2. Looking at the roots of confusion
In the section ‘Introduction/My Story’ on this website I have tried to share some insights I gained on my own journey of healing from gender confusion, a journey from self-rejection to accepting and growing in my birth gender as a man. I have stated with absolute conviction that the source of that healing was through my encountering and accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. Merely understanding some of the roots of gender confusion in my life would not have brought healing – you cannot somehow reach inside yourself and straighten out the way you see yourself by human effort or will power. I needed a power other than my own for that to happen, a power that came through the presence of God’s Holy Spirit in my life. My prayer for each person reading these words is that you will know that same power in your life through knowing Jesus, but even if that is not yet true for you I trust that some of what I write below may help you understand your own or a loved one’s struggle with their gender identity.
Before we look at possible roots of sexual and gender confusion in ours or others lives let’s look at how God intended children to grow up secure in their identity...
The family – God’s plan for blessing every human life
When many people think of God they have the distorted picture of a distant impersonal figure who is always angry and is either powerless to help human beings or has no desire to. Actually the Bible gives a completely different picture of what he is like. From its very first pages we see a God who wants to lavish the very best on the man and the woman he created and on the world he placed them in. We see the picture of him as a father who is always there for his children and relates to them intimately yet suffers the ultimate pain that any parent could experience of being rejected by them. This picture of God is almost beyond our comprehension – we are talking of the one who created a universe whose size we cannot measure or imagine, relating to two living beings on a planet seemingly insignificant within that universe but this is exactly how the Bible portrays him. God placed Adam and Eve in a perfect environment, a garden in which they could flourish. With like intent his desire was that their marriage relationship would also be the perfect foundation and environment for their children to flourish and grow into his image like their parents. In such a perfect family the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve would never have experienced insecurity or confusion about their identity. Tragically, as we have already seen, all that was to change when Adam and Eve declared their independence and rejection of God’s authority. We’ll look more closely at the effects of that on theirs and their descendant’s (including us) shortly but first let’s look at the roles God originally intended for Adam and Eve as parents.
Adam and Eve – equal in value, different in role
There was order in Adam and Eve’s relationship. Adam was given particular responsibility to lead and protect both his wife Eve and the family they would produce. His words carried power and authority. Before Eve was created God gave him the responsibility of naming the animals – in Genesis 2;19 we read that...
‘...whatever the man called every living creature; that was its name’
The names he gave to the animals gave them identity. Later he named his wife Eve which means ‘the mother of all living’. God intended that the words that Adam and every father who followed him spoke over their children would bless and give identity to them also. Adam’s role as a leader in his marriage relationship with Eve and in their family was not meant to be one of domination and control but of care, protection and responsibility. As well as sharing Adam’s purpose in ruling and caring for the earth (see Genesis 1 verse 28), his wife Eve had the unique and vital role of bearing and nurturing their children. God created Adam and Eve equal but different. He created them to complement one another, their masculinity and femininity representing the richness of his nature and character, his strength and his tenderness. Every child is born with the need for that distinctive masculine and feminine expression of love from their father and mother. Every little boy needs a male role model to show him what it means to be male and every little girl needs a female role model to show her what it means to be female – God intended fathers and mothers to be those role models. Importantly boys and girls also need to see good models of masculinity and femininity in their fathers and mothers to help them in later life when they seek a marriage partner.
The tragedy of the fall – broken image and broken families
When Adam and Eve turned their backs on God his image in them was broken and distorted. We feel the effect of that damage and distortion to this day like a tsunami of knock on effect in generation upon generation of human lives and families. But that damage and distortion does not change the God created need of every newborn baby boy or girl for the distinctive masculine and feminine expression of love from their father and mother that he always intended. Where there is a lack of those proper and clearly defined male and female roles in fathers and mothers or even in other significant adults in a child’s life the result can be a lack of clearly defined gender identity in the child. No amount of social engineering or legislative reform can change the need of a little boy for a male role model to show him what it means to be male and of a little girl for a female role model to show her what it means to be female. From a spiritual perspective, seeking to remove and deny all gender differences between men and women and trying to separate psychological gender identity from biological gender is actually rebellion against God’s design for humanity and falls in line with Satan’s original intent to destroy and deface the beauty of God’s image in human beings and ultimately to invite disorder and decay on a nation and society.
The above is far more than just a sociological comment – it’s a spiritual reality. Sadly, for many years now, both the role of fathers as leaders and protectors and mothers as nurturers has been steadily despised and rejected with destructive consequences in much of modern human society.
A statement of truth...
Every child needs a father and a mother to represent all the aspects of God’s character to them. Both fathers and mothers have a special role in modelling what it means to be either male or female to their sons and daughters.
Fathers are meant to show the strong protecting love of God to their children, a love that like a mother’s love is unconditional but that also affirms the identity and destiny of their child. A father’s blessing carries great effect on a child – it recognises the unique gifting and distinctives of that child but also strengthens and blesses their identity as male or female, as a son or daughter.
Mothers show the tender, nurturing heart of God to their children. God meant for there to be a loving bond between a mother and her baby even as he or she is still being formed in her womb. He meant that bond to be a channel for love and security poured into the baby’s human spirit even before birth, nourishing their very being in the same way that her milk would nourish their body after birth.
The above statements do not mean that a father is not able to show tenderness to his children or that a mother cannot protect them, they are simply saying that God has given a different mix of those qualities to men and women. Many who argue with that statement are so intent to deny gender differences that they miss the beauty of their complementarity.
To illustrate that last statement; in a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to a group of Christians in first century Thessalonica he wrote about himself and his fellow missionaries Silas and Timothy:
But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children...
For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
(1 Thessalonians chapter 2 verses 7 and 11-12 English Standard Version)
From the above we see Paul saying that as a man he was able to demonstrate the strength and characteristics of a father yet also to show the gentleness more commonly associated with a mother
Let’s look at some possible areas of lack or damage that might open the door for gender confusion in a child’s life. Even if these areas do not result in gender confusion they all have the potential to cause deep inner wounds.
1. Distortion of the roles of fathers and mothers and husbands and wives
We have seen that God created men and women different but equal and that an important part of that difference was in the expression of their masculinity and femininity as parents. Any distortion or absence of that expression, for example when a father is weak and passive and a mother is dominating and controlling or when a child is brought up by a same-sex couple will give a distorted example to their sons or their daughters of what it means to be male or female. An equally distorted and wrong expression of masculinity and femininity in the parent’s relationship is the other extreme of a father being dominating and controlling and the mother being weak and passive. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul gave clear instructions to men and women in their relationships as husbands and wives and also in their roles as fathers and mothers. Here are some words from his letter to a group of Christians in Ephesus which is now in modern day Turkey...
‘Honour Christ by submitting to each other. You wives must submit to your husbands’ leadership in the same way you submit to the Lord. For a husband is in charge of his wife in the same way Christ is in charge of his body the Church. (He gave his very life to take care of it and be its Saviour!) So you wives must willingly obey your husbands in everything, just as the Church obeys Christ.
And you husbands, show the same kind of love to your wives as Christ showed to the Church when he died for her, to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God’s Word; so that he could give her to himself as a glorious Church without a single spot or wrinkle or any other blemish, being holy and without a single fault. That is how husbands should treat their wives, loving them as parts of themselves. For since a man and his wife are now one, a man is really doing himself a favour and loving himself when he loves his wife! No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it, just as Christ cares for his body the Church, of which we are parts.
(That the husband and wife are one body is proved by the Scripture, which says, “A man must leave his father and mother when he marries so that he can be perfectly joined to his wife, and the two shall be one.”) I know this is hard to understand, but it is an illustration of the way we are parts of the body of Christ.
So again I say, a man must love his wife as a part of himself; and the wife must see to it that she deeply respects her husband—obeying, praising, and honouring him.’
(Paul’s letter to the Ephesians chapter 5 verses 22-33 The Living Bible)
The verses above have been among the most argued over, often applied wrongly and sometimes most hated in the Bible. The Apostle Paul has been described as a woman hater and a chauvinist but what he wrote needs to be seen in the light of God’s intention to provide a clear and healthy demarcation in the expression of masculinity and femininity in marriage, the family and ultimately in society. When a husband is told to love his wife as Jesus loved his church he is being told to love her in such a sacrificial way that he would even die for her. He is being told to care as much about her needs as he does his own, he is being told to take responsibility as a provider and protector. The wife, in being told to ‘submit’ to her husband’s leadership isn’t being told to demean herself or lose her identity but to be part of reflecting the beautiful relationship between Jesus and his ‘Bride’ the church. Allowing her husband to take responsibility to lead doesn’t leave her without a say in the marriage or family - it’s acknowledging the reality that there can’t be two leaders and that ultimately someone has to take responsibility when decisions need to be made in important family matters.
For centuries romantic literature has displayed men as seeking to win the hearts of the women they love, of being willing to risk their very lives for them. How sad that such romantic love is so despised in the days in which we live, days in which so many demand their ‘rights’ with self at the centre whereas the love described in the Bible verses above is other-centred, defined by seeking to meet the needs of the one being loved. It’s noticeable that even in animated films now there is an intentional change in the way male and female characters are being portrayed. It is becoming more common now that the strong heroic character is female coming to the rescue of a weak, none too bright male. How strange that in despising what they perceive as gender stereotypes those behind such portrayals only succeed in creating new and sadly distorted ones. How sad as well that in so doing they only add to the confusion of what it really means to be male or female.
If we read into the next chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Christians we read...
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honour your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
(Paul’s letter to the Ephesians chapter 6 verses 1-4 English Standard Version)
We see again an order in the family and a particular responsibility given to fathers to lead, teach and where necessary discipline their children.
Examples of what can happen if this order isn’t present within the family
If a son is smothered by or clung to by his mother he may identify more with her femininity than with his father who is distant and uninvolved with his development and upbringing. Still yearning for male love and affirmation that boy may grow up seeking that need to be met in male relationships, often with older ‘father figures’ which can then become sexual. Likewise, girls with passive or rejective mothers can find themselves in lesbian relationships in their teenage or adult years, in reality still yearning for a mother’s acceptance and love. The unmet need for love and affirmation in a young person can become an open door for confusion about their sexuality or gender. If they experiment with or are enticed to enter the world of homosexual relationships they can easily come to accept and believe that they are ‘gay’. I recently spoke to a man trapped in a homosexual lifestyle. When I began to ask him about his relationship with his father his answer was not untypical of someone struggling in this way. His father was harsh and didn’t show love or warmth to him as he grew up. In a moment of understanding he recognised that all the male sexual partners he had been involved with were older ‘father’ figures. It was a step towards freedom for him to recognise that what he was truly seeking in those relationships was a father’s love and not a sexual encounter.
Further comment regarding children brought up by same-sex couples
In the light of all that we have discussed above it should be obvious that children with homosexual same-sex couples as their primary care givers are very likely to experience confusion in their understanding of what constitutes ‘normal’ male and female behaviour. It’s likely primarily because the two adults caring for them are themselves broken in their own gender identities. I realise in writing that sentence that I am challenging the ideology of political correctness and what society is increasingly seeking to define as normal. Even leaving aside what God says in the Bible about homosexual practice we need to face reality and truth over this issue, as the identity of young lives is at stake. The undeniable biological truth is that a child can only result from the sexual union of a man and a woman. The attempted joining of two people of the same sex, however strong their feelings or commitment for each other can never result in the birth of a child. The simple truth, if we were but willing to admit it is that the bodies of two people of the same sex aren’t designed to naturally fit together sexually. I use the word ‘designed’ deliberately because we are again faced with either acknowledging or denying that we have a creator. If we do then we are accountable to him if we choose to ignore the purpose for which he has created us, that a child should grow and develop in the care and protection of a man and woman, a father and mother. The Bible is very clear that homosexual relationships are abnormal and sinful in God’s eyes as are heterosexual or any other kind of sexual relationships outside marriage. The good news for all of us broken people is that God loves us and is ready to forgive and heal anyone who is willing to forsake their sinful lifestyle and make Jesus Lord of their lives.
2. Pre-natal Wounds
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
(Psalm139:13-16 The New Living Translation)
The beautiful verses above from Psalm 139 convey the writer, King David’s awareness that he was a person from the beginning of his existence in his mother’s womb. He uses the personal pronouns ‘my’ and ‘me’ – he was an ‘I’ not an ‘it’. Someone has said that in our modern world the most dangerous place to be is in a mother’s womb. That’s a terribly sad statement because God’s intention was always that it should be the safest place. There should be a strong spiritual bond between a mother and her unborn child. Ideally the father of that child should be present to protect and care for both the mother and their child that she is carrying. Even more ideal is that both parents know and love God who entrusted them with the gift of their yet unborn baby.
Where there is insecurity of any sort in the lives of the parents of the unborn child or in the environment or circumstances in which they are living the child will be affected because they are there in those circumstances yet somehow we have managed to persuade ourselves that a child in the womb is not truly human until so many weeks after conception.
In my own story I shared how I believe that the strife within my grandparents home and the lack of joy of my grandmother over my being born a boy had a profound spiritual effect on me both within my mother’s womb and after I was born. At the time of my birth a child’s gender could only be discovered when he or she emerged from the womb – today it can be known much earlier through an ultrasound scan. Whether at birth or through a pre-natal scan the reaction of a mother or father to the gender of their child is of vital importance. If the parents are longing for a boy and their child is a girl their reaction, either positive or negative, can affect and be sensed by that child. An unborn or new born baby is not just a physical collection of skin, bones and internal organs – they are an amazing creation of God with emotions and a spirit and they have a spiritual bond to both their parents especially their mother. If the parents are disappointed in the gender of their child they are disappointed in the most basic fact about his or her identity – actually, without realising it they are rejecting who they are.
Other sources of wounding during the time from conception until birth can be:
A mother’s struggle with anxiety or depression during pregnancy. That mustn’t be a source of guilt for any mother reading this who has had such a struggle but simply an acknowledgement that the emotional state of a mother affects the growing child within her womb. Particularly damaging would be a woman struggling with suicidal thoughts during pregnancy – it isn’t just her life that’s in the balance but her child’s also.
A mother who considered or was put under pressure to consider having an abortion. There are testimonies of adults who have received deep healing when God by his Holy Spirit revealed that their mother considered aborting them and enabled them to forgive her and any others involved. Aborting or considering aborting a child is rejection of that precious life. Abortion is the murder of a child but there is forgiveness through the cross of Jesus for any woman who has had an abortion or those who put pressure on her to do so.
Baby was conceived in rape outside of or within marriage. God always intended that the conception of a child should be the result of the loving sexual union of a husband and wife. Anything outside that, especially the violence of rape, opens the door for Satan to deeply wound both the mother and the child she’s conceived. Similarly if baby was conceived on a one night sexual encounter with the father subsequently abdicating all responsibility for caring for that child it will not only be the mother whose life is broken and scarred – so will her child’s.
Violent rows between parents during pregnancy. The reality is that a baby in the womb is only separated from the world outside by the skin of his or her mother. Violence and anger are blows to an unborn child’s spirit that leave permanent marks.
A mother trapped in an addictive lifestyle. Mother and child are joined physically and spiritually – her substance abuse affects her unborn child physically and spiritually.
A mother experiencing accident or trauma during pregnancy. Such experiences can open the door for fear not just in the mother’s life but the child’s also.
The mother has had a previous abortion or miscarriage. In both abortion and miscarriage there has been death in the womb. Miscarriage carries no blame but like abortion can be a doorway for the powers of darkness to affect subsequent children developing there. A woman’s womb affected by either abortion or miscarriage can be healed through prayer in the name of Jesus.
One or both parents involved in the occult. Occult involvement whether with full blown Satanism or with what are thought of as milder practices are all doorways for the powers of darkness that not only harm the person involved in them but in the case of a pregnant woman the child she is carrying as well. Occult practises can come dressed in apparently innocent guises. Some examples are yoga, martial arts, acupuncture, reflexology, mindfulness, eastern meditation as well as the more obvious forms such as spiritualism, séances, fortune telling, Ouija, horoscopes and fortune telling.
One or both parents involved in false religions. Christians are sometimes considered arrogant when they declare that knowing Jesus personally as Lord and Saviour is the only way to have a relationship with God and to go to heaven when we die. The reality is that it is the only way to know God and therefore all other religions and philosophies are dead end roads that lead nowhere except to spending eternity separated from God in hell. Involvement in a false religion of any kind is following a lie and has the spiritual consequence of coming under the power of Satan, the father of lies. Such involvement by one or both parents will have spiritual consequences for their unborn child.
The above are only some of the possible ways in which a child can be wounded while still in the womb. Not all of those wounds will result in gender confusion but they will all continue to affect that child as they continue on through life. As we will see later even these wounds in the very foundation and core of our being can be healed years later in adulthood through knowing Jesus as our Lord, Saviour and healer.
3. Lack of proper bonding with parents
In the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament, the writer, believed to be King Solomon, son of David wrote...
When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. (Proverbs chapter 4 verses 3-4 ESV)
In a single sentence we see the positive loving input of a father and mother in Solomon’s early life. Even secular psychologists will admit to the importance of the bond between a mother and her child and will just about admit to the need for a father’s input. There was one time in each of our lives when we had every right to be the centre of attention – when we were helpless vulnerable newborns. Studies have shown the importance of eye contact between a mother and baby – the look of a loving mother (and a father) reaches right into the very spirit of a baby conveying security and value. Have a look at the photos below of mothers and fathers gazing into the eyes of their children.
Writing in Psychology Today, Mark Matousek comments:
‘You learn the world from your mother's face. The mother's eyes, especially, are a child's refuge, the mirror where children confirm their existence. From the doting reflection of its mother's eyes, a baby draws its earliest, wordless lessons about connection, care, and love, and about how being ignored - which every child is sooner or later - makes the good feeling disappear.’
He goes on to quote psychologist John Bowlby, the founder of attachment theory who claims that deprived of the mother's gaze, the area of the brain that coordinates social communication, empathic attunement, emotional regulation, and stimulus appraisal (the establishment of value and meaning) will be faulty. Such children are likely to develop "insecure attachment" along with all sorts of subsequent losses in self-esteem and feelings of belonging
You may not have received such adoring gazes from your mother or father when you arrived in the world crying out for love and acceptance. If your father or mother were not present in your life for any reason, or not willing or able to be the positive examples of what it means to be male or female, that may have contributed significantly to you or someone you know experiencing deep insecurity and possibly gender confusion. Fathers who were absent, mothers who couldn’t or wouldn’t give nurture resulting in lack of bonding, separation from parents through their death or illness or through your own illness, premature birth, being sent to boarding schools etc resulting in separation anxiety – all these factors can open the door for insecurity and confusion of identity including gender identity.
Failure to bond to the same sex parent by a child can result in them identifying more with the opposite sex parent. This can result in a little girl identifying with her father and spending more time with him. It’s often spoken with a smile that a little girl is or was a ‘tomboy’ but maybe its right to question if that’s truly good for her female identity. When a little boy identifies more with his mother the description given him may not be quite so kind – when I was growing up the term was ‘sissy’ which carried much more of a frown than a smile. Sadly in the current state of society a little girl behaving like a boy or a boy behaving more like a girl are in danger of being diagnosed as transgender rather than helped toward finding security in their true gender identity.
A note to single parents
At this point it is right to speak to any single parents who are reading these notes. You may have had to bring your son or daughter up without the support of a spouse through circumstances completely out of your control and you may have done all that you could to ensure that they had the best start to life. It’s not the writer’s intention that you should feel guilt or blame if your child is now experiencing gender confusion but it is important to acknowledge the reality that the lack of a father or mother may make a child more vulnerable to such confusion. An extreme example might be if a boy was being brought up by a single Mum who is bitter towards men because of ill treatment in her life. It can be difficult for her resentment and even hatred towards the male sex not to be communicated in her relationship with her son. The same could happen if a girl was raised by a single Dad who resented or hated women. One way that the lack of male or female role models can be addressed is to seek to involve other adults of the same gender as the child in their life. Those individuals could be family members or friends but they need themselves to be secure in their own gender identity.
4. Rejection of a child’s gender by parents or significant adults. ‘Is it good that I’m a little boy or a little girl?’
We have already seen how parent’s disappointment when they discover the gender of their child during or after a pre-natal ultrasound can plant the seeds of rejection deep within the tiny spirit of that child. Rejection is one of the biggest weapons of Satan to wound and damage human lives and parents not rejoicing over the gender of their unborn or newborn baby can open the door for him to plant a lie deep in the core of that child’s being that they should have been the opposite gender. Even if the parents later come to terms with the gender of their baby and welcome him or her, that lie planted by Satan can still grow like a poisonous seed to bear the painful and destructive fruit of gender confusion in that child’s life later on.
Some parents have so wanted to have a little girl that when a little boy was born to them they lived out their desire by dressing him as a girl and likewise if they wanted a boy and God gave them a little girl they dressed her as a boy. Children experiencing such treatment from their parents will sustain great damage within their human spirit and to their male or female identity. To a lesser degree some parents have given their children names that can be male or female to satisfy their desire for a child of a particular gender although that doesn’t mean that the parents of every boy or girl called Jo wanted them to be the opposite gender.
Another possible cause of a young child being confused in their gender identity and even rejecting that identity is when parents favour one gender over another in their children. The simple conclusion that a young boy can form when one or more parents seem to love his sister more than him is that it would be better to be a girl – if he was he would be loved as much as his sister.
5. The power of words and curses
Words of death...
‘You were an accident’ or ‘I wish you’d never been born’
Or words of life...
‘My precious child who I love and in whom I delight’
In the book of Proverbs we read that the power of life and death are in the tongue. Words can bring life to the spirit of a child or adult or they can crush and kill. Every child needs to hear words of love and affirmation spoken over them ideally from the time that they were in the womb – lack of such affirmation is like not watering a plant and keeping it out of the sunshine. In the Gospel accounts of the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan by his cousin John the Baptist we read of the voice of God the Father coming from heaven, ‘This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased’.
We all need to hear such words spoken over us by our parents particularly by our fathers. We have seen that from Adam onwards God gave special responsibility to fathers to speak blessing over their children. Blessings are not just nice sounding words, they are prophetic statements spoken by someone who recognises the unique gifting, potential and destiny of a person and proclaims it over them. When those words are inspired by God they sink to the very core of a person’s being and strengthen and inspire them to so live that the words become reality in their lives.
The opposite of blessings are curses. Sadly, many parents have cursed rather than blessed their children, often repeating words that they themselves heard from their parents. A child’s parents are the most significant authority figures in their young lives and words spoken by them carry authority for good or evil. If a child is continually told that they are no good or will never amount to anything then eventually they will accept those words as truth about them and they will live out those words in their behaviour and relationships.
Negative destructive words spoken over vulnerable young hearts can crush their spirits and turn their hearts away from ever wanting to know God. I still remember my Mum coming home from a parents evening at my school when I was eleven and repeating the words my class teacher had said about me. He told her that I would always do ok but would never excel. I liked and respected that teacher and had always thought he liked me. Because I looked up to him his words had the effect of a curse over my life. For a few years after I left that school I did actually excel in my studies but as my inner struggle with gender confusion increased so my academic performance and my ability to live normal life decreased. It was many years later that God broke the power of that teacher's words in my life and I began to experience the blessing of succeeding and excelling in the gifts and abilities God had placed within me. It’s sad that some parents and authority figures only give praise and reward when a certain standard is reached – the child equates love and acceptance with performance. God’s love is not like that – he loved us from even before he created us in our mother’s womb.
Words that hurt...
Ridicule and mockery by peers, parents and other authority figures... A young boy or teenager can be labelled as ‘gay’ simply because he has a sensitive quiet nature. A girl could receive a similar label because she loves sport and is strong minded. I once read an account of how a man had struggled for years in his sexuality since as a boy his father had declared that he must be homosexual because he loved to play the piano.
Similarly, pronouncements by authority figures or peers, when received and believed by a child or young person can distort their perception of who they are and open the door for Satan to rob them of their God intended destiny. Satan is a destiny robber but God through Jesus is a destiny giver and restorer.
Some other words and labels that can remain firmly rooted in our lives distorting our perception of who we are and the way we behave...
You were an accident
You are a nuisance, useless, ugly, weird, stupid...
Call yourself a man?
No man would ever want to marry you
You’ll never amount to anything
You’re a waste of space
God meant parents and others to have authority in our lives for our good – to nurture, train and prepare us for adult life but also to point to him as the ultimate good authority in the universe. When anyone in our lives, particularly authority figures, are abusive or controlling they crush our spirit and damage our creativity and sense of identity and may cause us later to reject or distrust God as the one who has rightful authority over all our lives. Physical, verbal, emotional and sexual abuse and control are the characteristics of witchcraft and the kingdom of darkness and cause deep wounds of rejection.
When someone abuses a child sexually they only want that child’s body to satisfy their own perverted desires. They don’t care for or want the child themselves. Usually, after being used the child is discarded like rubbish, wounded rejected and broken. As a precious little person created in God’s image that child isn’t just a physical body – they have a spirit and a soul. The result of sexual abuse is that they are left broken inside – the integrity of their body, soul and spirit fractured, the guilt and shame of their abuser dumped on them the innocent victim.
There is a distressing account of rape and sexual abuse in the Bible. David, the King of Israel had numerous children by different women. One of his sons, Amnon became infatuated with his half sister Tamar.
Now Absalom, David's son, had a beautiful sister, whose name was Tamar. And after a time Amnon, David's son, loved her. (2 Samuel 13:1 ESV)
Amnon, taking the advice of a manipulative friend pretended to be ill and persuaded his father David to have Tamar come to him to prepare food for him.
Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, “Go to your brother Amnon's house and prepare food for him.” So Tamar went to her brother Amnon's house, where he was lying down. And she took dough and kneaded it and made cakes in his sight and baked the cakes. And she took the pan and emptied it out before him, but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, “Send out everyone from me.” So everyone went out from him. Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the chamber, that I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the cakes she had made and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother. But when she brought them near him to eat, he took hold of her and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” She answered him, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this outrageous thing. As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the outrageous fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.”But he would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her. Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Get up! Go!” But she said to him, “No, my brother, for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you did to me.” But he would not listen to her. He called the young man who served him and said, “Put this woman out of my presence and bolt the door after her.” Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves, for thus were the virgin daughters of the king dressed. So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. And Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long robe that she wore. And she laid her hand on her head and went away, crying aloud as she went. (2 Samuel 13:14-19 ESV)
A few verses later we read the tragic consequences of the abuse suffered by Tamar at the hands of her brother...
‘So Tamar lived, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom's house.’
The wounds of abuse
Any form of abuse leaves deep wounds in a child or adolescents’ heart. Because sexual abuse is ultimately rejection of the person it can result in deep self rejection. That self rejection can be in the area of their gender identity. The unspoken inner conclusion can be that I was abused because I am a girl or because I am a boy therefore it would be better if I wasn’t a girl or a boy. Such a child can hate their body and its sexual characteristics. A young girl can develop anorexia, starving her body to hold her body back from developing into womanhood, a young boy can hate being male if it draws the attention of other abusers.
It may be that someone visiting this website has experienced sexual abuse. I want to say to that person that Jesus can heal that deep wound. In the next section ‘Set free from the darkness’ we will look at how he can do that.
Abuse by the State
In totalitarian states propaganda is continually broadcast to shape the minds of its citizens. We live in days when such brainwashing has taken on much more subtle and sinister forms of social engineering even in nations that proclaim that they allow free speech. On the television and audio channels that we listen to we are constantly being told how we should think and look, what we should buy and more recently even what it means to be male or female. In the United Kingdom where I live and in many other nations we are seeing what is effectively state funded abuse and indoctrination aggressively promoted by educationalists and ‘politically correct’ politicians and officials.
The promotion of such extreme and oppressive world views is really only the fruit of years of teaching within our educational system that evolution is a scientific fact and therefore creationism and God as Creator is a myth. The verses from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome are as true today as when he wrote them nearly two thousand years ago:
‘For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonourable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
(Romans 1:18-27 English Standard Version)
If we teach our children and young people that they are no more than advanced animals, the product of millions of years of chance (impossible) mutations we shouldn’t be surprised at the hopelessness, confusion and lack of humanity that results.
The harmful influence of LGBT activists working within politics, education and the media
The influence of those promoting the homosexual and transgender agendas seems to be increasing exponentially almost daily. We hear politicians and the parties they represent proposing policies that at one time would have been regarded as laughable or ridiculous – proposals to remove all references to male and female from official forms or identity documents or when making public announcements or requiring public buildings to provide ‘transgender’ toilet facilities. Within the education systems of many western countries there are moves for children as young as nursery school age to be taught that same-sex marriage or being transgender is normal and acceptable. Along with these proposals activists call for legal repercussions and prosecution against any who resist or refuse to submit to their demands. The early Jesuit missionaries said that if you gave them the boy, they would give you the man. They knew that you can take a young vulnerable child and mould them into who you want them to be. In the care of godly, loving, responsible adults a child can become the person that God intended them to be but when they fall into the hands of those motivated by Satan they will end up being broken, lost and confused.
Exposure to pornography
The effect of exposure to pornography is mentioned within this section on abuse because sometimes children are deliberately introduced to pornography by adults or older children. Whether or not such exposure is initiated by another person or is accidental, pornography distorts and perverts the image of God in women and men and when viewed by a child can easily be a doorway for the powers of darkness to prematurely awaken sexual awareness and ultimately lead to the bondage, fantasy and secret shame of online pornography. It can lead to profound confusion of sexuality and gender.
7. Generational Sin
Many Christians deny that the sins of previous generations of our families can be affecting us in the present. They will often quote the Apostle Paul’s words from his second letter to the Christians in first century Corinth as support for that view:
‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.’
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
They use those words to say that once a person becomes a Christian all their previous problems are behind them and nothing from their family background can now affect them. Paul’s words really mean that becoming a Christian is the beginning of a lifelong journey of leaving behind the baggage of a life without Jesus, including baggage passed on from our family generational lines. Any Christian who is prepared to be honest will admit that all their struggles did not cease when they gave their hearts to Jesus.
In the book of Exodus chapter 20 verse 4-6 we see that the sin of idolatry in a family can have an effect down to the third and fourth generation.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
Many take the above verses and accuse God of being vindictive as though he delights to punish generation upon generation for the sins of their forefathers. In reality he is stating a spiritual principle in much the same way as a doctor might state that being overweight can cause heart disease. Sins of all kinds within a family open the door to the destructive powers of darkness who will not only want to ensnare parents but also their children who live under the same roof. It is painfully obvious that bad as well as good family behaviours and traits can be passed down from generation to generation. These generational sins can include the darkest and most shameful that the human heart is capable of imagining. Sexual sin in particular can result in the distortion of gender identity and sexuality being passed on from one generation to another.
One particular family trait or sin that can open the door to gender confusion and sexual brokenness within families is the hatred or despising of men or women – we will look in more detail at this in the next section on chauvinism and feminism. Similarly harmful are distorted and ungodly models of masculinity or femininity such as the hard macho man or the seductive manipulative woman, caricatures of what it really means to be a man or woman. An example might be the belief that real men love and are good at sport therefore a boy who is artistic and not good at sport is effeminate or homosexual.
8. Chauvinism and Feminism
Male chauvinism is a patronising and superior looking down on and despising of women - the regarding of women as inferior and not deserving equal treatment with men.
Male chauvinism is always wrong. God created the first man and woman in his image and spoke over both of them his blessing and the words ‘very good’. We have already looked at how he also gave them different but equally important roles in caring for their children and for creation. God wants men to use their strengths and masculine character for the good of women and children as well as for other men.
Feminism at its best was a justified reaction by women against male chauvinism, demanding equal pay and equal rights in the workplace and society but today it has moved far from simply asking for equal treatment for women to displaying many of the same characteristics of male chauvinism. Like male chauvinism modern feminism is often the patronising and superior looking down on and despising of men. Many adverts on television now portray a level of sexism against men that would have long been banned if directed towards women. Often men are pictured as unintelligent idiots who stand helplessly as women come to rescue them in their inadequacy with a laptop or tablet in their hands. Fathers are often portrayed as objects of ridicule not worthy of the respect of their wives or even their children. I was saddened a number of years ago to hear the wife of a Christian minister relate with a smile how her daughter had a poster on her wall with the words, ‘Equality with men – why aim so low?’ Another slogan I saw on the side of a coffee cup was ‘If you want a job done properly, ask a woman’. It’s sad and tragic when either gender mocks the other and are blinded to each other’s worth as those created in God’s image.
Many men in today’s society have retreated in the face of aggressive feminism and have become passive, abdicating their God given responsibility and role to the ultimate harm not just of the women they love but the next generation of boys and girls.
You can find a Biblical example of such behaviour in the book of 1 Kings in the Old Testament of the Bible. In chapter 21 of that book we read of the behaviour of Ahab the king of Israel, pouting and sulking like a spoilt child because he can’t get his way in pressuring a neighbour to sell his land passed down to him through generations of his family. As Ahab sulks his confident and manipulative queen, Jezebel takes control, writing letters and issuing commands in her husband’s name to arrange for the neighbour to be unjustly accused and then murdered. Jezebel’s controlling behaviour usurped Ahab’s role as king and husband but he was equally wrong in abdicating his responsibilities.
Both male chauvinism and feminism as described above are far from God’s intent for how men and women should relate with each other, together reflecting his nature and character. It’s not without significance that feminist groups have often been closely aligned to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender) pressure groups – in essence attacking and distorting the true God purposed expression of masculinity and femininity in men and women. Behind their influence and zeal we again see Satan, hater of God and humankind.
9. Failure of the Church
It is easy to point at those who are aggressively seeking to attack and undermine the truth of what God says about human sexuality and identity. In doing that however, we can miss addressing the failure of those who profess to know that truth and who call themselves Christians and followers of Jesus Christ. For decades now the Christian church in the west has been increasingly watering down it’s teaching of God’s word until it has become ineffective in achieving anything except either tickling the ears of those who hear it or inviting scorn. Where once the preaching of the Gospel brought men and women to their knees crying out for and receiving God’s forgiveness, many modern day preaching reassures it’s hearers of a place in heaven while they continue to live in sin and rebellion against God. Such preaching is like an oncologist reassuring someone dying with cancer that they are well instead of offering them treatment that could save them. Instead of being salt and light many Christians now seek to be sweetness and light while society decays around them. If that is true of any Christians reading these words, I encourage you to return to upholding, living and teaching the truth of the Bible – unless we as God’s people do that we have nothing to say to those living in spiritual darkness.
To anyone reading these words who is struggling with sexual or gender confusion and who has been told by Christians that you don’t need to change, can I say that God wants you to have something far better than that – his healing to be secure in your masculinity or femininity as he always intended you to be.
10. Self Pronouncements, Inner Vows and Judgements
Every painful and negative experience in our lives from conception until the present time can result in our making pronouncements about ourselves and like judge and jury speaking judgement and condemnation over ourselves.
We can put labels on ourselves such as...
I’m a waste of space
I’m a failure
I’m no good
Many of these statements are the outworking and the fruit of hurtful words that have been spoken over us and planted in our hearts and minds by authority figures or the peer group we belong to. As we receive and believe these words they become part of our identity and we both own them and speak them over ourselves.
We may also have taken false responsibility for the consequences of traumas, accidents or sickness that we or others have experienced and made inner vows and pronouncements that we were to blame for those things. If there was personal blame in any of them we can bring it to the cross of Jesus to find forgiveness. If we have falsely taken responsibility we must lay it down – it’s not ours to carry. Jesus invites us to bring our burdens to him.
Examples of such vows or judgements...
I’ll never forgive myself
I’ll never trust another man (all men want is sex)
I’ll never trust another woman (all they want is your money)
I hate myself. I'd be better off dead
I’ll never get married (my parents hated each other and fought all the time)
I won’t let people see me cry (I was punished or ridiculed when I did in the past)
I’ll never let others come close to me, I don’t want close friendships (in the past I’ve just felt used in friendships and always felt I had to please the other person)
I won’t show my emotions when I’m struggling. I’ll just say I’m fine like everyone else (when I shared with others in the past that I was struggling I just got blank looks and was told to ‘be strong’)
To anyone reading this who is struggling with gender confusion...
God chose for you to be a little boy or little girl when you were being formed in your mother’s womb but if your parents or other significant adults in your life were disappointed over your gender that could have opened the door for you to experience gender confusion and self-rejection.
A statement of truth...
Children do not need to decide if they are male or female – the decision was made when they were in the womb – what they need is for their masculinity or femininity to be affirmed in a right way. That doesn’t mean that wrong gender stereotypes are forced on children but it does mean acknowledging that differences between the sexes are real and complementary and enriching to each other.
Another statement of truth...
The ultimate source of confusion is the rejection of God by the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden and the subsequent rejection of God by humanity since. Our brokenness is rooted in our sinfulness and perpetrated by Satan who delights to spoil, deface and destroy human beings who God still loves.
Jesus came to heal our brokenness, forgive our sin and restore us to be the men and women, and boys and girls he always intended us to be. Through our personal trust and faith in Jesus death and resurrection Satan’s hold on our lives can be broken forever. We will look at how that can become a reality in the next section ‘Set free from the darkness’.