Given Not Taken

August 20, 2023

Given Not Taken


A prayer from St. Augustine

“Because your mercy is better than many a life I confess that my life is no more than anxious distraction; but in my Lord, the Son of Man, your right hand upholds me. He stands as mediator between you, the one God, and us, the many, who are pulled many ways by multifarious distractions. In him your right hand holds me fast, so that I may grasp that for which I have been grasped myself, and may be gathered in from dispersion in my stale days to pursue the One, forgetting the past and stretching undistracted not to future things doomed to pass away, but to my eternal goal.”

This is Augustine’s use of dispersion. He asks God to gather him in from “stale days” to pursue the One. Dispersion is the notion that in the world we are more scattered than gathered.  

I want to frame this message on gender identity in talking through how we got to where we are. And that in doing so we forgot how to tell our story

– We have lost the sense of who we are and are talking about how much we are. We live in the quantified world. To quantify something doesn’t tell a story. 100 people were there is not a story. That is the optimized quantified self. 

Today is about sexual identity. 

There are two areas that we can look at the current cultural climate from

Sexual identity 

and sexual desire

– Recap: In believing in the created order we believe that God created the world a certain way. We also believe that because of that humans are not responsible for creation. And because of that we believe that the world is not chaotic in its premise. We have made it chaotic. Because God has ordered the world we believe in the given mess of our bodies. That we are created for reason, value, and function. That we are never without purpose. And because of that we don’t have to make out, it is given. We have to receive it.

Desire for Self Optimization

This is the current state of where we are.  We have excelled as a culture technologically and economically where we want to spend the bulk of our time working on making the best self that we can. 

“As long ago as 1946 the World Health Organization offered the classic example of such an expansive definition when it described health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

There is nothing that we won’t do to create the self we believe we need. 

The problem of self optimization 

We become what Wendell Berry calls a “tourist of cures.” 

When we attempt the autonomous, optimized self, there is only one option.  We end up hating the body

We have grown to feel that we are responsible for all creation. 

When that responsbility isn’t met. It’s too hard.  It is met with aggression. 

And that aggression turns on ourselves. 

The freedom that we have pursued and hoped for doesn’t work out the way we wanted.  In a few weeks we are going to look at biblical freedom vs cultural freedom.  

When we hate the body, we need to change everything in the body 

– Here’s one of my biggest concerns Wendell Berry  states that that which can be a replaced becomes dispensable. If we view something simply through its utility, then it can automatically be replaced because it can work or not work. And once it can work or not work, it simply dispensable. In regarding some uses of gender fluidity, and queer theory are we simply just making humanity replaceable, and thereby what happens when we only become dispensable. It is a low view of human life and flourishing.

We are treating the body as replaceable, then we too easily treat ourselves and one another as dispensable.  

And you are much more than dispensable. 

Our Response is to trust in the givenness of the body. 

-We are confronted by the givenness and 

limitations of our own bodies. To trust the givenness means living within the limitations of our bodies.  

It is the most prominent frontier of culture because we don’t want to admit our limitations of the body. 

Psalm 139:13–18

We value the body because it is always a part of who we are:

But when we live in the complete optimization of the body then we begin to beleive that things that don’t work the way we want to automatically need to become fixed. 

We are a much larger picture than we give ourselves.  

What do you do if you don’t feel like your body is a part of who you are.  Or that your body is distinct and different from who you are? 

First of all let’s recognize the anguish that that could cause.  How hard that would be to experience.  No sense of home.  People with Gender dysphoria and transgender populations do not feel at home in their bodies.  

Our culture has made a mess of our bodies.  Not just with gender dysphoria but we jump btween the poles of optimizing ourselves past recognition and then hating our bodies when we can’t accomplish it. 

SO we have an entire generation of people who don’t feel at home in their bodies, who feel distinct from their bodies, whether it has to do with gender or size or otherwise.  

And the only solution so far is to tell them to fix it.  

To fix it (aimed at optimization) 

until they are unable to do so to the point they are satisfied. (hate the body). 

That is the cycle our culture lives in.  That is the cycle we live in.  

Inviting people home in Christ. 

John 14:1–7


Jesus invites us home in Him. To find home in Him. Not in the body, not in the mind.  TO find home in Christ. 

– This is the missional interaction with the church.  To agree with the struggle of people dealing with gender identity issues.  

– And to invite them into something more. 

Gender identity is all about finding home in the body.  About being able to relax in who you area, to live with certainty and peace.

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