At a Glance
In this podcast, Nancy Pearcey discusses biblical sexuality and transgenderism. God created everything with order and purpose, designed to flourish within its boundaries. This includes the human body and sexuality. The LGBTQ+ revolution denies this ordered design and denigrates both the human body and sexuality, leading to moral and social chaos. To see our nations flourish, the church needs to champion a biblical view of sexuality through the lens of creation. At the beginning of “Pride Month,” we talk with one of today’s leading thinkers on these topics.
What You'll Hear
Chapter 1: Nancy Pearcey ‘s Testimony (4:30)
- Nancy grew up as a Lutheran in Sweden, but often had tough questions about faith as a young person and could never find meaningful answers. This led her to reject Christianity, until she found people who helped her understand that Christianity answered her questions better than any other worldview or philosophy.
Chapter 2: The Need for Christian Apologetics (13:58)
- American Christianity tended to emphasize an emotional conversion experience that downplayed doctrine, biblical worldview, and the whole cognitive side of belief.
Chapter 3: The Split View of Truth in Transgenderism – Between Physical, Material Reality, and Everything Else (21:42)
- In Art between naturalism and idealism (24:11)
- In Morality between the physical body and the moral person (25:04)
- In the Transgender split between biology and your true, authentic self. This is leading to widespread anxiety and confusion in young people (28:30)
- The message is that your body is irrelevant and disconnected from who you really are
- A story of a young transgender girl who recovered her God-given identity as a biological female
- “Body hatred”
Chapter 4: Shifts in Worldview from Premodern to Postmodern (34:12)
- Movement from a unified world (premodern) to one focused on science and reason (modern) and finally, a shift to question any truth whatsoever (postmodern). Transgenderism is like a postmodern case study in the way it questions reality.
- There is an inbuilt plan, design, and blueprint for flourishing.
Chapter 5: The Importance of Language (41:33)
- We must learn to talk about the value and dignity of the human body, without limiting our discussion to one of an authentic self.
- Our history and heritage: the early church, Gnosticism, and the Incarnation
Chapter 7: Personal Testimonies from Former Transgender Christians (52:45)
- A former lesbian shares how she came to trust that God made her female for a reason and gave her the desire to live in accord with the Creator’s design.
- A boy who was exclusively attracted to men and grew up in a gay-affirming family and church with no self-loathing came to experience a change in his understanding of the body as a good gift from God with design and purpose.
Chapter 8: What does the Bible say about Transgender? How Christians Should Respond (1:01:49)
- Start with love
- Story of quiet, gentle, compliant young boy with gender dysphoria who didn’t fit the stereotypes of maleness. Parents constantly supported and affirmed his character qualities, and he came to accept that God did not make a mistake in creating him as a male, and a sex change surgery would not actually change his sex.
Chapter 9: Wrap-up (1:10:50)
- A materialist view considers all matter to be the product of mindless chance forces. Individuals choose to be their own authority without reference to God and his created order.
- Christianity gives value and dignity to the body, and defers to God’s direction for flourishing.
Using the link above, you can read the transcript, listen along, and adjust the speed of the podcast while you listen.
"The culture says your body is irrelevant, insignificant, meaningless, disconnected from who you really are... Why accept such a demeaning view of the body?" (29:56)
Nancy Pearcey is the author of Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality. Her earlier books include The Soul of Science, Saving Leonardo, Finding Truth, and two ECPA Gold Medallion Award Winners: How Now Shall We Live (coauthored with Harold Fickett and Chuck Colson) and Total Truth. Her books have been translated into 17 languages.
She is a professor and scholar in residence at Houston Baptist University. A former agnostic, Pearcey has spoken at universities such as Princeton, Stanford, USC, and Dartmouth. She has been quoted in The New Yorker and Newsweek, highlighted as one of the five top women apologists by Christianity Today, and hailed in The Economist as “America’s pre-eminent evangelical Protestant female intellectual.”
Nancy Pearcey’s book Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality is a great resource to explore the worldview behind the LBGTQ Revolution and answering hard questions through a biblical lens. We can’t recommend it highly enough.
(Share These) Excerpts
Defying Nature (37:16-39:05)
After being well-known as a lesbian feminist and intellectual spokesperson, Camille Paglia, now identifies herself as transgender. She says on one hand, sex is not just a social construction. No, nature made us male and female. She says humans are designed for sexual reproduction. So the question to put to her, would be how do you defend being lesbian? She says, why not defy nature? She goes on to say, after all, fate, not God has given us this flesh. We have absolute claim to our bodies, and may do with them as we see fit. She’s basically saying that if our bodies–if nature itself–are products of mindless, purposeless forces, then they have no intrinsic purpose that we are morally obligated to respect. They give us no moral message. They tell us nothing about who we are, we may do with them as we see fit.
Biblical Sexuality and the Christian View of the Human Body: Present, Past, & Future (41:33-48:22)
We need to go back to language over and over again. We need to learn to talk about the value and dignity of the human body. Many believers writing on the subject talk about this in the “upper story” in regard to the sense of self, but it’s the body that’s the issue. All of these issues involve a denigration of the body, saying the body is not important. It’s not part of our authentic self. Why should my body inform my identity? Why should my biological sex as a male or female have any say in my moral choices? This is a disrespectful view of the body. So, the most difficult mental shift I’ve seen with Christians is to get them to have a higher view of the body.
We also need to get in touch with our own heritage. The early church reacted to various forms of Gnosticism, which defined salvation as escape from an evil, dirty material world. Instead, Christianity taught clearly that the supreme deity was good and therefore, his created universe was inherently good, including human bodies. The concept of the Incarnation–that God would enter into human form–was unbelievable in these Gnostic worldviews and was the greatest imaginable affirmation of the dignity of the physical human body.
Beyond this, even the Christian view of heaven is one that says God’s not going to scrap the material world, as if he made a mistake the first time around. Instead, he is going to renew it and restore it where we will live in restored physical resurrection bodies. We have an incredible heritage with a higher view of the material world and the physical body than you will find anywhere else.
A Blueprint for Flourishing (57:38-59:03)
Here’s an argument I have found surprisingly effective with my secular friends, but then I started finding that it’s very effective with Christians as well. It’s an argument from environmentalism. And you say, what does environmentalism have to do with transgenderism? Well, in order to avoid ecological disasters, pollution, and so on, what we’ve learned is that you have to work with the natural order. If you work against the natural order, you’re going to create problems. Do you remember that line from Camille Paglia, where she said, you know, our bodies are products of chance, material forces, and therefore we may do with them as we see fit? Well, what we’ve learned is we may not do whatever we see fit with the environment. We are constrained by the natural order that exists. We need to respect the natural order. And what Christians are saying is that when it comes to these moral issues, we are calling on people to respect the natural order of our own bodies, our own biology. And when I use the environmental example, I find people saying, oh, that makes sense. I get it.
“So one of the ways to think about this is as building with two stories in it. In the lowest story, you have scientific truth, which is considered rational and true and empirically verifiable, scientific. And then there is the upper story, where people put anything that cannot be known scientifically. So things like morality, and spiritual truth cannot be stuffed into a test tube, and studied under a microscope. And so people started to say, well, those aren’t really true.” Nancy Pearcey (21:46)
“And Schaeffer used to say this split of truth is the main reason Christians have a hard time talking to their own children and to the secular world in general. Because when they say Christianity is true, if the concept of truth has shifted, then we’re no longer speaking the same language.” Nancy Pearcey (22:58)
“Well, there’s a split between the body and the person. So a fetus can be human, biologically, physiologically, genetically human, but has no moral status and does not warrant legal protection. So it’s in the lowest story, to use Schaeffer’s words, the fetus is just in the lowest story, just what we know by science. But then at some point, it jumps into the upper story, and becomes a ‘person,’ usually defined in terms of mental capacities, the self-awareness, and the ability for self-reflection and so on.” Nancy Pearcey (25:32)
“One reason we are not very effective as Christians is because we tend to memorize individual arguments for individual issues… Well, there’s an underlying worldview to all of these moral issues.” Nancy Pearcey (27:24)
Transgender Meaning is Demeaning to the Body
“The culture says your body is irrelevant, insignificant, meaningless, disconnected from who you really are. And so that the main message that Christians should be offering is, why accept such a demeaning view of the body?” Nancy Pearcey (29:56)
“I’ve read an interview with a 14-year-old girl, who had lived as a trans boy for three years from age 11. And then at age 14, recovered her identity as a girl. And in the interview, she said, ‘The turning point came when I realized,’ and this is a direct quote, ‘when I realized it’s not conversion therapy, to learn to love your body.’” Nancy Pearcey (30:33)
“You’ll see web secular websites now saying that transgenderism represents body hatred. They’re using that term. Transgenderism is body hatred. So it’s a wonderful opportunity for Christians to step forward and say, Christianity has a very high view of the body. We see the person is a psychosocial psychophysical unity.” Nancy Pearcey (31:12)
“I find that when I speak to Christian audiences, I spend a lot of time just saying, You need to learn a new language. That we value the body. That God has called us to live in harmony with our body. That we are meant to respect our biological sex. That we are to welcome who we are as God’s handiwork.” Nancy Pearcey (32:22)
“It is modernism that first said, the body has no significance because it is the product of mindless, purposeless meaningless forces, right? Therefore, the body has no meaning or intrinsic purpose.” Nancy Pearcey (36:32)
Is it a Sin to be Transgender?
“Nature does exhibit a plan, a purpose, a design, that eyes are made for seeing, ears are made for hearing, fins are made for swimming, and wings are made for flying. In fact, the development of the entire organism is directed by an inbuilt plan or blueprint–DNA. Science itself gives evidence that there’s a purpose, a plan, a design, in nature. And so what Christians are saying is that we will be happier and healthier when we live in accord with that plan with that design.” Nancy Pearcey (41:02)
“It’s not just a message of: it’s wrong, it’s a sin, don’t do it. We’re going to be happier when we live in accord with the design that’s built into who we are.” Nancy Pearcey (41:19)
“When you change a culture, you first change the language. And we, as Christians, have a biblically-based vocabulary that very often we quickly jettison and absorb or accept the language of the culture, or the language in which the culture is starting to move.” Darrow Miller (41:55)
“Well, even my homosexual friends agree that in terms of biology, chromosomes, anatomy, physiology, males and females are counterparts to one another. That is how the human sexual and reproductive system is designed. To embrace a same-sex identity, therefore, is to say, why should I care about my design?” Nancy Pearcey (43:53)
“The way to answer these issues about LGBTQ issues is to have a higher view of the body.” Nancy Pearcey (45:07)
“This is a higher view of the material world than you find in anywhere. Anywhere. Any religion, any philosophy.” Nancy Pearcey (47:46)
“Love thy body. Take your identity from your body, respect your body as something that God’s made. Live in harmony with your body.” Nancy Pearcey (50:35)
You Cannot Love God and Reject His Creation
“One time when she was praying, she seemed to hear God say to her, you cannot claim to love me, and yet reject my creation. And she understood that meant, her body was God’s creation. And that was a turning point. So I gave examples like that, it means loving God’s creation.” Nancy Pearcey (51:36)
“It took five times of restating it, giving examples, restating it before it penetrated the language of ‘Oh, yes, but this is my authentic stuff. This is my true self.’ No, you are meant to live in accord with your body.” Nancy Pearcey (52:29)
“One of my graduate students had her teenage daughter with an eating disorder that was so severe that she was hospitalized. And she said, ‘I realized that I had always taught her to have a negative view of the body and this world.’” Nancy Pearcey (1:02:43)
“So the starting point with these young people is not to get into an argument about why they’re wrong. The starting point has to be love.” Nancy Pearcey (1:06:17)
“He said, ‘I realized surgery would not give me what I wanted, it would not make me a girl.’” Nancy Pearcey (1:09:10)
“There’s a very well-known TED Talk by a cardiologist. It’s called his/her health care. And the most famous line from this TED talk is every cell has a sex. Every cell has the XX, XY chromosome in it, and you cannot change every cell in your body. So clearly, surgery does not make you the opposite sex.” Nancy Pearcey (1:09:29)
“His parents said to him, ‘It’s not you that’s wrong. It’s the stereotypes that are wrong.’” Nancy Pearcey (1:10:17)
“It’s not enough to criticize a bad worldview, we have to offer a better one.” Nancy, quoted by Scott (1:15:17)
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So, let’s get practical. What do you advise people, such as parents who have children who believe that they are in the wrong body—especially young adults who may or may not involved in a church body, etc?
Hi Anna Marie, warm greetings to you, and thank you for your important question. I reached out to the team for feedback, and several of them provided independent responses. I want to provide you with all of them, and hope that it will feel helpful and show our care for your inquiry, rather than feeling like an overwhelming response! We also have a little more of this discussion in another recent podcast episode, posted here: https://disciplenations.org/the-worldviews-behind-transgenderism/
From Scott Allen: When people have posed this question to me, I usually encourage them to get Nancy’s book Love Thy Body and carefully read it, and follow her advice, which boils down to this: You have two sides on this matter. Objective truth on one side, and subjective belief or feelings on the other. Young people may believe they are in the wrong body, or feel that way. But they have the body that God created and ordained. Their being male or female is an objective reality, built into every one of the cells. Lean into that. Focus on objective reality, objective truth over subjective belief or feelings. The former is biblical. The latter is postmodern.
From Darrow Miller: Dear Anna Marie,
Thanks for your question. I will answer your “let’s get practical” question on two levels. The first is the “practical” practical and the second is the ideas have consequences practical.
1) For the parents of young children and for teens, I would go to detransition sites where there is a growing community of people who denied reality and transitioned. They have realized the horrible mistake they have made and they tell their stories, their regrets, their warnings to other to not follow in their footsteps. Here are a couple of such resources: https://www.detransvoices.org/detransition/ and https://nypost.com/2022/06/18/detransitioned-teens-explain-why-they-regret-changing-genders/. You will find other stories and resources simply by an internet search under “detransition.”
2) We need to encourage people to think critically about the messages they are receiving from the media, social media, films, etc. The things that are happening in the culture today, the latest fad of gender identity and transgender movement have come from somewhere – postmodernism/critical sex theory and are leading somewhere – to lives that are shattered, read some of the stories of the people who are de-transitioning. It is an absurdity that you can cut off your sexual organs and suddenly transition to another sex. Postmodern ideology not only denies Biblical authority, it denies REASON and REALITY. The trans movement was born out of the postmodern/Cultural-Marxist ideology. It denies biology – the reality of ones sex at birth, and affirms the delusion of gender identity. “Ideas have consequences” show the practical outcomes of a set of ideas. If you begin accepting the reality that God exists you can live within the reality of the universe that He has made and is REAL. This include binary sexuality. If you deny the existence of God, ie you are an A-theist, then you live in a world of illusion, denying reason and science.
Anna Marie, when Dan worked in Somalia all those years ago, one of the greatest cultural curses in North Africa and the Middle East was the practice of young girls having their external female genitalia removed either partial or totally. One of the major programs of many development organizations was to stand against, what was known as, FGM – Female Genital Mutilation. The name was accurate, the mutilation of young girls. How wicked that today genital mutilation is now an industry in the United States. Our schools, by the media, academia, politicians and many in the medical establishment now promote the mutilation of children’s bodies for money.
The renown John Hopkins Medical Center proudly announces “The Johns Hopkins Center for Transgender Health offers comprehensive, evidence-based and affirming care for transgender youth and adults that is in line with the standards of care set by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH).”
Evil has been mainstreamed. Read this article celebrating what is happening: https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/more-u-s-hospitals-offer-gender-affirming-surgeries-n674436
From Dwight Vogt: I would encourage you to check out the many excellent thoughtful and practical resources for parents and teens provided by this evangelical organization based in Colorado Springs at https://axis.org/about/
And sign up for their Cultural Translator newsletter at https://axis.org/resources/