Note from Dr. Jim Denison: I am grateful to my son, Ryan Denison, for writing The Daily Article this week while I am traveling. Ryan is a graduate of Baylor University and Truett Seminary and is completing his doctoral dissertation in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute. He serves as Senior Fellow for Theology with our ministry and writes often in my absence. I am certain you will find his insights to be both biblical and practical.
A court in Dallas, Texas, ruled earlier this week that the mother of seven-year-old James Younger could have full custody over him and his twin brother. Such an outcome would not normally be worthy of news as, sadly, divorce cases with similar results happen quite frequently.
What makes this case stand out is that James’ father, Jeffrey Younger, brought the lawsuit against his ex-wife, Anne Georgulas, because the latter believes her son is gender dysphoric and is taking steps toward affirming him as a girl named Luna.
The trial featured expert witnesses from both sides that argued for opposite approaches. Jeffrey Younger claims that James only wants to be a girl around his mother and that she has been pushing him toward living as a girl since he showed interest in the movie Frozen as a three-year-old and asked for the girl’s toy at McDonald’s. He says that when James is with him, the child is happy dressing and playing as a boy and shows no signs of wanting to be a girl.
Georgulas and her team argue the opposite. They say that James is happiest as a girl and chooses to go by the identity associated with Luna while with her. They contend that he only pretends to like being a boy while he is with his father in order to make him happy.
Ultimately, the most rational explanation is that James is a confused seven-year-old who, like so many children in a divorce, likely wants to find a way to please both parents. The craziest part of this story is the idea that any child that young can actually have a sufficiently sophisticated understanding of gender and the implications of living a transgender lifestyle in order to make a definitive decision.
News broke early on Thursday that the office of Texas Governor Greg Abbott would look into the case, along with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, to see if the court’s decision will hold up.
Then, late yesterday, the judge ruled that the parents would “remain in joint managing conservatorship and both have a say in [their son’s] medical treatment,” including any aspects of a “medical transition.”
The cure for discouragement
This story has been in the news all week and, honestly, I’ve avoided writing on it because I just wasn’t sure what else I could add. Our ministry has written extensively on the biblical and biological factors relevant to this debate, and nothing has changed regarding how the Lord sees it. Scripture is clear: gender is instituted by God and not subject to human change. But we should also have compassion and love for those who are genuinely struggling with this issue.
As I thought and prayed about the topic, though, God laid this fact on my heart: sometimes what we need most is a reminder that, no matter how hopeless the current trajectory of our culture may seem, all is not lost. After all, the best way to combat discouragement over our present circumstances is to remember that we serve a God who transcends them.
We see that principle repeated throughout Scripture.
In Joshua 4, for example, God instructed his people to set up stones as a reminder, both to them and to future generations, of what the Lord had done for them (Joshua 4:1-10). God knew that there would be hard times ahead and that his people would be prone to lose hope because of the massive trials they would face. His solution was not to reprimand them for their lack of faith but rather to remind them of why they could trust him.
We see it again when God’s people returned from exile and Ezra read from the Book of the Law to remind the people of all that the Lord had commanded them. They became somber at remembering the ways they’d fallen short of God’s expectations. In response, Ezra declared “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). God didn’t want them to lose sight of the fact that their past and present mistakes did not have to define their future.
The same should be true for us today. It is easy to look at the world around us and lose hope in God’s ability to change it. Such discouragement is never the answer, though, and it’s counterproductive to the kind of faith and joy that the lost around us most need to see in our lives.
A prayer for our culture
The joy of the Lord is still meant to be our strength when we have the faith to grasp it. In light of that fact, I would like to end today’s article a bit differently than normal. There’s nothing magical about the words that follow so feel free to adjust them as you feel led by the Spirit to do so, but please join me in praying for our culture.
Father, the world around us is lost and beyond our capacity to save. If change is going to happen, it’s going to have to come from you. Please forgive us of any pride, pessimism, or lack of faith that would lead us to try and change those around us in our strength rather than yours. And please protect us from becoming discouraged in your ability to do what may seem impossible to us.
Help us to remember that, as fallen as our society may be, it wouldn’t be the first time you’ve turned it around. Help us to be a voice for hope and to find the necessary strength and resolve in you to press on and endure as your city on a hill and the expression of your light to the darkness that surrounds us. Help us not to give up on those who seem beyond saving and to be your instruments to help them know you.
We are lost without you but unconquerable with you. Please use us to accomplish your will today and to make a positive difference for your kingdom in the lives of everyone we meet. And help us to guide our culture back to you, no matter how long or difficult that process may be. It’s in your name and your strength that we pray, amen.
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Publication Date: October 25, 2019
Photo Courtesy: Getty Images/Bulat Silvia