CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Transgenderism and Scripture

Feb 26, 2018

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.

Conclusion

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.

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7 Responses to Transgenderism and Scripture

  • Bill,

    Biological sex is based on the binary genders of female and male, and there is no other gender such as zz (other biological sex chromosomes). People are either xx (female) chromosomes or xy (male) chromosomes. There are a very small percentage of people who are born with ambiguous genitalia, and according to the Britannica.com online, “In humans, conditions that involve discrepancies between external genitalia and internal reproductive organs are described by the term intersex. Intersex conditions are sometimes also referred to as disorders of sexual development (DSDs). Such conditions are extremely rare in humans.” The Britannica highlights that DSD is such as rare condition that I have only witnessed one patient in 25 years with this condition. Also, the Britiannica.com online highlighted, “Affected individuals have sex chromosomes showing male-female mosaicism (where one individual possesses both the male XY and female XX chromosome pairs). Most often, but not always, the chromosome complement is 46,XX, and in every such individual there also exists evidence of Y chromosomal material on one of the autosomes (any of the 22 pairs of chromosomes other than the sex chromosomes).” Please notice that there are only male and female paired chromosomes as there is no other zz chromosomes as a “other” biological sex.

    XYY syndrome is a genetic condition that occurs when a male has an extra copy of the Y chromosome in each of their cells (XYY). Sometimes, this mutation is only present in some cells. Males with XYY syndrome have 47 chromosomes because of the extra Y chromosome.Oct 27, 2016
    XYY Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, and More – Healthline
    www.healthline.com/health/xyy-syndrome

    Is XXY a male or female?
    Klinefelter syndrome males inherit one or more extra X chromosomes–their genotype is XXY or more rarely XXXY or XY/XXY mosaic. In severe cases, they have relatively high-pitched voices, asexual to feminine body contours as well as breast enlargement, and comparatively little facial and body hair.

    Gender theories have created the subjective idea that the words “male,” “female,” and “other” are gender identities which can be separated from the biological sex of male (xy) or female (xx) chromosomes. Gender identity is based on a person’s self-determination of masculinity and femininity or other (neither masculinity or femininity), but genuine Christians can reject the gender theories for themselves and their family. The idea that gender identity doesn’t harm anyone is false as there are people who can’t verbalise a gender such as an unconscious patient. A non-verbal person such as a baby and unconscious patient are being denied their basic human right to their biological sex (male or female) which can be measured and tested all over the world based on factual science. Medical doctors and registered nurses have recorded patient’s biological sex in patient’s medical and nursing records for centuries as objective truth. If this isn’t the truth, then millions of healthcare professionals can be charged with perjury in court for falsifying a legal record. There is no professional indemnity insurance available anywhere in Australia for healthcare professionals to falsify any legal certificate, document nor record.

  • Some people claim that the cross dressing rule was simply a law of Moses and therefor we can ignore it and sight the scriptures regarding unclean and clean foods or the mixing of garment materials, not noticing that God originally made everything as food for people and that there were specific reasons why God has ordained that the otherwise insignificant group of people known as Jews should be maintained as a separate entity until the fulfillment of scripture:-

    Gen 1:29 And God said, Behold! I have given you every herb seeding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree seeding seed; to you it shall be for food.
    Gen 1:30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the heavens, and to every creeper on the earth which has in it a living soul every green plant is for food; and it was so.

    Deu 14:1 You are the sons of Jehovah your God. You shall not cut yourselves nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.
    Deu 14:2 For you are a holy people to Jehovah your God, and Jehovah has chosen you to be a peculiar people to Himself, above all the nations that are on the earth.
    (MKJV)

    When God told Peter not to call things unclean that He had made clean (Acts 10) He was telling us that the barriers that had separated the gentiles from salvation had been removed. We were, in fact, returned to the way that things were from the beginning, to the sort of eternal laws that Abraham would have followed, but with sexuality this was never simply a Mosaic law as Jesus plainly says:-

    Mar 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
    Mar 10:7 For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife.
    Mar 10:8 And the two of them shall be one flesh. So then they are no longer two, but one flesh.
    Mar 10:9 Therefore what God has joined together, let not man put apart.
    (MKJV)

    Very obviously God has made man and woman to be put together and artificial hormone treatments and surgery that interfere with this are just another example of people keeping apart what God has put together. Not understanding that there are eternal laws that were there from the beginning and separate, specific laws for Jews to administer their country, keep themselves separate, manage temple worship etc. and these were designed specifically as a metaphor for what was to come in heaven, not as eternal laws as the original commands from God’s mouth are, is a huge problem and really is very basic theology.

    The fact is, however, that you don’t even need theology to know that what is being done is wrong. We have laws against genital mutilation and yet when someone has a psychological problem we have a plethora of pseudo-psychologists, unethical surgeons and drug companies willing to exploit these people’s problems, usually at the public’s expense. At the same time as we have feminists and left wing humanists telling us that there is no difference between the sexes and sex is just a social construct we have these unethical people willing to mutilate someone because the differences between the sexes are apparently so extreme and all this is being done while we have ample evidence that people are not born as homosexuals nor with the wrong sex but these things actually do have sociological causes.

  • Thanks Bill. To my great disappointment, I didn’t see the Catholic Bishops come out with any great enthuisiasm to defend the biblical position on homosexuality so I won’t be expecting too much from them on the transgender issue. The Good Lord must be sick to his stomach with the hypocrisy of most of them. I know I am.

  • Dear Bill. My open letter to Bishop McKenna for your consideration.

    An open letter to Bishop Michael McKenna

    I reproduce paragraph 2357 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), as you appear to be unfamiliar with it. Your recent effort at pastoral education in relation to same-sex marriage has gone down among educated Catholics as a betrayal, assuming, that CCC 2357 still applies.

    CCC 2357. Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction towards persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
    So, Sacred Scripture presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity and Tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”: contrary to the natural law, and under no circumstances can they be approved.

    In relation to the authority of Sacred Scripture, CCC 2357 refers to the following Scripture passages. Gen 19:1-29; Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10: 1 Tim:10. There are many other relevant passages in both Testaments.

    We didn’t hear any of this from you during the same-sex marriage debate. I would think you had a duty to bring CCC 2357 to the notice of the Catholic faithful of the Bathurst diocese. I am wondering why you didn’t.

    I suspect there are homosexual bishops, womanizing bishops, and bishops who are in the grip of the grape or some other vice; but all of these are still able to do their job; if to a limited extent. I don’t’ know if you qualify for any of the above but I did see you over-indulge in alcohol at Shalom one evening. You became very loud.

    Your disregard for the authority of Sacred Scripture and Tradition puts you at odds with the Catholic Church.

    Your failure to teach the truth puts you at odds with your position as bishop.

    As you are aware, you have people in positions of authority and influence in your organization who publicly support the homosexual way. What happened to the directive in CCC 2357 that: ‘Under no circumstances can [homosexual acts] be approved.”

    It makes no difference to me personally what the Federal Government chooses to call a marriage. I voted against it on biblical grounds, but it doesn’t apply to me and I don’t judge individuals who are of a homosexual persuasion. Same-sex marriage is a fact in this country. This letter is not about that.

    This letter is about you, dear bishop, claiming some sort of divine right to have your hand deep in the Catholic money box, yet doing absolutely nothing to justify that or your position as bishop.
    If CCC 2357 is no longer applicable, then why not say so; if it still applies, then why not teach it? Your reply will be sent to my mailout.

    BrendenT Walters

  • Bill,
    Thanks for this article, and thanks to J Sheryl Adam, Michael Weeks and B.T. Walters for their insightful and informative comments.
    Being a boy or a girl is a fact, not a feeling. Your biological sex of male (XY chromosomes) or female (XX) is determined at the moment of conception, and is literally written all over you, in each of the 30 trillion cells of your body. Your biological sex cannot be changed by surgically destroying healthy body parts pertaining to your sex.

    If doctors become legally required to acknowledge the patient’s self-identified sex or gender, contrary to biological fact, they’ll no longer be able to diagnose or treat diseases, because this will likewise depend on the patient’s self-identification. If people can self-identify their sex contrary to fact, they can likewise self-identify their age, eye/hair/skin colour, height, weight, occupation, income, bank balance, home ownership, and citizenship, to name a few.

    Australian marriage law has recently changed to allow two men, as consenting adults, to legally pretend they are husband and wife together, bringing cultural, legal, moral, and educational pressure on all citizens to acknowledge this biologically impossibility as equal to a natural marriage . If any “two people” can be husband and wife, the same subjective “equality” applies to all other relationships. If the Australian government ignores the objective reality of the binary male and female biological sexes, they will ignore the biological reality of the relationships that result from the natural union of the two sexes.

    Arthur Daley often called Terry, his minder, “Terrence, my son”. As consenting adults, they could take term of endearment literally, and make society do the same. For example, in 1813, King Carl XIII of Sweden adopted one of Napoleon’s generals, Jean-Baptiste Jules Bernadotte, as his son and heir, who duly succeeded his “father” five years later, as King Carl XIV.

    If a “transgender” man can identify as a woman, then two men, as consenting adults, can legally become Mother and Son.

  • There is no joy in the homosexual lifestyle except causing the righteous to stumble. As it is written: (Proverbs 4:16 KJV) For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.

  • Great article! Thanks.

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