Gender (Book Review)

For many years now I’ve been paying close attention to the onward push of gay rights in American culture.  It was sometime in the late 1990s or early 2000s when something clicked for me.  Maybe it was something I heard from Christian apologist James White—who I was listening to and reading a lot back then.  Anyway, the light bulb went on in my head that the sexual revolution that developed into a visible counter-culture in the 1960s is going to have a tipping point and a terminus.  Put another way: traditional, Judeo-Christian sexual morality is aggressively challenged by the modern and post-modern views of family, sex, and gender.  These new views are not really historically novel.  Rather Western culture is reverting to the pagan norm that ruled Gentile nations and cultures prior to the ascendancy of the gospel.  Think of the bacchanalia of hedonistic, pagan Rome.

American has been a very Christianized nation up until the recent past.  One benefit of this is, from the vantage point of the USA, if you’re paying attention to cultural shifts in the global West, you can ascertain what changes, controversies, and battles will soon arrive on our shores.  Countries further along the post-Christian path, such as Great Britain, Canada, western Europe, and perhaps Australia serve as harbingers to coming cultural shifts.  They are bellwethers because of the effects globalized media have on the masses and elites.

Apart from widespread, God-sent repentance, the coming neo-pagan sexual moral majority will inevitably reach a tipping point and finally a terminus.  The tipping point is the point in which the revolutionaries realize they have enough sway in the culture to “go for the goal” and run roughshod over their traditional religious opponents.  The terminus is the point when the revolutionaries declare victory, when all there is left to accomplish is mopping up the defeated dissidents.

Listen up, my friends.  We have reached the tipping point.  How do I know for certain?  Here’s my evidence.  When Christian parents feel the need to prepare their children for the onslaught of revisionist theories of sex and gender, then we have ceased trying to win the battle and are now playing defense.  Exhibit A: Christian apologists Brian Seagraves and Hunter Leavine have written a timely little book to equip beleaguered parents and pastors for the radical gender ideologues coming for our kids.  Gender: A Conversation Guide for Parents and Pastors (GCGPP), is a cradle-to-launch (zero-to-teen) resource to educate families and churches in what used to be taken for granted until, like 2014!  Try this thought experiment: who of you would have imagined just 5 years ago that conversations about transgenderism, pan sexuality, androgyny, and other disorders would be necessary subjects in the discipling of our children?  Who would imagine it’s unnecessary or optional now?  We’ve come a long way, baby.

From the back cover:

Our culture is filled with confusing messages about gender and identity.  If you are a parent or someone involved in youth or children’s ministry who wants to teach the Bible faithfully, this book is for you.  It provides a practical step-by-step guide to articulating the teaching of Scripture on gender to children and young people as they grow up.  Each chapter contains conversation starters and soundbites for every age and stage from preschool to high school and beyond.  It will help families teach the Christian worldview clearly and consistently throughout a child’s life.  Whether you are a parent, mentor, pastor, or friend, this book will help you find clarity in a world spinning in confusion.

Why is a book like GCGPP necessary?  Because our children are being boiled like frogs in a kettle, and many of us don’t even realize it.  The water is the LGBT worldview, and the pot is all the places we hand our children over to those who don’t share the Christian view of sex and gender.  Those places are rapidly becoming everywhere.  Public and private secular schools.  TV and movie entertainment.  Recreational social programs like sports leagues, dance schools, scouting clubs, and the like.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.  The sky is falling.  I get it!”  That’s a common and usually persuasive objection.  Yes I agree, alarmists are almost always wrong.  Change is built into the DNA of pluralistic societies like ours.  Always has been and always will be.  So I’m trying to be very careful about this. In my judgment our time is different because respectful dissent is no longer tolerated, at least in public institutions.  We’ve reached the tipping point where the majority in power is not willing to make peace and allow the minority to have a public voice.  In particular, the transgender issue cannot bear the presence of dissent because to opt-out or disagree is to deny affirmation and dignity to the other side.  At least that’s how dissent is characterized–true motives not withstanding.  And as we all know, the unpardonable sin in American culture is bigotry–now come to mean any objection to the majority ideology of identity (sexual or otherwise).  If you don’t think the situation is this serious yet, try showing up for your local school board meeting to argue in favor of accommodating the bodily privacy needs of everyone, including those who identify as transgender.  Try arguing that free speech, historically a non-negotiable characteristic of democracy, is a better position than the kind of compelled speech found in totalitarian societies.  Not only will you likely not get very far, you’ll probably face demonization by some of your neighbors speaking to the other side of the issue.  Ironically, the traditional notion of tolerance (respectful disagreement) is no longer tolerated.  Traditional tolerance is now labeled intolerant bigotry which, every knows, must not be allowed to exist with a public voice or position.  It is hated.  And who in their right mind would give a hater a microphone?!?

This is why resources like GCGPP are so very vital for Christian parents and pastors to read and use regularly.  Teaching and talking about these things “when we sit down and when we rise.”

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Not only do we need to learn how to play defense when it comes to correcting what our children will pick up (through indoctrinating catechesis, regular exposure, and subtle osmosis) from the surround culture regarding the nature and purpose of gender.  But we also need to be able to make a positive case that God’s gift of gender is good, beautiful, and true.  Gender is good news for creation!

In the first chapter, the authors addresses “two massive dangers.”  The first is the danger of misplaced identity.  “When our identity is based on anything other than being an adopted and ransomed child of God, we stand awaiting an inevitable fall.  We need to understand what it means to have been intentionally designed and saved by God, or we may let our striving to find our self-worth elsewhere push us away from our Creator” (pp. 10-11).  The second is the danger of unrecognized authority.  “The danger is not just that we might ‘get gender wrong,’ or that someone we love might become gender-confused, but rather, that a wedge might be placed between our lives and God’s word.  If we choose not to believe what God’s word says about gender, we should not be too surprised when we choose not to believe God’s word at all” (pp. 11-12).  From this basis, the authors proceed to walk through the three foundational age groupings.

Foundation One: preschool and young children (up to 7 years)

For this age, it is appropriate to talk to children about the Bible, what it says about us as male and female, made in his image, and that Jesus the Savior is at the heart of the Bible.  Some of the age tips include (pp. 25-26):

  • Keep in mind your child many not understand
  • Talk with your child regularly about how God knows them and loves them
  • Don’t be afraid to introduce the concept of sin to young children
  • Begin to teach your children about our responsibility for our sin and the results of living in a sinful world
  • Show how God’s word and the Bible story is exciting
  • God is good even when we feel bad

Here are a few Foundation One questions and discussion starters (pp. 27-28):

  1. Tell your child that mommy is a girl, and daddy is a boy.
  2. Explain the two genders, and ask your child what gender people are.
  3. Have conversations about different things that God created, and how God pays attention to even the tiniest details.
  4. Have conversations about how good God is and that he loves his creation.

The other two age groups are Foundations Two (ages 7-11 years) and Three (age 12+).  Of course the lessons imparted to our children in Foundation One are very simple and easy.  Things get more complicated when kids get to Foundation Three.  Most topics are appropriate to discuss at the third stage, depending on the maturity, intelligence, and amount of cultural exposure the child has.  The content in the chapters on Foundations Two and Three are the meat of the book.  It’s worth getting a copy of GCGPP just for these.

After the three foundation chapters, the authors insert a page on useful Bible passages to read and discuss.  Some of these verses appear earlier in the book, but in this section they are collected and summarized.

  • Parenting.  Dt 11:19; Prov 22:6.
  • Creation. Gen 1-3; Mt 19:4-6; Ps 139:13; Rom 1:18-32.
  • Worldview. Rom 12:2; Ps 119:105.
  • Trusting what Scripture Teaches. 2 Tim 3:16; Jer 17:9; Eph 4:17-18.
  • Scripture That Needs Clarifying. Gal 3:28.

Of course Bible passages must never be used as proof-text discussion stoppers.  It is always best to read the Bible in larger chunks and discuss what it means.  Trust the Holy Spirit to lead the way.  And if you get stuck with your kid, it’s perfectly OK to ask other Christians for help.

GCGPP concludes with “final words” for pastors, parents, and adults.  These chapters are not optional reading because they orient the adults to understand the issue of gender from the Bible’s mature and nuanced perspective.  In order to disciple our kids, we adults need to be able to draw on the Bible’s deep and satisfying theology.  Only then will we have a solid and true message that can be translated into the language of our immature and impressionable youth.  The Final Word For Adults chapter is especially empowering.  We need to be able not only to explain gender to our children, but to defend our biblical position to other adults who ask why we believe and teach the way we do.  GCCPP is not the final word on these topics, but it is a simple and helpful place to start.

Resources

A conversation on gender, love, and Gender the book:

A conversation about the book by the author (Brian Seagraves):

Read a sample of the book

About the author (Brian Seagraves)

Unapologetic (Brian Seagraves’ weekly podcast on Christian Worldview Questions)

Brian Seagraves’ blog

20 Quotes on Discussing Gender with Your Kids. Compiled by Matt Smethurst

Two dangers of not considering why gender matters (excerpt from the book). By Brian Seagraves & Hunter Leavine

What’s the Main Concern for Christian Parents When It Comes to Gender? By Brian Seagraves

A gospel-centered assessment of gender identity, transgender, and polygamy. By Denny Burk:

Articles tagged “gender” at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

Articles tagged “transgenderism” at The Gospel Coalition

Reviews

Amazon

Goodreads

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This entry was posted in Book Review, Christian Education, Counseling, Parenting, Sexuality, Worldview and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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