Jon Noyes draws on Paul’s example, explaining how Christians can fight false ideas while respecting people made in the image of God.
Often, when we seek to defend the traditionally held understanding of gender or definition of female, for example, we hear the objection from people, “Who cares? It’s just language. Language is fluid. Definitions change all the time.” Well, this is true, but that doesn’t mean the changes don’t matter, and it doesn’t mean that definitions of words should necessarily change. So, the objection doesn’t eliminate the issue. Shifts in language are important. When one group of people from an ideological perspective controls the language in a culture, they can shift the culture on any of their whims according to those ideologies.
Definitions are important, but behind the definitions are ideas, and ideas have consequences. I love John Stonestreet. He says that ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have victims. I think this is important because the battle over gender identity is a battle over ideas. Actually, we should take our marching orders—as we do for everything—we should get our marching orders from Scripture. And when we want to know how to engage people, I think we should get our marching orders specifically from Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:3–5. “So, though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.” Why? Well, because the weapons that we fight with are not weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretense that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to who? To Christ.
These are our marching orders, even in these hard conversations, whether it be a conversation about gender identity, whether it be a conversation about abortion or marriage or any of these other issues, we should get our marching orders from the Scriptures. Paul tells us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, but he also makes clear that our battle isn’t with a person or a group of people. Our battle is with ideas—ideologies.
People are made in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God, he created him; male and female he created them.” We bear the imprint of God, his image. All human beings, in virtue of being human, bear this image, from the greatest to the least. Whether you believe it or not, this is true, and this image is what gives us our transcendent value. It’s this image that also requires us to treat all human beings with dignity and worth. It’s because we’re made in this image that we know that we don’t battle with the person. We don’t battle against the people. We battle against the idea.