CultureWatch

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

Transgenderism and Scripture Twisting

Mar 2, 2018

The homosexual activists have long sought to rewrite the Bible in order to make their lifestyle appear to be scripturally acceptable. They have failed big time in this, but the latest case of sexual and social militancy, transgenderism, is seeking to do the very same thing. Indeed, the transgender agenda flows out of and is based on the homosexual agenda.

So there is plenty of overlap between the two. Thus most of the same lame theological revisionism that we find being offered by the homosexual lobby is now being offered by the transgender lobby. One biblical text they have both appealed to – and massacred – is Galatians 3:28.

The passage says this: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. Just as homosexual activists twisted that verse to suit their aims, so too we now have the trans activists doing the same.

They try to argue that there is no such thing as male and female, that it is all just a social construct, and that this verse somehow demonstrates all that! Talk about eisegesis instead of exegesis. There is of course nothing whatsoever in this passage to push for androgyny, plastic sexuality, and the trans agenda.

It is clear that this is about the oneness of all people who come to Christ. The context makes this perfectly clear. Paul in Gal. 3 is speaking about how salvation comes about by faith and not by works of the law, and that Gentiles can also partake in this, not just Jews.

As he says in verse 14: “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” As John Piper and Wayne Grudem write,

The context of Galatians 3:28 makes abundantly clear the sense in which men and women are equal in Christ: they are equally justified by faith (v. 24), equally free from the bondage of legalism (v. 25), equally children of God (v. 26), equally clothed with Christ (v. 27), equally possessed by Christ (v. 29), and equally heirs to the promises of Abraham (v. 29).

This verse is NOT talking about human beings somehow losing their genitalia and becoming like sexless amoebas. As Ajith Fernando said while commenting on Deuteronomy 22:5, 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.”

The original creation order of human beings made in the image of God as male and female stands, despite what the activists and the revisionists want to tell you. While gender dimorphism is decried by the militants as some new grievous evil and hate crime, it is simply the way we have been made by our Creator.

Miroslav Volf once put it this way:

Paul’s claim that in Christ there is ‘no longer male and female’ entails no eschatological denial of gender dimorphism. What has been erased in Christ is not the sexed body, but some important culturally coded norms attached to sexed bodies … The oneness in Christ is a community of people with sexed bodies and distinct gender identities, not some abstract unity of pure spirits or de-gendered persons.

Since the trans activists make similar claims to those of the homosexual activists, let me quote a bit from my 2014 book Strained Relations where I looked more closely at the twisting of Gal. 3:28 (pp. 191-194):

It is clear that Paul here says nothing about sexual lifestyles. He could have if he so chose, but he did not. As Paul Copan remarks, “Scripture clearly affirms the equality of all individuals – blacks, women, slaves – because they are God’s image-bearers. The same doesn’t hold true for sexual relationships.”

William Webb has written an entire volume on the issue of slaves, women and homosexuals [Slaves, Women and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis. IVP, 2001]. He carefully demonstrates how biblical texts concerning the first two groups “move in a less restrictive or freeing direction relative to their original culture. . . . On the other hand, homosexual texts move in a conservative or restrictive direction relative to the original culture.”

As to the Galatians passage, an examination of it shows that it “has nothing to do with the breaking down of social stigma concerning homosexuals, on either an exegetical level or in terms of extrapolated implications for subsequent generations.”

Indeed, Webb says that modern additions to Paul’s threefold list would include such things as: “In Christ there is neither:
-rich nor poor
-blue collar nor white collar
-black nor white
-baby boomer nor generation Xer
-single nor married.”

But if we followed the thinking of the theological revisionists and add “neither gay nor straight” to Paul’s original list, then we would also have to extend our list today this way: “In Christ there is neither:
-erotic lover of animals nor erotic lover of humans
-adulterer nor faithfully married
-sexually active single nor waiting virgin
-incestuous person nor nonincestuous person.”

Quite right. The revisionists are simply mixing apples and oranges here, and they have absolutely no biblical or theological warrant for doing so.

In sum, we need to celebrate our humanness as God made it, and not denigrate it or seek to redefine it or recreate it. Yes, in a fallen world, there are plenty of anomalies. Some people are born with six fingers or even no fingers. But no intelligent person would celebrate that and seek to make it normative.

In the same way there are various sexuality-related aberrations because of the Fall. For example, there are some genuine cases of the intersex condition in which the normal sexual development of male and female goes awry. As I put it in my review of the new book on transgenderism by Ryan Anderson:

So there are a very small percentage of people born with ambiguous genitalia, the incomplete development of reproductive organs, and the like. But these are quite rare, and really have nothing to do with the whole trans movement. People with disorders of sexual development (DSDs), says Anderson, do not constitute a “third sex”. Moreover, “most people with a DSD do not identify as transgender, and most people who do identify as transgender do not have a DSD.” There are various causes and treatments of DSDs, but none of it really has to do with transgenderism.
billmuehlenberg.com/2018/02/21/review-harry-became-sally-ryan-anderson/

Christians of all people must reject the radical gender bender agenda of the trans activists. We must promote, defend and celebrate the way God made us to be, as male and female. As Daniel Heimbach rightly states, “Scripture cannot be shaped to accommodate the goals and assumptions of plastic sexuality, and teaching based on the influence of plastic sexuality in our culture has no place in the life of the church.”

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4 Responses to Transgenderism and Scripture Twisting

  • “They try to argue that there is no such thing as male and female, that it is all just a social construct, and that this verse somehow demonstrates all that!”
    For a group who despises any biblical reference, they are now theologians – preaching from a “book” they don’t believe in !!
    At least they are aware of it – that’s a good start !

  • Thank you for this most well written and researched article.

  • Bill. one of my old Seminary teachers, the Reverend Dr. Ian Grimmitt would often say to the students “A text taken out of context is a pretext” and not worthy of consideration. Such is the case for those who take Galatians 3:28 and twist/misinterpret it to achieve their own goal. These so called theologians obviously have no education in Textual and Discourse Analysis.
    Simply put, Just as a judge must not treat a person differently because of colour, ethnicity or gender, but judge all equally according to the case so Jesus accepts all equally in their colour, gender and ethnic diversity. Just as Centrelink gives to all in need of support, regardless of those aforementioned categories, so Jesus gives to all whoo seek him (in their diversity).
    Paul does not deny or sek to do away with those distinctions of race, colour or gender. In fact. Paul claimed both his Jewish and Roman heritage and elsewhere made distinctions between the genders. These people who call them selves revisionist theologians are really an uneducated bunch of leftists and LGBTQI. (QI instead of IQ intentional as I don’t believe they have an IQ).

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