by Ricky Chelette, Executive Director
I remember traveling out of the country and visiting an amazing market in the local town square. It was filled with vendors selling their wares of every kind. As I navigated the various pathways between vendors, the numbers of designer items for sale intrigued me. Everything from sunglasses to clothing, Rolex watches to handbags, the items were all sporting the names of the most desirable designers of the day. I also noticed that these “designer” goods were being offered at incredibly discounted prices. I questioned the vendors only to receive answers of such rhetorical gymnastics that even the best of attorneys would have been proud.
The truth was the items they were selling were not real designer goods, but cheaper counterfeits that were likely mass-produced. Upon careful examination the quality of materials was not good, the craftsmanship was missing and the attention to detail was simply not there. Counterfeit or not, tourist looking for a “great deal” were quickly purchasing the items.
I’ve been thinking about that experience and how it seems to give a bit of commentary about the world in which we live especially as it relates to the redefining of truth and love.
In our modern culture, truth and love are words thrown around as justification or reason for all manner of things. We ascribe it to what we feel, how much we like something, or our opinions. Truth has become contextually defined to mean whatever is experienced by me and can be tangibly discerned. Love, that trump card of all words, is seen as the highest virtue and value given to anyone or anything, yet its meaning is pinned more to doing whatever is best for me so long as it doesn’t inconvenience anyone else too much.
Both of these definitions, as they function in our culture, are void of any objective reality – something outside themselves. I have a very difficult time saying I am the arbiter of my reality, for I know how easily I am inclined towards self-satisfaction/pleasure in all forms. I need something outside myself from which to gain true meaning and definition – an objective truth, if you will. As a result, I have taken on a Christian worldview; one rooted in the objective truth of God’s Word. In it, I find that both truth and love are God. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn. 14:6). And 1 John 4:16 states, “God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
So Jesus is truth. God is love. In order for me to understand the real meaning of truth and love, I must know God and and live out the teachings of the Word of God for in it, God reveals who He is expressed as both God the Father and God the Son. With this revelation I must embrace the reality that truth and love are not ideas, feelings, thoughts or perceptions, but a person – the triune, holy God. With this understanding, I am then faced with aligning my life under the truth of God’s Word regardless of how I might feel about it.
Now you might be asking, “What does this have to do with counterfeit merchandise sold in the market square?” Everything. We are being sold truth and love that looks nothing like the real thing. We are being convinced, even coerced, to embrace counterfeits that are masquerading as something real, when at best, they are hopeful want-a-be’s, sometimes outwardly appearing to be what is proclaimed but inwardly still as broken and unredeemed as we all are without Jesus in our lives.
Recently, TIME “LightBox” featured an article and video entitled “The Perfect Daughter: Gender Reassignment,” by Gillian Laub. It is the story of a young boy (Niko) who thought he was a girl from a very young age. The family went along with the 6-year-old boy’s desires to be a girl (Nikki) and at 10 allowed him to take hormone blockers that prevented his natural, sexual development. The piece applauds the boy’s parents for their acceptance and support and celebrates the boy, now living and presenting as a girl, as brave and courageous for his decision. The comments are largely filled with praise:
“Ideal family. She’s very lucky.”
“Beautiful story about a beautiful family.”
“I fully support Nikki and her family in what was the right decision. Nikki is fortunate to have such an understanding father and mother.”
Despite pink dresses and long hair, Niko was created as a boy, is designed as a boy, and was intended to be a boy. I’m not discounting whatever gender dismorphia Niko might be experiencing, but I can’t believe that a life of hormone blockers and non-reversible gender reassignment surgery is speaking truth or being loving to this precious, sensitive, young man. Could it be his love for pink and all things that sparkle is not the result of his gender confusion, but more deeply rooted in the sensitive soul that God has created in him? Might it be that rather than hormones to hinder his sexual maturation, parents might try more earnestly to affirm the creative, artistic, aesthetically gifted young man God has designed him to be?
Is it being truthful to tell a boy he is a girl, knowing all along he will never be a fully realized woman, when he innately has the potential to be a fully complete man of God?
I want to stand with young men and women who are confused about their gender identity and are searching for hope and truth. I want to see young men and women living in the truth of their created self as male and female. But I am troubled by a culture that would allow a child born male to live out his life as a female. At six, a child would not be allowed to decide what to have for breakfast, but in this world can decide what gender he/she would want to be for the rest of his/her life.
While the marketplace is filled with the sounds of “vendors” offering counterfeits of truth and love that capture the hearts of hurting and lonely people, the Gospel continues to offer real truth and love that demonstrates itself by the very one who gives definition to both – Jesus Christ.