If Jenner is a Man, then Jesus is Still Dead

Dismissing the possibility of psychological realities is the result of an ideology incongruous with Christianity.

For many Christians, the stories about Caitlyn Jenner and Rachel Dolezal are about truth. Since Jenner was born biologically male, her identifying as a woman must be due to either mental illness or delusional sin. In the same way, Dolezal was born to white parents; therefore, her identifying as black is just a lie, conscious or otherwise.


Neither of them can deny how they were born, and no amount of cosmetics can change their DNA. The truth, then, is not consistent with their perceptions.


This is the argument of Dr. Michael Brown who recently wrote that, "perception does not change reality." He also writes that this line of thinking has other potential repercussions:

How about, "Even though I was assigned the ethnic identity of a white male at birth, I identify myself as a black female." Why not? Or what if I sense that, despite my American pedigree, I am actually a Viking? What if I was sure I was actually a black Viking and wanted to identify as such?
Lots of Christians worry about this. If perception is reality, then there's no stopping truth from becoming whatever we imagine it to be. All is relative and nothing can hold us accountable because everything is as we choose see it.

This is called a slippery slope argument. It's a logical fallacy that shifts the focus from the issue at hand to hypothetical consequences that it claims as evidence against the issue. It has the appearance of reason simply because its hypotheticals, while not demonstrably true, are not demonstrably false either. The persuasiveness is in the fear of possibility, and the logic makes as much sense as never leaving the house because you might get bitten by a snake.


So instead of debating things that aren't demonstrable, we should be talking about the things that are. Like keeping Jesus locked in the grave.


Questions of reality are the subject of the branch of philosophy known as metaphysics. For example, when Dr. Brown said that perception does not change reality, he was rejecting the metaphysical theory of realism. Realism, a theory made popular by Plato, in its simplest form would say that true reality is found in the immaterial. The physical and the biological are merely our subjective interpretations while the spiritual and psychological house truth.


The early church confronted this theory in the form of gnosticism which it condemned as a heresy. And as questions of reality persisted, particularly regarding the nature of Christ's incarnation, the church formally addressed them through the Council of Chalcedon in 451 C.E.

We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach people to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable soul and body; consubstantial with the father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the manhood. (The Confession of Chalcedon)
In orthodox Christianity, we refer to this as the hyopstatic union because it confesses the divinity and humanity of Christ as subsisting in one person. But it can't be ignored that Jesus, being the firstfruits of our resurrection, exists as a simultaneously spiritual and physical being. Furthermore, the Bible affirms from the beginning that we were created with both body and spirit.

Thus, it would be inconsistent with Christian teaching to say that Jenner's psyche alone dictates the reality of who she is as a person. However, you'll run into the opposite problem by claiming that Jenner's biology is what dictates who he is.


If perception is not reality but physical evidence is, then people like Dr. Brown are subscribing to the metaphysical theory of naturalism. Naturalism, the theory championed by atheists, places ultimate reality entirely in the physical world. The spiritual doesn't exist and the psychological is just a biological process we don't fully understand yet.


Not only does this run counter to Christian metaphysics, it makes the resurrection of Jesus Christ impossible. As much evidence as we have that a man named Jesus existed, there is no physical evidence that he came back to life. All we have are easily-fabricated eyewitness accounts that can only be taken on faith. Even Paul said our beliefs are foolish to the human mind; that's why it's called faith.


So when we dismiss people like Caitlyn Jenner and Rachel Dolezal based on human standards of wisdom, we dismiss our own faith. That's not to say that their self-perceptions couldn't be influenced by sin or illness (no reasonable person can dismiss what can't be known). All it means is that Jenner could be both biologically male and psychologically a woman. And to place our identity solely in one or the other is to deny the very nature in which we place our faith.



photo credit: IMGP3615_cleanup via photopin (license)

Comments