My Body & My Self

April 7, 2024 | Brandon Cooper
Brandon Cooper preached about embracing our identity as embodied beings created by God. He argued that we should accept our physical bodies instead of trying to change them. Cooper also discussed lovingly counseling those struggling with gender dysphoria to accept the bodies God gave them. The sermon encouraged gratitude for our bodies and living according to God’s design rather than our desires.


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Good morning church. You want to go ahead and grab your Bibles, you can open up to Psalm 139. Psalm 139, will be in verses 13 to 16. This morning, as you’re turning there, I remember reading in an article, it’s probably about a year ago, and I could not track it back down. So I don’t have specifics for you. But I’m someone who struggled with gender dysmorphia, I had said, and then I’m quoting here, during puberty, you know, my body began to go through changes that I did not consent to. I thought that that was a very interesting phrase, because there’s some assumptions underneath that expression. One, of course, and maybe most importantly, is that my body is separate from the real meaning non physical me that I am something more than my body. And so then my body might be out of whack with who I really am. And kind of a second assumption baked into that, of course, is that we have every right and every reason to make physical reality conform to our desires. And of course, we do this all the time. By the way, when you’re too hot, you turn on the air conditioning, there’s a physical reality of heat. And then through technology or technique, we try and make reality conform to what we want to experience. So we see these two impulses these these two assumptions all over the place today, of course, gender and sexuality, one of the big ones technology as well, so that we can control the physical world, especially with the rise of things like artificial intelligence, where there’s this idea that there’s kind of a mind separate from the physical. We’ve got body image issues, of course, like eating disorders, and what this is a real thing. You can look it up by the way, selfie dysmorphia, or at the more philosophical level, you see things like the rise of transhumanism, which is the idea that the next stage in evolution is that we actually unshackle ourselves from the constraints of the material world and become pure consciousness. You see this and of course, sci fi movies like The Matrix Ready Player One, the framework and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. We bring a lot of this into the church as well. I mean, think of some of our language, even when we will say things like, oh, you know, we’re all about winning souls. Not bodies don’t care about those. We’re just here to win souls. And of course, we see this how technology is shaping our approach to church as well with things like live stream and whatnot. You know, a lot of us can tell stories to our kids who almost don’t believe us. On Friday nights, we used to drive to a physical building, with a blue and yellow sign out front, and pick our way through a limited selection of VHS tapes to rent and bring home right? And that just almost seems unbelievable. Now, what if 20 3050 years from now we’re trying to tell our kids or our grandkids or whatnot, that on Sunday mornings we used to drive to a physical building, in order to gather physically with God’s people for church. What’s the point of this catalogue? Why are we going through all of this you can see we’ve got body issues. We got body issues today, like we need a sound Theology of the Body and a solid foundation on which to stand today, because we exist as our new series says, in the flesh, we exist in the flesh, we are embodied people, everything that we do involves a bodily experience. Right now for example, most of you are using your eyes to look at me perhaps somewhere else in the room as well unless you’ve already nodded off but that would be early even for my sermons. So you got your eyes when your brain your physical brain is processing the information that you are hearing you’re behind is planted firmly on the pew and your back depending on your age, you may be sitting up straight so you don’t have issues tomorrow or you may be slouching because you’re 18 and it doesn’t matter how you said your hands are perhaps and I hope clutching a physical Bible or perhaps they got a pen and paper for notes you see the point everything we do we do physically in a material world now someone when faced with that you know what what do we do with this whole idea that we are in our body some diminish the body as we’ve seen the real me is immaterial is mind or soul and as a result our body is just something we can shape it is like plastic to be molded so may exalt the body. There is no soul there is no immaterial me and so this life is all I got eat, drink, be merry, for tomorrow we die and so we obsess over looks or whatever else it may be how most of us I would say are just confused right now I don’t know how these two work together. That’s what we’re trying to address in this series, what we are and why it matters. So I’m gonna give you the big idea up front here. Now, it comes from a book called embodied written by Greg Allison, he is actually the father of one of our missionaries here at Cityview, the ones whose names I can’t say on a live stream, so you’ll just have to figure it out for yourself drawing a lot of from the series from that book, including our big idea today. He says up front and it kind of struck me I want you to be struck by it as well. So here’s the big idea for us this morning. I am my body. And of course you are your body’s isn’t the first person I am my body. Now. Let me just ask you right now, what was your first response? When you heard that statement? Did you agree with it? Or disagree with it? Are you still puzzling through it? And why exactly now I want to be clear here, I did not say I am only my body. Some of you may be going well. That’s my hang up. Okay, that’s fine. I didn’t say that. I am my body. And so we’re gonna see if that’s true as we soar through scripture, but then also gonna ask the question, what sort of body am I Exactly? And that’s really what we’re gonna look at in this series. What sort of body am I in relation to myself, which we’ll look at today, God and neighbor in the next couple of weeks. So starting with self again, Psalm 139, verses 13 to 16. Just upfront, let me tell you, we’re doing kind of a biblical theology of a body here. So I’m not going to like pick this one text apart the way we often do, but we’re gonna use it as a springboard look at some other texts as well. But here it is. Psalm 139, verses 13. To 16. David writes, For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body, all the days ordained for me, were written in your book, before one of them came to be, I am my body. So what sort of body am I first of all, first point here, I am a created body, you are a created body. In fact, a Theology of the Body intersects especially with a theology of creation, doesn’t it? And it intersects with some other places too, but it certainly with creation, and we would look at the creation account to to talk about the body God created man in His own image, male and female, He created them, it says in Genesis one. And so we are embodied by design. But not just the first two, it wasn’t just Adam and Eve, who were created bodies, but every individual as we see here in Psalm 139, David at least is saying, God created right there in verse 13, right God created our in most parts, he knit us together physically. He talks about our frame, probably our skeleton, right. And even though the unformed body like when we were still that formless zygote, that was God who created us if God created it you and me as bodies then that means that we cannot separate ourselves from our bodies. You don’t have a body you are a body and that’s a really important distinction. We are not just a ghost in the machine as some Enlightenment thinkers put it your body is not like a receptacle for the real you. I was picked when I think of this man in black which I rented a blockbuster years ago. You know, like the little alien who was like working the big human guy like that’s how some of us here like there’s a real me inside this, this body that’s there. But no, in fact, let’s look at Genesis two seven against Elon the creation account, I want you to notice something. So here’s Genesis two seven, the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Notice what happened there. God didn’t make a soul first, and then find a place to stuff it. Like leftovers in Tupperware, God made a body first, and then breathed life into it in the word breath is the same as the word spirit. You see how significant our bodies are, then it’s Carl Truman says there is no i behind or before the body. There is no us that exists logically let alone chronologically independently of our flesh. And that is then randomly assigned to the bodies we have. It is inseparable my body is inseparable from who I am.
Now, some of you are saying, Yeah, but what about when we die? Which is a fair question. Paul says Second Corinthians five as long as we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord, and so isn’t the longing and then err to be away from the body and actually home with the Lord elsewhere. He says it’s better by far to depart and be with the Lord. It is true that after we die, our disembodied souls or spirits go to be with Christ. But that is a temporary state, as we await the glorious physical resurrection that is coming. Paul says that I already quoted Second Corinthians five, your second Corinthians five verse four, for while we are in this tent, temporary dwelling art body, right? We grown in our burden because we do not wish to be unclothed. Nobody, right. We do not wish to be unclothed, but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling our resurrection body so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life, We long to be truly embodied. So it’s quite clear, right? I am my created body. physical embodiment, is the proper state for our existence. In fact, we could not do what God called us to do if we weren’t embodied if we weren’t physical. may think of the Creation mandate, God creates Adam and Eve and then he says, Be fruitful and multiply fill the earth and subdue it. To be fruitful and multiply that requires a physical act. And to work the earth especially to bring forth food from the Earth is a physical act, and for a physical end to feed ourselves. It’s so fascinating to because we have these Gnostic tendencies in Christianity, Gnostic is one of the earliest heresies and is basically saying there’s a difference between flesh and spirit and that flesh is bad matter is bad spirit is good. And so once we get rid of all the flesh stuff, we’ll finally be fine. Where do we see these Gnostic tendencies in the church especially, and always have in those two areas food and sex? Those are the two that keep coming up even in the early church. Here’s Paul writing in First Timothy, these were within decades of Christ’s death, Paul hasn’t even been murdered yet. And already, this tendency has shown up listen to what he says First Timothy, For the Spirit clearly says that in later times, some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. This sounds intense, right? Like what’s going to be taught by demons here? We must be denying Christ. Maybe there’s no God at all, or something like that. What is it? No, they forbid people to marry, and order them to abstain from certain foods. That’s what’s being taught by demons, to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth for everything God created is good. And nothing is to be rejected. If it is received with thanksgiving. You see his point? I mean, this is not the only passage in the New Testament dealing with food and sex, of course, and should we be careful with created stuff? Yeah, absolutely. Should we reject it outright, not a chance, not a chance. Instead, it is actually to be received with gratitude, because of the physical bodily pleasure we receive. I mean, just think of this as an implication of the Theology of the Body very definitely. But like, we should enjoy food. God did not have to set up the world this way. He did not have to be nutritious and delicious. Like that’s bonus, right? In fact, you watch sci fi dystopian movies and whatnot. And inevitably, they’re always eating this like thin, colorless gruel. But it’s nutrient packed. Like, who cares? I don’t want that future. We are meant to enjoy food, we should be giving thanks to God as we eat it. But this thinking just creeps into the church. I’m not so sure about the body. I’m not so sure about the flesh. In fact, isn’t flesh bad? I mean, Galatians chapter five. What are we supposed to do with the flesh? Were to crucify the flesh with its desires and passions. There you have it, the flesh is bad. Sure, but Paul uses the word and the Bible uses the word flesh in different ways. We don’t want to be guilty of equivocation. And so Paul often uses the word flesh as a shorthand for our sinful nature. That’s what Galatians five is talking about? Yes. But he also uses flesh is just, you know, part of God’s creation that the meat that is on our bones, and that is not bad, but good. In fact, God said it was very good when he was done making it. I mean, David knew all about sinful flesh, didn’t he? He had some problems with created stuff, Bathsheba comes to mind, and yet he’s the one who’s writing. God created me, knit me to get I’m fearfully and wonderfully made in the flesh. Our language shapes our thought. And so I think we got to be careful how we talk. You’ll see this sometimes, perhaps somebody has told you at some point in your discipleship that you need to steward your body well, you steward your finances you steward your time you need to steward your body. That’s a weird way to phrase it, isn’t it? You steward your soul. You don’t steward your your steward gifts that you have been given, not who you are. I understand the idea. Maybe we should steward our health or something. I get that like, yes, exercise and diet. We’ll talk about that. In this series. We got to be careful here winning souls, as I talked about before, another very weird way to phrase it is a quote often attributed to CS Lewis, it’s probably not from him, I’m pretty sure it’s from George MacDonald was a brilliant writer. And he got some things wrong, though, for sure. Much like CS Lewis, but DoorBird Donald said this, you don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body? And we have to go no, no, that’s wrong. That’s exactly wrong. You are a soul you are a body. And why does this matter? And what are the implications, even applications of this truth that I am I created body? First of all, it means that we are purposefully made. See that in verse 16, right, all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be God had planned us out and gave us purpose, what that means, by the way, and I don’t know if this hits gonna hit home for some of you or not, but no one of you is unplanned. Like no matter what happened with your parents, you are not unplanned in God’s eyes, he knit you together in your mother’s womb, you are fearfully and wonderfully made and given purpose. Not only are you purposely made, but you are also personally made, as we seen there in verse 13, fearfully, wonderfully made created in most being knit together in our mother’s womb, we all have the body that God designed for us. Now, there is a giant caveat here, and I’m not gonna get into today we’ll talk about a little bit more next time, which is we also live in a fallen world. And we feel that bodily in a lot of ways, of course, so there is some brokenness here. Absolutely. Do you have the body that God designed for you? And that actually matters? Do you have your dad’s nose in your mom’s eyes? And then kind of wish that maybe you’d gotten the reverse or something? God made you personally. And he is the consummate artist, he did not make any mistakes, when he made you. And if what you are is not accidental, then it is not incidental. This is the body God designed you to have. And so your first response should be gratitude, gratitude, are you grateful for the body God made for you? How can you embrace the goodness of your physical embodiment, I am my body what sort of body am I am I created body second point, I am also a finite body, you are a finite body. We see it in verse 13. Of course, we are knit together in our mother’s womb, bound like really bound there by space. And of course, also bound by time which we see in verse 16. All the days ordained were written before one of them came to be that we will exist at a certain point in time, and exist in a certain physical space. That’s kind of the points of verses seven and eight as well. David saying, Where can I go from your spirit, we’re gonna flee from your presence, if I go up to the heavens are there if I make my bed in the depths, you are there, if I go that way, if I go that way, you are always there. God is omnipresent. In other words, God is everywhere, and I most certainly am not. And you are not. He is omnipresent, you and I can only be in one place at a time, which is often a bummer. Some of you have probably lamented that fact, more than once, God is also eternal. Whereas you and I, we had a beginning. And we will have an end, at least in terms of this bodily existence. A lot of us just memorize Psalm 90 and journey groups, you know, our days may come to 70 years or 80, if our strength and yours if our strength endures. That’s not short, 80 years, 100 years, not short, but it’s not exactly long either is it? We occupy a specific time and a specific place. And we do so as specific individuals as well. I can only be me, you can only be you. I am this height in this body, right this hair color, this eye color, this skin color. That’s who I am.
And we have certain experiences as well that shape us like I was born here, which means I speak English, for example. And I have experiences based on where I came in history. Like some people lived through the Great Depression or World War Two Vietnam or something. 911 COVID. Like those are specific experiences that we experienced the specific individuals. I’m not sure we understand just how completely shaped we are by our cultural moment. Oh, David Morgan is material culturist And he says this He says people count They cut their meat Bay’s put on clothing, sit, squat, gesticulate, wave and laugh in ways peculiar to the social bodies to which they belong. Tribe, city, nation, race or religion. Think about that you count the way you count because of when and where you were born. Do you go like this 123 Or like this 123. I lived cross culturally, for seven years, I grew up counting like this. And I now count like this weirdly, because of the cultural experiences that we have had, like we are finite and our finitude as expressed bodily. Now this can be so challenging for us. Like we want to be more like a god in these ways. omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, the holiness thing, whatever Take it or leave it right. But I’d like to be like God here is that gesswein says, I love this is like Mark me for life. When I read this, he says, we don’t ever have to confess, you know, sin, that we failed to be omnipresent, that you couldn’t do all the things you feel like you needed to do, because you couldn’t be in two places at once. What we need to confess, is thinking like we should be omnipresent, and trying to pretend like we are omnipresent because in contrast, the infinite God, we are so decidedly finite, and will remain so in glory. By the way, we will eventually get full holiness in Christ, we never get Omnipotence that’s not ours to possess. Now, I want to argue a lot in this series, that it is the height of wisdom. And this is, by the way, a very definite point of contrast between a Christian framework and a modern, secular humanist framework, that it is the height of wisdom, to conform ourselves to reality, instead of attempting to reverse trying to conform reality to our selfish desires. And that means that as real physical people living in a real world, one thing we do is embrace our finiteness are limited in this like that is part of what true freedom is understanding what we are not free to do. And Tim Keller makes this point and he says, you know, a fish is freest when it’s in the water. When it finally breaks out of the shackles of its you know, habitat or whatever and gets out on land, it is not free any longer. Not for long anyway. And that’s how we are to like I was not because of my height, my weight, and my athleticism was never free to play in the NFL. And it just would have been foolishness to try that. And yet, that’s the folly that so many of us have, of course, to be what we are not to strive to be what we are not, we see this in some weird way. So like BBC, not too long ago, ran a program, it was phenomenally popular and spawned a whole bunch of like copycat programs was called 50 places to see before you die. They were not located in the same place on Earth. Of course, you know, you got to go all over the place. In other words, you almost had to transcend your finitude. I mean, you just talk about like, a first world approach to all of this, right? Like, you got to make sure you go on all these luxury vacations before you die. So I got money issues with all that too. But the point is, you got to go everywhere and see everything. That’s what a bucket list is, right? I’m not against travel, I enjoy travel very much. But I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, the bucket list is for glory. Like we’re gonna have a new heavens and new earth, you have lots of time to travel and see all that stuff, then, right now, it may be better for us to echo Mordekaiser point to Esther. Like, what if God made you for such a time as this? And let me modify it slightly for such a place as this, here and now to where you are supposed to be? Why does this matter? What are the implications, even applications of this truth that I am my finite body? Let me just suggest a few here. One thing I would encourage you to do is actually to map out yourself, like figure out who exactly you are. Why did God put you here and now you know the way you’re made physically your gifts, your passions, your cultural experiences, what is your for such a time as this? We’ll talk about this more in week three, but just kind of get thinking about that. Now. Second way we embrace our finitude, live like we are finite. It’s really simple, really important. Sleep more. Not all of you were talking about sloth next week. But most of you we have a sleep epidemic in our culture. Fully 40% of American adults are poor getting less than six hours of sleep a night. The average need is eight hours that is an average need. I know exceptions. I work with one I don’t like him for For that reason, I’m like a nine hour guy. But why is it that we don’t sleep enough? Because we’re pretending to be God? I got too much to do. I’m indispensable. I’m too important. So I gotta get up and get moving. Pretend that I’m omnipresent and omnipotent, and never tiring. But only God isn’t ever tiring God, even young men stumble and fall, and youth grow faint and weary. Third, we’ll talk a lot more about this week three. But I think we need to take a critical approach to technology as well and critical just meaning we need to make good judgments about it. Because tech over promises, tech in particular promises us that we can now at last transcend space. And there are some beautiful applications that truth. Like when I look at missionaries who are across the globe, you know, it used to you just kind of kiss your parents goodbye and assume they’d be dead by the time we got back. We don’t have to do that anymore. I like watched Michigan when we were on the mission field. We didn’t have smartphones yet. But some of the people we were with had smartphones. And they were just like they’re doing that FaceTime thing like blew my mind. The first time I saw this FaceTime thing, they’re talking to their family back home in the States while they’re down there in Colombia, that’s fine. But the problem is that that tech can pluck us out of our God ordained finitude so that we are not present emotionally, mentally, spiritually, when our body is still present. Because we didn’t actually transcend space, you know what this looks like, because you’ve been out to dinner, you’ve looked over at the table next to you, or maybe it’s your table, and every single person has a glowing device in front of their faces, and no one is in here. And now for such a time as this experience. I am my body created body of finite body. Lastly, and here, we’re just you know, deep and I taught a class on racial unity this morning, and now we’re going to hit I am a gendered body. So we’re just checking all the boxes this morning. I am a gendered body, because part of what God knits together in the womb is our reproductive organs. I remember reading when Amy was pregnant with our first step by 20 weeks, a girl in the womb has all of her eggs already 78 million of them already present at 20 weeks like blows my mind that fact. But that makes sense because that is what God made us to be. And it’s right there. In the creation account. We already looked at it Genesis 127, and 28, male and female he created them. There it is right there’s a gender male and female he created them, then God bless them and said to them Be fruitful and increase in number which of course requires those sex differences. Male and female is important, by the way, because binaries dominate the creation account. Nothing and something is how it starts, God and everything else, light and dark Heaven and Earth Day and Night waters and land good and evil, the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil and the tree of life and it all climaxes in male and female. It is interesting, if you think about it, of all the differences between Adam and Eve. It is only sex that gets highlighted and celebrated. Why is it not tall and short? He created them short hair and long hair he created them. No, it is their sexual difference that is highlighted and celebrated. Because as Tim Keller says male and female have unique, non interchangeable glories, they each see and do things that the other cannot. Now our sex male and female is not accidental. It is not incidental, it is fundamental to who we are. I am my gendered body.
I know that’s not how we see it. Today, always. We have on the one hand separated sex and gender. There’s some reason for that we’ll come back to that in a moment. But we will use terms even like gender identity, which is saying what that my body is not the real me. Science, by the way, does not agree here. Absolutely every cell in our body, including the cells that fall off as we shed our skin because dust we are into dust we are actively returning. Every single cell in our body has 23 pairs of chromosomes. 22 of them are identical male and female autosomal chromosomes. But that 23rd One, there’s a bit of a difference. This last pair, women have x and x and men have x and y. We are male or female, all the way down at the molecular level. Now quick caveat. I gotta say it of course, that’s talking about our essential sex, not the expressions of our sex which do vary culture to culture, of course. First, we have to separate male and female from masculine and feminine, which can take on specific time and place bounded characteristics, some of which may be unhealthy as well like sexism is a real thing. That’s not we’re talking about right here, at least we’re talking about our essential sex. Why does this matter? What are the implications, even applications of this truth that I am my gendered body? We start with gratitude again, are you grateful God made you male or female? Or is there anything holding you back from embracing your maleness or femaleness? That’s like at this point, of course, we can’t hide from the elephant in the room, gender dysmorphia, which is something usually sets in right around puberty that we talked about in the introduction, right, that opening quote was during puberty, this person, bodies that are going through changes that it didn’t care for. And what we have to be really careful about here is to say, the feelings of gender dysmorphia are very real. Like, even if the being, you know, the wrong sex in your body, and that is not real, as we’ve seen, and we’ll continue to talk about the psychological distress is very real. And it’s something we do have to talk about as Christians. But of course, this idea there’s been an explosion recently, right? It’s widely accepted now that this is that the truth? Why that is, is very interesting. Carl Truman, I’m quoting him already wrote a book called The Rising triumph of the modern self, it’s not easy. It’s probably worth reading still, it’s okay to stretch your minds a bit. But he was basically wrote the book to ask the question, why is it that now, all of a sudden, the phrase I am a woman in a man’s body make sense to a lot of us, when in every other culture every other period in history that you would just go that know what happened? So that now it’s an interesting thing, he says, first of all, we had to psychologize the self, so that the self became psyche, right soul mind, something like that. psychologize the self, then we had to sexualize psychology. That was Freud’s contribution. And then lastly, think, looking at the sexual revolution in the 60s and 70s. Especially, we had to politicize sexuality. Those are the three steps that we had to take. But those three have been taken now. And so that statement makes sense to a lot of people for those reasons. This is so recent, those Judith Butler in her book of gender trouble in 1990. Like not that long ago, Blockbuster days, yes. But not that long ago, she was the first one to say that our sexed body is a social construct. So again, not our gender expression, how we live out masculinity or feminine, but the actual physical body is a social construct. And so then the body is incidental, not essential to who we are. And so we basically end up at the spot where I am not my body. And fundamentally, the difference is what I keep highlighting, it’s the question, do we conform our desires to reality? Or do we try to conform reality to our desires? It’s that question, you know, it’s why everything I’ve said, so far matters so much, that we are created beings, and that that matters. It also means we did it in our catechism question, I am not my own, but belong body and soul to God. But that means I’m also created to exist within God’s reality. You want the fancy term for this? This is what’s known as natural law. So natural law is the idea that we can discern God’s design in nature, we can discern something about God was intending by paying attention to nature, not nearly as authoritative as understanding what God’s design is from Scripture. Okay, this is this is different. I want to make sure we’re clear about that. But the Reformers call it the second book nature you you can get something of God from looking at nature. Let me give you an example. I just made a controversial example. And some of you write me emails, and that’s cool. That’s fine. I got a spam folder. For him. It’s no big deal. No kidding. I read your emails, it’s fine. Here’s an example of natural law. A woman reaches peak fertility at age 23. That probably has implications for how we think about adulthood, marriage and procreation. Now, I did not say a bunch of things right there. I did not say every woman should be married by 22. And she started having kids at 23. I did not get into all sorts of stuff about infertility which is involves a ton of heartache, etc. Like a lot of stuff I’m not dealing with. What I am saying is that probably a culture is no longer in line with God’s will if as as true of our culture, and we’re stat I read just this week, the most common number of children a woman has At age 35, is zero in the US. Now part of that, of course, it might even be less than half because you could have 123, or in some strange cases, six children. And that’s too many. We know that. But now, why did I mention that of all the natural law examples that could have come with why that one because it involves then a similar approach, where we decide, look, actually, I can do what I want. And technology will help me overcome nature. So I can take a totally different approach to Roman, I can have fun during my 20s, let’s say fun during my 20s. And I can pursue my career and get as far as I want, I can worry about marriage, my mid 30s. And then in my late 30s, early 40s, I can decide to have kids, because if it doesn’t work anymore, we’ve got IVF, or whatever. And again, I’m not getting into all the IVF discussions, just leave that there another day. Okay. But of course, it doesn’t always work. I know, people personally, who who waited too long and not even IVF was an option for them. You see the idea, we try to overcome nature make reality conform to our desires instead of conforming to the reality we inhabit. And it is the same as gender dysmorphia. Because yes, sex change operations exist, but they are abject failures. For one really simple fundamental reason, you cannot change your sex. Because you are sex, every molecule every cell of your body. So what happens then when we use technology to try to do this, it doesn’t work until we hit puberty blockers for example. Don’t stop puberty, but they do mess you up pretty badly. They also do things like increase the risk of stroke, and brain swelling, and lead to bone density loss. Nevermind, of course, infertility that follows. And all of that for no actual change at the fundamental level, or cross sex hormones in adults, which lead to similar risks. Lots of men, for example, taking estrogen who are admitted to hospitals with acute chest pains and blood clots. Women who develop cancer when they’re on testosterone. Why? Because the male body was not created for that much estrogen. And you can’t just pump it in and expect that there won’t be implications. I understand that everything I just said right there is not popular today. But it’s not popular, not because it’s hateful, bigotry, all that charges certainly leveled against us. It’s not popular because it exposes the lie of bodily autonomy. Because we are not our own. And the real me isn’t, you know, carried around in this Tupperware that I can exchange at will I don’t want plastic is bad for the environment. I can’t put in the microwave. I’m gonna get glass Tupperware in stead. No, I am my body. God, the Creator made it personally and purposefully. I am who I am meant to be fearfully and wonderfully made, and that includes my sex. During 1949, the Nobel Prize for science went to the man who invented the frontal lobotomy was not that many decades ago, that we gave a Nobel Prize for a destructive act of mutilation. You understand why I mentioned that example? Because the church is not on the wrong side of history here. Not by any means scientific advances untethered from natural law reality, and God’s moral imperatives lead to some bad places. So how should the church respond then? In a word, our responses love, of course, because that sums up the whole law. We talked a lot about this in a recent series. Love, earnest desire for the Beloved’s ultimate good,
earnest desire for the Beloved’s ultimate good. The ultimate good is to live in submission to God’s reality and God’s purposes for your life. Now, there are some specific applications that I think we could talk about. For one we don’t stereotype, masculinity and femininity, and culturally harmful ways. I knew a young man who was basically convinced by his peers that he was gay, because he liked poetry and gardening. And that’s what women like. It’s somebody who likes poetry and gardening by the way, I take offense at this, okay. That’s what happens when we stereotype masculinity and femininity. And by the way, that was about 15 years ago today, he probably would not have been convinced that he was gay, he would have been convinced he was a woman. So we got to be really careful with that. Of course, we don’t get into cultural pressures either. And this is a word for parents, especially, like we could end up having some heartbreaking conversations even in this congregation. Absolutely. If you have kids who are struggling gender dysmorphia, and like the pressure to relent to give in would be overwhelming we cannot do it because if not The loving thing to do. One more thing we don’t do is we don’t place trans people outside the reach of God’s grace wherever they are in that process. In fact, there’s people who are suffering, which they certainly are, they are probably more open to the hope of the gospel than some of our friends and neighbors in Elmhurst who have a large bank account and insurance and a 401k. And they don’t really need Jesus in their minds. We don’t place them outside the reach of God’s grace. What do we do instead, of course, we embrace a spectrum of gender expression that is culturally bound, but also just unique to individuals as well. We lovingly counsel people to accept the body that God knit together for them, they are fearfully and wonderfully made. And we have to commit to being willing to provide long term care and counsel and friendship and love to those who are suffering to walk alongside them for a long time. I am my body, you are your body created, finite, gendered, fearfully and wonderfully made? All of that challenges our desire for bodily autonomy to get to do what we want with our bodies, but no, we are stuck with what the Creator gave us to understand. We don’t like that always. When we have that, like when the sinful flesh chafes at that notion. I think we gotta remember Jesus. We’ve actually not talked about Jesus yet. That is really unusual for us in a sermon of this length. But think about Jesus, Jesus is God Himself, eternally existent, infinite, omnipresent. And yet He became flesh. John 114 tells us the infinite All Mighty God takes on a body created, prepared. Hebrews 10 tells us, for him, a finite body and a gendered body, I might add. I mean, Jesus was Infant Jesus had all those armies that we wanted, and yet he, like squished them. For our sake, let’s say. Here’s the way Sam Albury talks about it. Because before that Jesus became about right, Jesus. You didn’t just wear a bowtie for a few years. Jesus is right now in the flesh like we are. Sam Albury says this, he says he could have turned up as a ready made 30 year old male prepared to immediately gather His disciples teach about God’s kingdom and head to the cross. But really becoming one took something more to truly become a human. Jesus needed to become a fetus in the womb, a baby in a cot, a teenager going through puberty, a fully grown man, it wasn’t enough to have a body, He needed to truly become one. And never forget, he did that for you. He made Himself nothing took on human flesh, made in human likeness, became obedient to his father and right in submission to his father, even to the point of death on a cross. It’s why Kyle read it for us earlier why you’re living Colossians 1:22 One more time, he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body, through death, to present you holy in a sight by Christ’s physical body. To save you, body and soul. Jesus had to become a body. He didn’t cling to his autonomy and submitted to his father, and we can too in our bodies. That’s where we’re headed next week. By the way, do join me in prayer now.
Lord, we praise you because we are fearfully and wonderfully made. And we know that full well. Well, we inhabit a broken world, and our bodies are broken in many ways. We can still see the goodness of your design and celebrate the fact that you made us as we are. Would you help us, Lord, to receive the good gifts of your creation with gratitude and to live a joyful, contented life in Christ, knowing that we are who you made us to be? We are becoming what you are remaking us to be, and that we are where we are supposed to be when we are supposed to be to serve your will and to worship your name. And that is our heart’s desire. We pray through Christ, amen.

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