and harmonious hierarchy in which men and women each play a role. (1 Cor. 11:3)
God’s hierarchy gives man authority over woman. Sadly, this has been grossly taken out of context and abused by secularists and Christians alike.“At creation, God established a perfect and harmonious hierarchy in which men and women each play a role.”
The common argument is that Christianity promotes patriarchy, misogyny and abuse. The reality though is that it is a glorious thing for men, women and families when God’s design for Biblical relations between the sexes is followed.
Moreover, we must also be aware that sin has permanently marred God’s design for sexuality and identity. As a result, anything that fails to live up to God’s standards regarding gender roles and relations between the sexes this side of heaven is a result of sin.
Biblically, authority does not mean dominion. Men are not superior to women. Neither are women inferior to men.
However, men and women are biologically different and this affords them different roles. For example, men cannot give birth to children, yet women cannot become pregnant without men.
Male authority or headship in marriage means loving leadership. Theologically, it is a picture of God’s relationship with his church. (Eph. 5:25)
A husband is to treat his wife as God treats the church. He is to nourish, cherish, take care of her and even die for her if need be. (Eph. 5:29) He is to be selfless.
In marriage, men are to exercise loving leadership for their wives while women are to respect and honor their husbands. (1 Cor. 11:3, Eph. 5:22, Eph. 5:33)“Creation was ‘not good’ until God created woman. When she was created though, God deemed his creation to be ‘very good.'”
Men are also under authority as well, they are under God’s authority just as Jesus is under the authority of God the Father.
Again, women and men are fully equal, but have different roles. We complement each other.
Think about it this way. Together, men and women make creation complete and together they complete God’s design for humanity’s proper functioning.
For example, creation was “not good” until God created woman. When she was created though, God deemed his creation to be “very good.” (Gen. 2:18, Gen. 1:31)
This is because woman was created as a “help” that is “meet” for man. (Gen. 2:18) Women are suitable helpers. The language used here theologically is the same used in reference to Jesus being a helper to God. (Ps. 10:14, Ps. 22:11)
It is a high honor for a woman to be a helper, it is not the position of low estate that secularists claim it to be.
Women are supremely valued by God and their contributions to men and society are essential for its proper functioning. (Prov. 31:10-31)
Additionally, the word “meet” in Hebrew means “opposite.” This means that women complement and correspond to men. All women are equal to and adequate for men, and are also created in God’s image.“Men and women are co-heirs of salvation and co-image bearers. Yet each have unique gifts, talents and physical traits that, when put together, make God’s creation complete.”
Ultimately, women are precious gifts from God and are to be viewed as such, and are to valued and loved by men.
Men and women are co-heirs of salvation and co-image bearers. (Rom. 8:17) Yet each have unique gifts, talents and physical traits that, when put together, make God’s creation complete.
Moreover, rather than compete and fight, we must rest in knowing that we are all one in Christ Jesus if we are Christians. (Gal. 3:28)
In life and marriage, men are to take responsibly and lead. Leaders put others before themselves. They seek the wellness of others, and they bring out the best in others.
Do Christians mess this up? Yes, and sometimes intentionally, and God will deal with those who do.
Other times we try to do things God’s way but we still trip and fall, and that’s ok, we get up, take ourselves in hand and try again with God’s help.
Remember, competition between men and women, or difficulties in marriage relations are due to sin, yet by God’s grace we are all stepping heavenward together.
This Bible study presented a Biblical response to gender and identity confusion and dysphoria.
It outlined ways by which those afflicted with such challenges can find peace, hope and freedom in Christ.
The study clarified where Bible believing Christians stand, showing that those who follow the Bible are not anti-anyone, but are anti-sin and pro-God.
Throughout, the seriousness of gender and identity confusion was taken into consideration, especially in regard to the fact that many Christians struggle with same sex attraction and that all Christians struggle with sin.
The lesson also emphasized how churches and believers must be able to theologically answer hurting and troubled believers’ questions regarding gender and identity matters.“This Bible study presented a Biblical response to gender and identity confusion and dysphoria.”
Some of the answers provided were as follows. No one is an accident, sin was never God’s intention for mankind, Jesus bore the punishment and pain of each of our sins on the cross.
God is working in and through all of his children to overcome their sins as he conforms all of us back to him. We have a God who fully knows, understands and is working in us to clean us up.
We also looked at Biblical definitions of gender and identity, and saw that our identity as Christians is first and foremost in Christ.
We also learned what Christians are specifically called to do regarding their gender and sexuality.
First, we are to abstain from fornication. Second, we are to celebrate being male and female and must not try to intentionally act or be like the opposite sex through our actions and appearance. Third, we are to fully comprehend and apply the Bible’s definitions and attributes of male and female to our lives.
We unpacked that last point, and learned that, contrary to secular claims about Christianity, God established a perfect and harmonious hierarchy for his creation.
We saw how anything that fails to live up to God’s standards regarding gender roles and relations between the sexes is a result of the fall and sin.
Within God’s design for mankind are men and women, who are each fully equals in God, and both his image bearers, but who also have different roles that complement each other.
In marriage, men are to be loving leaders and husbands, and are to honor their wives. Theologically, this is a picture of God’s relationship with his church.
Women are to respond with loving submission and respect, as they were created to be suitable helpers, just as Jesus is a helper of God.
May we rest in God’s glorious and wonderful design for men and women. May we find our identity in him, and in him alone!
Soli Deo gloria!
To read more Bible studies like this one on Biblical gender roles, be sure to subscribe to our email list.