Christianity,  Culture

Okay to change a child’s sex but not his gender?

James Kushiner asks an insightful question that exposes the moral confusion of our day. In essence he asks why it should be legal to change a child’s sex but not his gender.

The question is provoked by the recent bill signed into law by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The law prohibits any attempt to change a child’s “gender expression.” That means that if a parent has a young boy who likes to put on dresses and wear make-up, New Jersey law prohibits licensed counselors from helping that boy. Counselors must approve and support whatever gender that child chooses regardless of the child’s sex. This law reveals the rising social stigma in our culture against anyone who attempts to alter a child’s gender identity.

But what about altering a child’s sex? While there is a growing stigma attached to altering gender identity, there is a growing acceptance of surgical procedures that would “alter” a child’s biological sex. The New Yorker reports on a suburban teenage girl who wished to embrace a male gender identity. Her parents allowed her to begin testosterone therapy when she was fourteen, and just before her seventeenth birthday they allowed her to get a double mastectomy. Now she is living out a male identity, although she says she still prefers to date boys.

Kushiner puts a fine point on the issue:

So if a professional can’t talk to minor about sexual orientation (because it’s fixed and messing with it is harmful?), then why was a professional doctor allowed to alter something as fixed as a biological body of a minor?

So here’s the fundamental moral inconsistency that the sexual revolutionaries have sold to us. It’s not okay to change a child’s mind, but it is okay to mutilate his body. If gender and sex are to be in harmony, surgical manipulation must be preferred over mental alteration. But why allow the one and not the other?

This inconsistency testifies to a much deeper spiritual rot. It exposes what has always been at the heart of the sexual revolution. The Creator’s purposes for male and female must give way to the creature’s autonomous will (Gen. 1:27; Matt. 19:4). If a guy feels like he’s a girl, then he is one even if his biology says otherwise. The Creator’s distinction between male and female must bend to accommodate the sovereign will of the creature. Thus changing the body is better than changing the mind.

The gender confusion that characterizes our day tells us a lot about the human condition. God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices (Eccl. 7:29). By nature, they suppress the truth in unrighteousness and have become futile in their speculations (Rom. 1:18, 21). And today the fashion is to deny the fundamental sexual difference that God has written into every cell of our bodies. There’s nothing new under the sun—just new incarnations of the ancient heresy, “Hath God really said?” And now to their own hurt, people prefer the mutilation of the flesh to the sanctification of their minds. They would offer up the bodies of their own children to the gods of sexual liberation.


  • Mike Rue

    Denny, do you see this cultural movement as not just a confusion on the issue, but also a form of neo-Gnosticism at all? It seems to me that the culture is elevating the “mind” (opinions, thoughts, spirits, opinions, etc.) as the only thing of value, and the physical body as something expendable. Therefore, the culture can say we can change the body, but not the mind, because in the end, what’s important isn’t how you get what you want (the physical change), but that you feed the inward desires. What are your thoughts on this?

  • Karen Akin

    Didn’t realize you are a Louisiana Tech Bulldog! Look forward to all your posts. As a fellow-blogger, I’m impressed by the number of posts you put out there. Enjoy your writing. Our whole family are Tech alums. Keep writing.
    Karen and Hudson Akin

  • Bill Fitzgerrel

    Thank you for this insight. Laws and rulings enforcing the prohibition of treatment of homosexual leanings are now in effect in California as well as New Jersey. It is a matter of time before preachers will be arrested for “hate speech” for any mention of Scriptural teachings on homosexuality. This may be the leverage Satan uses for an all-out attack on Christians.

  • Chris Ryan

    This is a thought provoking post, in a number of respects. There’s certainly part of this argument with which I agree: there are radical activists who wish to smash any & all traditional notions of sexuality.

    On the other hand, let’s not make too much of this. An awful lot of kids who’ve undergone gay conversion have killed themselves. People who are transgender have at times taken drastic steps to change their gender, including self mutilation. There is a legitimate public safety interest in limiting the deaths & disfigurements that have occurred. I think the public (not to mention Chris Christie) was probably moved more by those types of incidents than by radical queer theory—-and lets not forget Tyler Clementi was a NJ kid who killed himself right there in NJ. Are we surprised that the ppl of NJ want to protect their kids from suicide?

    The one thing that we should all be aware of is that there’s a lot we don’t know abt Intersex afflictions, eg things like Androgen Syndrome, or Hermaphrodites. Take 5min and do a Google image search on Intersex and see the broad set of medical issues Intersex ppl suffer from. I guarantee your heart will be moved. My mother, as fundamentalist as fundamentalists get, was a nurse when a family had an Intersex baby. They struggled for a week to decide what gender their child would be.

    When ppl like Pat Robertson say they believe that transgendered people suffer legitimate maladies we should all be cognizant that what we’re calling a “culture war” might simply be sick people getting the medical help they need. Robertson is hardly a queer theory activist.

    Hope everyone had a great Labor Day.

      • Nathan Cesal

        Since the brain controls a lot about one’s personhood and since the brain is controllable in limited ways, I see little difference between intersex and transgender.

        • Denny Burk

          You can’t dismiss the morality of human behavior simply because it falls under the purview of the brain. The brain controls all human behavior! are we now going to conclude that everything is moral because all our behavior is controlled by the brain?

      • Chris Ryan

        I agree with you that there’s a line but as outside observers how do we know where it is? A lay person couldn’t tell the difference between a man with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome and a transgender woman…

        I hope we have more discussion of this. My thinking here is pretty ‘fuzzy’.

  • Rusty Shackleford

    “Her parents allowed her to begin testosterone therapy when she was fourteen, and just before her seventeenth birthday they allowed her to get a double mastectomy. Now she is living out a male identity, although she says she still prefers to date boys.”

    I probably shouldn’t have drank my coffee before firing up your blog today Denny. Shame on this doctor who did this procedure and whoever prescribed the hormone therapy drugs. I’d be interested to see if those drugs were covered under insurance. I would hardly think they would be as it should be considered “elective” in this instance.

    This absurdity being passed as tolerant and logical in our culture is almost at a point of no return. I do believe that churches/pastors will be next as the recent SCOTUS ruling has made Biblical truths into hate speech and turned those that speak it into enemies of the human race. I welcome it. They will never realize the inconsistancies of their arguments, their double standards, their hypocracy and yet, without the blink of an eye, nash their teeth at anyone who holds a logical/civil position against theirs.

  • Lauren Bertrand

    Two of these nine posts (at the time that I write) have already displayed the usually gloom and doom regarding “Biblical truths will someday become hate speech”–yet we’re all still waiting for an honest example when a preacher has had been found guilty of such a crime. Yes, I am aware of times in the past when preachers have been arrested; in all cases, charges were dropped when it was proven that they were exercising their First Amendment rights and not inciting violence.

    Maybe Evangelicals should take a cue from the good folks of the Westboro Baptist Church. The Phelps clan has said nastier things about homosexuality than most of us are even capable of conceiving. But they’re a smart bunch, and they know their legal limitations–I’m pretty sure at least a few of them have a law background (even if they’ve been disbarred). At any rate, the WBC has successfully defended its rights to “preach” under the First Amendment, time and time again. The church’s members clearly know how to exercise righteous judgment in a public forum without getting into legal trouble.

  • Rusty Shackleford


    Maybe WBC always has their cases dismissed because the level of absurdity make it clear to most people that they are fanatical and not Biblical. However, what evangelicals speak to (some cases may not be the most loving in nature-I’ll give you that), is Biblical Truth. Truth convicts all of us as we all have imprinted on our hearts God’s morals. Think about it, what WBC does is so over the top and people toss it to the side as nonsense. Hearing Biblical Truth however, will anger people who have yet to stop walking/running away from God. It can’t be as easily tossed to the side. Biblical Truth cuts deeply to the heart of every human being. If it can’t be discarded or gotten rid of, it needs to be put in some kind of a box right? So it’s labeled as offensive, hateful, non-inclusive etc., that’s why it has to go to court and dragged out before it’s ultimately dismissed. Unlike the easier dismissals of WBC or not even gone to court at all, just ignored.

    As far as pastors go, based on how the dominos have fallen so far, it’s not absurd to logically predict the next step or two. The president himself has already spoke publicly about how faith needs to stay within church walls and not spoken/lived out in public life.

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