No one wakes up one day and chooses to have anorexia or gender dysphoria. And yet both of these deep-seated conditions produce intense psychological warfare for those who suffer from them. Much compassion and sensitivity is needed when assisting anyone in the midst of such a fierce internal battle.
Jena Morrow said something typical of those who suffer from anorexia: "I am forever engaged in a silent battle in my head over whether or not to lift the fork to my mouth, and when I talk myself into doing so, I taste only shame."
Likewise, gender dysphoria produces an ongoing battle inside a person's head. Jenny-Anne Bishop said, "I knew I was trans from about 3 or 4 years old." When young children come under such severe psychological oppression, it becomes terribly challenging as they get older to happily embrace the biological reality of their body.
According to Psychology Today: "Gender dysphoria (formerly known as gender identity in the fourth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Mental Disorders) is defined by strong, persistent feelings of identification with another gender and discomfort with one's own assigned gender and sex."
Gender dysphoria and anorexia produce fervent emotions, desires and perceptions, along with plenty of guilt, shame and confusion. The inner turmoil results in much misery.
Laurie Halse Anderson describes anorexia this way: "The only number that would ever be enough is 0. Zero pounds, zero life, size zero, double-zero, zero point." Lynn Crilly writes, "Anorexia is not an illness of the body; it is an illness of the mind."
What if in trying to relieve the anxious feelings caused by anorexia, a person chose to have liposuction in hopes of solving the problem? Would liposuction get to the root of the psychological issues weighing upon the individual's heart and mind? Would it make the personal pain disappear, or would a surgical "quick fix" only make matters worse?
On one hand, it might make sense to an anorexic to opt for liposuction in an effort to become even thinner. But is it a wise approach? Could you in good conscience encourage a friend or relative with anorexia to undergo liposuction to help relieve their fear and anxiety? In contrast to such a drastic and unrealistic "solution" to anorexia, this eating disorder resource offers real hope and practical help.
Psychological warfare tends to be all-consuming, and it poses a grave threat to anyone who faces it on a daily basis. All of us are prone to making poor choices whenever mental stress and spiritual attacks heat up. Unfortunately, ill-advised decisions in the midst of hostile circumstances only exasperate our situation.
J. Fernandez writes, "I came out as a trans guy and transitioned. I took testosterone; I've had top surgery (chest reduction) and then a hysterectomy in 2015. The hormones and surgery is about aligning my body to what it should have been at birth. Being born with the correct parts would have made things easier."
Did she actually have "the wrong parts" on her body when she was born, or did her oppressive psychological condition become full-blown only after she began to embrace "the wrong ideas" that entered her mind? What begins as gender confusion can start to slide into the realm of self-deception. Some things that start out as playful curiosity end up turning into a full-scale psychological addiction. And dangerous addictions lead to desperation.
Sex-reassignment surgery is a desperate attempt to address gender dysphoria. And yet a surgical quick fix actually ramps up the pressure the person had hoped to eliminate. The Wall Street Journal cited the largest study of its kind concerning those who have had sex-reassignment surgery, and found they are almost 20 times more likely to commit suicide than the rest of the population. (This 30-year study in Sweden involved 324 people.)
The bottom line? Surgical quick fixes are not at all what they are cracked up to be. And yet the promotion and celebration of gender transitioning continues to gain steam today. This doomed philosophy led me to write an article last year entitled: "Will America's Public Grade Schools Become Transgender Mills?"
When menacing ideas consume your mind, it is misguided to assume that changing the outside will magically make the pressure on the inside go away. Anorexia and gender dysphoria are rooted deep in a person's psyche. Sadly, radical surgical procedures simply mask the deep lingering issues that are ever-present and persistently attacking a person's sense of well-being. No one should ever be steered in that dangerous direction.
John Whitehall, professor of Paediatrics at Western Sydney University, says that "up to 90 percent of children who question their sexual identity will orientate to their natal sex by puberty."
Therefore, it is critical to speak the truth in love to those children and preteens who are engaged in a daily battle with ideas that run counter to their genetic makeup. "Men and women have practically the same set of about 20,000 genes ... but only males have a Y chromosome." Even when psychological struggles become fierce, hormone therapy and surgery do nothing to change a person's genetic makeup.
We tend to make terrible mistakes when feeling driven by the howling winds of a psychological storm. These storms make it difficult for us to think straight. If you or someone you love is struggling with anorexia or gender dysphoria, there is no quick fix for these tenacious tendencies. But there are excellent resources available, and there is a loving Creator who is willing to assist anyone who calls upon Him in spirit and in truth.
God created man and woman with a body, soul, and spirit. You are not an accident. You were created in God's image. If you experience feelings and desires that contradict your genetic makeup, it does not mean that God made a mistake when He created you. It simply reveals our deep brokenness and our desperate need for God.
Sin has disrupted our world, and it corrupts our ability to grasp what is real, true and eternal. All of us have been deceived at times by feelings, desires, cravings, ideologies, and newfangled approaches to dealing with stress, pressure, uncertainty, and personal pain. Each one of us has missed the mark and fallen short of God's perfect will for our lives. And yet at the same time, God loves us; Christ died for us, and the Lord wants to work in our heart and mind in order to teach us what is true and beneficial for our body, soul and spirit.
The Word of God is our guide, and Christ is our light. If we will look to Him, He will help us confront our challenges honestly and biblically. Psychological and spiritual warfare calls for spiritual weapons, and the power of God's Word is available to us for every battle we face. "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Cor. 10:4-5)
Straight thinking is the only effective path to straight living, and to wholeness of body, soul, and spirit. (1 Thess. 5:23) It is critical for a person to believe the truth and reject the lies that often attach themselves to personal pain, trauma, and feelings of insecurity and fear. Lies only multiply the degree of despair people experience, and it stems from our fallen world, our broken bodies, and our faulty thinking.
Each one of us is far from perfect, and our various imperfections tend to fight for supremacy and clamor for control in our heart and mind. When one or more of our imperfections is dominating our thought life, we are consumed with a counterfeit ideology rather than God's will for our life. And it's a counterfeit plan that absolutely cannot satisfy our soul. The sooner we come to terms with this dynamic reality, the better.
Jesus will meet you right where you are at today, and He will help you if you will call on Him in humility, contrition, sincerity and truth. Will you reach out to the Lord today and ask for help? Here is a prayer that may help you speak to the Lord from your heart as you bring your brokenness to the One who gave His life for you on the cross:
"Lord Jesus, help me in the midst of the psychological storm I am facing. Be my rock and my fortress in the midst of the intense pressure I am facing. Be the anchor for my soul. Deliver me from any ideas that are a threat to my emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. Give me a deep hunger for Scripture as I begin to feed my soul on a daily diet of your Word, and consume my mind with the truth about myself, my condition, and your unconditional love for me."
"In addition, I also ask you Lord Jesus to be my Savior, my friend, and my guide in everything I think, say, and do. Fill me Holy Spirit with power and wisdom. And protect me Heavenly Father from those ideas that threaten my peace, my joy, and my purpose for being here. From this day forward, I commit my life to you Lord Jesus. May thy Kingdom come and thy will be done here on Earth as it is in Heaven. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen."
Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska.