Perhaps 40 or 50 years ago I could have gotten away with writing a few articles on homosexuality from a biblical point of view. But as the militant movement spread, and its tentacles reached everywhere, including in the churches and in theology, Christians have had to write much much more.
That has certainly been true of me. I have now penned three books on the topic of homosexuality (well, two and a half, with the first one being a debate book with a homosexual activist). And as an indication of just how important this whole issue has become, I have now written 837 articles on the matter as well!
And now transgenderism is in the same place. A few years ago no one was talking about it, but now it is everywhere, and again, it is seeking to undermine biblical morality and scriptural absolutes. Thus I may end up having to write some books on this topic as well. In fact, I already have 134 articles penned on the subject of transgenderism.
Of course there is plenty of overlap with these two issues, and much of what has been said about the former can just as easily be said about the latter, since it has by and large proceeded from and is based on the homosexual ideology. But here I want to focus on one verse that is quite relevant, and tie it back to our most basic biblical passage on human sexuality.
The particular passage I will dwell on is Deuteronomy 22:5, while the basic passage is from the opening chapters of Genesis. Let me first look at this original creation account of human sexuality. Gen. 1:27 says this: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
Denny Burk in his helpful book, What Is the Meaning of Sex? puts it this way:
The creation norm described in Genesis involves biological complementarity for the purposes of procreation. Hence, God commands the couple, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28). There is no spectrum here. There is a functioning biological dichotomy between male and female that enables procreation. In other words, what God calls “good” is binary sexual complementarity. This original situation does not present us with a spectrum. Rather, it presents us with sexual dimorphism.
Telford Work in his discussion of Deut. 22:5 says this about God’s original intentions:
The social construction of gender is grounded in the divine construction of both sex and gender. Sexual differentiation is a gift bestowed at our creation (Gen. 1:27; 2:18–25). Humanity uniquely images God (1:26) in unique human relations with God, one another, oneself, and the rest of creation (1:26–4:1). Both of Genesis’s creation stories stress that gender informs the relations that constitute humanity in God’s image, and vice versa.
All of our understanding of God’s intentions for human sexuality must be seen against the backdrop of this original design for humanity. Indeed, Jesus appealed to these texts in Genesis more than once and considered them to be foundational and normative.
So whether we are debating the issue of adultery, homosexuality, or any other type of sexuality, the original intention of God must be our unmovable point of reference. That is obviously true with the trans agenda therefore. Christians must approach this topic in light of the Genesis accounts as well.
Let’s now turn to the more specific passage found in Deuteronomy. Deut. 22:5 says this: “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.” Up until recently one could easily see that transvestism was being covered here in particular, but likely as well, homosexuality in general.
Now we can certainly tie in this new sexual activity, transgenderism. Let me cite some commentators here. P. C. Craigie says in his commentary that transvestitism and associated behaviours may seem to be relatively harmless, but they are not:
“First, transvestitism tends to be associated with certain forms of homosexuality; second, in the ancient world, it is probable that transvestite practices were associated with the cults of certain deities. In either or both instances, the practice of transvestitism would be an abomination to the Lord your God.”
Or as Ajith Fernando remarks, the “point addressed here is breaking God’s order for gender distinction. Of course, we know that in Christ male and female are equal (Galatians 3:28). But equality in status does not eliminate differences in physical matters and roles.”
He goes on to remind us that we need to take some caution as to types of clothing worn today: “When it comes to clothes, norms as to what is feminine and what is masculine vary according to culture. Scottish people wear kilts, which is a pleated skirt… So we must beware of making rules about clothing without thinking of the cultural backgrounds.” He goes on to say however that we should not mistake sameness with equality, reminding us of the strong wording in this passage about eliminating or blurring gender distinctions.
In True Sexual Morality Daniel Heimbach says this: “God also absolutely prohibits trying to confuse gender identity by cross-dressing…. The ban specifically addressed cross-dressing, but the moral issue was trying to confuse gender differences and acting as if they do not really matter. But gender difference matters very much to God. He is the one who made Adam a man and Eve a woman.”
Finally, let me share some further thoughts, this time from Richard Davidson. In his very important 2007 book, Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament he notes how the cult of Ishtar had male functionaries wearing female clothing and makeup, as did some of the Canaanite fertility cults. He then writes:
The wording of the legislation goes beyond a cult setting to include any and all circumstances of men dressing like women and vice versa. The cross-dressing described in this passage is called an abomination, detestable thing…. [being] violations of the creation order….
Thus cross-dressing is morally/cultically repugnant to God not only because of its association with homosexuality and the fertility cult rituals but also – and primarily – because it mixes/blurs the basic distinction of gender duality (male and female) set forth in creation. Because of the grounding of this prohibition in the creation order, it may be concluded that the intent was for this legislation to be permanent (transtemporal) and universal (transcultural) in its application.
Gender distinctions are part of the created order. Whenever we try to violate the creational order we are rebelling against our Creator. Pretending we can simply choose what sex we are is an affront to the Lord and the way he has made us.
Other non-theological issues, such as genuine intersex cases, will have to be discussed elsewhere. And that I have done in other articles and books. But they have little or nothing to do with the bulk of the trans agenda. Let me just offer one more quote on the intersex issue, again from Denny Burk:
Does the phenomenon of intersex undermine a complementarian view of gender? No, it does not. Scripture defines what’s normative for us, not any anomaly that we find in fallen creation. The phenomenon of intersex should call forth our compassion and our love for our neighbors who carry in their persons a painful reminder of the groaning of creation. It should not call forth from us a revision of the binary ideal of Scripture. That binary ideal is the matrix from which a binary ideal of gender roles emerges as well.
As I said, just as the homosexual debate became so broad and far-reaching that entire books had to be penned to defend the biblical position on this, the same with transgenderism: to do it full justice, one has to look at the social, scientific, biological and social issues along with the biblical data.
Also, more passages than just the one from Deuteronomy would need to be examined. But this is just one in a series of articles attempting to do just that. And who knows, I may yet end up with a few books on this topic as well.