- (Photo: Facebook/Desiring God)
Theologian John Piper responded to Time magazine's cover story on Laverne Cox, a transgender and star of the Netflix drama "Orange Is the New Black," explaining from the Bible that the genitalia is a revelation of God's design and that gender is not a matter of human choice.
"Is gender set by a preference of the individual, or a providence of God? Or to put it another way: Is my sex determined by my decision in my mind, or by God's design in my nature?" Piper asks in a post on the desiringGod blog in response to the cover story of the June 9 issue of Time with the subtitle, "On politics, happiness, and why genitalia isn't destiny."
Piper sympathizes with the past struggle of Cox, who says in an interview with Time, "My mother just had an inability to fully emotionally connect. . . . I never knew my father. He was never married to my mother, he was never a part of my life."
Cox adds: "I was very feminine and I was really bullied, majorly bullied. There was this side of me that was this over-achiever that loved learning. But then I was also taunted at school. I was called names. I was made fun of."
But the view of Cox about his gender is the exact opposite of what the Bible says, writes Piper, founder and teacher of desiringgod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
In the first chapter of Romans, the apostle Paul draws a parallel between the way nature teaches about God and the way nature teaches about male and female sexuality. "Nature is one of God's methods of revealing what we should prefer, even if we don't," writes Piper, who had served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minn.
Piper quotes Cox as saying in the interview: "Folks want to believe that genitals and biology are like destiny! All these designations are based on a penis ... and then a vagina. And that's supposed to say all these different things about who people are. When you think about it, it's kind of ridiculous. People need to be willing to let go of what they think they know about what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman. Because that doesn't necessarily mean anything inherently."
This reasoning is compelling only without God, Piper stresses, quoting William Ernest Henley, who says, "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul."
"God, the wise, loving, purposeful creator and designer of human life is the one who connects biological nature and sexual identity," Piper states.
God's divine nature is revealed in the physical, material universe, he argues. So much so that Paul says in Romans, "So they are without excuse" when they "exchange the glory of God for the glory of the creature," or when they "exchange the truth about God for a lie and worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator."
Piper adds that Paul then draws the parallel with human sexuality. "Just as physical nature reveals the truth about God, so physical nature reveals truth about sexual identity. Whom we should worship is not left to our preferences, and who we are sexually is not left to our preferences. Both are dictated by God's revelation in nature," Piper writes.
So if a human looks at the world and chooses to worship a creature rather than the Creator, he is without excuse, he says. "And if a man looks at his own body and chooses to play the part of a woman, or a woman looks at her own body and chooses to play the part of a man, they are without excuse … Genitalia is a revelation of God's design."
But there's a way out, Piper suggests.
"God knows what is best for humanity. He also knows the painful disordering of our sexual desires that came with the fall," he says. "We are all disordered in some measure in different ways. He promises to help us with our disordered loves so that we can enjoy measures of contentment in the midst of our necessary self-denial."
God will forgive anyone who turns to Christ for mercy and embrace Him in "repentance as our supreme treasure."