I witnessed one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen last week. It was a report on NBC’s “Dateline” about an 11-year old child named Josie Romero. Josie looks like a normal little prepubescent girl. Only it turns out, that Josie was not born as Josie but as Joey. Josie was born biologically as a boy. Yet somewhere along the way, he decided that he liked behaving and dressing like a girl.
Dateline interviewed Josie’s supportive parents and talked to them about the difficult transition that Josie has made over the last couple of years as he has totally given up any male identity so that he can look and act like a little girl. Now that he’s eleven, he’s on the edge of puberty, and he wants to have surgery to make the change permanent and official. His parents, however, are considering putting him on hormone suppressers to delay puberty so that they can figure out what they want to do next.
I don’t pretend to understand all the pathologies that lead a little boy to identify as a transgender person. Nevertheless, there was one very telling moment in the story. While looking through some dresses for a photo-shoot, Josie comes to her step father and says, “Daddy, is this okay? Can I do this?” It turns out that the step father had been uncomfortable with this transition all along, but with this question his resolve completely melts away. He says, “At that point, all of this became a reality to me. And I no longer had a son. And I had to put all my feelings aside to embrace my daughter.”
How does a parent get to the point that they are willing to put all their feelings aside to embrace a child’s desire to be something other than what God created them to be? A parent gets to that point because he’s viewing his child’s natural inclinations as basically good—whatever they are—and as something to be affirmed.
These parents are doing great damage to their child because they are not seeing the human condition for what it is. Our view of human nature is decisively shaped by our worldview. If you are a modern person, you are likely to embrace the view that human beings are basically good, though sometimes they may make bad decisions. In this worldview, the role of the parent is simply to affirm whatever identity a child chooses since that child is coming from a place of inherent goodness.
Yet the biblical doctrine of original sin would have us size this situation up differently. If you believe the Bible, you know that children aren’t born innocent. They are born with a natural inclination to sin (Rom. 5:12; Eph. 2:1-4), and they are born into a world that is under a curse because of sin (Rom. 8:20). We should expect our children to have many “natural” inclinations that will be sinful and out of line with God’s purpose for them. Thus, the job of parenting is often to guide children in ways that contradict their inherent feelings. Leading them in paths of righteousness will necessarily involve that kind of confrontation—especially in cases like this one.
“Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death” (Prov. 19:18).