BOOK REVIEWS, CONTEMPORARY ISSUES, & THEOLOGICAL DISCUSSIONS
There is probably not many topics right now that are having the limelight than the issue of transgenderism is having in our culture today. It seems that not much time passes before a new debate arises over a specific situation like “what about a person who identifies as a woman, but is biologically male in a women's restroom?” These issues are of a moral nature, and many Christians are confused about what to think on the issue.
In my blog entitled “What Jesus really said about Homosexuality” I brought to light a verse that often gets overlooked: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36–40, ESV) Jesus is referencing all the commandments of the law and saying that one cannot love God or their neighbor, unless they uphold all of the principals found in the Law.
In the O.T., we see that God originally made mankind in 2 distinct sexes: Male and Female. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27, ESV) There are no others as far as Jesus is concerned: “He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,” (Matthew 19:4, ESV) So, in a Christian worldview, there are only two sexes.
Since have established this, then, we can move on to another question—no person who identifies as a transgender claims they are a different sex, but they only claim to be a gender that is not the same as their sex. The question we need to ask, then, is “Can the mind/soul of a person be a different gender than the sex of the body in which they inhabit?” Can the gender of a person be separated from their sex? This will be an interesting venture into Scripture. It’s not often we have Sunday School classes on such a subject!
Jesus, being a Jew, saw it as a sin even to dress as a gender that did not represent your sex: “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5, ESV) This is put forward by commentators as well as a violation of God’s original intent in the distinction of the two sexes: “The adoption of clothing of the opposite sex was forbidden because it obscured the distinction of the sexes and thus violated an essential part of the created order of life (Gen. 1:27). It was also perhaps associated with or promoted homosexuality. The same Hebrew word translated detests (tô‘ēḇâh, lit., “a detestable thing“; kjv, “an abomination“) is used to describe God’s view of homosexuality (Lev. 18:22; 20:13). Also some evidence exists that transvestism may have been connected with the worship of pagan deities. Since this law was related to the divine order of Creation and since God detests anyone who does this, believers today also ought to heed this command.” 1.
I don’t say this to wound anyone, that is not my intent in this blog, but I do want to the truth to be known. I don't want anyone to be deceived about anything concerning God’s Word or what He says about an issue that is clear in Scripture. I only speak these things out of love for my neighbors. Another question may arise in your mind however, and I think it does need to be addressed here. I can think of someone asking in their heart “I understand what you’re saying, but what if I have a male body, but I feel like I am a woman?” So, another way to put it, which I have heard before is: “I am a woman, trapped inside of a man’s body.” What is a follower of Jesus supposed to think about this?
One thing that I must say at the outset, is that there is one thing I truly love about this statement— and that is that this statement must adhere to mind-body dualism. That means that any person who utters these words is committed to the thinking that there is a distinction between an immaterial mind ( or soul) and their body in which they inhabit. Surely one can’t say “I” am a _____ trapped in a _____ body,” unless there is an “I” separate and distinct from the “body.” One can’t “have” something in which they are. If my name is Jeff, I can’t have a Jeff— I AM Jeff! So five cheers for mind-body dualism! A more Christian way of thinking!
Scripture seems to indicate that it is not the soul/mind that determines the “real gender,” but it is the body: “Then Abraham took Ishmael his son and all those born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him.” (Genesis 17:23, ESV) Notice how Abraham knew that they were males here, it was by their bodies, not how they felt or identified. God assumes in His commandment to Abraham that every male would be able to be circumcised in this way: “This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.” (Genesis 17:10, ESV)
In the New Testament, Paul warns those who would attempt to accommodate the role of a gender that is not conformed to their body: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,” (1 Corinthians 6:9, NASB95) He did this just after rebuking a man for a sexually immoral act in Jesus’ name and by His power in which Jesus never explicitly spoke about because remember, Jesus is Jewish. Let’s look deeper at this verse and what it has to do with transgenderism.
The Greek here in verse 9 is very interesting because there is an interesting phrase: “nor effeminate” or “οὔτε μαλακοὶ” which transliterated is “oute malakoi” Paul is intentionally including both the passive and dominant homosexual practices in this verse. Robert Gagnon explains: “Paul includes “soft men” (malakoi) in the offender list in 1 Cor 6:9-10, which in context designates men who attempt to become women (through dress, mannerisms, makeup, and sometimes castration), often to attract male sex partners. The fact that Paul includes such persons among those who “shall not inherit the kingdom of God” suggests that acting on a desire to become the opposite sex can in fact affect one’s redemption.” 2.
So the Bible, from cover to cover, institutes a view of self in which the gender you are is reflective of the sex you were born with.
But then what about those who genuinely feel as if they are not the identity of that which their bodies portray? I simply cannot think of a reason to think that your heart is correctly determining your gender if your body says otherwise. To use an analogy, if I genuinely felt that I had six fingers on my right hand, and believed it with all my heart to the point that if someone said otherwise it could do damage to my image of self-worth, you would still know that I only had five. Why in one case does my body determine what is true about me, but in another my body is trumped by my feelings? There is an objectivity to the hand you say? And this is not the same in the case of gender? When someone says: “I am experiencing life as a woman, even though my sex is male” what are they referring too? No one can say: "I feel like a woman" unless they have an objective sense of what a woman should feel like. They get that from real, objective women.
Another reason, although on a different pane than those mentioned, is the staggering statistic of suicide attempts in the transgender community: “The prevalence of suicide attempts among respondents to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality, is 41 percent, which vastly exceeds the 4.6 percent of the overall U.S. population who report a lifetime suicide attempt, and is also higher than the 10-20 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual adults who report ever attempting suicide.” 3. This ought to cause every person thinking of self identifying as a gender that does not correspond to your biological sex pause. If anything, this should alarm one who identifies as a transgender that taking steps to align my body and confirming my impulses psychologically is an unhealthy decision.
I want to plead with you to stop trying to decide your own identity. You cannot turn to yourself to find out who, or what, you truly are. Your true identity does not lie in your gender or your sexual orientation, but in who God says you are. His opinion simply surpasses any other opinion about who you are, even your own. He decides your worth, and He will always declare you to be more valuable than you think you are. You can trust Him.
What is loving about telling someone they are not the gender they identify as? “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4–7, ESV) Love cannot be separated from truth! Love doesn’t always feel good at first to the one who is hearing it.
Jesus calls you to a life of fulfillment and completeness in Him. He calls you to a life of authenticity and truth. He calls you to a life of unspeakable joy. Yes, He may call you to a painful life, a life of carrying your cross, but not a miserable one, there is joy in the sacrifice, like a birth into new life. Some might wonder if God had made a “mistake” in their creation because they have “always felt this way.” But let me remind you that just because you may have always had a feeling does not mean that it is morally permissible to act on it, and in this case, it doesn’t mean that it is reflective of truth. There are many variables to consider when someone reflects on past feelings regarding truth.
In conclusion, we see that Jesus did touch on this issue, and had an opinion about it that we should take to heart. There are two distinct genders Biblically, and we should assume the gender in which our physical bodies reflect. If our feelings are not in tune with our bodies, then we should seek Gods face in prayer, and while we wait, honor Him in how we conduct ourselves, relying on His grace when we feel as if we are suffering. There is a sense in which a man, who might feel as if he is a woman on the inside, can glorify his Maker, by being what he was created to be, a man.