[See also: Information on Re-publishing. Formatting is original.]
by Mike Ensley
A lot of people lately are talking about a complete overhaul
in the way our society thinks about sexuality and gender.
One of the biggest concepts being promoted is “fluid”
gender and sexuality. It’s coming to our attention
more and more that people are having a wide range of experiences
in their sexual attractions and responses. Some take this
to mean that our sexuality is meant for whatever it may
respond to, and people should experiment to try to find
their “true” sexuality. Straight, gay, bi and
trans can’t even cover all of what’s out there,
some are saying.
This same idea of fluidity is being applied to gender.
Many are considering that perhaps the binary (two-part)
concept of male and female is too rigid. After all, there
are so many people who grow up never feeling like they fit
into either of the stereotypical gender roles presented
to them by society. Some believe that this is evidence that
there are other sexes besides male and female, and society
should recognize and promote them.
But is this concept of fluid gender and sexuality for real?
The thoughts, emotions and urges we experience are certainly
real, but are we coming to the right conclusions about them?
One thing that we can all agree on is that gender and sexuality
are a beautiful and very important part of who we are.
Whenever an idea gets revolutionized in our culture, I
think there’s always something good behind it; some
wrong that needs to be made right. However, people have
a bad habit of swinging the pendulum too far in the opposite
direction, and ending up with a mistake that’s as
bad as or worse than what they were trying to change in
the first place.
I think there’s something to this “fluidity”
thing. We should all carefully consider what’s true
and beneficial—and what’s going too far. Here
are some of my thoughts.
sexuality is prone to a wide range of experiences.
FALSE: All sexual experiences are equal and should be accepted.
It’s absolutely a fact that humans have a wide range
of sexual experiences—by “experiences”
I mean attractions, urges, and physical responses. Our sexuality
is incredibly subjective, and tons of sex research has shown
it can be affected by numerous things.
I once read about a study where college-aged participants
were shown a picture of a regular object—like a shoe
or a ladder—then shown a pornographic image. After
several sessions of this “conditioning,” several
of the subjects reported experiencing a sexual response
when only looking at the regular object. Their brains had
associated the sexual picture with the non-sexual one.
It’s not uncommon for people to associate things
with sexual pleasure that don’t belong there. Some
people who are sexually abused—even raped—actually
experience arousal during the abuse. It’s not because
they liked it, and it doesn’t make the abuse right.
Our physical bodies simply respond to physical stimuli;
our organs aren’t aware of the situation. Still, an
experience like that can be very confusing, especially if
the victim is an adolescent.
A few people experience what is called a “fetish,”
which is an overwhelming sexual attraction or response to
an inanimate thing, like a piece of clothing or a household
object. Are they born that way? Many psychologists believe
this phenomenon can be traced back to a traumatic experience
in childhood, or simply a coincidental association they
made while discovering their sexuality in puberty. The thing
about sexuality is that it builds on whatever you associate
it with the more you indulge yourself. As these folks continue
to dwell on their fantasy (whatever it may be), they become
more attached to it. Soon, they cannot experience sexual
attraction or gratification without it. This can severely
cripple their ability to have a normal sex life and meaningful
relationships, even though the impulses originally occurred
quite naturally. Is it best for these folks to follow their
urges and be identified by them?
And just think, if people’s sexuality can be affected
in such extreme ways, then certainly it’s not far-fetched
to think that our sexual desires could become attached to
non-sexual needs and relationships, like those with friends
of the same sex.
The point is, our sexuality is subjective for a reason.
If you follow God’s design and save yourself for marriage,
then your sexual relationship with your spouse will help
you grow more attached and intimate with them in a special
way that only enhances your commitment and closeness with
each other. But, we know the world is fallen and imperfect;
our sexuality is going to be adversely affected. We’re
pulled this way and that by our attractions and curiosities.
This is why God has given us so many rules concerning our
sexuality: He wants to protect it and make sure we experience
it the way He intended! While the example of fetishes is
kind of on the extreme end of things, it’s a picture
of what happens to those who fail to discipline and protect
their sexuality. People who gratify whatever impulse or
desire they have won’t experience the intimacy that
sex was truly created for. They may talk like they’re
in control, but they are really slaves to the passions they
TRUE: Gender stereotypes in
our culture are too rigid.
FALSE: Not fitting in with a gender stereotype means you
aren’t that gender.
Some people say sex and gender are different. Sex is whether
you are biologically male or female; but gender, they say,
is how you feel inside. Your gender might match your sex,
it might not. Your gender might be male, female, a little
of both, or something completely different. Is that how
it is for some people?
Do you feel out of place in the world of ‘typical’
masculinity or femininity? Have a hard time thinking of
yourself as a ‘real’ man or woman? Join the
club! That may seem like a contradictory statement, but
it’s true! Most people struggle with feeling like
they don’t measure up to the standards of what a real
man or woman is. Many of us face feelings of doubt that
we can ever measure up.
Growing up in a small town, there were a lot of old-fashioned
beliefs and stereotypes I had to face. It seemed like every
boy was expected to try out for little-league baseball,
and then for football when middle and high school came around.
I tried all of these things, and failed miserably. I just
wasn’t athletic. That prompted a lot of my peers—and
even some grown-ups—to label me as a sissy.
In high school I discovered a talent for acting onstage.
I loved drama, and I was really good at it. But, it just
wasn’t seen as a masculine thing to do. During this
time in my life, it seemed to be more confirmation that
I wasn’t like the other guys—I was something
But as I’ve grown and matured a bit, I’ve realized
that our culture’s gender stereotypes are too rigid.
Masculinity isn’t about sports, fighting and womanizing.
You may be athletic, maybe not. If you’re talented
in dance, singing or acting, don’t you realize that
you’ve got the same spirit of daring and adventure
that God placed in the heart of quarterbacks and bodybuilders?
If you’re a girl who doesn’t like dresses or
‘girly’ things, do you think that means you
aren’t still beautiful and mysterious? Well, you are!
Yes, our culture makes a mistake in favoring these limited
ideas of what men and women are, but it’s only a greater
error to re-identify as something we are not just because
we don’t feel comfortable within that stereotype.
That doesn’t provide a solution for the stereotype;
it actually makes it stronger.
A lot of people say it’s dangerous to pursue counseling
to help bring your sexual identity in line with your faith
and the life you want, because they say we’re “born
that way.” But, in the next breath they will say it’s
safe and okay for some kids to take hormone-altering drugs
and even go under the knife to change the way they
were born, just because they’re confused.
Which do you think is more likely: that God accidentally
puts the souls of men in female bodies (and vice versa),
or that our understanding of our gender is just one of the
many paths human beings can get lost on?
Maybe you feel like you fit in more with people of the
opposite sex than the same. Perhaps you’ve considered
that you are someone of the opposite sex, or that you should
have been. You might be unsure exactly where you
You don’t need a new body, and you don’t need
to invent a new gender for yourself because God really doesn’t
make mistakes. There is great diversity within
the male and female genders, but the truth is that you don’t
need to go outside them to find you.