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Feminism has consequences

Gender confusion came long before the transgender revolution

Mo’ne Davis pitches in the 2014 Little League World Series tournament in South Williamsport, Pa. Associated Press/Photo by Gene J. Puskar (file)

Feminism has consequences
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As headlines mark the strange new world of biologically male athletes who identify as female competing in women’s sports, Christians must do more than merely lament the inherent unfairness of girls forced to compete against boys. It’s not enough to bemoan the immorality of our current moment. We must understand how we got here and reckon with whether the larger culture has contributed to the widespread gender confusion of our time.

Long before the transgender revolution and its encouragement of biological males participating in some female sports, our culture celebrated young women who found ways to compete on young men’s sports teams. In 1997, Liz Heaston was the first woman to play and score in a men’s college football game. In 2012, Erin Dimeglio became the first high school girl in Florida to play on a boys’ football team. The point is that some girls who managed to achieve such feats despite their physical differences from boys were viewed as doing so on behalf of women everywhere—a point scored for “team women.”

From girls on boys’ Little League teams to girls on boys’ wrestling teams, the issue of athletes joining opposite sex teams did not originate with the growing transgender confusion. Yet, support for girls who break into male-only spaces has been widespread and not limited to people of one political persuasion. During the presidential primaries of 2016, three Republican candidates—Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie—indicated support for including women alongside men in the Selective Service should the United States ever reinstate the military draft. Christie framed the basis for such a move as equality.

Feminism has long promulgated the lie that for a woman to succeed, she must do so in a man’s world, according to the standards common to men. But when women try to conform their female bodies to the standard of a man’s body, they reject the goodness of God in making women as women. That is to say, the distinctive dimensions of being a woman are important and necessary gifts to all mankind. Only women can nurture in womanly ways and grow human life; only women experience both the peculiar vulnerabilities and peculiar strengths that go along with childbearing and caring for infants.

Feminism tried to make women equal and interchangeable with men without pondering what might happen should men want to be equal and interchangeable with women.

Christians have important work to do when it comes to gender confusion. We, of all people, know the goodness of God through being made a new creation in Christ. Because of that, we have seen the curse of sin destroyed by Christ, and we also know the goodness of God’s design in his distinctive creations of male and female. Christian women should not be cheering for “team women.” Christian men should not be advocating a perverse equality that overlooks the appropriate protection of women for the sake of their female bodies. Rather, Christian men and women must recognize that we are part of Christ’s body—dependent on one another in varying ways and seeking to do our part with the gifts and bodies we’ve been given.

Feminism’s goal was supposedly the empowerment of women in the world. Sadly, without the Spirit-powered gospel, mere human empowerment can only lead to idolatry. Feminism tried to make women equal and interchangeable with men without pondering what might happen should men want to be equal and interchangeable with women. For those who may have been swept along with feminism’s cheers for young women who managed to break into male spaces—whether in sports or armed combat, for example—it’s time to notice how that support for such unsustainable inclusion is already a form of significant gender confusion. Our girls need to be taught that it’s good to be a girl and that there are fitting and unfitting ways to act in the world because of that truth. Our boys need to be taught that it’s good to be a boy and that there are fitting and unfitting ways to act in the world because of that fact.

We cannot look at the transgender phenomenon and wish ourselves back to 2012 or 1997, or to any era that sought to idolize the creation over the Creator. Instead, we must chart a distinctly Christian sexual ethic—one that looks at God’s design of male and female and says in agreement with Him that the creation of human beings as male and female is “very good.” It’s a truth our world desperately needs to hear.

Abigail Dodds

Abigail Dodds, a graduate of Bethlehem College & Seminary, is a wife, mother of five children, and member at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minnesota. She is the author of (A)Typical Woman and Bread of Life: Savoring the All-Satisfying Goodness of Jesus through the Art of Bread Making. She regularly contributes at desiringGod.org.


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