The growing support for transsexualism in the culture, plus the growing number of voices within the Church calling for us to not only to show respect and compassion to transsexuals (a very sound idea) but approval as well (an unsound option) has prodded me to post, in a five-part series, an article I wrote on the subject six years ago for the Christian Research Journal. (You can find the entire article it in its original form here)
In yesterday’s post I discussed my conversation with Kim – not her real name – who came to me because although she was female, she’d lived most of her life as a man and was in a longstanding relationship with a woman. She had recently come to Christ at a Harvest Crusade, and now she wondered if God might be calling her to begin living again as a woman. For her, the decision was agonizing. If she lived as a man she would be living contrary to how God had created her; if she lived as a woman, she’d be living contrary to all her natural feelings.
She and I discussed the Inborn Argument, and I noted that even if her gender identity problem was something she was born with, that alone could not legitimize it. (See yesterday’s post here )
Today let’s look at what she and I had to say about the Irrelevance Argument – the notion that God really doesn’t care which gender we live as.
My thanks to Kim for giving me permission to write about our conversation.
The Irrelevance Argument
“You talk about sex reassignment as though God’s against it, but does it really matter to Him what sex we are?” Kim pointed to the Bible on my desk. “I’ve read in the New Testament that in Christ, we’re neither male nor female. If that’s true, then God’s not even looking at my gender!” I reached for the Bible and nodded. “You’re quoting from Galatians 3:28. Let me read it. ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’”
“Seems pretty clear to me,” Kim declared.
“But remember the context,” I argued. “Paul’s talking about justification, and he begins the paragraph by saying ‘For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus’ (Gal. 3: 26). He means whatever our race, sex, or status, we’re all one in Christ. But he didn’t say race and sex have disappeared; he simply said they don’t affect our standing before God.”
Kim shook her head. “I don’t know about that. I think God cares more about my character than my sex. I’m a decent person, I’m not hurting anyone, and I’m living a responsible life, so I can’t see God caring about something as irrelevant as my
Beyond Skin Deep
The irrelevance argument borrows from the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, famous speech in which he envisioned a world where children are judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Stretching the point further than King probably intended, some argue that, since the importance of one’s sex pales in comparison to one’s character, sex is a trait one can change at will. The assigned sex of male or female is thereby relegated to a secondary, optional status, alongside hair color or body weight, both of which can be changed at our discretion, and neither of which is primary to God.
At first glance the argument’s attractive, because who could argue against the idea that a person’s character matters more than their sex? But “not as important as” doesn’t mean “not important at all” and, in fact, what God assigned He thereby designed as well.
Saying our male or female identity is irrelevant requires a dualism of body versus soul, rather than a recognition of the value of body, soul, and spirit described in scripture. The first assignments of sex in history were divinely commanded and commended. In Genesis 1:27, when humanity is created in God’s image, and defined by sex (“…in the image of God He created them male and female.”). Further, God applauds His handiwork when He pronounces it “very good” (Gen. 1:29). The male/female complement is thereby God ordained, expressive of both human need and divine nature. That alone tells us that our biological sex is hardly secondary.
Our sex also is designated individually and specifically with God’s foreknowledge. Examples abound of instances when God or His messengers foretold the sex of a forthcoming child (Gen. 18:10; Judg. 13: 3; Luke 1:31), and His foreordination in shaping individual traits, gender included, is confirmed to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you (Jeremiah 1: 5),” and by David, “For you formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139: 13–14).”
Contrary blogger Rachel Held Evan’s recent statements that we should celebrate different gender identities regardless of the sex one was born with, our assigned sex is no accident, nor is it irrelevant. It is a critical distinctive, endowed on each of us with God’s full knowledge and by His plan, since our bodies are in part ourselves, and we, in our entirety of body, soul and spirit, are foreknown
Perhaps the broader and greater error of transsexual advocates is a denigration of the body as being subject to the drives of its owner. In this sense, transsexualism hearkens to the ancient heresy of Gnosticism, which dates back to the first century and was so despised by John in his epistles and still, under different names and guises, plagues us today.
Gnostic belief dictates that humanity’s imperfection is the fault of an imperfect creator, referred to as the demiurge, who was himself an inferior emanation of God crudely comparable to the Devil. The body, to the Gnostic, is but one of the demiurge’s many flawed creations, and its inhabitants the “divine souls trapped in a material world created by an imperfect spirit.”
Whereas the Bible views the body as good and preordained, Gnosticism views it as inherently bad; hence the Gnostic belief that Jesus was only a spirit who wouldn’t have inhabited an evil body, countered by John’s statement that “every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God” (I John 4: 3).
If the body is essentially evil, created by a being that got it wrong, then it is up to the individual to determine the use and purpose of the body. Gnostics, in fact, encourage reliance on intuition (what one feels) in contrast to what is physically clear, describing their practice as “the knowledge of transcendence arrived at by way of internal, intuitive means.” The created, not the creator, has the final say based on his/her sense of right and wrong, rather than an objective standard, so the “basis of action is the moral inclination of the individual.”
Consider the pro-transsexual therapist on the Barbara Walters special who described a male child as female, admitting “I can’t say biologically, chromosomally” that the boy is female, but insisting that according to the boy’s own intuitions, he is female, and that that is enough. Consider, likewise, Kim’s vehement, confident assertion, “I know I’m a man because I feel like one!” and compare it to the Gnostic belief that “the true God did not fashion anything” and “the world is flawed because it was created in a flawed manner,” leaving us, autonomously and intuitively, to decide who and what we are. Biology—what obviously is—becomes irrelevant, the “inclination of the individual” having the
“But you’re forgetting your own argument,” Kim interrupted when I pointed this out to her. “You said we’re a fallen race. So we may have inborn traits God never meant us to have, right?”
“If those traits contradict what He intended, yes.”
“So who’s to say my sex isn’t a birth defect? You said we’re born imperfect because of the sin nature. What if God intended me to be a man, but because of fallen nature – birth defect, as you say – I was born a woman? If that’s the case, shouldn’t I correct what was wrong to begin with?”
“If the thing is wrong in and of itself, I could see that,” I agreed. “So if you’re born without a leg, a prosthetic device makes sense. If you have an inborn chemical imbalance, there’s no reason you shouldn’t correct it through medication. In fact, some of the sinful tendencies I mentioned earlier, such as violence or addictive leanings, could also be classified as defects.”
“And so could my body parts.”
“Not the same thing, Kim. If something is inherently wrong, it’s a flaw. But being male or female isn’t a handicap or a sinful tendency. We can only call something a flaw if it’s defective in and of itself. God called the gender of both Adam and Eve a good thing, something He created and intended. We have to call it the same.”
In Pat Four tomorrow we’ll be looking at the concept of Created Intent and how it applies to transsexualism, along with the dilemma of people literally born with both male and female sex organs. I hope you’ll join us.
mrandrewrod | Dec 3, 2014
Very astute to link it to its Gnostic roots.