Special Blog: The Overlooked Reality of Transgender Identity

Special Blog: The Overlooked Reality of Transgender Identity

The Miss Universe Pageant was held this past Sunday evening. The location of the pageant was held in Bankok Thailand and there were a total of 47 contestants that participated in this year’s event from all over the world. One of the pageant runners was a person who goes by name of Angela Ponce, who was a contestant from the country of Spain. Angela Ponce was not the actual winner of the of the 2018 Miss Universe pageant (this honor went to the contestant Catriona Gray from the Philippines). However, Angela Ponce is receiving massive media attention due to the reality Angela was the first transgender contestant in the Miss Universe Pageant. Ponce, who was crowned Miss Spain in June 2018, mentioned the desire for the world to progress further as it relates to transgender identity when Angela commented to the Associated Press after the contest

“If my going through all this contributes to the world moving a little step forward, then that’s a personal crown that will always accompany me,”

Fitzpatrick. H. (2018). Angela Ponce makes history as 1st transgender Miss Universe contestant. Retreived from https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Culture/angela-ponce-makes-history-1st-transgender-miss-universe/story?id=59859591

Angela Ponce’s attention and influence in regarding transgender identity and influence in women’s competitions has not been an isolated case. This year there was an event where a transgender wrestler in the state of Texas won a female wrestling competition. The previous year a transgender male won the girls state wrestling championship (it should be noted that she wanted to compete against the boys, but the competition would not allow her to do so because of her sex), and just last week a person by the name of Patricio Manuel became the first transgender male to win a professional match in boxing

How is transgender identity (or transgenderism) defined?  Transgender identity carries with it the idea that cultural norms and traditions have defined what one is to be when a person is conceived (i.e., a boy or a girl) in society. Transgender identity does not seek to be defined by these cultural and societal traditions as noted in this description below:

[Transgender is] an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.

Transgender. Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Definitions. Retreived from https://www.hrc.org/resources/sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity-terminology-and-definitions

There may be those who are convinced due to these recent trends that the world is progressing forward. Some believe that this may be a healthy expression of psychological and sociological development. Many believe this trend actually promotes equality. However there is one fact that transgender identity fails to observe: That in attempting to promote equality, it actually undermines it. 

Take for example the Miss America Pageant. The reality is a man, who took hormone treatments that altered him into (somewhat) a woman who participated has now received worldwide attention and accolades in contrast to the winner, who by nature is a woman. Another example is the young woman who took testosterone treatments because she identified as he. As a result of this she was able to overpower the competition and as a result, the woman, who by nature was a female, lost the match. 

What about the woman who identified as a man and won the boxing match? There are two things to note here in this story: This also undermines females because the woman, who believed she identified as a man had to be modified as a man to defeat a man the boxing ring. This underscores the overall physical differences between men and women. In fact, Patricio Manuel’s coach commented after the match below

“This is bigger than boxing,” Gomez said. “It’s for all sports. The story is, I don’t care who you are, what country you come from, what nationality. It doesn’t really matter. If you’re good enough to compete, you’ll be able to compete. All you need is a chance. I’m just happy to be a part of it”

John. A (2018). First transgender male boxer wins in professional debut. Retreived from: https://www.stargazette.com/story/sports/boxing/2018/12/09/first-transgender-male-boxer-pro-debut/2256858002/

This is the irony and the sad reality found in this above statement. It really is not about if a person is “good enough” to compete. Patricio Manuel did not feel that she was good enough to compete unless she modified herself to become a man and compete like a man. She had to deny who she actually was in order to become what she felt she was. No matter the amount of hormones Patricio Manuel, or Angela Ponce injects into them this does not alter the chromosomes, which has determined their sexual orientation. No matter what, in these particular scenarios, and many others, when it comes to transgender identity, equality for women (and men) always loses, because who a person is by nature is eclipsed by how one feels.  

However, the biblical worldview promotes true equality between both sexes. True equality comes from the reality that we are created by God, and are made in His image (Gen. 1:27-28). The Scriptures also mentioned the uniqueness of women as the woman was personally fashioned (or built) by God in creation (Gen. 2:22). According to these truths, there are some points that should be underscored when observing the Biblical worldview concerning the sexual orientation of men and women: That God, not man, by these genetic and biological means determines the sex of an individual (c.f., Job. 10:8-11; Ps. 139:13-16). This is irrespective of how one may feel about their sexual identity. In addition, the physical bodies men and women naturally have magnified and made much of God displaying His power and divine nature because He has given us the physical body (c.f., Rom. 1:18-20). To deny this, or alter the physical body to reflect the sex we were not given does not honor Him, and in essence, denies the truth of God who created man and woman for His glory. 

In the paradigm of transgender identity, there is no room for true equality (in fact, if one was to raise these issues one would be criticized and observed as being intolerant of this position). True equality, from the Biblical worldview, comes from recognizing there is a Creator, who has made us according to His image and likeness. To deny this is to deny the very foundation of what true equality is based on, not “I feel,” but “God says…”

Let us continue to look observe who male and female are from what God has told us from His word. In this, we glorify God, recognizing the origin of true equality. In effect, we will serve one another rightly as we observe who we really are in light of His truth. Amen.

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S. 

 

 

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The Theological Implications of The Song “God Is A Woman”

The Theological Implications of The Song “God Is A Woman”

On the way home from fellowship at my local church, my daughter and I enjoy listening to music. On a particular occasion, my daughter, who was dancing in her seat began to hear a song on the radio and without warning quickly changed the tuner. I asked her why was she changing the radio station, and she said that she did not like the new Ariana Grande song that was out, which she said was titled, “God Is A Woman.” I had said to her that this was a good time to listen to the song and examine from the lyrics what Ariana Grande was attempting to communicate with a song like this. I turned it back to the station, and my daughter and I listened intently to the song in question and discussed some of the themes that were found in the song. These themes that I discussed with my daughter are observed below:

  • The “source of authority” for God is Ariana Grande: When an artist makes music, most of the time the lyrics of the song reflect the worldview of the artist. This is especially true when the music video is seen. The very title gives away the point she is making in the song, however, the shots of the music video are very telling. For example in almost every scene when Ariana Grande is either larger than everything (e.g., her sitting on top of the globe controlling weather patterns) or she is in the center of everything (such as in the center of what looks like a circle of where a ritual, which is focused around her is happening). In the song (and video), she is representative of all women, encouraging them to feel empowered and strengthened by who they are. This is somewhat expressed in the lyrics below:

(Yeah) And I can be all the things you told me not to be (Yeah) When you try to come for me, I keep on flourishing (Yeah) And he see the universe when I’m the company.

Grande, A. (2018). “God is a woman.” Retrieved from https://genius.com/Ariana-grande-god-is-a-woman-lyrics

The source of authority that Ariana Grande uses is herself, and she comes to a conclusion because she is female that she is “all-powerful,” in control, and “god-within.” She states this as one of the themes in an interview when she says the following:

Its about female energy, its about feminine energy, being responsible for the whole creation of the universe…its within.

Sang. Z,. (2018). “Ariana grande talks god is a woman.” The zach sang show.  Retreived from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOTPgR9zYUI

Once more the standard by which she uses to make this claim is herself. That her strengths, and the mere fact that she is a woman, gives her a deified perception of herself and females in general.

  • The sexual attitude of the Song: The sexual references of the song speak loud and clear in the lyrics themselves as noted below:

You, you love it how I move you You love it how I touch you, my one When all is said and done You’ll believe God is a woman And I, I feel it after midnight A feelin’ that you can’t fight, my one It lingers when we’re done You’ll believe God is a woman.

Grande, A. (2018). “God is a woman.” Retrieved from https://genius.com/Ariana-grande-god-is-a-woman-lyrics

The message is after a man engages in sexual intercourse with a woman, he will see that she is more than meets the eye. In fact, for the man, it will be almost a spiritual experience (i.e., worship) for him when they engage in sexual intercourse. Ariana Grande mentions this as well in her interview about the song:

Ariana Grande: But God is A Woman its not actually about God.

Interviewer: Yeah its about the power of a woman.

Ariana Grande: …and  f**king.

Sang. Z,. (2018). “Ariana grande talks god is a woman.” The zach sang show.  Retreived from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOTPgR9zYUI

This is also seen in the video with the sexual innuendos in the lyrics and in most of the shots in the music video. These are also themes which are seen in the progressive feminist movements where sexual expression and oppression of women were issues that were protested in society. However, when it comes to this song, and the messages it expresses about women there are several things that must be noted.

  1. The title of the song itself: Ariana Grande says that the song is not actually about God, however, the title of the song is making a theological claim, whether she knows it or not, or wants to admit this or not. She has stated one of the themes for the song is women being responsible for the whole creation of the universe. That woman gives life (and takes away life), the woman gives pleasure (and give pain). According to this title, women are the Life itself. However, according to the biblical worldview, it is true that women are resourceful, intelligent, and valuable to society, but not because they are gods within, but that they are created by God, who gives life because He is life (Gen. 1:27; 2:22; 1 John 5:11). This gives every single female intrinsic value and worth.
  2.  The emphasis on sexual intercourse: This was a theme Ariana Grande highlighted in her song and mentioned that sexuality is part of what it means to be a female and that women should be able to break out of traditional cultural constructs, express, and define sexuality the way they choose. This is also what the song and the music video underscored.  According to the biblical worldview, it is also true that men and women were designed by God for sexual intercourse (within a monogamous marital relationship) not just for procreation (Gen. 1:28), but to enjoy and pleasure one another as well (c.f., Prov 5:15-19). However, sexuality does not make up a female’s identity, instead, a woman should find their identity in the true God, who has created them, died for them, and wants women to be known and honored for virtuous deeds and character, not their sexuality (c.f., Prov. 31:10-31; 1 Tim. 2:9-10).
  3. Doubled-Mindedness in her message: Ariana Grande, in an interview discussing some of the imagery in the music video expresses that women should not be viewed as sexual objects. Yet in the exact same breath, she adds that if a woman chooses to be a sex object than this is okay with her:

So, so its best to represent the frustration of being a misunderstood woman, poping on the ground, being seen as just a p***y, sometimes; and just screaming, frustrated like how I’m not just a vagina. So it’s just the frustration of being a woman, feeling misunderstood, unheard, and we’ve been screaming for decades for equality and also to be understood, and to feel heard…yeah. To be seen as not just a vessel for sex. Yeah…which like we totally can be if we choose to be, which is [cool].

Sang. Z,. (2018). “Ariana grande talks god is a woman.” The zach sang show.  Retreived from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOTPgR9zYUI

The problem is she was talking out of both sides of her mouth: The same thing she is frustrated about (women being viewed as”vessels for sex”) is the same thing that she is promoting women do (she is okay if women choose to be objectified as “vessels for sex”). There is dignity and equality that is higher than the perspective of Ariana Grande, and that is found in the biblical worldview. True equality comes from the reality the God of creation made both male and female. In addition, Paul wrote that men should show dignity to the woman due to the interdependence of the male and female. Even though the woman was made for man, the man comes from the woman (1 Cor. 11:11-12). 

Ariana Grande is right to be concerned about the dignity and significance of women in the world, however, the theological implications of this song are dangerously misleading. It may lead a woman to believe that they are a god unto themselves, rather than observing that there is a Creator who has created them. It may lead a woman to identify themselves as just a sexual creature, rather than a spiritual being that God has created in a body. This same God who created man and woman had come in the form of a man, took on sin and the wrath of God for both male and female, died and resurrected, and by being assured in His message, God in the Person of the Holy Spirit lives in both male and female to empower them to glorify God and do good works for their neighbor.  The contrast of theological messages could not be clearer. 

Let us continue to promote the dignity and equality of women, due to the reality that God has created them male and female, and not by our own ideas, or concepts. For by this we promote true equality and honoring women who are made in the image of God, for the glory of God. Amen.

Until Next Time

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.