We have witnessed unprecedented changes in socially acceptable approaches toward human sexuality over the past few generations in Western society. Many factors lie behind these changes, but we would be remiss to neglect the role of medical and technological developments in these matters. Ideas and practices which were entirely theoretical not long ago are now being practiced or soon will be; practice has outpaced ethics and morality in these medical and technological advances.
We see these tendencies manifest in how our culture treats contraception, fertility treatments, and transgenderism. Contraception is now a given in Western culture: men and women both believe they can and should have complete control over the reproductive process. They will decide if, when, and how many children they will have. If they encounter difficulties, fertility treatments may be used. Thanks to fertility treatments men and women who practice homosexuality can bear children, either themselves or through surrogates. We do not have the time to discuss the fate of many of those frozen embryos which are created but are “left over” after the fertility treatments have concluded. The newest “hot button” issue features transgender individuals and the ability to somewhat “transform” and express the physical gender characteristics of the opposite gender.
We may find it profitable to consider these matters in light of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). At Babel man came together to build a monument to his own greatness lest he be scattered over the whole earth (Genesis 11:4); ever since, mankind has attempted to exert authority and power over nature and the natural way of things, and seeks to resist the created order of things.
To some degree this contest is a natural part of the fall: we strive to eke out a living despite the dangers around us (Genesis 3:17-19). We live in houses with climate control and take advantage of medical and technological advancements which help us overcome natural limitations and difficulties. A desire to preserve and improve life is not contrary to God’s purposes.
And yet consider how many secular advocates of contraception, fertility treatments, and transgenderism speak. They take pride in resisting nature; they glory in facilitating that which is ultimately unnatural and contrary to God’s created order (Romans 1:18-32). They are able to actually accomplish what the pagan Gentiles of old could only dream about. Western fertility rates have plummeted beyond the natural rate of replication on account of contraceptive choice. Men and women who practice homosexuality in committed relationships can only have children through artificial means if they would remain “faithful” to each other. Those who attempt to “transition” between genders are commended as proving “courageous.” How do they express this “courage”? They attempt to fight against the created order of things.
The Scriptures make it clear that God is the source of life, practicing homosexual behavior is contrary to God’s will, and God made man and woman distinctly and yet both in His image (Genesis 1:26-27, Psalm 139:13-14, Romans 1:24-28, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). We must approach these matters with discretion and wisdom. The New Testament does not require married couples to bear children or dictate how many each should have; nevertheless, we do well to ask whether contraceptive choices and/or fertility treatments are being used to glorify God or whether they are our attempt to maintain artificial control over our lives like at Babel. While God has made people male and female, we should not find it surprising that in the corruption of creation in the fall some people may have hormones that do not correspond to their body parts, and vice versa (Romans 5:12-21, 8:18-22). And yet, is not deciding to reject the physical expression of gender and to “transition” to a different physical gender like unto Babel, resisting God’s created order and making a monument to man’s ability to overthrow nature?
Difficulties surrounding contraception, fertility treatments, and transgenderism will not be going away anytime soon. We do well to ground our consideration of them in Christ, how He created the world, and the consequences of the fall. May we do all things to God’s glory and resist participating in building new Babels to man’s greatness and fears!
Ethan R. Longhenry