Is ‘De-Gendering’ a Sin?
Today’s topic is a sensitive one. We get a lot of questions from a lot of listeners on a very wide range of life situations, obviously. And many of these questions come to us from pretty broken places. And I think that’s true today. We address an email from a woman, a female by birth — born with two X chromosomes. She’s written in anonymously to ask this: “Pastor John, hi. I find myself at a stage in my life when I am seriously considering removing my female body parts — namely, my breasts and my uterus — because I no longer want to be a woman. Women are perceived as weak vessels whose only purpose is to have children. Even Scripture supports that ideology,” she writes. “As a modern ‘woman,’ I have no desire to have children or get married but to have a successful career to help support less fortunate people and animals live better lives. My question is this: Would doing this to my body be sinful?”
Yes, it will be sinful, and it will probably be dreadfully destructive to you as a person. I want to give you six reasons for that response to what you’ve said. So I hope you’ll be willing to listen to me, because this is not going to be easy for you to hear. I hope you have the courage to listen.
1. Purpose of Women
No, neither the Bible nor the church has ever said or hinted that woman’s only purpose is to have children, nor is this the view of the vast majority of human beings in the world. The very fact that you would say this shows how conflicted you are, because you know that’s not true. You know it’s not true. You know that in the Gospels, women followed Jesus and served him in many ways (see Luke 8:1–3). You know that Paul refers to numerous women who labored side by side with him in the gospel. You know that love between a man and a woman in marriage is vastly deeper and richer than only baby-making. You know that in history, the prayers and the service of women have turned the tide for good in communities again and again. You know that today, women work in hundreds of vocations, and most of them do it gladly as women, not in spite of being women.
“Neither the Bible nor the church has ever said or hinted that woman’s only purpose is to have children.”
You know these things, and yet you still say women are perceived as having only the purpose of childbearing. I wonder why that is. Why do you say that? What it sounds like is that you’re not thinking clearly. You’re not speaking and thinking clearly. You’re speaking and thinking carelessly, and that is not a good place from which to make a massive decision like the one you are contemplating. It would be folly.
2. Weaker by Wisdom
Yes, woman is the weaker vessel, as Peter says (1 Peter 3:7) and as everybody knows. That’s why there’s a women’s NBA, women’s college volleyball, women’s gymnastics, women’s track and field, women’s soccer, women’s Tour de France. God made men stronger, and there are reasons for this, and he really is wise. He really is very good in making such decisions. If you don’t trust him with the way he made the world, then that’s one of the main reasons that what you are about to do is sin. You’re not acting in faith, but anger and resentment at the way God made you. You are, evidently, not trusting God’s wisdom but denying it. That’s not a safe place from which to make this massive decision.
But there’s a sad thing as well besides this point. When you’re done mutilating yourself, you’re still going to be part of the weaker sex. You can make your chest flat — that won’t make you strong. You can put testosterone into your body and grow more hair and make your voice lower, but you’ll still be a woman. You’ll be weaker than 90 percent of the men your age. In fact, you will be weaker than you were before, not stronger, because pretense is weakness. Living a life trying to be what you are not is a life of weakness.
3. God’s Better Desires
You say, “As a modern woman, I have no desire to have children or get married.” I have two questions for you. First, is your desire your god? It sounds like it. Are you humbly asking the true and living God, “God, what are your desires? What is your will for me?” Or does that matter to you? Is your desire final? If it is, that’s another evidence of sin behind your thinking.
Second, what if your desire changes in five or ten years? Oh, how I wish I knew your name so I could say with all earnestness, “Seriously, Chelsea, seriously, think about this.” Surely you have lived long enough to know that what you desire today may not be what you desire tomorrow. You know this. In one moment, you can destroy a whole life of possibilities that you may desperately desire someday. If you blow me off here and think you can predict your desires ten years from now, you are delusional. You know it. Wake up. Be realistic. You do not know what your desires will be in ten years. Don’t cut off those possibilities.
4. Serving Others for Christ’s Glory
If you want to serve the less fortunate, do you want to do it for Christ’s sake? Do you want to do it for his glory? If not, it’s idolatry. If you do, then why wouldn’t you consult with him for how you can glorify him through your body the way he made you? I mean, if his glory matters to you in serving the poor, wouldn’t it matter in how to be a woman?
5. Serving Others as a Woman
If you really love people and care about the disadvantaged, God cares about that as much as you do. He loves that, which is why millions of competent, caring, persevering, Christ-exalting women are leading the vanguard in many such ministries of compassion and justice. Why in the world would you think that you will be a better lover of needy people as a fake man than as a real woman? You know that’s inconsistent.
“Your re-creation of you will not be a better lover of the poor than God’s creation of you.”
If you really want to give your life for the sake of others who are less advantaged, praise God. That’s what he wants for you. He wants it more than you do, and he made you perfectly suited for his calling on you to do it. Breasts and uterus and hormones and monthly cycle and brain structures — all of it is gloriously suited for what he’s calling you to do. He’s not stupid. He doesn’t make mistakes. Your re-creation of you will not be a better lover of the poor than God’s creation of you.
6. Woman All the Way Down
God made us male and female, and we are male and female all the way down. The glory of womanhood is not something as superficial as breasts and uterus. It is marked in every cell of your body, every dimension of your soul, every part of your brain. You can’t even begin to undo the pervasive mystery of your womanhood. Your womanhood is like yeast in the dough, like the color in the paint of your life, like the aroma in the flower that you are, like the melody in the song. Dear friend, whose name I wish I knew, you are a female wonder of God’s handiwork, and no amount of chipping away at it will make it cease to be a God-designed masterpiece.
So, I conclude, yes, it will be a sin, a tragedy, and almost certainly tragically regretted if you have yourself mutilated to try to be what you are not and what God did not make you to be. And I plead with you, don’t do that. Surrender to him, and his will, and his wisdom, and his love, and his Son Jesus, and you will find an amazing life of purpose as he created you to be.