GENDER – The Power of Language!

Today, the definition of a six-letter word is evoking enormous reactions from diverse groups of people! As Grenada embarks on this momentous Constitutional Reform, the first in forty-two years, one of its most significant, and perhaps most controversial legislative proposals has to do with Human Rights and Freedoms.

Within this significant piece of legislation, the following definition of “gender” is offered: “Gender” is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, masculinity and femininity; and “gender equality” reflects the view that men and women should receive equal treatment and should not be discriminated against based on gender.”

The phrase “range of characteristics” in the definition of gender, and the movement away from the word “sex”, as found in the existing Constitution (1974), to insert “gender”, have engendered widespread speculation and suspicion that such an insertion leaves room for legislative interpretation that is not possible when referring to “sex” as a biological identity derived from birth.

Furthermore, it is feared that such a change carries huge implications on prevailing social mores and social structures, e.g. the institutions of family and marriage. This localised furor and protest is not without cause.
On a global level, dramatic and unprecedented changes have taken place and are taking place as traditional definitions of “sexuality”, “gender”, “family”, “marriage”, “religious freedom” etc. are being challenged and replaced by new cultural modalities.

As an evangelical Christian, please permit me to share a biblical perspective on this very divisive issue. Biblical revelation says God, Creator of the Universe, made man and woman – distinct, equal and complementary. Men were to be male human beings; women, female human beings.

While sex is biologically and anatomically determined, gender is relationally based – it characterises how man and woman were made to relate to each other in body, soul and spirit, in love and in truth.

The act of sex as the Creator God intended, was to be a pleasurable, private act between a man and a woman who had intentionally come together in a public, covenantal relationship which was called marriage (Genesis 2:24).

Out of this union would come children to procreate God’s good earth, which had been given to man and woman, in which they were blessed to be “fruitful… multiply…govern…reign over” (Genesis 2:27, 28). Alas, this ideal was tragically shattered when human – man and woman – sought to do it their own way.

The history of humanity is the painful story of alienation between God and His created beings, and His commitment to bring humanity back to Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.

The Creator established laws, rules and precepts for the godly and orderly ruler-ship and fruitful stewardship of nations.

Many of the national Independent Constitutions of the Caribbean shared the above Judeo-Christian perspective as reflected in our Western world. Therefore, our laws and traditions embraced this consensus for the protection of marriage and family.

Today, as we move increasingly into a “post-Christian” world, a world where the ideologies of atheism, secularism, humanism and liberalism are asserting themselves in every sphere of life (God is dead or gone MIA), our laws are under threat, and “gender” is up for grabs!

Traditionally, we believe that sex is fixed at birth and that gender is one’s social identity as a masculine man or feminine woman based on one’s sex at birth. Today, whether a person would live as a boy or girl, man or woman is now a personal decision.

One’s anatomical sex may not fit one’s chosen gender. Gender is now a choice! And sexual preference, a right! Furthermore, gender is reduced mostly to sexuality – physical excitement, social compatibility, felt satisfaction, and “love who you want to love”.

This has opened the door to opposite-sex or same-sex relationships outside of the God–given covenantal, man-woman relationship of biblical marriage and family.

The secularisation of our culture has now reached alarming proportions. As someone described it, “it is as wood ants working from underneath”! Of special interest to us in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, as we heatedly debate this issue, is the use of language in changing the culture. “A change of language always precedes a change of culture” (Darrow L. Miller).

Words in the public lexicon are being hollowed out and retooled to suit the agenda of the day, and although the language may be the same, the ‘content’ of the words are different.

Miller, a Christian writer, in responding to how the word “marriage” (and I would add, “love” and “gender”) have been hollowed out and retooled in the political and legislative arenas of the US today, warns, “if current trends continue unabated, it will inevitably lead to a breakdown of constitutional government and the rule of law. We will be left with a totalitarian system run by technocratic elites”.

So you ask, “Does the Church in Grenada have a cause for concern?”

“Do the people of Grenada who desire to maintain a Christian consensus in its institutions need to be alarmed at the current legislative trend?”

Yes, there is a Cause! Faith demands that we speak out! Truth requires that we speak without compromise! Love asks that we speak compassionately – to warn that a departure from biblical truth can only spell disaster for our nation and the generations to come.

“The greatness of a nation is directly related to the righteousness of its laws and rules” (Revive our Hearts) Righteousness exalteth a nation; sin is a reproach to any people! (Proverbs 14:34).

Joan Purcell
Alliance of Evangelical Churches Grenada.

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