September 26th 2023
#278: The Spell of Cultural Language: Navigating the Confusion of Our Sexually Dark Age
Language wields more power than we often consider, particularly when it comes to sexuality.
As we’ve noticed, the words we use to discuss topics like abortion – ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ – carry substantial weight and can reveal underlying worldviews.
We’ve also seen a fascinating evolution in how society talks about gender transitioning, shifting from ‘sex change operation’ to ‘gender reassignment surgery’, and now, ‘gender confirmation surgery’.
So, we’re going to delve into these linguistic nuances and explore how changing terms reflect changing societal attitudes.
But it’s not just about linguistics.
The conversation takes a deeper turn as we consider the very foundation of our understanding of gender and sexuality. In a world that has seemingly redefined these terms without concrete scientific proof, it’s important to approach this discussion with compassion and grace.
✋ If you enjoyed this episode of Becoming Whole, please head over to Apple Podcasts, leave a rating, write a review, and subscribe.
For those who are caught up in this societal shift, and for those who have undergone extreme body alterations, we extend our deepest empathy. Remember, it is only through God’s words that we find the truth.
Tune in as we navigate these complex waters, seeking truth and understanding in every conversation.
Transcription: The Spell of Cultural Language
Josh Glaser [00:00:00]:
You everybody. Last week I talked with you about the power of words and our own journey towards sexual integrity. And I left some things out that are just on kind of burning in my heart and they may, I think they’ll help you on your own journey towards sexual integrity. But more so, I think they can help. What I’m going to share today will help kind of shape some of the moment we’re living in, help to clarify some of this present moment and honestly, some of its intoxication intoxicating effect on us Christians as we’re living in what’s, a very sexually confused, sexually dark age, especially in the west. So just to recap very quickly, what I talked about last week was how the words we use actually, although they can’t create reality like God’s words can, god spoke the world into existence and it was our words can’t create reality but they do have power to shape our perception of reality. And so I encouraged to use to be careful and intentional in speaking about your own sexual integrity journey. And he gave some examples around confession and calling your sin sin.
Josh Glaser [00:01:10]:
And instead of talking about temptation as a thing or pornography as a thing, talk about the people that you’ve been using there. So you help to kind of personalize them and that helps then to clarify both the severity of your sin, the need for God’s forgiveness, the reality of what you’re doing, and God’s heart that he wants to protect people and wants you to grow to be a person who loves others rather than uses them. So anyway, if you want to learn more about that, listen to last week’s podcast. But I wanted to talk about it a little bit more in general today in regards to especially the way that we’re talking in our culture today about things like marriage and sex and gender. Many of you are probably aware of the power of words when it comes to political debate. So you’ll notice that when people are, for example, around the topic of abortion, those who are pro life, like I am, like many Christians are hopefully most Christians, if not all Christians are those who are pro life talk about their position as pro life, I am for the life of children. Many on the other side of this issue would say that pro lifers are quote unquote antichoice, right? So you see the power of language they’re recognizing, both sides are acknowledging same the other way. People who are pro life would call those who are for abortion, they’d say they are either anti life or anti family.
Josh Glaser [00:02:44]:
They might say pro choice, but they also might steer away from that language. Whereas folks who are pro choice would call themselves pro choice. The focus is on hey, this is about a woman’s body. And so that’s where they go with their language. People who are pro life talk about hey, well, this is actually about an innocent child’s life as well. So language really matters. Where we focus our language, how we talk about things really matters. And I think that’s nowhere more evident today than around the topics of marriage, sex, and gender.
Josh Glaser [00:03:16]:
For example, it used to be that even in my lifetime I’m 50 years old, 51, but it used to be in my lifetime that when people would talk about gender, everyone understood that what they meant was biological sex. There was no distinction between gender and biological sex. You didn’t have to make that case. If you’re filling out a doctor’s form, it might say sex, and you’d circle either M for male or F for female, or it might say gender, and you’d circle M for male or F for female. They were synonymous with each other, and that began to shift over time. And now suddenly, really, I mean, in a matter of years, not even decades, in a matter of years now, we are discussing gender, quote, unquote, as something entirely separate from sex, and we are saying no, that we used to think used to less than a decade ago, used to think there were only two genders. Now, we understand that there are many genders, and the list goes on, the LGBTIA plus and so many more, because now, gender, many people, some people still use it to be synonymous with sex, but more and more people are using it to mean someone’s subjective sense of their sexual self, someone’s sexual identity, their subjective, internal sense of themselves, how they would define themselves. Another example of this would be the way that people talk about sex now and gender.
Josh Glaser [00:04:53]:
They’ll talk about the sex that you were defined or the gender that you were assigned, quote, unquote, at birth. Assigned. That’s a strong word. It’s an imposing sounding word. Someone assigned this to you? Nobody likes to be assigned anything. I can’t think of the last time somebody said, here’s your assignment. And I thought, oh, goody. Thank you for giving me more to do.
Josh Glaser [00:05:17]:
You were assigned this. It’s kind of oppressive and pushy, as opposed to, this is who you are. And it was recognized at birth, your sex, your gender, recognized at birth because you came out of the womb and you had a penis. And so we recognized that you are male or you had a vagina, so we recognized that you were female. No, we’re not talking about that anymore. Our culture, at least, is talking about it as something that’s assigned to you. Somebody pushed this on you, and it’s for you to decide now if you want to continue to live under that restraint or accept something else. Another example would be what used to be called a sex change operation.
Josh Glaser [00:06:02]:
And I think even those words were a misnomer, because biologically, DNA wise, chromosomally, there is no such thing as literally changing your sex, a sex change operation, which eventually became called a gender reassignment surgery. And then again was morphed to a gender confirmation surgery. So you hear how the language is moving more and more towards a worldview, a mindset that says that your gender is real. Your gender meaning, like your own subjective sense of yourself is real or more real than your biological self. I mean, it gets dizzying even to talk about it. But the truth of the matter is that all that doctors can do. They can’t literally change your sex. They can’t literally change a male, a biological male into a biological female or vice versa.
Josh Glaser [00:07:00]:
All they can do is to do a cosmetic surgery so that a person who is female may appear more male or a person who’s male may appear more female. That’s what the hormones do. That’s what the surgery does. It just makes a person appear more like the other gender sometimes not all the time. And I think especially the cases that are put forward, the people who are put forward are people who it’s been very successful for men who have a little bit more of a slight figure to begin with. And so the change is they look more feminine once they start taking hormones and once they start using makeup and once they have some surgery. But they never truly become a female. And the proof of that is in our biology is in the chromosomes.
Josh Glaser [00:07:49]:
That have not changed, is in the DNA that has not changed is in the reproductive capacity of the person. A person who has a quote unquote gender confirmation surgery from male to quote unquote female can never have babies. Can never have babies. Their gender capacity or their reproductive capacity will never be that of a woman’s. And I don’t say that in a gloating way. I say it with great compassion. Those who experience gender dysphoria. A man who believes himself to be a woman and who thinks that he’s going to feel more comfortable as a woman, more himself as a woman, or a woman who feels that she is going to be more herself.
Josh Glaser [00:08:30]:
Or feel more comfortable in the world. Or feel more powerful for more safe in the world. As a quote, unquote man, that’s a very serious place to be. And it can be so distressing and so difficult and for some very disorienting. And they may pursue that at great cost to themselves or they may struggle to resist that at great cost to themselves. It’s very, very difficult. So in no way am I trying to make light of it for say those things in gloating ways. I say it with deep, deep compassion.
Josh Glaser [00:08:58]:
And I think the reason that it’s so important to get our minds and hearts around what is real and to recognize and name the way that language has changed instead of going along with it is for the sake of those who wrestle with these things. Because if we call a cosmetic surgery a gender confirmation surgery, if we say to someone that this gender was assigned to you at birth, it’s not something that you are, then we are actually inviting them to move away. From who they are instead of inviting them to begin to grapple with and do some of the hard internal work, relational work, to come to peace with who they are. And this is the position of, I think, traditional Christians on this topic. It is one of compassion. Jesus Christ became flesh, the word of God, which is eternal and will never pass away. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us for the sake of men and women who believe themselves to be the opposite gender. For the sake of men and women who are distressed about their bodies.
Josh Glaser [00:10:06]:
For the sake of men and women who have gone under, who have had cosmetic procedures to seek to become more like the other sex, for the sake of those for whom those surgeries have gone very well and they like the way they look and they like the way they feel now. They look more like a man or more like a woman. And for the sake of those who have undergone those surgeries and have regretted it, and who feel like their bodies are now mutilated and they lament what they have lost because they’ve made permanent changes to their bodies that cannot be reversed. Jesus came in the flesh and he went to the cross where his body was literally mutilated too. Isaiah 53 says his body was marred beyond perception. They could not recognize Him anymore by what he went through on the cross. And that was for the sake of men and women who are experiencing distress in their bodies. And he rose from the dead to give hope and healing to men and women who are experiencing these things in their body wherever they are in the journey.
Josh Glaser [00:11:09]:
Whether they are seeking to follow the Lord in their distress and submit their sense of their internal sense to God’s design for their bodies or that somebody who has wandered far from the Lord. His heart is for you. His heart is for you. So, friends, I’m just trying to say that our words matter. And I’m not trying to dictate how you talk. I’m not trying to dictate the words that you use. I know even among from my perspective, even among Christians who are truly trying to love well, men and women in the spectrum have disagreements about using things like preferred pronouns or using a chosen name. And I have my convictions about that.
Josh Glaser [00:11:52]:
But I respect others who have different convictions. However, I will not change the line on what reality is, because I can’t. It’s not mine. I didn’t make reality. My words don’t change reality. Only God’s words can do that. And so, for the sake of those who are butting up against the reality of God’s given biology for each of us, and who are butting up against cultural words that seem to invite them to a different reality than what God has designed. I’m offering out there that our words matter.
Josh Glaser [00:12:28]:
Let’s hold to what is truth and let our words be always flavored with grace. So even as we speak truth, let them be flavored with grace, seasoned with grace for the sake of those who disagree with us. But let’s hold unwaveringly to the truth, especially as we speak, one to another that we may hold on to what is real, God’s reality for us. These are just my words. Let me turn this into prayer. Lord, we are living truly in a time where so many people seem to be under a spell and the language has changed so swiftly and people have gone along with it as though it’s always been this way when it hasn’t. People are saying things like, we now know that there are multiple genders, not just two. They’re saying we know.
Josh Glaser [00:13:12]:
But without any evidence that we know, without any scientific proof that we know, without any change to the real physical world we live in or the physical bodies we live in, to know that this is true. It’s not. Lord, it seems we are under a spell. And we beseech you, Lord, for your mercy that we may always know the truth, that you may lead us into the truth that we may whole on to what is real, lord, not just rigidly, not gloatingly, not boastfully, but, Lord, with compassion and grace for those who are under the spell. And, Lord, we pray for those who have drunk the intoxicating words of the culture and who have bought into lies and who cannot see what is real anymore. Lord, we pray that you would wake them, rouse them for their sake. We ask it. And, Lord, give us all compassion for those who have gone to great lengths to change their bodies.
Josh Glaser [00:14:07]:
And, Lord, give us great compassion for those who struggle with the temptation to do so. Oh, Lord, we need you in this hour. We cry out to you because where else can we go? Your words are the words of life. We pray these things in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.