Transgenderism (along with other LGBTQ+ issues) has become a complex and emotive issue in recent years. Also known as transsexualism, gender dysphoria and gender identity disorder (GID), it describes a condition where the physical or biological gender that someone is born into does not match the gender that the person identifies with or perceives themselves to be.
In an effort to accommodate this conceptually, it is now suggested that gender is simply a ‘social construct’ or that gender is fluid and changeable – this has led to the notion that we can simply identify as whichever gender we choose. Gender reassignment often involves far more than just changing name and undergoing a paperwork exercise in identifying as a different gender. Developments in medicine have paved the way for hormonal therapies and medical surgeries that cause incredible physical changes to the body, which give the visible appearance of the desired gender. Furthermore, there is now a growing range of new gender ‘categories’ that have are being used to accommodate the range of gender identities that people wish to identify with.
For a more in-depth look at the definition of terms that used when discussing this, we recommend this article which also explores physical conditions such as those born ‘inter-sex’.
Our cultural approach to the issue of transgenderism is a good example of focussing far too much on the grey areas of an issue that is actually fairly black and white. This is a trait of a society that seeks to blur boundaries on just about every area of morality and human experience.
What does the Bible say?
Some argue that the Bible is silent about transgenderism. However, the same line of argument could be used for a number of different issues that were not on the radar when the Bible was written.
The Bible does lay out some very clear principles that apply to the issue of gender – the most important of which is that gender is binary as opposed to fluid. Human beings can clearly be divided into one of two genders – they are either male or female:
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27 NIV)
This is the written account of Adam’s family line. When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind” when they were created. (Genesis 5:1-2a NIV)
Because of this, God also lays out a crystal-clear model for marriage and sexual relationship:
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24 NIV)
Jesus also affirmed the binary nature of gender (and human sexuality) when answering a question about divorce:
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6 NIV)
This provides God’s blueprint for gender, marriage and sexuality – everyone is either male or female and is designed to express sexuality within a heterosexual, monogamous relationship within marriage. Any other expression of gender or sexuality is contrary to this blueprint. So, where does that leave those who struggle with gender identity?
It is important to acknowledge the fact that some people are born with the feeling that their psychological wiring does not match their biological gender. Some people feel as though have been born into the ‘wrong’ physical gender. However, we would argue that this is the symptom of a corrupted world where we are ALL programmed with various forms of ‘malfunction’ – no-one escapes from this as everyone is subject to the curse on creation.
We suspect that in the Garden of Eden, before the fall, humanity was programmed by God to perfectly created to fit a binary gender and only have sexual attraction for one person – their spouse. Unfortunately, this all changed at the fall and, as a result, this programming has remained corrupted in all humanity ever since. This corruption expresses itself in a variety of ways. Gender dysphoria is just one of many examples of the ways our faulty wiring manifests itself.
However, the thing that makes this issue particularly disturbing is the incredibly invasive process of gender reassignment – both hormonal therapy and surgery are a very defiant step away from the way God created us.
The biblical position does not change whatever our feelings on this issue – everyone, without exception, is tempted to explore behaviour which is outside of God’s prescribed boundaries. This is especially damaging when this questions our ‘identity’ as it compromises the integrity of God who made each one of us.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16 NIV)
God created each person highly valued and precious and God does not make mistakes. Where there is confusion over gender (or any other area of identity) the answer is not to satisfy this confusion through invasive alterations to our bodies – no amount of hormonal or surgical interference will change our actual gender, even if it does change our visible appearance.
It is not surprising to see societies affirmation of gender reassignment – a culture that has removed God from the equation will naturally attempt to blur any biblical parameters and legitimise action that damages our identity in God’s eyes. Those who raise honest and sincere questions about the direction society is taking with this and particularly the way the children are being targeted with this philosophy are silenced with accusations of transphobia.
However, we are certain that in around five to ten years time, there will be a huge backlash against the clinics who performed these procedures and encouraged the vulnerable to do such damage to their bodies. When many people realise it was a huge mistake we can expect many litigations in this area. There are already signs of this. Studies have demonstrated that as many as 20% of those who undergo gender reassignment surgery regret their decision and we suspect this is just the tip of the ice-berg.
The reality is that no matter what steps are taken to identify with or look like a different gender, in God’s eyes we are all the gender we were born into – nothing can change that.
It is crucial that the church responds to this in the same way Jesus would have. All members of the LGBTQ+ community must always feel completely welcomed and accepted within the church environment and shown the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. However, it is imperative that the church remains faithful to the clear teaching of Scripture in this area – judge the sin (and we are all sinners), but never the sinner. The capitulation of the church to cultural standards on the issue of marriage, sexuality and gender will lead the church on a direct collision with God and do irreparable damage to the church.
There is not a person on earth who cannot be reached with the gospel and our job is to invite whoever is willing to be reborn into the kingdom of God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (John 3:3 NIV)
For more reading on this issue, we recommend this article.