Bruce Jenner now calls himself “Caitlyn Jenner.” The 1976 Olympic gold medalist says he’s transitioned to a she. At 65 years old, he broke the news to the world on the cover of Vanity Fair wearing a white corset and makeup.
This is a sad cultural moment. In all sincerity, I thought the headline was a hoax when I first saw Vanity Fair’s newest cover. But it was not. Vanity Fair is a well circulated magazine with a massive readership. The terms “hero” and “courageous” have been used to describe both Jenner and Vanity Fair. In a bygone era, courageous heroes framed the English Bill of Rights and stormed Normandy on D-Day. Now a courageous hero is a man who surgically mutilates his body and poses for a camera while wearing lady’s lingerie. With the redefinition of gender, we now have a redefinition of courage.
Where is this headed? God only knows. My guess is that we are within a few generations of entering the modern Dark Ages. When virtue is confused with the pursuit of individualistic sexual fulfillment, it indicates society has become superficial and self-absorbed. Instead of selfless seekers of good, we are selfish seekers of pleasures. Such a society cannot progress and prosper. It will increasingly turn indulgently inward, and, unless God in His grace sends revival, the sexual revolution’s utopian dream will become a dystopian nightmare.
The most recent cover of Vanity Fair is a cultural act of rebellion. Scripture teaches that God assigns gender and sexuality. Neither is a social construct, nor do gender and biological sex differ. To believe that a man can be a woman because he feels like a woman is tantamount to the ancient heresy of Gnosticism. It is a belief that the created is a prison to the spiritual. Somehow, the body and the soul end up in conflict. This modern Gnosticism asserts that true fulfillment comes not when I submit to the intentions of my Creator, but when I submit to my darkest and most base feelings no matter what the cost. It is a rebellion against God’s creative purposes and His revealed design in nature.
Bruce Jenner’s conversion to Caitlyn Jenner is a false gospel. He has changed his name. He has changed his way of life. He has changed his identity. He has even mutilated his body. He has attempted to be reborn into a new reality. Why? He clearly recognizes things are not the way they should be. And he wants change. He believed a lie. The true Gospel promises a final escape from the way things are to a new creation at the second coming of Christ. This does not come by a surgically renewed image of an outer shell, but from an inward rebirth by the Spirit of God. It does not come by surgical self-mutilation, but by the mutilation of God’s own Son on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.
When victims of the sexual revolution become disillusioned by its false gospel (and they will!), the church needs to be ready with the true gospel. Our gospel is not a promise of an illusory new identity, but of a truly new heart and a truly new body and a truly new creation. Jenner has one thing right: things aren’t the way they should be. And no amount of makeup and photo-shopping can hide that! Like the rest of us, his only hope is to be reborn, not into Caitlyn, but into the image of Christ.