Truth or Lies, Part 6
November 16, 2023 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
This is part six of a multipart series introducing and interacting with Rosaria Butterfield’s new book, Five Lies of Our Anti-Christian Age. As followers of Christ, we must be rooted in biblical truth as we are confronted by the lies of “this present darkness.”
Each of the lies that Butterfield addresses in this book have not only caused tension in our culture, but also in the church. That tension grows as the truth becomes clouded and false ideas of what is good and kind become prevalent. For this reason, Butterfield has been harkening to Scripture as the foundation for truth. As she has said, the crux of the issue is what we believe about the Bible, what it is and what it means.
The truth of Scripture is utterly important when thinking through the fourth lie that Butterfield presents: Transgenderism is normal. At its most basic level, transgenderism rejects the biblical pattern that God made humans as male and female and our gender corresponds with our bodies. It elevates one’s feelings and self-perception over any objective standard of truth.
Butterfield begins interacting with this lie by exploring the underlying motivation to pursue transgenderism. She contends that transgenderism springs from the sin of envy. She explains, “Envy is often one of those behind-the-scenes instigators…Envy is sinful jealousy—it’s the false entitlement that says you may possess that which justly belongs to another and fuels the blind arrogance to pursue it…Envy will eat you from the inside out. Envy transforms a person into a monster” (p. 201). Transgenderism, then, is fed by the envy of another’s gender or body.
Probing into how envy works and instigates other sins, Butterfield offers some valuable insights. She explains, “Envy is a predatory longing for that which is not rightfully mine, often enlisting enablers to slander, lie, steal, and murder” (p. 207). This concept of enablers working alongside envy is fascinating. The enabler sees the envious person as one who is oppressed because he is hindered from getting what he wants. The enabler then sees it as an act of justice or compassion to help the envious person get what he wants. Butterfield concludes, “Envy is a pervasive and ubiquitous sin, but it is also a deadly one. Victimhood and pain conceal it in robes of social-justice righteousness. And because of its intimate link with victimization, envy (like all sin) infantilizes a person. Instead of acting with maturity, the slave to envy acts like a spoiled toddler” (p. 211).
The sin of envy does not manifest itself only in transgenderism, but also other areas of life. In a culture that interprets everything through the lens of power struggles and identifies people as either oppressors or oppressed, it is easy to see how envy can be linked to victimhood. This view says those who have oppress those who have not merely by the fact that they have. Without careful, biblical self-examination, we can easily overlook how envy is feeding our discontentment and even our sense of victimhood.
Butterfield continues her analysis of the transgenderism lie by wading through the technical language. In a brief, summary article, it is difficult to communicate the intricacies of this issue. Let me quote Butterfield on one area to illustrate what she calls the “war of words.” She writes, “There are two camps of transgenderism, one medical and the other experiential. The first camp refers to people with a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria…Transgenderism is not the same thing as gender dysphoria. According to Toronto psychologist Ken Zucker, transgenderism is an ‘overarching ideology’—this means it is filled to the brim with politicized gender theory” (p. 215). She dives deeper into this distinction, offering advice for how Christians respond compassionately, but differently, to each issue. In this chapter she deals with legal cases, scholarly psychological research, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and the technical language used in reference to transgenderism. I recommend reading this chapter in full if you want to get a thorough overview of how Christians ought to think biblically about the language used in cultural conversations.
Butterfield concludes this section on transgenderism by focusing on the promises of the gospel. The chapter is titled, “Eternal Life Means More than Just Living Forever.” The gospel promises hope, peace, joy, and transforming power not only for eternity in heaven, but even now in this life. These promises are powerful to combat the false promises of transgenderism. Butterfield calls the church to hold onto the glorious promises of the gospel. For those of us who personally know someone who is dealing with transgenderism, Butterfield writes, “You praying parents and grandparents and loved ones are heroes” (p. 247). She also returns to the call to repentance. She calls repentance the “threshold to God.” Without true repentance, no one comes to God. She explains, “Real repentance, which results in Spirit-wrought change, is radically different from its counterfeit, which condones sin and asks for no change. Indeed, repentance is the threshold to God. Any Christian who tires of hearing about repentance or who rejects it as spiritual abuse is someone whose soul is in grave danger” (p. 248). Butterfield is saying that embracing the lie that transgenderism is normal is a dangerous path contrary to the gospel.
If we want to be faithful followers of Christ, we must have a clear understanding of the truth. Right now, our anti-Christian age promotes lies about human sexuality and identity. Butterfield helps expose the emptiness and destruction of the lies while highlighting the glorious goodness of the gospel. Let’s do the diligent work of pursuing truth.