Join me in celebrating my 43rd birthday! I woke up this morning feeling so energetic and fit that I decided that is what I am—43 years old.
Never mind that I have some numbers and words written on a birth certificate that says I am in my 71st year. Those are just scribbles on paper. I choose to self-identify myself 43 because that is what I feel. I haven’t had any heart arrhythmia issues for 6 months, my energy levels are up and I feel great. I am really grateful for that, so I would like everybody to join in with me to celebrate my 43rd birthday.
You may think that I am just making a feeble joke here and perhaps I am. On the other hand I was thinking about the 69 year old who has been in the papers recently. He is taking legal action to get his original birth date changed so that he can legally be 49 on his tinder profile, because he is not attracting young enough women to his site. He figures if he is 49 then more younger women will read his profile. Good luck with that, Mister!
AM I JUST BEING SILLY?
The thing is, most people read that in the newspaper or online and they think it’s silly and dismiss it. But is it that easy?
Here is the big question: why do we not take that seriously, but we feel we must take it seriously when a person, who is male, self-identifies as female or a female identifying as male.
What is the reasonable basis for making a distinction? I am not trying to alienate anybody here; I just want to know how we, as a society based upon law, can make a distinction. Is it because one seems frivolous, superficial and self-interested but the other must be sincere? How can we know who is sincere and who is not. More importantly, how can the law decide that. How can society decide that? What is the basis?
I am really serious about this; it is an issue of great importance to those of us who live in Western democracies. Do we have any grounds for over-ruling feelings that are sincere and deeply held without doubt? Why do we feel we must take gender dysphoria seriously but not age dysphoria? On what basis do we think that?
I’M NOT INTENDING TO OFFEND
I know that writing about this is going to seem offensive for some people, but the trouble is we have been assuming feelings are more important than more objective reality for a long time. I can say that my birthday was assigned to me by the medical profession, so it’s only a date when they say I was born. Or I can say that my biological gender was assigned to me at birth. But actually both my date of birth and my sex are objective realities. There were many people who could witness that I was born a male on April 14, 1948.
Some people claim that the sex of a baby is often not clear, but that is not true. There may be one child in 5000 where gender is not clear at birth. Even then, the chromosomes are almost always clear one way or another. Gender, or more accurately sex, is not assigned at birth, it is observed.
IF I AM SUFFICIENTLY SINCERE, IS IT TRUE?
Let me hasten to say that I am not suggesting here that we don’t take it seriously and compassionately when a person feels their body sexual identity does not match their feelings about their gender. But neither can we simply agree that the greater truth will always be in their self-identity. This purely subjective approach to truth will not work for us. We won’t be able to live with it. If we decide that deeply-held beliefs trump observed reality, we will unleash chaos. Such an approach would require our courts to decide whether or not someone holds a particular belief about themselves deeply enough to let it take precedence over objective realities. And that would be entirely unworkable.
Many humanities courses in our Universities have promoted this subjective approach to truth for several decades and now we are experiencing consequences. It is based on the philosophical idea that objects cannot generate truth; truth “is in the eye of the beholder”. In other words, reality is what we perceive it to be. There is some truth in that, but by carrying that idea to the extreme we end up with an unlivable world. When each person decides what is true for themselves, nothing is true.
HOW CAN WE KNOW?
Is there a way out of this? Of course! There was a time when it was assumed that all truth came only by revelation, so art and philosophy centered round revelation from God. There is some truth in that too, but it is insufficient.
Then we gradually transitioned into a new epoch in which people decided that all reality has to be determined by the scientific method. That is, anything that is true must be verifiable by objective means: experiments must be possible and the resulting data will prove or disprove the proposed truth. That method is also insufficient. It can often tell us “what or how” but it cannot tell us “why”.
As a Biblical Christian, I believe in revelation and I also believe in the great value of the scientific method. When we put those two together, we have a means of knowing what is true. Human beings can still receive revelation from God. As the philosopher, Dr Francis Schaeffer said in the title of one of his books, “He is There and He is Not Silent”. We have also expanded our knowledge hugely over the past two centuries by using the scientific method. We put those two together and we have a basis for truth that we can live with.
TRUTH IS LIVEABLE
All philosophies for life, or presuppositions, have to be evaluated by living them. Post-modern, relativistic thinking leads to chaos. Religious tyranny springs from claims that all truth comes only by divine revelation. The scientific method alone provides no answers to the really big issues of life. We must regain confidence in the idea that there are universal truths and then live by them.
So am I 43? Well, on another day I might feel like I am 78, so I will just go with the numbers on my birth certificate. I’m nearer 71 than 70 and I’m just very grateful for the health and energy I am experiencing.