God, Gender, and Godlessness

What does the Bible have to say about gender identity?

Gender identity is a part of the creation order and lends itself to a strong creation theology which arises from Genesis 1–2. The further we depart from God’s creation design, the worse things will go for us. Man cannot shake his fist in the face of God with impunity… We live in a God-designed and God-created world under God-appointed laws. Rejecting the divine order can only lead to our peril.

 

Gender Identity is the latest rage among postmodernists. Especially since the June 2015 transformation of Bruce Jenner from a male to the female Caitlyn Jenner, transgender discussions have exploded on the scene. And many Christian leaders and laymen have gotten on the politically-correct bandwagon. But what does the Bible have to say about this phenomenon? Much, in every way.

The Creation Expectation

In Genesis 1:27 we read: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” This statement most clearly presents God’s creation design for the human race. He established gender as a binary distinction within mankind. He established them as two distinct kinds.

The word “gender” is derived from the Latin genus, which means “kind, type.” Thus, God established two kinds of people: male and female. And then he declared this (and all else that came from his creative activity): “very good” (Gen. 1:31).

This truth is re-iterated later in summarizing man’s creation. Moses introduces the first genealogy in Scripture, which traces Adam’s multiplying in the earth (per God’s command, Gen 1:28). And there we once again hear his declaration: “He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created” (Gen . 5:2). Then follows the genealogy of the early human race from Adam to Noah.

We must recognize that this genealogical development is essential to redemption. For this genealogy begins unfolding throughout the Old Testament, reaching into the New, leading to the birth of Jesus. His birth would have been impossible on either a homosexual or transgender principle, for birth requires opposite genders. The whole story of redemption requires a seed, and in the God-created order, seed requires gender distinctions.

Jesus himself confirms this original creation order when he declares: “from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6).

Gender identity is a part of the creation order and lends itself to a strong creation theology which arises from Genesis 1–2. The further we depart from God’s creation design, the worse things will go for us. Man cannot shake his fist in the face of God with impunity. In this regard we should remember God’s rebuke of Job. God issues a thundering challenge to his stumbling servant: “Then the LORD said to Job, ‘Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who reproves God answer it’” (Job 40:1–2).

We live in a God-designed and God-created world under God-appointed laws. Rejecting the divine order can only lead to our peril.

Our Current Predicament

Sin complicates matters; life is not simple with sin present. Sin disrupts all of life’s activities, causing broken marriages, crime, war, and more. And today sin is even complicating the most basic identity of man as male and female.

Until fairly recently, all agreed there were two genders. And if you check any obstetrics ward you will find two genders represented there. But sin elevates the subjective over the objective, desire over reality. And the Bible calls this elevation: lust.

Genesis 1 speaks of two objective, actual, God-ordained genders. But recent, avant-garde psychology does not. We are now hearing that gender identity is a subjective experience. The American Psychological Association defines the matter thus: “Gender identity is a person’s private sense and subjective experience of their own gender. Gender identity refers to a person’s internal sense of being male, female or something else.” It continues by noting that gender “expression refers to the way a person communicates gender identity to others through behavior, clothing, hairstyles, voice or body characteristics.”

In 1984 Dr. N. W. Fisk was the first professional to diagnose “Gender Dysphoria.” The word “dysphoria” is based on two Greek words: dus (“difficult”) and pherein (“to bear). “Gender dysphoria” is one’s unhappiness, unease, or dissatisfaction with his or her biological sex, which makes one’s personal life “difficult to bear.”

Previous to our times, one’s sexual identity and role was understood to be one of two particular, non-overlapping characteristics: male or female. But today, the increasing rejection of God and morality has encouraged sin’s integration downward into the void. As sin “gets its act together,” it moves more rapidly into destruction. Tragically, many today are arguing for multiple genders, and unlimited blended continuum.

This recent approach to gender is not simply a bizarre annoyance. It cannot be written off as a sad situation. It is impacting society, especially in education and law — with enormous cultural consequences. As our nation moves further and more rapidly away from God, things will trend more quickly from bad to worse.

We see gender corruption in education. Our northern neighbor Canada has progressed further down this path than we have. The British Columbia Teachers Federation’s Handbook on Gender Education, notes that “Gender is a product of the mind…. Being transgender or gender-non-conforming is normal and healthy.” It warns of “outdated and oppressive views of gender-continuity that circulate in our everyday understanding of what it means to be human.”

And how does this Handbook recommend guarding against oppressive (God-ordained) views? It recommends “access to safe restroom and locker room facilities that correspond to one’s gender identity.”

But American liberal educational theorists are not to be outdone. Redwood Heights Elementary School in Oakland, California, has appointed “gender coaches” to teach young children that “you can be a boy or a girl, or both.” In fact, the United States National Education Association president recently stated at a national convention: “comprehensive sex education is the only way to combat heterosexism and gender conformity. We must make these issues a part of every middle and high school student’s agenda. Gender identity express and sexual orientation is a spectrum. And those opposed to homosexuality are stuck in a binary box that religion and family create.”

We see gender corruption in law. A January 2014 California law “guarantees students in K-12 the right to use the school restrooms and to participate in the sex-segregated activities that correspond with their expressed genders instead of their school records.”

Such laws exist in Massachusetts and Connecticut. And they even go further. According to the February 25, 2014 Huffington Post: “Some school districts take the law as a mandate to evaluate sleeping arrangements for overnight field trips and activities such as choirs and recreational sports where girls and boys are often separated.”

A slightly earlier Huffington Post article (January 31, 2014) stated: “School officials violated state anti-discrimination law when they would not allow a transgender fifth-grader to use the girls’ bathroom, according to a ruling by the highest court in Maine.”

In Maryland a similar 2014 law was rightly complained against. According MSNBC: House Minority whip Kathy Szeliga stated: “We should be very concerned about the safety of women and little girls, because what this allows is that possible predators and pedophiles can go in our women’s restrooms.”

We hear much today about school bullies. And bullying is a sad situation. But how is the law responding to this social problem? What are they recommending? And who is pushing anti-bullying laws?

A June 4, 2011, WND article noted that “The anti-bullying bills being passed in haste across the country force a range of draconian fixes on public schools. The main force (and funding) behind this national push has been the homosexual and transgender movements.”

A CBN News release on May 24, 2012, reported that Illinois state senator Kyle McCarter helped stop a bill in 2012. McCarter warned that “there are anti-bullying programs that have an agenda: to only protect one class of individuals. Some of these programs are very good. They indeed encourage kids not to bully. But there are program throughout the United States, used in some high schools and universities, that really have just a pro-homosexual agenda, and nothing but that.”

The Divine Prohibition

For Christians the most important observations on trans-gender issues, though, come from God’s Word itself. Scripture speaks expressly against transgender behavior. It presents it as a sin that cries out for release through redemption and counseling.

Transgenderism is prohibited by creation design. As already noted, transgender conduct is contrary to the God-ordained order from the very beginning of creation. Genesis 1:27 states: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

Transgenderism is prohibited by God’s Law. Divine laws established against homosexual conduct naturally include transgender activities. Leviticus 18:22 is clear: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”

And this law continues in the New Testament where we read Paul’s statement regarding the gospel and sound doctrine: “We know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully,  realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted” (1 Timothy 1:8–11).   

Transgenderism is prohibited by biblical morality. In Deuteronomy 22:5 Moses states: “A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.” This is not a fashion statement. It does not condemn women wearing jeans. This is a moral statement. It prohibits pass one oneself off as the opposite gender.

We see this moral requirement reappearing in the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians 11:14–15 Paul state: “Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.” By “nature” here, Paul means social mores, cultural expectations. This is obviously the case in that nature does allow male and female hair to grow long.

Paul is pressing the moral values of Deuteronomy 22:5 regarding social conduct and decorum. Long hair conveyed sexual ambiguity and moral perversion. In antiquity it was worn by male transgenders and homosexual prostitutes. For instance, Epictetus (d. 135) commented: “Are you a man or woman? We ought not to confuse the sexes which have been distinguished in this fashion.” The first-century Jewish philosopher Philo warned of “the disease of effemination” (Special Laws 3:7:37–38).

Transgenderism is prohibited by divine warning. In 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 Paul states: “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, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” The word “effiminate” is a translation of the Greek word malakoi which means “soft men.” That is, men desiring femininity.

The Biblical Counsel

How shall Christians argue the biblical case against transgenderism? How can we counsel transgenders and homosexuals who claim to be Christian — even while they freely engage in this conduct?

Point them to the teaching of the Bible. The Bible is clear. And the true Christian will accept it as God’s Word. We should not let them waffle with a “Yes, but….” This of course will require that Christians know their Bibles.

Warn them not to claim they were “born that way.” Modern though claims most reprehensible sins are genetically-determined. Medical scientists today are beginning to declare that pedophiles are born that way. Shall pedophilia be tolerated on this basis? And think of violent crime. Ninety percent of violent crimes are committed by men. And this is influenced by testosterone. Shall we allow violence since men are “born that way”?

Urge them to live by the Bible. In all of life. Remind them that John warns: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” Jesus present God’s Word as a sanctifying influence. In John 17:17 he prays: “sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”

Life can be difficult, to be sure. Paul struggled with covetousness. But he did struggle against it; he did not give in and pursue his covetous desires (Rom. 7:21–25).

Promise them hope in true redemption. Paul pointed out the power of the gospel to claim homosexuals and transgenders. To the Corinthians he wrote: “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…. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9, 11).

America needs a true Christian revival. The church needs a fundamental Reformation. Let’s pray God grants both.

Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. is a minister in the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Assembly and pastor of Living Hope Presbyterian Church in Greer, S. C.