You may have read or heard about how men who identify as women have beaten real women in women’s sports, such as swimming races. Unsurprisingly a lot of women have been less than impressed about this, leading to considerable debate in sports circles. Moreover, there’s been debate about such men being allowed to use women’s and girls’ change rooms, showers and toilets.
It was in that context that Mrs Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was nominated to be the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, was asked by a senator, “Can you define the word ‘woman’?” Mrs Jackson replied: “Can I give a definition? No, I cannot. (…) I am not a biologist.”
We’re living in an age when even the Chief Justice is afraid to give a dictionary definition of a woman. The pressure being exerted by the ideologues pushing gender ideology is so immense that governments and businesses are supporting and promoting it.
Last week De Bazuin,[i] a Dutch church magazine of the DGK,[ii] published an article by B.G. Bogaards explaining the philosophical and linguistic context of gender ideology. It’s interesting, so here I pass on more or less what Bogaards has to say.
Identifying the World
Gender ideology raises the age-old question of how we can know the world. It’s an age-old question because philosophers have been debating how we know something since the time of the ancient Greeks. They ask such questions as: What makes for reliable knowledge? And then they conclude that it is through how we use our senses, particularly sight.
“We humans know the world by looking, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting. I see a person, so it is a person. I see that you have a tan, so you have been in the sun. I see that you are wearing trousers, so you are not wearing a skirt. But the other senses also give us information about the world. I hear a bird singing, so there is a bird there. I smell smoke in the kitchen, so something is burning.”
Whilst we believe in God without seeing Him, the evidence of His existence is all around us in Creation, and we read of Him in His Word. Modern scientists use the various senses, particularly sight, on which they base their findings. We all learn about the world by using our senses.
Problems with definitions
However, defining things can be problematic, says Bogaards.
“If I ask you to define a chair, you will probably say something like: a chair is a seat with a backrest and four legs. But isn’t a seat with a back and three legs a chair? Yes, that is also a chair. But what if I take away the armrest? Then you will say: Then it is a stool because it has three legs and a surface on which one can sit on. But if a table has three legs and a surface on which I can sit, is it also a stool? So it is therefore extremely difficult to give a conclusive definition of a chair or stool.
We can do the same with the definition of a human being. Suppose you say that a human being is a being with two arms, two legs, a head, brains and five fingers on each hand. Is someone who is born with six fingers on each hand not a human being?”
And yet we are able to say, that’s a horse, or, that’s a cow; even though no horse or cow is exactly the same as any other horse or cow. And we can quite easily tell the difference between a cow and a bull. It’s the same with people and their gender.
“We can tell at a glance whether someone is a person and whether they’re male or female, even if important characteristics such as fingers, legs or breasts are missing. And yet it is extremely difficult to give a conclusive definition of a human being. Plato therefore suggested that we have a ‘divine imprint’ of forms and ideas. That means that we have an absolute idea in our heads of what a human, a horse or a chair is. We cannot define it exactly, but we just know what, for example, a woman is when we see one. We don’t need absolute definitions; it speaks for itself when we see it.”
That’s because God created all people, animals, plants, etc., according to their kind. God created the world with a divine order and we can tell one thing from another without needing watertight definitions.
Now here’s the interesting thing. We know, says Bogaards, that sight is the primary sense used for knowing the world and that despite inadequate definitions we can tell the difference between a man and a woman, and between a table and chair. But the fact that we can’t always define exactly one thing or another is exploited by the transactivists. They say, we can’t define something through our senses (sight, taste, smell, etc.). Instead, they say, we have to go by our feelings. While we would say, based on what we can see, that’s a man or that’s a woman, the transactivists say that’s not possible. A person cannot be known by sight but only by his/her emotion/feeling.
“So: if I meet a man who feels like a woman, then he is a woman. This is a big break with reality and tradition. Because where people used to know the world on the basis of their senses, they are now not allowed to (according to them). For if I determine on the basis of my senses that someone is a man, but he feels like a woman, then according to translogic he is a woman. This break with the norm creates fundamental problems. For if I am 34, but I feel twelve, how old am I? According to translogic, twelve, because that is how old I feel. But what if I point at a bus shelter and feel that it is a football? According to translogic, it is then a football. The real logic is completely missing, but people who point this out are accused of being ‘transphobic’. For fear of personal attacks, many people just keep quiet.
In addition, confusion is created in the discussion by using the limitations of language. Since it is impossible to give a conclusive definition of a man or a woman, they argue that it is not possible to describe exactly what a man or a woman is. Therefore, they reason, it is not possible to determine who is a man or a woman. If someone were to object that, for example, a woman can still be known as a human being with a uterus, XX chromosomes, breasts and the possibility to have children, then transactivists try to refute this by asking the counter-question: is a woman who cannot have children then not a woman? Or they argue: Suppose someone is born with double gender characteristics, what is then their gender?”
However, the fact that there are exceptions to the rule does not disprove the rule. We all instinctively know that a person born with twelve fingers or no legs is still a person.
This is a dangerous development, says Bogaards, because this way of thinking is making inroads into education. The result is that children get a wrong way of seeing reality. Gender activists are trying to impose their ideology in both primary and secondary school right through to universities. In the Netherlands there’s a pro-LGBT organisation (COC) that makes up a teaching package in which they ‘introduce children in an accessible way to the topics of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression’.
“An example is the following text for children in grades 3 and 4: Sometimes you look different on the outside than you feel on the inside. For example, that child who feels like a boy one day and a girl the next. That is possible, not weird at all. In this simple sentence are the two facets mentioned earlier. Firstly, the COC shifts the knowledge of the world from sensory perceptions to feelings: ‘you are what you feel’. This is reminiscent of the fairy tale ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’. Although everyone sees that the emperor has no clothes on, if he feels that he has clothes on, it is true for him. Secondly COC goes against what God originally created as male and female with all their characteristics.
The COC driven education is wrong and dangerous, especially for children of such a receptive age. It is our task to teach our children to see and recognise the world around them according to the Bible. If certain institutions—on the basis of their progressive, leftist ideology—violate the truth by proclaiming lies, we are abusing our children if we let them receive that education. “
Not only is this gender ideology wrong and dangerous, but it also unnecessarily confuses defenceless children. It goes against God’s order of Creation as revealed to us in His Word.
We thank Bogaards for acquainting us with this ideology. It’s a major part of the new ‘politically correct’ sexual revolution permeating society. Christian standards are being pushed out and one’s own feelings have become normative. Businesses, governments and even countries are being coerced into adopting this ideological madness. In our country, churches and schools are also increasingly exposed to this pressure. They are today’s ‘signs of the times’. And we see in them our Saviour’s Great Day drawing nearer. Let us continue to ‘test the spirits’. May God graciously keep us faithful to Him and His Word.
[i] “Babylonische Spraakverwarring: De Gender Ideologie Nader Bekeken”, De Bazuin, Volume 16 Number 08, September 2022.
[ii] De Gereformeerde Kerken, instituted following their liberation from the GKV (Reformed Churches in the Netherlands) in 2003.