An excerpt from Kurt’s new book Cross and Culture: Can Jesus Save the West?
As a Christian and a former pastor, I am familiar with what it looks like for someone to have a “born-again” experience. Not all conversions are the same, but they generally result in that person gaining a totally fresh outlook on the world, a newfound joy, and a sense of meaning and purpose they’d previously been missing. I have been intrigued, then, to watch the way Western culture has in recent years framed sexual identity in a similar way. There is a sense today that to ‘come out’ is to have a kind of life-defining salvation experience.
Though I haven’t gone through this myself, I can certainly try to put myself in the shoes of someone who has agonised over hidden feelings of attraction; the enormous price they might have paid to tell friends and family; and the feelings of relief that followed coming out. It makes sense that a person in these circumstances would seek out a new subculture that promotes their sexuality.
But all of this — whether the overreaction of conservative loved ones, or the shift in how this person identifies in public — gives sexuality far too much credit. All of us are sexual beings, and that’s a good and God-given reality. But turning sexuality into an all-encompassing identity is fraught with dangers. Sex simply can’t bear the weight of that: our identity needs a much stronger foundation than our mere sexual proclivities.
The UK government recently launched an investigation to try make sense of a 4,000 percent increase in young people seeking out gender treatment over the last decade. Rates of gender dysphoria have skyrocketed in other Western nations too as schools and TV shows have begun suggesting to children that their gender is fluid.
A raft of studies spanning decades have shown that most cases of gender dysphoria don’t continue past puberty: around 80 percent of these children grow up to feel comfortable about the body they were born with. Despite this, many parents are now seeking out doctors to help their child ‘transition’ genders. Puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, double mastectomies and sex-change surgery are now common treatments given to gender dysphoric children around the Western world.
The results of transitioning aren’t promising. A Birmingham University study that tracked over 100 post-operative patients found that “there is huge uncertainty over whether changing someone’s sex is a good or a bad thing,” and that “there’s still a large number of people who have the surgery but remain traumatised — often to the point of committing suicide.” Growing numbers of people who have transitioned now express regret over their surgery — but they are left with unalterable scars, hair and voice changes, and non-functioning body parts. More difficult still is that so few people are interested in hearing the stories of those who have de-transitioned, because this runs counter to the current orthodoxy.
Walt Heyer (1940-) is one such person. “Eventually, I gathered the courage to admit that the surgery had fixed nothing — it only masked and exacerbated deeper psychological problems.” This is how he described his experience after trying to live as a woman for eight years. The lesson Heyer learnt, and that he now shares with others who face the same struggles he did, is that our worth must be grounded in something much bigger than our sexuality.
Check out Kurt’s new book Cross and Culture: Can Jesus Save the West?