How Does Our Culture Now Think Of The Body
Over the last 50 years, American Christians have watchedas our society has fashioned a brave new order for itself.Feminism and the sexual revolution have transformed theAmerican home. Many men have lost any sense of responsibilityfor their family. Theyre tuned out, passive, andself-focused. Many women feel great tension between theircareer and home. They are told by secular lifestyle magazinesto pursue perfect work-life balance, but its hard to find.Increasingly, the sexes are in competition. These troublingdevelopments represent phase one of the transformation ofmen and women.
Phase two is the spread of the homosexual movement.Led by celebrities in the 1980s, the homosexualmovement built off of the momentum of the feministpush and the sexual revolution. It sought to mainstreamhomosexual behavior. Men and women, itassumed, were not different in any meaningful way.The moral constraints of the biblical worldview hadalready been cast off. Romantic love was not subjectto any shape or design. It was just a feeling. As such, it hadno duties, no covenantal dimensions, and no enduring commitment.If it persisted, great. If the feeling of love died out,then the relationship died with it.
How Should We View The Body As Christians
The creators of Pinocchio, of course, did not have transgenderindividuals in view when they made their famous movie.They simply wanted boys and girls to dream big. As the Westhas lost its Judeo-Christian moral constraints and its traditionalvision of manhood and womanhood, we have embraceda radical individualism. This mindset has created what theologianR. Albert Mohler Jr. has called a culture shift.
Radical individualism casts off all moral restraints in orderto achieve maximum personal happiness. In my book RiskyGospel, I call this mindset Narcissistic Optimistic Deism. Ican do whatever I want, many people think, and existsto make all my dreams come true. This perspective has influencedhow many people view their body. The body is not madeby God for His glory. It is a blank slate upon which we maydraw any identity, any self-expression, we choose. Use it, abuseit, do whatever you want with it. This is a neo-pagan idea.
We see the profound tension between Gods design and Satans attacks on this design.
The Bible teaches a very different perspective. Our manhoodor womanhood is not incidental it has been given usby God as a gift. We inhabit our God-created bodies as vesselsof delight, temples of the Holy Spirit, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19
Colossians 3:19). These andother patterns constitute the markers ofour manhood and womanhood. Our differences,as is clear, are considerable. They arealso God given.
Sexual Identity In The Bible
If you examine this verse carefully, you will see that we were made in the image of God. When someone thinks and lives according to their choices, they have turned the Biblical view of reality on its head. Matthew 7:15-20 reminds us of the warning Jesus gave us about false prophets. He taught us we would recognize them by their fruits. He gave the analogy of a tree and the fruit it produces. Good trees bear good fruit, bad trees produce bad fruit. In other words, each of us are like trees. How we live according to Gods Word or not determines the kind of fruit we produce. We, either accept Gods Word and love Him with all our hearts, our minds, and strength or we reject him.
The second significant truth is how God created us: Male and Female. He assigned our sex at conception. Every cell in our body carries the genetic code of our sex. Not only do our chromosomes identify our sex, there are also hormones and reproductive organs as well. However, there are rare cases of physiological disorders that occur during fetal development which create confusion in gender identity. Evidence points to the influence of different hormone levels that determine sexual preference and condition the brain to male or female during pregnancy as well.
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What Is Gender Expression
Gender expression has to do with the way we make our internal sense of gender visible to other people. We express our gender through the way we dress and style our hair, as well as our speech and gestures.
Our sex assigned at birth stems from examination of the genitalia at the moment of birth, or through the report of an ultrasound or amniocentesis during pregnancy. My two oldest siblings and my youngest sibling were assigned male at birth. I was assigned as female.
But What If These Interpretations Are Wrong
The answer to this question will be different depending on the tradition of the person asking. For example, for some Christians, affirming or not affirming transgender and non-binary people is connected to salvation and eternity. For other Christians, the afterlife isnt their main concern, but instead their focus is determining what it means for Christians to contribute to human flourishing and to the moral integrity of the church. Whatever is at stake for the person asking, it is important to note the role of humility, grace and having a consistent standard to apply in discerning what is true of God. We read in Pauls letter to the Corinthians that until Christ returns we are bound to see truth in a way that is incomplete, a mere reflection, as in a mirror, dimly . The Bible calls its interpreters to the awareness that even if ultimate truth about any subject isnt always in our grasp, we can still remain committed to the task of trying to find it.
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Things Every Christian Must Know About The Transgender Debate
The transgender debate is becoming all-encompassing. Issues such as education, law, government, entertainment all fall in the crosshairs of the transgender debate, and our culture moves with such speed that working out how to respond seems overwhelming, if not impossible.
So here are five essential things for Christians to keep in mind as we think about and speak about transgenderism.
What Does The Bible Say About Transgender Identity
Icebreaker: In every culture, there are stereotypes of what it means to be a real man or a real woman. In the one you grew up in, what is the stereotype for manliness? For womanliness? Do you think many people live up to these stereotypes well? Why or why not?
Explain that right now you are going to quickly discuss one aspect of the LGBTQ+ community which is often overlooked the transgender community and what messages the Bible has for them.
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Transgenderism Transsexuality And Gender Identity
According to Scripture, when God created human beings, He created them male and female and blessed their marital union . Later authors of Scripture interpreted this twofold act of creation and blessing to entail moral norms such as the mutual cultivation of intimacy between husband and wife and the prohibition of sexual immorality and divorce . The prophet Moses, Jesus the Messiah, and the apostle Paul are united in common witness to the goodness of humanitys biological complementarity and the moral norms that should govern male-female sexual behavior.
Recent decades have witnessed the steady erosion of biblical moral norms governing sexual behavior. As these norms regarding, among others, nonmarital sexual intercourse, homosexual activity, marital fidelity, procreation, and divorce have given way in the broader culture to more permissive understandings, new, more fundamental challenges have emerged to the very notion of biological complementarianism itself. This transgender moment, as it has been calledin which a person can select a gender identity at variance with their biological sexrequires a biblical and theological appraisal.
How, then, should the Assemblies of God respond to transgender persons?
A Social-Scientific Analysis of Transgenderism
A Christian Response
A Practical Application of the Theology of the Body
How should the Assemblies of God respond to transgender persons?
All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version of the Bible.
What The Scriptures Teach About Determining Gender
As an initial matter, he hypothesis that gender identity is an innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sexthat a person might be a man trapped in a womans body or a woman trapped in a mans bodyis not supported by scientific evidence.15 However, in light of recent efforts to define gender as a psychological construct, that is, the consequence of what one thinks or feels, one must consider the way gender is depicted in Scripture it is consistently presented as a consequence of nature. God created Adam as a male, and He created Eve as a female . They were physically complementary beings capable of producing offspring together , and their offspring were distinctly male or female as they were . On the one hand, males had an anatomical design that included the ability to produce seed while impregnating females . On the other, females had an anatomical design consistent with bearing and nursing children . So, then, since the beginning, each human being has been fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God as either a male or a female .16
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What Christians Can Do Today: Four Suggestions
First, we should recognize that we are witnessing moralanarchy, as Western nations abandon all semblance of biblicalauthority. There is nothing more essential to our livesthan our manhood or womanhood. Our culture is embracingtransgender identity and is thus uprooting the very structureof our bodily existence. To reject this reality is to embracechaos. Untold numbers of boys and girls will be harmed bydoing so. Most significantly, God is not honored or obeyed.
The rates of suicide among transgender people show thebrokenness this choice causes. Paul McHugh, former JohnsHopkins University psychiatrist in chief, has noted in theWall Street Journal that the suicide rate among transgenderindividuals is 20 times higher than in the normal population. Embracing transgender identity at the cultural leveldoes not produce happiness and wholeness. It goes hand inhand with personal confusion and disorder.
Second, we should celebrate the beauty of Gods creativedesign. The Christianchurch and the godly family shouldbe a festival of happiness. We should rejoice that God inHis sovereign wisdom has opened our eyes to see that Hehas made us according to His perfect design. Manhood andwomanhood arent Plan B. God Himself has made us as weare. We are the pinnacle of His creation.
A visceral response to sin must neverquiet our instinct to show mercy to lost people.
Scripture Doesnt Say Much About Transgender Identities
Caitlyn Jenner, recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, is seen on a TV set in the press room during the 2015 ESPYs award show at Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, California on July 15, 2015. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports, courtesy of Reuters
In the first episode of E! Networks I Am Cait, Caitlyn Jenners mom, Esther, asked about the Bibles stance on transgender identities, wanting to know whether her daughters identity goes against Scripture.
Neither Caitlyn nor the gender specialist therapist present had an on-screen answer for Esthers inquiry. And most people dont have answers readily available when it comes to trans identities and Scripture.
Really, it is not all that complicated. There are only six verses used when discussing same-sex relationships. With transgender identities, the only verse that could be interpreted in addressing transgender people is Deuteronomy 22:5.
The verse says, A woman must not wear mens clothing, nor a man wear womens clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.
Anyone who reads Deuteronomy 22:5 and thinks it addresses transgender identities doesnt have a firm grasp on transgender identities. If anything, this verse more accurately responds to cross dressing not gender identity.
Being trans isnt dressing in certain clothing, its experiencing your body as a different gender than the one you were assigned at birth.
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Where In The Bible Does It Say You Cant Be Transgender Nowhere
Everywhere you look, Christians seem to be taking a stand against transgender people.
A funeral director in Michigan recently won a court fight by claiming his Christian beliefs would not allow him to employ a transgender person. When Target said it would allow its customers to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity, protesters shouted and walked through some of the retailers stores holding up Bibles. When parents published a Washington Post essay about their happy transgender 5-year-old recently, a reader wrote, As a Christian this deeply disturbs me!
There is not a single verse in scripture that discusses transgender identities. Yet these Christians have decided that trans identities are sinful, mostly through their lack of understanding of what being trans means.
Lets look at that Michigan funeral home case as an example. According to the federal judges decision, the funeral director believed the Bible teaches that it is wrong for a biological male to deny his sex by dressing as a woman. The transgender womans gender identity created a substantial burden on the funeral director practicing his own religion.
When the funeral director says his beliefs come from the Bible, he seems to be referring to Deuteronomy 22:5, which says, A woman must not wear mens clothing, nor a man wear womens clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.
A Brief Introduction To Sex Change Operations
A percentage of transgender individuals, including some youths, undergo sex change operations, or gender reassignment surgeries, each year.7 Generally, before undergoing surgery to alter the genitalia and other body parts, people must be diagnosed with gender identity disorder, procure a letter of recommendation from a therapist, begin hormone therapy, and live publicly as a member of the opposite sex for up to one year.8 Women desiring to live as men often have mastectomies and hysterectomies. Men transitioning to live as women can have procedures to alter the appearance of their eyes, noses, chins, and Adams apples, and to remove their male sexual parts. The full panoply of surgical procedures can cost well over $100,000.9
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A Brief Introduction To Transgenderism
In April 2015, Bruce Jenner, the gold medal mens decathlon winner at the 1976 Montreal Olympic games, participated in a nationally televised interview with ABC News Diane Sawyer in which he explained that he had struggled with his gender identity since childhood. In his words, My brain is much more female than it is male. Its hard for people to understand that, but thats what my soul is. That female side is part of me. Thats who I am.1 A few months later, in July 2015, Jenner appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine dressed as a woman and announcing that he had changed his name to Caitlyn.2 In the same month, he received ESPNs prestigious Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, largely because of his very public transition from Bruce to Caitlyn.3 In December 2015, he was featured once again, this time in an extensive article in TIMEMagazine.4
What The Scriptures Teach About Transvestism
Following diagnosis that a person has a gender identity disorder, i.e., that he or she identifies psychologically with the opposite gender, a transgender person desiring to undergo a sex change operation typically has to live publically as a member of the opposite sex. This would include efforts like cross-dressing or transvestism, i.e., dressing in a manner traditionally associated with the opposite sex. While public sentiment regarding such behavior has changed rapidly in recent years, the second edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders classified transvestism as a sexual deviation,17 and it used to be commonly understood to be a psychological disorder that required intervention.18
The sexual deviation designation concurred with Gods Word. For example, 1 Corinthians 11:13-14 teaches that the natural differences in gender in a culture ought to be maintained. Also, in Deuteronomy 22:5, the Bible says: A woman shall not wear a mans garment, nor shall a man put on a womans cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God. The Hebrew word translated abomination refers to something disgusting and repugnant, whether ritually or ethically.19 These verses clearly preclude a woman from changing her appearance to look like a man or a man from altering his appearance to present himself as a woman, and they describe Jehovahs feelings about men and women wearing clothing properly associated with the opposite gender.
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God Made Me Transgender And God Does Not Make Mistakes
It is always a tragedy when anybody takes their own life, doubly so when they are so young. This week Leelah Alcorn took her own life. In her note, she mentioned various reasons for her course of actions, from not thinking she would be able to pass as female to the lack of acceptance from her family. In her suicide letter, she stated that she had come out to her mother, and her moms response was that God doesnt make mistakes.
God doesnt make mistakes.
Out of the whole situation, which leaves a lot to digest, this one statement has been rattling around my brain ever since the public outcry to end reparative therapy began. This statement is at the core of why so many right winged, conservative Christians are at odds with the transgender community.
There is a view amongst some Christians that being transgender is an affront to Gods design and an outward sign of rebellion. The purported argument goes if you were born male that is the way God intended you to be. Since God doesnt make mistakes, living as anything other than male is an abomination worthy of scorn, admonition, isolation, or worse.
God doesnt make mistakes.
It is thinking like this that makes transgender people an outcast class of citizens.
It is thinking like this that makes it okay to minimalize a transgender person and to make them the subject of ridicule and attack. The notion that transgender people are somehow defective leads to bigotry, discrimination and other forms of nastiness.