Friends, we need to talk about this latest hair-dying fad. You know, the greens and the purples and oranges and pinks. And I’m not talking primarily about the obviously angry and bitter women out there in the world, I’m actually talking about otherwise sweet, gracious Christian women showing up with all manner of bright colors of the rainbow in their hair. But in order to talk about this in a helpful way, we really need to talk about something else first that may not appear to you to be related at all, but I assure you, it is. Let’s begin with Joseph Paul Shappley, the little boy being dressed as a girl by a professing Christian woman and celebrated in a recent article in Good Housekeeping. Go ahead and take a peek at the linked article and then come back.
There are multiple levels of wrong going on with this and of course it’s nothing particularly new or shocking, given the day and age we live in. But, the fact that this woman is claiming to be a “conservative Christian” and recounts wrestling with God and reading the gospels before finally going out and buying her little boy a pack of “princess panties” — all of that raises this problem from very troubling to heartbreaking. It’s one thing for some hard leftist lesbian to tell us that her little boy is actually a girl, but the radical God-haters know that isn’t nearly as potent as a sweet southern Christian woman giving her testimony on the subject. There are multiple levels of wrong, so let’s try to outline at least some of them.
First, let’s note the simple fact that this is an abomination to the Lord: “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God” (Dt. 22:5). Related is the fact that Paul says that an “effeminate” man will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9). An “effeminate” man is one who acts like a woman (cf. Dt. 20:8, Is. 19:16, Jer. 50:37). And given the fact that this woman is in authority over her son, she is in the process of causing this little one to stumble. Jesus has fierce words for people like this woman: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea” (Mk. 9:42). In modern parlance what this woman is doing to this little boy is abuse.
Second, just note that this testimony is coming relatively recently into the abuse. Her son is now six years old, and she began abusing him actively when he was around four, though likely it was happening in other ways before that. This is what folly always does. When fire doesn’t fall from heaven immediately, it shrugs and says, ‘See, it’s not as bad as you cranky, superstitious people thought.’ Folly always operates on immediacy. Folly demands food now, sex now, praise now, respect now, peace now — no matter what the cost. But wisdom counts the cost. Wisdom does the whole math problem. This woman is betting with an eternal human soul. She is gambling with a life that was entrusted to her to protect. And the sure end of this road is nothing but heartache, confusion, and death.
Third, and speaking of folly, the Bible says that folly is bound up in the heart of a child, and it is the duty of God-fearing parents to drive that folly away (Prov. 22:15). God does not give commands that are impossible to obey, just as He never allows a temptation to afflict us which does not simultaneously have a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13). Now, there’s much we could say here, but we don’t want to lose sight of the goal of talking about pink hair. So just a couple other points briefly: The woman claims that she disciplined faithfully, spanked regularly, prayed earnestly, but she is lying. She is probably lying to herself most of all, and so, I have no problem allowing that she is telling an “honest” lie, a lie she has come to truly believe. But unless there is some other medical problem that she has not disclosed in the article, she did not truly discipline her son faithfully as God commands. This may be because she was abused as a child, or her husband (where is he?) is absent or limp, or she was simply taught poorly, but none of these explanations may be used as excuses for disobeying God.
Frequently, this looks like half-hearted discipline, erratic discipline, which careens from extremes of indulgence to angry outbursts. This sinful parenting induces extreme guilt in parents and extreme exasperation on the part of the children, and that often causes the parents to give up and give in to the demands of their foolish children. But you can’t settle into a culture of “hostage parenting” without running into more and more extreme demands. On what basis will you refuse to let your little boy wear girls’ underwear? Turns out, this woman is like many other so-called “Christian” women, and the real reason she didn’t want to let her little boy wear girls’ underwear was because of what other people might think. In other words, her real god is not Jesus. Her god is popular opinion. But of course popular opinion is a fishwife. She will change her mind; her mood will swing. You can never be sure what the hormones will demand. But we need to be clear: The decision of these parents to give into the folly of this little boy is a decision to hate their son. Some women murder their sons in their own womb before they are born, some kill them softly refusing to discipline them with love (Prov. 13:24). And one of the most crucial elements of this faithful, loving discipline is the fact that the standard for discipline is the Word of God. It doesn’t depend on mom’s mood or whether dad had a bad day.
And this is because God is a faithful Father. He disciplines the sons that He receives and loves (Heb. 12:5-11). He does not careen between extremes. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (Js. 1:17). He created man male and female. And this is the real issue. Sin twists and distorts. Satan lies. The flesh lusts. But God is not a capricious Father. He is not setting us up to fail. He has set up the world so that we might succeed. He writes the answers everywhere. He displays His glory every day and every night. God does not create boys that are actually girls or girls that are actually boys. This would be like God playing “red light green light” with humanity and every so often striking someone dead for going on green. Nope, it was actually red on the inside. How can a man be obedient as a man before God if he might actually be a woman? And how can a woman be obedient as a woman before God if she might actually be a man? And how can you really know what you are for sure? How can you know what is the truth and what is a lie? Are some lies actually the truth on the inside? And is some truth actually a lie on the inside? Perhaps this marriage is not really a marriage. Perhaps this adultery is not really adultery. Perhaps this murder is not really a murder. This is an impossible position.
Now the sweet Christian woman thinks she’s just being gracious to her son. She thinks he’s like a Downs Syndrome child, born with this handicap, albeit a perfectly normal male human body. But she doesn’t understand how she’s being gamed, how she’s being used. She doesn’t understand the forces at work in the world demanding that the world be whatever anyone wants it to be. This fundamental lust of the rebellious sinful heart is to be god, to be whatever I want, to do whatever I want. And this includes the demand to define the world. But this is rebellion. When God creates a man in His image, our fundamental response to that creative act must be gratitude. God is giving a glorious gift, and our naming and defining must gladly “Amen” what God has made. This is what Sabbath is all about: resting in the goodness of God, resting in the very good things He has made and given. If God creates a man, then our response must be gratitude for that male human being. Refusal to give thanks is a refusal to enter into the rest God offers. And this is no little offense, especially for those who ought to know better. God killed a generation of Israelites for refusing to enter His rest. And this “Christian” woman is defying the God of heaven.
Now I know that there is an enormous difference between hormone therapy and dying your hair green or orange or purple. Got it. But my plea is that Christian women would open their eyes to see the same play being run on them. You may not (yet) have completely sold out, but where are the brakes really? Could you articulate clearly to this horrifically confused woman why it’s fine and good for you to have pink hair or put multiple pieces of metal in your face or generally try to look ugly or wear scary exotic make up — why is that OK, but her little boy wearing girls’ underwear is not OK? Can you articulate that from the Bible? What’s the difference?
Please don’t misunderstand: I’m not arguing for Little House on the Prairie bonnets and jumpers. No, I’m merely arguing for true feminine glory. I’m arguing that women ought to receive the gift of being made female in God’s image, and receive that gift with gladness, recognizing that you were made to be lovely, that you are beautiful, and rest in that gift. Because a woman was made for glory, she is called to glorify the world around her, including herself. She is to adorn herself, starting on the inside with a gentle and quiet spirit, and allow that spirit to radiate outward into all that she does (1 Pet. 3:1-6). Clothing and makeup and jewelry that rejoice in God’s goodness, that rest in the death and resurrection of Jesus for your peace, that delight in the gift of womanhood — that is all good and glorious.
A Christian woman needs to realize that she is standing on a battlefield. There is a war raging all around you. An enormous part of the enemy’s attack is a constant barrage accusing you of being ugly and not good enough. The lies of the enemy say you are not skinny enough, not tall enough, not athletic enough, not smart enough, not sexy enough, whatever. And on the other side, the enemy is screaming that it doesn’t really matter. Men and women aren’t really all that different. And some of you are getting hit with the former missiles and some of you are getting hit with the latter. Most are getting hit with some of both. The pink and purple and green hair is mostly the latter. Since you can’t really be beautiful, you might as well be fun. Since you aren’t as lovely as all the other women, you might as well stand out for being brave, for being lighthearted, for being silly, for being eccentric. But something deep inside your soul aches to be treasured, to be cherished, and to be loved and protected as a woman. You are not a clown. You are not a goof. You are not something to gawk at. You are a glorious woman. In the ordinary course of things, God designed for much of this glory to be communicated through godly husbands, fathers, brothers, and other honorable men in appropriate ways. But unfortunately we live in a world of men that have abdicated this responsibility. Some have simply failed to be anything more than a bump on a log. Some have tried and given up. And still others have taken their own insecurities and frustrations out on the very women God entrusted to them to cherish and protect. This has left us with a world full of women starving for love, embittered with pain, and grasping for something, anything to fill that aching void.
I certainly grant you that the sin involved in dressing a boy up as a girl is far worse, but you need to see the fact that it’s in the same category as a woman wearing her hair short like a boy, dying her hair clownish colors, or otherwise trying to attract unnatural attention. But no hair color will soothe your pain. No haircut will fill that void. No piercing, no amount of cutting, no number of likes on your Facebook sob story diary entries will give your confusion meaning. But Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Friend, there is great freedom in Christ. But this freedom is built on the foundation of a peace that passes all understanding. It’s the rock solid peace of resting in Christ, of trusting Him with all that you are, resting in the fact that He has made you, that He loves you, that you are precious in His sight — so precious that Jesus bled and died to redeem you. And the freedom that grows out of that ground is glorious and beautiful and wonderfully wild.