A Christian Biblical Response to Gender Dysphoria

1 Corinthians - I Need My Church  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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A Biblical Response to Gender Dysphoria


Main Point - Despite culture’s radically changing view of gender, God has created us a male or female, and He gave us complementary roles that do not change over time.

To set the stage for this study, it is necessary to discuss the background of this passage. Gender confusion is nothing new. Paul’s ancient audience wrestled with gender confusions and the roles of men and women in a manner similar to modern times. Even among the Corinthian believers, liberated women were throwing off their cultural restraints and defying traditional norms. Specifically, respectable Greco-Roman women wore head-coverings, but these emancipated women dispensed with covering their heads in public and during worship. Paul response is simple: the foundational truth underlying this entire passage is that Christ is our head, our source, and we are responsible to honor Him we our actions and beliefs.

First Truth - Practices change; principles are eternal.

1 Corinthians 11:2 “2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.”

The first significant item in this passage is Paul’s reference to Christian tradition. Too often liberals view themselves as enlightened or progressive, and therefore perceived religious traditions as naive, superstitious, or antiquated. At the other extreme, conservative evangelicals tend to view religious tradition as stale, ritualistic, or lacking vitality. Both groups of forget that first and second century Christians did not possess a complete New Testament, and that Christianity grew and thrived under the the oral apostolic tradition. Traditions are important and serve a legitimate purpose.
On the other hand, traditions have cultural elements that may change over time. Should Christians wear tassels on their clothes (Numbers 15:38-39)? No, obviously not. Neither must Christian men let their sideburns grow long. Similarly, do women need to wear head-coverings in church? No, however, the principle beneath the first century tradition still applies.
This is because cultural practices may change, but Christian theology and biblical principles that underly the practices do not change.
A head-covering was a sign of commitment to the spiritual leadership of her father or her marital bond to her husband. The modern wedding rings worn by spouses serve a similar purpose.

Matthew 13:31 “31 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.”

Second Truth - Men and women are equal spiritually.

1 Corinthians 11:12 “12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.”

Galatians 3:28 “28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

In Judaism, women played only minor roles in the synagogue. For example, women were not counted in the number required for Jews to form a synagogue in their community. Christ and his apostles, however, gave women new and significant roles within the nascent congregations. Christianity did not subordinate women in a congregation, but they elevated women to a level of equality with men. Consequently, In this epistle, which is one of the earliest books of the New Testament, Paul makes it clear that he does not support the subordination of women.
God created men and women to be partners, and in the Lord neither of them exists without the other. In this epistle, Paul refers to women as praying and prophesying during worship. You may not realize this, but prophesying literally means “to proclaim God’s message to God’s people.” Paul allowed women to preach. In Acts 21:9, Luke tells his readers that Philip the evangelist had “four virgin daughters, who prophesied,” and Paul condoned their spiritual work in his epistle to the Corinthians church. In this passage, Paul simply clarifies that when women get up in front of the church, their appearance should reflect that they are married and acknowledge that their husbands and fathers are the spiritual leaders in their homes.
Consequently, contrary to what some theologians would lead you to believe, Paul teaches fundamental gender equality. When he refers to men, or to God the Father, as the head of women and the head of Christ, he is referring to them as being the source of the other, not the superiors of inferiors.
Controversy has arisen over the reference to angels in verse 10, but the reference is totally understandable if you place it in its proper context. In the previous chapter, Paul refers to the demons, a.k.a. fallen angels, that participate in the pagan feasts and rituals. He was reminding the Corinthians Christians that there are spiritual forces at work behind the scenes of religious observance, even the rituals of the false religions.
In chapter 11, Paul’s attention has shifted to Christian worship and specifically the Lord’s Supper, so he reminds the Corinthians believers that there are similar spiritual forces on the side of righteousness present every time Christians gather for worship or celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
Scripture teaches that angels rejoice at the conversion of one sinner, (Luke 15:10), they watch over believers (Psalm 34:7), they protect the little ones (Matthew 18:10), are present with believers (1 Timothy 5:21), and learn about God’s providence by watching believers (Ephesians 3:10 and 1 Peter 1:12). So should it surprise us that wherever and whenever people gather to worship God, that angels of whom God created specifically to worship, will be in attendance as well?

Third Truth - Men and women are different physiologically.

1 Corinthians 11:7 “7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.”

Notice that even after the Fall of Man in Genesis 3, humanity retains and represents the image of God. Like a broken mirror, the image is distorted and imperfect, but the image of God remains.
Furthermore, the gospel in Scripture teaches that Christ is restoring God’s divine image in humanity, and as we become more Christlike we become more godly …more “godlike.”
But when human beings blur and confuse the genders in which God has created us, humanity is not moving toward restoring the image of God among humanity, we’re moving away from Christ’s goal for us.

1 Corinthians 11:15 “15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.”

Fourth Truth - Men and women have complementary roles.

1 Corinthians 11:3 “3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”

Just like Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God, but possess complementary roles, so too men and women are spiritual equals and make up one humanity, but have complementary roles.
In this passage, Paul is not using the Greek word kephala, “head,” to indicate authority or leadership, he is using it to indicate source. For example, we topographers will refer to the “head” or “head-waters” of a river to indicate its source, but there is no indication of superiority or inferiority. Paul could have used the Greek word arche, “ruler” or “leader,” had he wanted to imply superiority, and had he not felt the need to stress the equality and complementary nature of the two genders.

Ephesians 5:23-24 “23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

Fifth Truth - Psychology doesn’t change biology.

1 Corinthians 11:16 “16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.”

Sixth Truth - Respond with compassion.

Ephesians 4:15 “15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,”

Seventh Truth - Gender roles come from God, not manufactured opinions.

1 Corinthians 11:16 “16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.”

Paul ends this paragraph with a definitive statement. As far as he was concerned, his instructions were consistent throughout the churches and Christians “have no other practice.” Consequently, no further point existed in arguing the matter. Paul was closing the conversation and the church should not tolerate any contentious people who sought to continue to argument.

1 Corinthians 15:58 “58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

Personal Question - Are you allowing society and human opinion to determine your beliefs, or are you allowing God and His Holy Word to determine your behavior and beliefs.

Challenge - Stop allowing culture to determine how you will live; instead, take your direction from God’s Word.

Conclusion - History will look back on our age as a time of social turmoil, but we must stand firm on biblical principles.

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