When God calls us to be his disciples, he doesn't call us as genderless automatons, right? He calls us as male and female and that means that we are embodied creatures, first of all. So you're either a man or you're a woman and you will be a man or a woman for eternity. The Bible teaches that when at the end of the age, we're all going to be raised up, resurrected and we will be resurrected in male and female bodies.
So that has implications. That means that God's creation is good, it's something that he's redeeming. That means that manhood and womanhood is something that is good. Even though we experience corruptions of those things in the present, that doesn't mean that they're bad per se. It's just that we're living in a sinful Genesis 3 kind of a world. So because our bodies matter eternally to God, it matters what we do with our bodies now. Of course, what we do is... What we're supposed to do is prescribed in part by whether or not we're male or female.
So if you're a man, you need to be concerned with, what does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ as a male? There are biblically a set of roles and responsibilities that attach to the male that don't attach to the female. God has called men and their families to be leaders, to be protectors, and to be providers, and that attaches specifically to men. So that reaches back all the way connected to the basic distinction of the sexes that were created in Genesis 1 and 2.
If you're a female, God has a set of responsibilities and roles that belong to you as well, and it attaches directly to whether or not you're male or female. So gender roles aren't just socially constructed. They're connected normatively to our biological sex and that's what the scripture teaches.
(Article first published August 4, 2014)
Can Someone be Transgender and Christian?
Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 offer a helpful way to answer this question:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Paul’s words show that there are practices and lifestyles that, if left unrepented of, can prevent someone from inheriting—that is, having a place in—the kingdom of God. To live as a Christian is to accept God’s authority over our own.
Transgender identities fall into that category—they are, as I write in my book God and The Transgender Debate, not compatible with following Christ. A person’s gender identity reflects how they define what it means to be a human being. That self-definition will either correspond to God’s revelation in his word or it will not. As we have seen, God has created human beings in his own image as male and female. Our identity, therefore, is defined by God in his purposes for his creation and in his new creation in Christ. The design of humanity is purposeful and good, and part of our design is that we are men and women. To deny or overturn that distinction is to nullify God’s revelation both in nature and in Scripture. The Bible calls it suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1 v 18).
But experiencing gendor dysphoria does not mean you are not a Christian
That doesn’t mean that someone who struggles with gender identity conflicts is not a Christian. All Christians wrestle with life in this fallen world in one way or another. Let me underline that experiencing gender dysphoria does not mean you are not a Christian.
But it does mean that a settled rejection of God’s purposes for us as male or female cannot be reconciled with following Christ. Someone can embrace a transgender identity or find their identity in Christ, but not both.
Having said that, it is possible to sin in all kinds of ways in ignorance, rather than willfully and knowingly. A new Christian might not know that they are called to honor their parents, or that lust is sinful. The key is that when they read in Scripture that obedience to God means changing in these areas, they will work to do so, with God’s help. Likewise, it would be possible to identify as transgender and also be trusting Christ as Lord because they have not yet realized the implications of the lordship of Christ in this area of their life and identity. As and when they do realize it, a Christian person would change their behavior in this area, with God’s help.
This is an excerpt from God and The Transgender Debate, a short book designed to help Christians engage lovingly, thoughtfully and faithfully with one of the greatest cultural discussions of our day.
Originally published on TheGoodBook.com. Used with permission.
Andrew T. Walker (@andrewtwalk) is Director of Policy Studies for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
(Article published on Crosswalk.com on August 31, 2017)
What Does the Bible Say about Transgenderism?
Some would argue that the Bible says nothing about the explosion of the transgender phenomenon in the Western world. After all, there is no verse that says, “Thou shalt not transition from a man to a woman.” But neither are there any verses that talk explicitly about gun violence, anorexia, waterboarding, fossil fuels, vaccines, GMOs, HMOs, or Pokemon Go. We should not expect the Bible to speak in 21st century terms to every 21st-century eventuality.
But that hardly means the Bible provides no guidance for Christians trying to make sense of our transgender moment. In fact, when it comes to transgenderism, the Bible actually has a lot to say—not by a prooftext here or there but by a rich and pervasive understanding of gender and sexual identity.
Obviously, transgenderism, as a cultural trend, is massively complex, touching on fields as disparate as genetics, fashion, medicine, law, education, entertainment, athletics, and religious liberty. We need Christians thinking through, and talking to, all of these issues. We also need Christians patiently loving, counseling, and befriending those who feel that their psychological identity as male or female contradicts their “assigned” biological sex. In asking the question, “What does the Bible say about transgenderism?” we are asking a question that can take us in a dozen different directions.
I want to focus on just one of those directions. If we are people of the Book—people who believe, like Jesus, that the Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35)—then the transgender question, if it is to yield fruitful responses in any of these areas, must start with a biblical understanding of male and female.
And what is that understanding?
In short, the Bible teaches that God made us male or female, and no matter our own feelings or confusion, we should act in accordance with the biological reality of God’s good design. Transgenderism falls short of the glory of God and is not the way to walk in obedience to Christ.
There are three big Scriptural building blocks that lead one inexorably to this conclusion.
1. Gender Binary
The Bible knows no other gender categories besides male and female. While men and women in Scripture may express their masculinity and femininity in a wonderful diversity of ways, Scripture still operates with the binary categories of men and women. You are one or the other. The anomaly of intersex individuals does not undermine the creational design, but rather gives another example of creational “groaning” and the “not the way they are supposed to be” realities of a fallen world. Likewise, the eunuchs in Matthew 19 do not refer to sexless persons, but to men who were born without the ability to procreate or who were castrated, likely for a royal court (for more on the challenge of intersex, and the question of eunuchs, see Denny Burk, What Is the Meaning of Sex?, 169-183).
The biblical understanding of male and female is more than just an assumption writ large on the pages of Scripture. We know from Genesis 1 and 2 that the categories of male and female are a part of God’s design for humanity. Indeed, when God created the first human pair in his image, he created them male and female (Gen. 1:27). He made the woman to be a complement and help to the man (Gen. 2:18-22). Far from being a mere cultural construct, God depicts the existence of a man and a woman as essential to his creational plan. The two are neither identical nor interchangeable. But when the woman, who was taken out of man, joins again with the man in sexual union, the two become one flesh (Gen. 1:23-24). Dividing the human race into two genders, male and female—one or the other, not both, and not one then the other—is not the invention of Victorian prudes or patriarchal oafs. It was God’s idea.
2. Gender Identity
Someone with respect for Scripture may say at this point, “I agree that God makes as either male or female. But you are confusing biological sex with gender. I know transgender Christians who desire to embrace God’s design for men and women, but they also believe that who God created them to be does not correspond with the sex assigned to them at birth.” I don’t doubt that there are persons like this out there (and in our churches). While some people embracing a transgender identity may do so on a lark, many strongly feel that only by living as the opposite sex can they full embrace their true self.
The question is not whether such persons and feelings exist. The question is whether the is of our emotional or mental state equals the ought of God’s design. Most Christians reject this thinking in a host of other areas, from eating disorders to unbiblical divorces. We understand that following Christ means dying to ourselves (Matt. 16:24), being renewed in our minds (Rom. 12:2), and no longer walking as we once did (Eph. 4:17-18). Being “true to ourselves” is always a false choice when it means going against God’s Word.
As much as contemporary academia says otherwise, the Bible believes in the organic unity of biological sex and gender identity. This is why male and female are (uniquely) the type of pair that can reproduce (Gen. 1:28; 2:20). It’s why homosexuality—a man lying with a man as with a woman (Lev. 18:22)—is wrong. It’s why the apostle Paul can speak of homosexual partnerships as deviating from the natural relations or natural function of male-female sexual intercourse (Rom. 1:26-27). In each instance, the argument only works if there is an assumed equivalence between the biology of sexual difference and the corresponding identities of male and female.
3. Gender Confusion
The third building block follows naturally from the other two. If the binary of male and female is God’s idea, and if we are meant to embrace, by divine design, our biological and creational difference as men and women, then it stands to reason that the confusion of these realities would be displeasing to God. And so we see clearly in the Bible that men should not act sexually as women (Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:18-32; 1 Cor. 6:9-10), that men should not dress like women (Deut. 22:5), and that when men and women embrace obviously other-gendered expressions of identity it is a disgrace (1 Cor. 11:14-15). We do not have an inalienable right to do whatever we want with our physical selves. We belong to God and should glorify him with our bodies (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
I have not begun to answer all the important questions about pastoral care, counsel, and compassion for the hurting and confused. But with the cultural winds gusting as they are, we cannot assume that Christians—even those in good churches—know what to think about gender or why to think it. Hopefully this brief post, and these three building blocks, can help us ensure the right foundation is in place. After all, the goal is not to build a wall to keep people out, but that God might build up his church in truth and grace that we can welcome people in, calling his image bearers to embrace the life that is truly life (1 Tim. 6:19).
This article was originally published on TheGospelCoalition.org. Used with permission.
Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.
(Article published on Crosswalk.com on September 15, 2016)
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