Gender Identity & More – John Stonestreet

Lee Lethers Podcast

John and his ministry:

Chuck Colson founded Breakpoint because of his search to understand the brokenness in our culture and where the church belongs in it. The Colson Center for Christian Worldview continues his Breakpoint program through the radio, podcast and email. Colson’s worldview and cultural leadership program also continues, now renamed as the “Colson Fellas” rather than the “Centurions.” John Stonestreet is the president of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and cohosts the Breakpoint radio program. He also wrote the book, “A Practical Guide to Culture.”

Civil disobedience:

The intentional disobedience of an authority is only justified when obeying that authority requires you to disobey God (Ex. in Acts 4:18-20). Scripture emphasizes respect for authority. The Question is, “When does that authority become illegitimate?”  Martin Luther King Jr taught that “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws…” If civil disobedience is required, we are called to love our neighbors in the midst of it, and to accept the consequences, ultimately believing that God is in charge. Believers are often laughed at or angrily dismissed for holding to our beliefs, but it is another thing completely to lose our well-being; pensions, businesses, or degree programs. As Chuck Colson wrote, “We can ungrudgingly render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but we cannot render to Caesar what belongs to God.” It is important to be clear on what belongs to which authorities and what obedience to each of them will look like.

About Breakpoint’s previous story, “Persecuting Jack Phillips:”

Jack Phillips was a baker who would not bake a cake for the wedding of a same-sex couple. He was willing to sell them anything already made in the store, but he was not willing to use his artistic ability to communicate a message he does not believe. The Colorado Civil rights commission accused him of prejudice and suddenly the case of a small neighborhood store became a hugely significant Supreme Court ruling about our rights to religious liberty. The big question – Does Jack have the right to refuse service to some customers based on deeply held convictions? He says he is not required to do every cake. The Supreme Court agreed that he had been unfairly treated by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Yet the Colorado Civil Rights Commission continues to charge him of prejudice in a new case where Jack Phillips refused to do another cake that would specifically celebrate a gender transition.

Culture:

“Culture is just a feature of whenever people get together.” The word “culture” comes from the word, “cultivate.” When people get together, they cultivate a culture. We were made to not only live in the world but to make something of the world. “Culture is just what humans make of the world. It becomes reality, so the discernment of the culture is vital.”

Change in culture over time:

Culture is dynamic and moves at different speeds for different cultures. We have recently been hit by many waves in the culture (Opiods, racial tensions, gender identity). However, undercurrent shifts of change are active too. One undercurrent is the shift from industry to information. We have complete and unabated access to information across numerous platforms. The newer generation is more exposed to new and diverse ideas than the older generations ever were. Another undercurrent shift is the way we understand human identity. The idea of being “endowed by our creator” has been thrown out because they have thrown out the Creator. Now human value and dignity is found in sexual autonomy. Previous generations see sexual controversies (transgender, sexual orientation) as moral issues, but the new generation sees them as discussions on fundamental identity. In other words, the previous generations would say, “that’s wrong” while the new generation would say, “that’s who you are.”

How do Christians navigate these cultural landmines?

Cultural landmines are just the waves that ride in on the underlying current shift. Understand the underlying shift, and you can understand the landmines. The sexual revolution was not just about morality, but of fundamental anthropology. We can no longer assume there is a shared understanding of what sex is for. While we still need to talk about what to do with sex (the morality around it) we also need to talk about God’s design for sex. If we don’t have this conversation with our kids, the culture already is. So use the stories of the culture to discuss the inconsistencies and immorality. One example you could use is the culture’s differing treatment between Hugh Heffner’s death and the accusations against Harvey Weinstein.

Gender Identity:

The underlying shift here has to do with Gnosticism: the belief that the physical world is not true but what is real is what we know (transgenderism in a nutshell). The church has always believed Gnosticism to be heresy, because God created the physical and spiritual together, proclaiming them both good. Point out the inherent inconsistencies in how the culture has treated gender. First, gender came to be understood as merely social construct, but now exhibiting behavior attributed the wrong gender makes a person transgender. The gay movement says “we were born this way. We can’t change” and the transgender movement says, “we were born this way and it’s wrong.” While the suicide rate among transgender individuals scares parents, the suicide rate is just as high after transition. Denying biological and physical reality does not solve the problem. Unfortunately, giving anything less than full affirmation is to be a jerk, which makes it hard for Christians.

Nonetheless, We need to be people of hope (1 Peter). John’s book, “A Practical Guide to Culture” focuses a lot on hope casting, which asks, “What does being a person of hope look like in this area?”

Additional Resources:

Breakpoint: Provides a free daily nugget to think through a cultural story from a Christian worldview. It looks at the issues with the belief that Christians need to engage with the culture, not hide from it. Go to Breakpoint.org or find our podcast.

“A Practical Guide to Culture” by John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle

The Colson Center for Christian Worldview – www.colsoncenter.org

Multiply! Podcast episode 48 – John Stonestreet is also the guest of this previous episode and also talks about navigating the culture.