Trevin Wax

The Internal Contradiction in Transgender Theories

It doesn’t take long to recognize the internal inconsistency between these two narratives. The first depends on maleness and femaleness being something real, for a binary must exist for it to be transgressed or transcended. The second questions reality altogether, falling for a radical skepticism that reimagines the world in terms of linguistic power plays.

One of the most remarkable women in history, Joan of Arc, has long been at the center of various conversations and controversies because, while no one can deny her significance, the meaning of her words and actions eludes easy explanation.
Was she, as Shakespeare cast her, a witch? Were her visions heretical, as church leaders at the time concluded, or was she the saint the later Catholic Church canonized? What do we make of her commitment to a shining chastity and her insistence on her physical virginity? How should we interpret the rationale for wearing men’s clothing while leading armies into battle? Was she a reluctant warrior who wished for an ordinary life or an ambitious girl who desired the spotlight? What do we learn from her martyrdom?
In First Things, Dan Hitchens reflects on recent attempts to enlist Joan of Arc for the LGBT+ cause. Many today want to reimagine her as a nonconforming, prototransgender revolutionary. Hitchens reclaims Joan for a conservative and biblical understanding of sex and gender, as opposed to the cultural trend that makes her a founder of trans identity.
The questions about Joan of Arc’s life and legacy fascinate me, but they go beyond my purpose here. Instead, I want to lean on Hitchens’s description of the most important yet often unnoticed contradictions at the heart of today’s transgender theories. He believes one of the transgender movement’s most remarkable achievements has been to conceal the internal division at the heart of gender theory. “There is no single trans narrative,” he says. There are two, “wholly incompatible and mutually destructive, which have somehow been fused into a single, all-conquering cause.”
“Wrong Body” Narrative
Here’s how Hitchens describes the first narrative:
The first narrative holds that there are two realities, maleness and femaleness, and that some people are tragically exiled from their true states. Jan Morris, in the opening lines of the only trans memoir written by an acknowledged master of English prose, puts it like this: “I was three or perhaps four years old when I realized I had been born into the wrong body, and should really be a girl. I remember the moment well, and it is the earliest memory of my life.” This kind of story is compelling at an emotional level: It speaks to the universal feeling of dislocation, of alienation, of longing for completeness, and at the same time resonates with the hope of the oppressed for justice, with the sorrows of every human being denied true flourishing by prejudice and fear.
Read More
Related Posts:

The Spiritual Promise the Cinema Can’t Deliver

The inability of entertainment to deliver on its promises gives us the opportunity to do something different, to live and worship in a way that resolves the paradox of the AMC ad. The high priestess of Hollywood assures us we can be reborn together, but there she sits—alone in a cold, dark theater. Meanwhile, the church lifts up the Great High Priest who made it possible for us to be truly reborn—

The past five years have been challenging for the box office. The pandemic turned theaters into ghost towns. More and more people stream movies online nowadays. Production delays, and now a writers’ strike—all this has slowed the output from Hollywood.
Moviemakers have done their best to beckon us back to the theater, lifting up the big screen as a place to set aside distractions, gather with friends and family, and immerse ourselves in the stories being told.
Nicole Kidman and AMC
The cinematic promise is epitomized in AMC Theatres’ one-minute spot featuring Nicole Kidman. It begins as she strolls through a rainy night to the theater, gently lifting her hood as if she were a Jedi. Meanwhile, her voice describes the “magic” of the cinema, where we learn to laugh, to cry, and to care. As she ascends the stairs, she celebrates the “indescribable feeling as the lights dim” and we get the chance to go to another world. Kidman is the high priestess of this spiritual experience. We’re not there “just to be entertained,” she says, but to be “somehow reborn, together.”
The AMC ad was an unexpected hit, its rhapsodic script inspiring a parody on Saturday Night Live that expanded Kidman into a superhero and surrounded her with moviegoers who salute the screen as new adherents to this quasi religion. The ad elicited numerous memes and good-natured ribbing, especially for the unintentional campiness of the line “Heartbreak feels good in a place like this.”
Deeper Longing
Every effective marketing campaign taps into deeper longings than the surface-level issues it addresses. It’s a running joke every year when Super Bowl commercials wow us with attention-grabbing humor or inspiring stories that often have little to no connection with the brand being represented. (A longer Christmas ad for Chevy last year, a tearjerker if ever there was one, emphasizes the nostalgic power of the brand while implying a Chevy truck can reverse dementia.)
It’s no surprise, then, that AMC wants to portray itself as more than a place where you can see a good movie at a decent price with comfortable seats; the theater offers an experience that fulfills a more profound need. Something deeper than mere entertainment. Rebirth is the goal.
Read More
Related Posts:

The Danger of Self-Soothing through Social Media

Social media self-validation enshrines bad behavior as a sign of goodness. The very attitude or action that may be your problem, something to work on or try to modify, gets turned into proof of your goodness. Are you stubborn and obstinate? No, you’re standing strong when everyone else is trying to take you down. Are you manipulative and crafty? No, you’re shrewd in navigating relationships so no one can take advantage of you. Are you too sensitive and anxious? No, you’re rightly attuned to personal slights and the atmosphere of injustice that surrounds you. That’s the biggest problem with therapeutic crowdsourcing online. We take comfort in the idea that all our problems and challenges can be attributed to other people, to injustice, to the sins and selfishness of others—whatever keeps you from being your true self.

Not long ago, I came across an insightful column in the print edition of Wired that spoke of our generation’s penchant for “self-soothing” on social media by “crowdsourcing therapy.” As people turn to their online “community” for validation, they increasingly turn to “therapy-speak” as a means of understanding and expressing themselves. This tendency is downstream from therapy influencers who may or may not be real practitioners but have gained an audience online.
Just as perusing WebMD engenders false confidence when we quickly diagnose ourselves or our family members after a cursory look at medical symptoms, we’ve become overly trusting of the self-help gurus and self-proclaimed therapists online who give advice about various psychological maladies. There’s an audience for this, as confirmed in The Atlantic, which notes that many social media feeds are now crowded with “therapy influencers who tell us to be more aware of our anxiety, our trauma, our distress. Instagram is full of anxious confessions and therapy-speak. The TikTok hashtag #Trauma has more than 6 billion views. . . . More than 5,500 podcasts have the word trauma in their title.”
No one can deny there’s such a thing as real trauma, and abuse, and depression, and anxiety, and toxicity, and all kinds of social and psychological challenges that deserve attention. But surely we should differentiate between therapy with trained professionals who take an individual interest in your life and what The Atlantic dubs “Therapy Media,” an ecosystem filled with nonexperts broadcasting their thoughts about mental health for strangers. “The way we talk about the world shapes our experience of the world.”
Recent studies show it’s possible for people to “consume so much information about anxiety disorders that they begin to process normal problems of living as signs of a decline in mental health.” Surely that’s a factor when we consider all the dumbed-down diagnoses and simplistic solutions on offer.
Self-Soothing and Relational Breakdown
Nowhere do we see this problem more clearly than in the attempt to apply online therapy-speak to real-life relationships. The Wired column notes how the world of social media gives you the illusion of community while you burrow further and further into yourself. And self-indulgence these days shows up whenever you privilege your sense of identity, what you feel, often to the detriment of your relationships.
Not surprising, then, that we see relational breakdown as the result of some of the pop-level therapy-speak out there—suspicions that heighten interpersonal tension and raise the stakes in every interaction.

“She didn’t just lie to you or mislead you. She’s gaslighting you.”
“That person isn’t just wrong. His take is harmful.”
“The reason you don’t see eye to eye with him is because he must be a misogynist.”
“She doesn’t get along with you because she’s racist.”
“Your boss says ‘You’re difficult to work with,’ but that just means ‘You’re difficult to take advantage of.’”

When you’re safely cocooned in an online world that constantly validates your perspective, you interpret the words or actions of people in the real world in distorted and damaging ways.
Read More
Related Posts:

Is Sunday Still the First Day of the Week?

We’re Christians. We follow King Jesus. We mark out one day a week—the first, not the last—to worship the risen Lord. We sing of his goodness and grace and trust his promise to return and blast away death forever. Sunday is his day. And he comes first.

Maybe you’ve noticed it too. On various apps and sites, the calendar has shifted to Monday as the first day of the week. If you want to keep Sunday as Day 1, you can sometimes tailor the calendar to your preference, but the default has changed.
This comes as no surprise. Most people look at Saturday and Sunday as a pair—two days at the end of the week. “What is a weekend?” asked the elderly Lady Grantham in Downton Abbey, delightfully clueless as to how the working class a century ago conceived of time. Since regular business hours are Monday to Friday, it makes sense when people assume Monday is the best candidate for Day 1. It’s the start of the workweek.
But that’s just it. Collapsing the week into the workweek is what troubles me.
Week and Workweek
The way we orient ourselves in time—how we think of our days—makes a difference in how we conceive of our life and purpose. Our choices in how we order time contain moral instruction.
Starting the week with Monday indicates we see our lives primarily in terms of work. Productivity matters most. Contrast a Monday-first mindset with a Sunday-first outlook. When the week begins with worship and rest, everything that follows gets cast in the light of grace and gratitude. Work becomes a subset of worship. We begin not with what we do but with who we are in Christ.
Are Sundays Special?
But Trevin, you say. Sundays aren’t that different anymore. So the calendar shift doesn’t matter that much. True, unfortunately. Even for many Christians, aside from an hour or so spent in church, the rest of the day slips into the same leisure activities as Saturday—or for some, becomes just another day of work at one of the countless places open all week long.
But the way we treat Sunday puts us out of step with our forefathers and mothers in the faith. The original consensus statement adopted by Southern Baptists nearly a century ago, The Baptist Faith and Message, not only devoted an entire article to the Lord’s Day but also specified what proper stewardship of Sunday looked like:

The first day of the week is the Lord’s day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, and by refraining from worldly amusements, and resting from secular employments, works of necessity and mercy only excepted.

Read More
Related Posts:

The Temptation We Most Often Overlook

The deadliest temptation in a secular age, for the Christian and non-Christian alike, is the sidelining of God. The more we push God to the periphery, the more we take center stage. It’s our activity that matters. Our goals and aspirations. Our strategies. Our techniques. Our purposes. Our plans. We lose eternal perspective because the Eternal One plays only a supporting role. 

Often when we talk about temptation, our minds run to certain attitudes and actions that exert a magnetic pull on our hearts. We know the experience well: what it’s like to lash out in anger, to indulge a lustful fantasy, to take pleasure in words that cut down someone else, or to dwell on a wrong done to us, nurturing and nourishing a root of bitter self-pity.
When we think of temptation, we think of sin. We think of selfish impulses. And we hope to fight sin and temptation with the truth of God’s Word in the power of the Spirit.
Overlooked Temptation
But I wonder if, in all our good and godly resistance to particular sins, we sometimes overlook a far greater and all-encompassing temptation, a deeper source of selfishness, a disposition that matters for the direction of life. This temptation lies at the heart of other transgressions, with consequences far more profound than those of individual sins or petty attitudes.
It’s the temptation of godlessness.
I’m not referring to the atheist’s refusal to acknowledge God’s existence. Nor am I referring to spiritual or religious people who deny certain biblical teachings about God. I’m talking about the temptation to elbow God out of daily life, to push him out of the center, to live without reference to our Creator. We may still nod to him, of course, but he’s secondary. We shrink the Author of life to a footnote in a story we write ourselves.
It’s fitting to name this temptation “godlessness” because, even if we don’t deny God, we can live as if he doesn’t exist. He simply isn’t relevant for most of what constitutes daily life.
Absence of God
In our secularizing society, it isn’t the presence of sin that defines our culture but the absence of God.
Read More
Related Posts:

Whatever Happened to Satan?

An anemic view of angels, demons, Satan, and hell puts us at a disadvantage when we fight sin, when we seek to worship God aright, and when we pursue the purity of heart by which we come to know and love God more. The loss of Satan means a change in the context of the Christian life, a transfiguration of the spiritual battlefield into a place of peacetime comfort and fulfillment.

Not long ago, I was preaching a portion of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, and because in the passage Jesus talked about eternal judgment, I did too. I didn’t patronize the congregation by tiptoeing around the uncomfortable truths that came from the lips of our Lord. If he thought it mattered to warn his listeners away from the broad path that leads to destruction, to insist we can’t serve both God and money, and to remind us that anger and lust lead to hellfire, then how could I as a follower of Jesus and a preacher of his Word do anything but pass on the message—no matter how terribly it falls on contemporary ears?
After the service, a woman visiting the church told me it was the first time in forever that she’d heard any pastor anywhere mention hell. She thanked me for saying it out loud. She almost whispered the word, as if it had lost its power due to overuse as a curse word but still remained something of a secret, a reality the faithful know is part of orthodox Christianity yet that remains a destination of which we must not speak.
All this made me wonder, How can anyone preach Jesus without mentioning judgment? How do you deal with his parables? With his constant and consistent warnings about perdition? With his either-ors and contrasts? Even if you fashion yourself a “red-letter Christian” who waves off Paul and the other apostles, you can’t miss the red letters that warn about destruction and losing your soul, images of a worm that won’t die and a fire that never goes out.
Goodbye, Satan
Closely related to the absence of hell is the disappearance of Satan. In many circles, it’s rare to hear a word about the Devil or demons or powers and principalities that wage war against God and his people. Satan has gone missing. Yes, he shows up in charismatic or Pentecostal churches, but in evangelical denominations whose ranks are increasingly affluent and educated, we squirm when we encounter what Jesus and the apostles say about the Accuser.
I know there are pastors who want to avoid the exaggerations prevalent in other faith traditions, where demons peek out behind every problem, where Satan’s influence gets overstated in ways that warp the biblical witness. Better to go the way of understatement, right? The only obstacle to this approach is the Bible. Well, not just the Bible, but also church history. And, well, our brothers and sisters in the global South.
Read More
Related Posts:

Today’s Defining Question: What Is a Human?

What does it mean to be embodied? What do our bodies signify? What does our design say about our identity and purpose? The church that will be relevant in the days ahead will not make peace with reductionist visions of humanity that downplay the significance of the human body and eliminate a transcendent telos. As we recount the grand narrative of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration, we’ll give more attention to the implications of biblical teaching on creation and the fall. As we proclaim Christ crucified and raised for the forgiveness of sins, we’ll give more attention to the incarnation and the implications of our confessing “the resurrection of the body.”

In the early centuries of the church, the questions that vexed Christians and church leaders were Christological. How do we understand the divinity and humanity of Jesus of Nazareth? What does it mean to confess the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God? The crises of the church during that era centered on getting God right—what it means to receive God’s self-revelation as Father, Son, and Spirit.
In the late medieval era, Western church controversies shifted toward salvation, how a sinner is made right with God. What must one do to be saved? What is the relationship of faith and works? Other debates surfaced during this time over the nature and number of the sacraments; the relationship of scriptural authority to church tradition and papal authority; and the definitions of assurance, justification, and sanctification.
Today we’re facing a third major crisis. This time the focus is on anthropology, the nature and destiny of humankind. What’s a human being? What does it mean to be made in God’s image? To be created male and female? Do we receive our identity and purpose or do we create identity and meaning for ourselves?
Humanity in a ‘Create Yourself’ World
In the late modern world, it’s common to see humanity as something to be crafted, a project awaiting creation. Our creatureliness gets sidelined, replaced by a “you can be anything you want” approach to life, set against the narrative backdrop of resisting outward conformity to some other standard of life. You must define yourself, goes the idea, even when it’s in opposition to whatever the past, your family, your society, or (increasingly) your biology says you are.
Meanwhile, the acids of postmodernity have eaten away at the idea that humanity has an essence, that there might be a givenness to things. Also lost is the idea that humanity has a general telos—an inherent purpose or supreme goal to which we strive.
The spread of a technocratic understanding of the world whereby we make the world we want, rather than work with and cultivate the world as it is, puts us in situations previous generations would find incomprehensible: the logic of rectifying the “injustice” of biological men not being able to give birth, or removing healthy body parts in the name of health to accommodate someone’s self-perception as disabled or belonging to a different gender.
Read More
Related Posts:

Man Shall Not Live by Online Bread Alone

The allure of shortcuts is an ever-present temptation, in matters of faith just as in other spheres of life. Friendship is hard. Church life is difficult. To cultivate a rich and meaningful life with God takes time and effort. We won’t grow in holiness and righteousness by racing to supplements designed to help us bypass the difficult labors of church life. It’s precisely in and through those labors that spiritual growth takes place.

When the COVID-19 lockdowns went into effect across the world in March 2020, pastors and church leaders pivoted quickly to live streaming and video as a way of keeping the lines of communication and connection open. Twenty-two percent of churches did a live stream before the pandemic; within weeks, the number had jumped to 66 percent, with 92 percent of Protestant pastors providing some kind of video sermon or worship service during the stay-at-home season.
On the other side of the pandemic, the number of churches live streaming their worship services has grown, and even though there have been some thoughtful calls to stop doing so, I suspect the practice is here to stay. (A new Pew Research survey offers an interesting look at churchgoer perspectives on live streaming.)
Larger churches have gotten especially good at presenting a cohesive and engaging broadcast of their services, rivaling the shiny Sunday morning television broadcasts from a generation ago. As any church with a television or radio ministry will tell you, a professionally packaged experience can extend the reach of a local congregation and the influence of Bible preachers and teachers.
The Supplement Is Not a Substitute
But there’s a downside to this boom in online worship services. We’re vulnerable to a cultural malady ailing Americans today: “substitutism.” That’s a term from Joshua Mitchell’s American Awakening. It’s a label that describes our perpetual quest for easy alternatives and shortcuts. It refers to our tendency to make a supplement a substitute.
In his book, Mitchell never discusses online church or live streaming worship services. He sees “substitutism” at work in other areas, such as social media and friendship. Take a look at his diagnosis of substitutism in these areas, and then I’ll apply these insights to worship.
At its best, social media enhances real-life relationships. Mitchell writes,

Social media can supplement our existing friendships; it can be a stimulant, which helps us keep in touch with old friends when we are not able to confirm through a handshake, a pat on the back, or an embrace, that we are indeed friends. We feel the presence of our friends through this supplement; but the supplement by itself, without the preexisting competence of friendship, cannot produce the feeling of presence. (xxiii)

Read More
Related Posts:

Man Cannot Live on Feeds Alone: The Christian Diet for a Digital Age

Many of us see and hear more information in a day than we can possibly manage. Over time, this consistent overload dulls our senses — in particular, our spiritual senses.

Numbness affects more than just our thumbs, which scroll endlessly past trends and trivialities. Our hearts grow cold. We come across a natural disaster or terrible tragedy in one post, only to scroll on to a new life hack for improving our health and wellness, before encountering someone’s commentary on politics or a hilarious video with kids or animals. The result? A blur. A noisy background filled with so much information and so little wisdom.

I give time to social media every day, probably too much sometimes. I also listen to a variety of podcasts that keep me informed of various trends or topics in theology, politics, and cultural analysis. I’m obviously not opposed to these media or channels. I’m grateful for the good I glean from them. But even when we look for what’s good on social media or subscribe to informative and educational podcasts — even when we look for what’s edifying — we still encounter challenges.

For instance, many of us are tempted to think we must always be up-to-date, tightly tethered to the “Listen Now” of our podcast feeds. We run relentlessly after the feeling of being caught up on the latest, or on the cutting edge of whatever’s happening online. We love being in the know. And our devotion to now comes with deep and subtle consequences.

Losing Our Appetite for God

Sometimes the desire to stay on top of online trends and issues leads us to devote too much attention to the present, at the expense of the past — or worse, the eternal. That’s why we do well to look below what’s happening right now, to the foundations of the faith that help us maintain clear perspective on the current debates and controversies of our time.

If we’re to be faithful, we cannot settle for simply skimming the surface of today’s breaking news or this week’s topic of conversation and debate. Faithfulness requires digging, returning to the bedrock of the faith so that we have somewhere to stand. We need roots that go deep so that we can stand tall like a tree, firmly rooted, no matter how hard the cultural winds blow. Without roots, we’re just debris, tossed by the wind, dizzied by swirling news and information.

“The church faces her biggest challenge not when new errors start to win, but when old truths no longer wow.”

In The Thrill of Orthodoxy, my goal is to awaken Christians to the exhilarating beauty of the historic Christian faith. The church faces her biggest challenge not when new errors start to win, but when old truths no longer wow. Our online habits often lead to a mind-numbing and heart-shriveling state in which the deep and rich truths of the Bible no longer startle us. We lose our appetite for the things of God because we’ve stuffed ourselves so full of information about whatever’s now.

Worn Paths to Shallow

We really do not need to stay on top of everything. It’s better to dig beneath the surface of current events and root ourselves in the great story of the world as it’s unfolded in the Scriptures. What do we believe? Why are we here? Where are we going? What is all this world about in the end? Without firm and constant reminders of the truth of Christianity and the ultimate glory of God, we’re likely to be shallow and double-minded, unstable in all our ways (James 1:8), without the wisdom necessary to discern the faithful path today.

The challenge of distraction is not new. Blaise Pascal once remarked on the problems of humanity that stem from our “inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” We seek out distraction and stimulation, and avoid both solitude and introspection. Christianity withers without the two. We regularly need enough space and focus to savor the truths of Scripture — to taste their sweetness, and find nourishment through their sustaining power.

Alongside the Scriptures, we also find joy and stability in a (perhaps) unlikely place: the historic creeds and confessions of the Christian church.

Creed over Podcast?

Three creeds in particular stand out: the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. These statements describe who God is and what he has done, according to the Scriptures. They point to the Trinitarian core of Christianity. The historic confessions, many of which appeared during and after the Reformation, are beautifully crafted, detailed descriptions of more of the fullness of the faith. The creeds provide a superstructure, a blueprint, while the confessions fill in the details and give greater clarity to the Christian life.

Biblical and systematic theologies go even further, examining the truth about the world and our place in it, in thousands of pages of prose. Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). All Christian theology is, in a sense, our attempt to answer that question with accuracy, to confess with confidence the identity of the One whose name we bear. Theology is about encountering God as he truly is and basking in the excellencies of his righteous character and saving acts.

Ancient creeds may seem a long way off from today’s online world — the endless debates on social media or the constant chatter of podcasts. But that’s exactly why the creeds matter. If they seem distant and dusty, that says more about us and our mindset than it does about the documents themselves. They describe the foundations of our faith. They are guardrails of orthodoxy. They give voice to the testimony of the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). They keep us stable through stormy seasons in every age.

Strategies Against the Noise

So, in light of all the noise, how do we cultivate wisdom in a digital age? We implement practices that guard us from the shallowness of “the now” and immerse us in the wells of what’s always been true.

“We seek out distraction and stimulation, and avoid both solitude and introspection.”

First, I urge believers to follow the “Scripture before phone” rule each morning. If you need to get an old-fashioned alarm clock (so that your phone is kept in another room), do it. Have your Bible or prayer guide ready to go somewhere close by. How different might your life be if you committed to spending time hearing from God before the world’s noise could intrude? (I often follow a structured prayer journey through the Psalms in 30 Days to aid me in this process.)

Second, I recommend turning certain technologies to your own advantage. Follow social media accounts that are edifying (voices steeped in the Scriptures, organizations grounded in creedal orthodoxy). Incorporate into your podcast feed some trustworthy men and women who care about church history or who seek to explore the great truths of Christianity.

Third, switch up scrolling for studying. You do this by setting limits on how much you will take in online, and then replacing some of that intake with more substantive theology. You can set your phone to alert you after you’ve been on an app for more than fifteen or twenty minutes in a day. And if you want to switch from a mindless habit to a mind-stretching one, commit to matching your social media time with reading time. Pick up a hefty book of theology, one that goes through the basics of Christian theology. Even the biggest systematic theology textbooks or books on church history can be read within a year if you read just two or three pages a day.

Fourth, don’t go it alone. Find friends in the faith who, like you, want to prioritize enduring truth over the latest news. The creeds are statements of what we believe, not what I believe on my own. Even the Apostles’ Creed, which starts with a statement of personal belief, developed as a baptismal ritual, and the whole church was present to celebrate the convert’s good confession.

Steady and Fruitful in the Storm

The answer to mindless scrolling is more mindful lingering. Studying the Scriptures and pondering the ancient creeds and confessions gives us the opportunity to grow in our knowledge and wisdom, so that we are better equipped to follow Jesus. In a world where people are tossed and turned by all the latest developments, it’s more important than ever to be rooted in something that can sustain us, something that can transform us, something that doesn’t change with the news.

May the Lord reawaken in us an appreciation for biblical and historic Christianity, so that we will be steady and fruitful in turbulent days to come.

Your Personality Test Doesn’t Give You a Pass on the Fruit of the Spirit

We should be less focused on the personality stereotype of a test or survey and more concerned that we showcase the glory and grace of God, no matter what our inclinations may be. These tests can help us see the unique ways we can bring glory to Christ, but in the end, finding myself isn’t the goal. Following Christ is what counts.

I enjoy personality tests. Some are more helpful than others, but at their best, surveys tell you something about yourself and the people you live or work with. (I’ve discovered I’m an extrovert in a family of introverts, although the jury’s still out on our youngest!) I’m partial to the Myers-Briggs, but I’ve engaged in multiple tests over the years, at work and for fun.
The problem with personality tests, though, is we can sometimes dismiss or diminish clear biblical standards that don’t align with our self-perception.
A Christian’s Talk
Take, for instance, what James 1:19–20 says about a Christian’s talk and temperament:

My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness (CSB). 

In our cultural context, it’s never been easier to speak and to be heard. The internet, social media…all these new technologies have made it possible for us to say more things publicly than in any other time in human history, to the point some cultural observers wonder out loud, Is this even good for us? Should we be taking in this much information or putting out so many words? Were humans ever intended to speak so much?
Everything in our world makes it easy to speak quickly. There’s nothing out there designed to help you learn to listen well. The way stuff is set up online, the way people climb the ladder socially or professionally, the way people debate—everything is set up for speech. Say something! But Proverbs 17:27–28 says,

The one who has knowledge restrains his words,and one who keeps a cool head is a person of understanding.Even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent—discerning, when he seals his lips (CSB). 

In other words, if you’re wise, you won’t talk as much. You’ll restrain your words. You won’t vent all your frustrations. You won’t say everything you feel.
Some will say, “Hey, I’m a talker! I’m just being real! That’s just my personality. I blurt things out. I just say stuff without thinking. It’s my Myers-Briggs. That’s my Enneagram number. Have you seen my StrengthsFinders? I’m just keeping it real.”
Sorry, but if you’re a Christian, that’s not what “keeping it real” means. James doesn’t say to be quick to listen and slow to speak unless you’re extroverted. Unless you’re talkative. Unless you have a big following on TikTok or Instagram. No, what he says goes for all of us.
Read More
Related Posts:

Scroll to top