Tribulation Saint

Historic Christianity in the Twenty First Century

Month: June, 2015

THE SAME-SEX MARRIAGE CASE

          Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its long awaited decision on same-sex marriage. And, as expected, it legalized homosexual unions in all fifty states. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion for the majority, with Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito all writing dissenting opinions. Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, relied heavily on the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution to make his case, while the dissenters complained bitterly of judicial overreach, and suggested that the matter should have been left to the political process to resolve.

The decision changes nothing, and it changes everything. It changes nothing in the sense that it basically ratifies the tremendous changes that have taken place in public morality over the past fifty years. The fact of the matter is that the only reason that same-sex marriage is even conceivable today is because we have largely reduced marriage to a legal technicality. If one does not need to be married in order to have sex, if marriage does not entail specific gender roles, and if one does not need to stay married if one does not wish to, then what is the point of marriage? The best answer that the Court could produce is that it provides certain government benefits, and in some vague way leads to happiness and fulfillment. Today we have accepted as normal single parent families and absentee fathers. Thus all that the Supreme Court is to encase the modern dysfunctional family model in cement and make it virtually impossible to return to the stable, two-parent family structure that we knew and expected in the ‘50’s and 60’s. What you see is what you get.

In another sense, though, the Supreme Court’s decision changes everything. It is a radical break with the past. We have now formally severed our connection with Judeo-Christian morality and 2,000 years of Western culture. Justice Kennedy, in his opinion for the majority, put it like this: “the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy” (opinion, p. 12). What is implied here is a distinctly non-theistic worldview in which we exist as autonomous entities. We are not accountable to any supreme authority outside of ourselves. As a result we are free to choose our own identity. The nearest that Justice Kennedy comes to acknowledging any system of morality is when he says that there are “those who adhere to religious doctrines” who “may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned” (opinion, p. 27). Thus morality is reduced to a matter of personal opinion and has no bearing on constitutional law. There are no absolute moral principles that are binding on all. It appears that we are now sailing through uncharted waters, and know not wither we go.

What are the consequences for society? It is impossible to know. As Justice Alito said, quoting his previous dissent in the DOMA case, “At present, no one – including social scientists, philosophers, and historians – can predict with any certainty what the long-term ramifications of widespread acceptance of same-sex marriage will be” (Alito, p. 6). But at least some of the Founding Fathers saw a connection between morality and public order. George Washington, in his Farewell Address, made the observation that, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” It is hard to see how democracy can survive if the public can never rise above narrow self-interest. When morality is gone, all that is left is the law of the jungle – might makes right.

But what does the Supreme Court decision mean for the religious community? Several of the dissenting Justices raised the specter of religious persecution. The problem is this: if you ask, what harm to gay couples suffer if they are denied marriage licenses, Justice Kennedy would reply that at least part of the answer is that it “demeans or stigmatizes” (opinion, p. 19), “. . . it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood,” (ibid.), and it “serves to disrespect and subordinate them” (p. 22). But if that were the case, would not opposition to homosexuality in the religious community amount to the same thing?   Logically, wouldn’t the government have to stifle opposition to same-sex marriage in the churches? Justice Kennedy sought to reassure religious conservatives that they would be given “proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths” (opinion, p.27). But, as Justice Thomas pointed out in his dissent, “In our society, marriage is not simply a governmental institution; it is a religious institution as well. Today’s decision might change the former, but it cannot change the latter. It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples” (Thomas, p. 15). And Chief Justice Roberts noted that, “Indeed, the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage” (Roberts, p. 28). He went on to say, “There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before the Court. Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.”

During the next couple of years churches, denominations and religious institutions will have to decide how to respond to this ruling. There will inevitable come a parting of the ways between those who wish to be socially acceptable and those who wish to be biblically orthodox. We are bound to see a major realignment in the religious scene as people’s loyalties become clear.

In the meantime we will have to give up the fiction that America is somehow a “Christian nation.” It is a nation at war with God. And as we learned from our experience with Roe v. Wade, it is virtually impossible to reverse a Supreme Court. It took the Civil War to reverse the Dread Scott decision of 1857. America is beyond redemption at this point. It is no longer possible to sing patriotic hymns like “My country, ‘tis of thee” and “America the Beautiful.” We have just entered the New Age.

THE BOOK OF REVELATION – I

 

Perhaps no book in the Bible is more fascinating and at the same time more perplexing than the Book of the Revelation. It has spawned numerous commentaries, debates, and even best-selling novels. It is, in fact, a book that has an important message for believers today. And yet we largely miss the point of the book, because we bring certain theological assumptions to it, and these assumptions obscure the theme of the book.

The most commonly held assumption is that the church will be raptured before the onset of the Great Tribulation. Since much of Revelation describes the events of the Tribulation, according to the Pretribulation Rapture theory these events will occur after the church is gone. Thus most of what the book says about the plight of the saints does not apply to us, and our main interest in the book is “when does it all take place”?

Many Christians, however, would be surprised to learn that the Pretribulation Rapture view is largely without scriptural evidence to support it. Even its advocates admit that there is no passage that explicitly says that the rapture of the church will occur before the Tribulation. Instead they rely on a series of inferences to support their position. The inferences, however, are tenuous at best.

Another position that has a long history behind it is that of Amillennialism. According to this view there will be no literal, earthly millennial kingdom as described in Revelation chapter 20. But the proponents of this theory typically use an ingenious method of interpretation to support their view – the “Recapitulation Theory.” It is ingenious, too ingenious in our estimation. It amounts to forced exegesis.

We believe that if the theme of the book is traced from beginning to end a startling but coherent interpretation emerges: the church will go through the tribulation, its faith will be severely tested, and it will be rewarded if it remains faithful to the end.

The message was directed initially to seven actual churches that existed in the Roman province of Asia (the western part of the modern country of Turkey) in the First Century. It was a time of persecution, apparently during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian (A.D. 81-96). John himself, who received the revelation, had been banished to the island of Patmos off the coast of Asia Minor.

The Revelation begins with a description of Jesus as “the ruler of the kings of the earth . . . who loved us and redeemed us from our sins”   Thus the book begins by establishing two basic facts, Christ is the sovereign Lord of history, and believers occupy a privileged position in the scheme of redemption. The text then goes on to say, “He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him . . .” (1:5-7; NKJV). This, of course, is a reference to the Second Coming of Christ, which is the focal point of the book.

Chapters 2 and 3 contain individual letters to the seven churches. All but two of the churches (Smyrna and Philadelphia) are criticized for their spiritual and moral laxity and are told to repent. Several churches, however, are commended for their perseverance. Significantly, the Greek word for “perseverance” (hypomone) occurs seven times in the book – it is, in fact, a major theme.

The church at Philadelphia is told about an “hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world” (3:10), an apparent reference to the Great Tribulation. And the purpose of the Tribulation is stated: viz., “to test those who dwell on the earth.” Each of the seven letters concludes with a promise to those who “overcome” (nikao – to conquer, prevail, be victorious, overcome). It is an ominous glimpse of what lies ahead.

In Chapter 4 attention is turned to “which must take place after this” (4:1). The vision of the future begins with the scene in heaven. Chapter 4 describes God as sitting on a throne, a symbol of power and authority. Then, in chapter 5, we are introduced to “the Lion of the tribe of Judah,” (v. 5) who turns out to be a Lamb! Although a Lamb, he is One who can break the seals on the scroll – to unlock the seals of history.

Then follows a succession of seals, trumpets, and bowls. Each event in heaven presages a corresponding event on earth: wars, natural disasters, and persecutions. The implication is that what happens on earth is controlled by decisions made in heaven. History does not unfold by accident or blind fate; it is purposefully guided by the hand of God.

The rationale for what happens in the end times is given to us in Rev. 6:9-11. After the fifth seal is opened the martyrs of the past cry out, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” The answer given is that the martyrs of the past “should rest a little while longer, until both the number oftheir fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.”

In Chapter 7 we are introduced to the 144,000 who are sealed on their foreheads, and after them a numberless multitude “of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues,” who are described as “the ones who came out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” To these are given a promise: they are before the throne of God, and God will dwell among them; “They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (7:9-17).

More natural disasters follow, and yet mankind still does not repent (9:20,21). Then, in Chapter 11 we are meet the two witnesses who prophesy for 3 1/2 years. They are gifted with supernatural powers, but are ultimately martyred and then resurrected. We then are shown the scene in heaven, in which the 24 elders fall on their faces before God and worship Him,

“. . . Because you have taken Your great power and reigned.

The nations were angry, and your wrath has come,

And the time of the dead, that they should be judged,

And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and saints,

And those who fear Your name, small and great,

And should destroy those who destroy the earth.” (11:17,18).

And thus the theme of the book is announced. It is about the justice of God, vindicating the persecuted saints and punishing their oppressors. And all of this reaches a climax with the appearance of the Antichrist.

THE RAPTURE – WHEN?

Gustave Dore: The Vision of Death

Gustave Dore: The Vision of Death

 

Recently I had the opportunity to engage in a brief but spirited debate on another blog (www.holdingforthhisword.wordpress.com) about the timing of the Rapture, that moment in the future when the church is removed from the earth and taken up to heaven. The blogger at holdingforthhisword, whose name is Eliza, takes what is known as the Pretribulation Rapture position, i.e., that the Rapture will take place just before the Antichrist appears and the Great Tribulation of the End Times begins. I, on the other hand, take the opposite position. I am convinced, on the strength of Scripture, that the church will remain here on earth through the Tribulation, and that the Rapture will take place at the Second Coming of Christ.

 

How to interpret Scripture

I would want to point out at the very beginning one central fact in the case: there is no passage of Scripture anywhere in the Bible that explicitly states that the Rapture will take place before the Tribulation. The idea of a Pretribulation Rapture is based on inferences, and one pretty much has to presuppose the whole Dispensational scheme of theology to make the inferences hold. No one other than Dispensational theologians has ever found a Pre-trib Rapture in the Bible.

But the proper way to approach Scripture is inductively – let the text speak for itself. We should come to Scripture with a humble and teachable mind, with no preconceived notions or personal agendas. Wherever possible we should take the words of the text in their natural sense, and we should follow the train of thought as it is developed in the context. As one old preacher put it years ago, “If the plain sense makes horse sense, seek no other sense.” What we do not want to do is impose some preconceived system of theology on the text. As Eliza herself likes to point out to people who disagree with her, we should follow Scripture, not human authority. If ever such helpful advice was needed, it is on a topic such as this one.

Eliza’s thesis

            Eliza has written no less than three different blog posts in one day (June 13) on the subject of the Rapture, and she states her central thesis in the first post (“The Rapture: Part One”): “The tribulation is the declared wrath of God poured out upon this world for embracing lawless sinfulness and brazenly, sinfully rejecting God and His Son Jesus Christ.” She then quotes, in full, a number of passages of Scripture from various parts of the Bible: Jeremiah, Isaiah, Luke, Acts, II Thessalonians and Revelation. She then draws her conclusion: The passages above reveal God’s wrath is poured out on unbelievers, not His children. The tribulation is the execution of God’s wrath upon the sinful world; He is not going to include His precious children under that judgment.”

The conclusion, however, is a non-sequitur. The fact that God is pouring out His wrath upon this world during the Tribulation does not preclude the possibility that other things are going on as well. And the plain fact of the matter is that during the Tribulation there are “saints” who are being persecuted by the Antichrist.

Eliza tries to get around this difficulty by arguing that the saints who are persecuted during the Tribulation are a different group of people from the church. Commenting on Matt. 24:31 in “The Rapture: Part Three” she states, “This indicates that Jesus will already have His elect in heaven with Him, those that He has raptured before the tribulation, and will gather the tribulation saints, believers save through faith in Christ Jesus during the reign of Antichrist and the tribulation, from earth at the same time.” Here she is attempting to make a distinction between “His elect” and “the tribulation saints.” But what is the difference between the two? Are they not both elect, and are they not both God’s beloved children? If it would be unthinkable that God would allow the one group (“His elect”) to pass through the Tribulation, why would He allow the other to? Does He love the one group more than the other?

But the Bible itself makes no such distinction between the two. It is a classic example of Dispensational theologians reading something into the text that is simply not there. In Rev. 6:9-11 (which Eliza quotes in a different context) the martyrs already in heaven cry out, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And the answer they receive is that “they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed” (NKJV). In other words what we have here is the Church Triumphant (the saints already in heaven) and the Church Militant (the saints still here on earth). But it is all one church, the Bride of Christ: they are “fellow servants” and “brethren.” And many of the ones still on earth are destined to suffer martyrdom.

I & II Thessalonians

Some of the passages cited by Eliza in her blog posts point to the exact opposite conclusion from the one she draws. To look at the references from I & II Thessalonians, in I Thess. 4:13-18 (the classic passage on the Rapture) Paul specifically states that the Rapture will not take place until after the resurrection of the just, and that, in turn, will not take place until after the Antichrist is defeated at the Battle of Armageddon (cf. Rev. 20:4-6). And in I Thess. 5:1-11 Paul states that the “the day of the Lord,” and with it “sudden destruction,” will come “as a thief in the night.” But then Paul tells the Thessalonian believers, “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief” (v. 4). They will not be surprised when it comes because they will have been expecting it. But the implication is that they will be here on earth to witness it when it happens.

In II Thessalonians Paul commends the Thessalonian believers “for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure” (v. 4). This is what is so hard for the average American Christian to understand. If we are God’s beloved children, if He has promised to answer prayer, why would He allow us to suffer persecutions and tribulations? And yet this was precisely the experience of the Thessalonian Christians. But then Paul goes on to say that God will “give you who are troubled rest with us.” When? “. . . when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God . . .” (vv. 7,8). The clear implication is that Christians will not experience rest from persecution until the Second Coming of Christ.

Eliza also cites II Thess. 2:1-14 in which Paul describes “the man of sin” (i.e., the Antichrist). But Paul begins by saying, “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him” (v. 1). The Greek word translated “coming” is “parousia,” the term commonly used in the New Testament for the Second Coming of Christ. “Our gathering together to Him” almost certainly refers to the Rapture. Paul then tells his readers not to be misled into thinking that “the day of Christ” has already come. It will be noted here that Paul treats “the coming of Christ,” “our gathering together to Him,” and “the day of Christ” as one and the same event. He then specifically states that this event will not take place “unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition” (v. 3).

In none of these passages is there any hint of a Pretribulation Rapture. And when they are taken together the picture they present is a vastly different one from the one drawn by Eliza. What we see are persecuted saints suffering for their faith, and they look forward to the return of Christ at the end of the Tribulation.

Conclusion

Yes, the Tribulation is a time when God’s wrath is poured out on a sinful human race. There are natural disasters, wars, and economic hardships. But in the midst of it all are faithful saints who refuse to bow the knee before Antichrist, and who suffer persecution and even martyrdom as a result.

One might ask the question, why would God permit such a thing? There are at least two answers to the question that we can see. The first is to purify the visible church. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Pet. 1:6,7). When Christ comes back to receive His bride, it will not be the carnal, worldly church we see today, but the church whose faith and love have been tested and purified by the flames of persecution.

Secondly, believers suffer during the Tribulation precisely so that when the final judgment from God on the wicked comes, it will be absolutely just. After commending the Thessalonian believers for their patience under trial, Paul goes on to say that this is “manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you might be counted worthy of the kingdom of God for which you suffer.” And then he adds, “since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you.” He then goes on to describe the Second Coming of Christ, as we have seen, and this will happen “when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints” (II Thess. 1:5-10).

We cannot tell for certain how close we are to the Great Tribulation. But it is becoming increasingly clear that the American church is about to enter into an experience that it has never had before – the challenge of remaining faithful to Christ while living in a hostile environment. Telling Christians that it is not God’s will that they experience tribulation is not at all helpful., and leaves them unprepared for what surely lies ahead.

LOVE v. LUST

Van Dyke, Family Portrait, 1621

Van Dyke, Family Portrait, 1621

 

It goes without saying that today we are obsessed with sex. We flaunt it, we make jokes about it, we advertise with it. Sexual taboos are rapidly falling. But, ironically, how well do we really understand it?

Psychologists will sometimes attempt to treat a condition they call “Sexual Dysfunction,” which they define as a disorder “in which the client finds it difficult to function adequately while having sex” (Durand & Barlow, Abnormal Psychology, 1997, p. 294). But there are a couple of problems with this definition. First of all there is the difficulty of defining what is “normal” in the absence of any clearly defined moral framework. When asked what constitutes normal sexual behavior Durand and Barlow answer, “it depends.” But more to the point, the definition simply addresses the problem of functioning adequately “while having sex.” In other words it simply looks at the sexual activity itself in exclusion from everything else that might be going on in the relationship, or even whether or not a meaningful relationship even exists at all. Sex is simply viewed as a physical activity that requires the proper technique. Sex is more or less viewed as an end in itself, the pursuit of pleasure for its own sake. But this often leads to sex without love.

The Christian approach to the subject is radically different. It says that we are first and foremost human beings, and that we relate to each other on several different levels at the same time. The physical side of our lives cannot be divorced from the intellectual, emotional and spiritual. We also have consciences, and can exercise moral discernment.

So what does the Bible say about sex? To begin with, it says that “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4; NKJV). Here it will be noted that sex within the bond of marriage is fine (contrary to some of the thinking of that day), while sex outside of marriage is not (contrary to much of the thinking of our day). Why?

The answer lies partly in the difference between love and lust. The two are easily confused. On the surface they look alike – we have a desire to be with someone and have an intimate relationship with that person. But beneath the surface the two are vastly different.

Love can mean a lot of different things. The ancient Greeks had a concept of love called eros, which simply meant a desire for something. The Greeks took it for granted that human beings are filled with desires, so for them the question was, what are the worthy objects of desire. On the most basic level eros was the desire for a sexual relationship with another person, often with a person of the same sex. Some Greek philosophers tried to argue, however, that eros was better directed toward something loftier, something like truth or beauty or virtue. But at the bottom of it, as an expression of desire eros was based on self-interest: we love something because it appeals to us in some way.

The Christian concept of love is quite different. In the New Testament Christian love is called agape, and is the willingness to sacrifice self for God and for others. The classic description of it is found in I Cor. 13:4-7: “Love suffers long, and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself; is not puffed up; does not behave rudely; does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” In other words, love puts the well-being of others ahead of ourselves and is prepared to sacrifice self-interest as a result. It “does not seek its own.”

Lust, on the other hand, operates on the complete opposite principle. While it is true that as human beings we are naturally filled with desires of various kinds, this is often a reflection of the fallen, sinful nature that we have inherited from our parents. “. . . we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind . . .” (Eph. 2:3). And those lusts, in turn, lead us to such things as “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness. . .” (Gal. 5:19).

In other words, the difference comes down to this: Love cares about others and looks out for their well-being. It makes commitments and shoulders responsibility. It is willing to sacrifice self for the sake of others. Lust, on the other hand, seeks physical pleasure as an end in itself, and uses and exploits others for our own advantage.

Husbands are told to “love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her. . .” (Eph. 5:25) The husband is to “so love his own wife as himself” (v. 33), and wives are also told to “love their husbands” (Tit. 2:4).

Thus is sex wrong? No, not at all. But it is the relationship that makes the sex and not the other way around. A husband and wife should admire and appreciate each other, should so desire each other’s company and companionship, that they would naturally want to express their love for each other in physical intimacy. Sex should be a celebration of a warm and loving relationship. The cure for sexual dysfunction is to repair the relationship.

The problem is not that we lack the techniques to heighten sexual pleasure. The problem is that we haven’t learned to love as we should. And when we seek to exploit each other for our own selfish ends we dishonor our Creator and degrade and demean each other. Without love, sex is largely and empty and meaningless exercise.

God intended something better for us.

THE END OF GENDER?

           This week the world stared in astonishment at the cover of Vanity Fair magazine which features former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner posing as a woman in a corset. The sight has prompted admiration from some, sympathy from others, and outrage from still others.

What are we to make of all of this? What is in view here is a stark contrast between two opposing views of human sexuality. But behind these two different views of sex there looms an even larger contrast between two different worldviews. Jenner’s actions strike right at the core of human existence: who are we as human beings, in what kind of universe do we live, and is there any universal set of norms to which we are required to conform?

We need to be perfectly clear about one thing: genetically Jenner is still a male human being – he has both “X” and “Y” chromosomes. He was born a male, he competed successfully as a male athlete, he was married to women three times and fathered several children by them. Physically he was a normal male human being. His decision to transition to a woman was based on his feelings and emotions.

Jenner says that he has suffered since youth from Gender Dysphoria, or Gender Identity Disorder, as it used to be called. What makes this claim a little hard to accept is that boys with Gender Dysphoria are typically effeminate, whereas Jenner went on to star in athletics. He did engage in cross-dressing years ago, but that might indicate a different condition known as “transvestic fetishism.”

But let us assume for the sake of the argument that Jenner really does suffer from Gender Dysphoria. There is a great deal of discussion and debate about what exactly causes this disorder, and many psychologists will say that it is still something of a mystery. There is evidence, however, that it is the result of a problem in early childhood socialization. An individual’s gender identity develops between the ages of 18 months and 3 years, and during that time a child’s relationships with his parents and peers is critical. In boys an overly possessive mother and a detached father is a common pattern.

But granted the diagnosis, what should the treatment have been? Logically we would think that there would be two choices: 1) try to change the mind to match the body, or 2) change the body to match the mind. Jenner chose the latter course.

But Jenner’s decision raises some profoundly disturbing moral questions. Does it matter what gender we are? Are we free to choose whatever gender we like? What kind of impact does that have on other family members, or society at large?

The transgender movement is the logical outgrowth of radical feminism, with its denial of gender roles. Radical feminism, in turn, is rooted in Existentialist philosophy, which held that existence precedes essence. In other words, as we come into the world (presumably through a blind, impersonal, natural process) we simply exist – we have no particular identity or “essence.” Our identity we acquire through our interaction with other human beings. Therefore in order to be truly free and equal we must create our own identity and force society to accept us as we are. Thus feminist pioneer Simone de Beauvoir could write, “it must be repeated once more that in human society nothing is natural and that woman, like much else, is a product elaborated by civilization . . . Woman is determined not by her hormones or by mysterious instincts, but by the manner in which her body and her relation to the world are modified through the action of others than herself” (The Second Sex, Conclusion). Thus society must be changed in order for women to be truly free and equal.

But what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Should men be confined to specific gender roles? Why should anybody be constrained to think or act or dress a certain way – or sleep with a member of the opposite sex for that matter? Thus, the logic goes, Bruce Jenner should be allowed to change his gender if he so desires. The mere fact that he was born a biological male should not constrain him to be one as an adult.

All of this, however, presupposes that God does not exist, and that therefore there is no reason or purpose for anything in life. But what if God does exist? Everything then would have a specific purpose and meaning because it was created by an intelligent Supreme Being. Sex exists for a specific reason and purpose, and we are not free to manipulate it any way we want in order to suit our own selfish desires.

Gender, in fact, is something created by God. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them’ (Gen. 1:27; NKJV). Eve was created to be “a helper comparable to” Adam (Gen. 2:18,20), and together they were to “be fruitful and multiply” (1:28). Thus men and women are different from each other (by design), and they have different roles which complement each other. Thus together a husband and a wife form a functioning family unit. But in order for the family to function the way it is supposed to both the husband and the wife have to fulfill the specific gender roles assigned to them.

One might be tempted to look at Bruce Jenner and sympathize with him. But where does that leave the rest of society? If we create the impression that there are no rules, that anything goes, then no one will feel obligated to do anything he doesn’t feel like doing. How, then, will anyone make a marriage work or successfully raise children? In showing compassion for one person we create a dysfunctional society, and in solving one individual’s problem we create a myriad of other problems. The latter end is worse than the former. Can we as a society afford to suffer the consequences?