Gender and The Matrix

One of this year’s big Christmas films will be The Matrix Resurrections The original trilogy released between 1999 and 2003 generated a cult following with many fan theories. What came as news to me was the idea that The Matrix was a metaphor exploring the trans experience and transcending the physical form. Since the original releases, the writers have come out as trans. There is now a whole body of interpretation that views the films through that lens. Lily Wachowski joyfully embraces this, saying that the idea was always present, but the corporate world wasn’t ready for it before.

Twenty years on, the question of whether biological sex matters is being publicly fought over. Previous allies are pitted against one another. Stonewall talks about sex assigned at birth, whilst the LGB group believes that sex is binary and determined at conception. The importance of the physical-biological body over the concept of gender identity is played out in fierce battles.

This year has seen many skirmishes. Labour MP Rosie Duffield received death threats following her stance that ‘only women have a cervix’. Keir Starmer declared it was wrong to say that only women have a cervix. Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary who also holds the equalities brief, agreed with Rosie Duffield.

Sport has been a battleground. The Olympic Games allowed a trans athlete to compete, but Sports England has produced guidance acknowledging differences in strength, stamina and physique between biological men and women. PinkNews reacted with horror at those guidelines. This fight is not over.

As we look on, it is hard to keep up in the whirlwind of it all. Those advocating the new gender ideology have created a new language that is constantly changing. A helpful resource is the BBC podcast series, Nolan Investigates: Stonewall. We need to navigate this world because it is in the air our children and teenagers breathe. Nancy R. Pearcey, in her excellent book Love Thy Body, identifies this rejection of our physical bodies as ancient Gnosticism in a new garb. The Bible teaches that we are physical beings, but not divided beings. We are embodied as an integrated psychosexual unity, body and soul.

I think we can undermine this truth ourselves. Rather than helping our young people live with the physical reality of their biological sex, we too can fall into the gender trap. We reinforce stereotypes of femininity and masculinity. I remember one book (which shall remain nameless) that said girls want to be loved, and boys want adventure. My daughter retorted that she wanted adventure, and my son said he wanted to be loved. We have allowed nonsense to be taught, and we must stop it. I read another highly regarded book published this year that advocated something similar: women, I was told, were made for beauty and men for strength. Men and women were described as being different in the way they think, feel and imagine. Really? Does the Bible teach this? This over-reading will not help the next generation navigate our gender-confused world.

We are embodied beings who experience the world through our different biological sexes. Men and women are different. Our bodies are a part of our authentic selves and have a profound impact on us. We live as male and female, but the Bible doesn’t define femininity or masculinity, or describe gender identity.

This Christmas we will be reminded that we have an embodied Saviour who came in the flesh, died in the flesh, and rose again bodily. The body does matter, and how we live in our bodies matters. If we are not careful, we will be heard prescribing a stereotyped gender identity rather than Christlikeness. That is the identity that matters

(First published in Evangelicasl Now in December 2021)

© 2023 Karen Soole