In our cities, schools, churches, and homes there is a conversation happening about gender. The question is not, “Will this conversation happen?” but rather, “Will we be willing to speak with conviction and clarity?”

Many parents and pastors do not feel the need to address issues surrounding gender. They feel as though what is happening “out in the world” has not and will not impact their families or churches.

We cannot ignore the conversation surrounding us. As people who have the Word of God, we cannot sit silently while the world speaks. There is too much at stake. We must engage and lead the conversation.

Ignoring won’t work

If we do not want to have the conversation with our children and in our churches, someone else will.

Every time a child turns on a television show, walks onto a school campus, shops at a clothing store, or hops on their phones, a conversation is happening. Mainstream media understands the value in shaping the minds of younger generations. They ease into their agenda in an unassuming and strategic way, and they do not shy away from controversial issues. Cartoons today make statements about gender, music makes statements about gender, celebrities make statements about gender. The conversation is happening.

On campuses there has been a movement away from traditional and biblical views of gender; in some places these views are outright rejected. Clothing stores have to decide how they will market and present their clothes. Male side? Female side? Gender neutral clothing? Restrooms and changing rooms? The conversation is happening, the question is not, “Will it happen?” but rather, “Will we show up? Will we lead it?”

Gender will become a wedge between this generation and the Word.

It would be easy to assume that this conversation is only important to those who find themselves or loved ones wrestling with gender-dysphoria. That is just not the case. The conversation surrounding gender effects more than just those who find themselves identifying as a different gender.

Many young people would rather reject the Bible than disagree with their friend’s choice of gender identity. Since Scripture contradicts their experience, Scripture gets jettisoned. Issues surrounding gender will force our young people to make a decision about what they believe about God’s Word. Is it true and good? Does it lead to flourishing? Or is it outdated and oppressive? Sadly, for many students in our churches, gender ideology will become a wedge between them and God’s word.

Avoiding the conversation makes it seem like we don’t have the answers or do not care.

We are Bible people — people who believe that the Lord has spoken and Scripture speaks clearly to the issue of gender. To avoid the conversation is to imply that we don’t have answers or care enough to share them. If we believe we know the truth but don’t share it, the question becomes, do we even care? We need to believe that God’s design is good and beautiful, that it will lead people to hope and real joy. Although our ultimate goal should not be to just change someone’s gender identity, we must care about the details of people’s lives. More than this, though, we should point people to Christ.

Five things we can do

  1. Teach the whole counsel of Scripture, and don’t shy away from what God’s Word says about his design.

In today’s world, it seems common to just preach passages which emphasize themes like hope and purpose. In many churches the message is that the Bible can help you achieve your dreams, accept your faults, and find a purpose.

With many caveats, I might agree. However, the Bible also speaks to holiness and ethics. It tells of our need for God to speak into a world that has been plagued with sin. Boldly teach the whole counsel of God and know the task of a preacher, parent, and faithful follower of Christ is to point people to truth. We’re not called to lead the public relations department for the Christian Faith; we’re called to be Christians who know, live, and love the Word of God.

  1. Approach the issue from a place of conviction and compassion.

Handling this issue well requires us holding onto two things at the same time. On one hand, we need to hold tightly to our convictions that are rooted in Scripture. This is essential.

On the other hand, we need to have compassion for those who don’t know the Lord, believe his Word, and directly oppose it. Remember, those who disagree with us are not our enemies. We need to engage in conversation with compassion and real care for them to know the truth.

  1. Focus on clarity over volume.

What many people need is not for us to be louder, but for us to be clear. Bring clarity to why gender matters, what Scripture says about it, and how it’s truths are all for our good.

  1. Speak, but also listen.

Listen so you can be informed about what’s happening in our world today. To shepherd well, we must know our sheep’s surroundings and struggles. We must also listen because people are hurting. Recent statistics have shone light on the hurt and pain experienced by the so-called “transgender community.” Speak and listen. Point people to God’s Word and know where they stand, how they feel, and what their story is.

  1. Equip and encourage parents to raise godly men and women.

Faithfulness in this area happens both in the pulpit and the home. We need to encourage and equip parents to teach their children about what God’s Word says. The days when culture embraces our views on gender are long gone. We are in a critical time.

Final Encouragement

Boldly speak into the conversation. Do so with compassion towards those who are hurting and and have faith in the power of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to work.

We are not called to be seen as relevant leaders in culture, or to win the approval of man; we are called to be faithful heralds of God’s Word to all people. Do not grow weary, and do not be ashamed of what God’s Word says, for it has the power to bring life.