Does Science teach that gender and sex are the same?

Questions about God, the Bible and the Christian culture

(Click here to read Monday Musings ... the place where I discuss the thinking that went into this article.)

Question: Is there any scientific evidence we can use to make the argument that God only created two genders — and that “gender” and “sex” are the same thing?

Answer: No. In fact, there is evidence to the opposite. Biological life in a fallen world serves up the occasional oddity. Some people are born with both male and female organs. These people are designated as intersex. One out of every 1500-1700 births yields a person who is fully intersex and many more are born with milder variations. My point is, this happens a lot. That’s the data.

(Click here for more information on the intersex phenomenon.)

In the October 30, 2018 issue of the journal Nature, one of the editors answered your question about science directly. Science is not up to the job.

The idea that science can make definitive conclusions about a person’s sex or gender is fundamentally flawed. Just ask sports organizations such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which have struggled with this for decades. In the 1960s, concerned that men would compete in women’s events, officials tried classifying athletes through genital exams — an intrusive and humiliating process. DNA tests that check for the presence of a Y chromosome did not prove reliable, either: people with XY chromosomes can have female characteristics owing to conditions including an inability to respond to testosterone. (Emphasis mine.)

So, you cannot use science to prove that gender and sex are the same. Yet Christians disgrace the Body of Christ by saying things like, “Check between your legs. That’s your gender.” That is neither accurate nor kind. In fact, it’s picking a fight. It’s acting directly opposite of our mandate in 1 Peter 3:15.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV, emphasis mine)

(We’ve recently had one of these embarrassing incidents in America’s House of Representatives. Click here to see Newsweek’s report on this issue.)

The thing is, Christians (and social conservatives) no longer control the vocabulary — and it’s our own fault. “Sex” and “gender” necessarily overlap, but it is an oversimplification to say they are the same. Sometimes a person’s physiological sex does not match how they see themselves... and how they see themselves is impacted by ten biological markers of gender… not just genitalia.

(Click here if you want to read Cade Hildreth’s article that lists the ten biological markers of gender:)

People whose physiology does not match their felt gender are said to have gender dysphoria. That’s the term from the DMS-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) — and advocates from the LGBTQ community are working hard to normalize what even secular mental health professionals currently classify as a disorder.

That being said, insisting that genitalia equals gender is an uphill fight. In his journal Equality Includes You, Jordan Munson shares how the World Health Organization (WHO) defines gender.

“Gender refers to the roles, behaviors, activities, attributes, and opportunities that any society considers appropriate for girls and boys, and women and men. Gender interacts with, but is different from, the binary categories of biological sex.”

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Then Munson summarized the WHO’s statement (emphasis mine).

So while biological sex is mostly male and female — gender is defined by society.

I’m an American, and just as America’s conservatives lost ground to the homosexual movement, we will lose ground here too. After all, we have a “representative” government… and if 51% of the voting public votes to identify gender as a spectrum rather than binary, that will be the law… and if that takes place, what should we Christians do? We should do what we’ve always done — preach, teach, baptize…

“… go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. …” (Matthew 28:19–20, NIV)

Christians tend to get upset about the sin du jour… the antichristian zeitgeist of the moment — and the semantic argument about sex versus gender is one of them. But God takes the long view — and nothing takes him by surprise. So we should work towards the “best good” we know… whatever your conscience, Scripture and the Holy Spirit decide upon to pursue. That won’t work itself out the same way in all of us, but we all should rest in him while we do it (Jeremiah 6:16).

Now, the Bible is not moot about sexual excesses and anomalies. It mentions gay, lesbian, eunuchs, effeminate, prostitution, bestiality. In a fallen world, some creatures will have physiological anomalies, and among humans, they will also have sin (Romans 3:23). So we should not be surprised when they act according to their natures — and the Bible shows people doing just that! But this can weigh against the argument that sex equals gender. Opponents can say, “See. It’s in the Bible.”

We should not be surprised that a secular society designed to optimize individual freedom passes laws to protect the outliers. The Church has failed here. We are the ones who were supposed to protect the outliers… although I’ll admit that our goal would be to help them conform to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29)… and secular society hates that we would do that.

But that’s the big crime… “big” in an overarching way. When society normalizes anomalies — when it routinely calls good things evil and evil things good (Isaiah 5:20) — it’s usually too late. In America, we take this one step further — we celebrate the evil — and good luck to the politician who won’t march in its parade!

I will remind Christians everywhere that God sent the Jews into captivity for less. Now, you may think that the Church cannot be sent into captivity. After all, it is not a nation… and it is comprised of believers from all over the world. How could such a body be sent away?

It doesn’t have to be sent away to be in captivity. When the Church’s voice is no longer heard, we will serve out our captivity in place. I feel that the stand “sex equals gender” is an oversimplification. As is true in many of these types of arguments, the terms are too fluid. It’s not so much that science is in a muddle. We all are.

I pray that this discussion helped you. God bless you.


(Mainsail Ministries articles often have a preamble where I discuss the thinking that went into them. These are called Monday Musings — and if you haven’t read the one associated with this article — consider doing so at the following link: 20210802 Does Science teach that gender and sex are the same? ).

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