Body and soul

News came last week that New Zealand has appointed a transgender athlete to its women’s weightlifting team. Laurel Hubbard, who has previously competed in men’s events, will compete in Tokyo as a woman. Hubbard was deemed eligible to compete against biological women (that we even have to speak like this..!) by having testosterone levels under a particular threshold. So this is where we are: if you are a person with T-levels less than 5 nmol/L, you can compete as a woman, if that’s what you want. 

The main cultural battleground on this issue has been around “sports and restrooms” as Dr. Joshua Pauling points out in his article for The Public Discourse. But Dr. Pauling urges Christians to think about the bigger argument that must be made — what our bodies are for. Drawing on recent works by Nancy Pearcey and Carl Trueman, Pauling suggests that thinking we have a metaphysical true self which is unaffected by our physical existence is the driving force behind Progressive ideas about identity. 

Mind-body dualism is not a new idea, with both Plato and later, Gnostics, hypothesizing about the relationship of the soul to the body. But 17th-century French mathematician Descartes is credited with cementing the idea in Modern thought. With his famous dictum “I think therefore I am,” he opened a Pandora’s box that has plagued mankind since.

Pauling points out that it is a strange thing that we would trust our thoughts and feelings to tell us who we are and see our bodies as irrelevant. What if our bodies are correct and our thoughts are not? 

Mad Christians can take heart in this moment of confusion. As Rev Fisk has somewhere said, we are spirits who are bodies and bodies who are spirits. All at the same time. Our physical existence is not all we are but it is an inseparable part of our identity. We have hope to give to anyone who thinks his true self is disconnected from the body God gave him. The Son of God took on a true human nature in a real physical body and redeemed us from the futility of this fallen creation. The hope laid up for us is the world to come, where with resurrected bodies and perfectly renewed minds, we will feast at the Supper of the Lamb. Alleluia.

You can hear Dr Pauling speak about his article on Issues Etc.


The American Medical Association, a major professional body for doctors in the US, has recommended removing sex designations on birth certificates. And as always, Hollywood is here to help, with the Emmys considering the option for a “performer” category, dispensing with the titles of “actor” or “actress”. Because that is so 2019.
In some side news, fashion for women has seen a return to floral dresses. Trends come and go, but perhaps the culture’s confusion over what it means to be a woman is driving girls to embrace femininity. Stranger things have happened…

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