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Transgenderism or a Better Way

October 29, 2023

Scripture: Genesis 1:27

Introduction to Transgenderism

Stan: “I want to be (a woman).”
Christian: “What!?!”
Stan: “I want to be a woman. From now on, I want you all to call me Loretta.”
Christian: “What?!?”
Stan: “It’s my right as a man.”
Judith: “But why do you want to be Loretta, Stan?”
Stan: “I want to have babies.”  
Christian: “You want to have babies!!??!!”
Stan: “It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them.”
Christian: “But, you can’t have babies.”
Stan: “Don’t you oppress me!”
Christian: “I’m not oppressing you, Stan; you haven’t got a womb. Where’s the fetus gonna gestate? You gonna keep it in a box?”
Stan bows his head in grief.
Judith: “Here, I’ve got an idea: suppose you agreed that he can’t have babies—not having a womb, which is nobody’s fault—but that he can have the right
to have babies.”
SJ: “Good idea, Judith. We shall fight the oppressors for your right to have babies, brother! Err, sister; sorry.”
Christian: “What’s the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can’t have babies!?”
SJ: “It is symbolic of our struggle against oppression!”
Christian: “It’s symbolic of his struggle against reality.”

This was a Monty Python skit from 1979. Names have been modified for protection of these individuals: While it may have caused a bit of a chuckle if you have seen it before, as only Monty Python can do, it is fascinating to me how well the script writers captured the essential components of an argument that we see raging in our culture today. They were certainly ahead of their time.

It may be comical when culture is still lingering in the vestiges of a predominantly Christian culture—but another altogether when we find that we are living in a day where reality itself is being redefined as a conjuring of personal subjectivity and desire. It’s real now. Not that a woman can actually be trapped in a man’s body, but that there are many people who believe that to be true. This belief that a woman can be trapped in a man’s body is called “Transgenderism”. It’s what we’re going to talk about today.

Because of the current gravity of this topic, it’s vitally important to define our terms. We believe that God is not only the Maker and originator of all of Creation—but that he has accurately and reliably recorded and preserved his Word for the world today with what he has to say about “all things pertaining to life and godliness.” Let's start with what he says about gender. 

Right from the start—chapter 1 of the Bible: 

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Ge 1:27)

Here we see two separate individuals formed and built by God according to his specifications, with a plan in mind. A big plan! 

“Be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over all living things on the face of the earth.”

Daniel helped us see last week that there is a lot wrapped up in our understanding of mankind. What does it mean to be male and female—or man and woman. For most of history those words were interchangeable and mean the same thing. They referred to the whole being of man and woman, each having a unique and distinct biological sex or physiology from the other, and unique and specific roles, behaviors, and performance from each other.

The Bible began and maintained consistently throughout its 1500ish years of authorship that Gender is integrally linked with biology as a necessary component of being human. It shows that there are only two sexes: male and female, and they are gendered. God assigned them norms, behaviors, and roles that were distinct, but complementary to one another.

However, in recent history, actually going back a few hundred years, but more notably in the past several decades, being a “man” began to mean something different that being “male”. Today there is a movement being propagated that advocates, or rather insists, that these words mean different things. Now, “male” has only to do with “sex or physiology” and “man” has to do with only “role, performance, and behavior”. To be even more specific, when we talk about “male” we’re talking about “sex” and when we talk about “man” we’re talking about gender. 

So when we engage cultural advocates for Transgenderism, most aren’t coming from the Biblical definition. So what do they believe?

Gender According to the World Health Organization:

“Gender refers to the characteristics of women, men, girls and boys that are socially constructed.  This includes norms, behaviors and roles associated with being a woman, man, girl or boy, as well as relationships with each other.”

“Gender is hierarchical and produces inequalities that intersect with other social and economic inequalities.  Gender-based discrimination intersects with other factors of discrimination, such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, age, geographic location, gender identity and sexual orientation, among others. This is referred to as intersectionality.”

“Gender interacts with but is different from sex, which refers to the different biological and physiological characteristics of females, males and intersex persons, such as chromosomes, hormones and reproductive organs. Gender and sex are related to but different from gender identity. Gender identity refers to a person’s deeply felt, internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond to the person’s physiology or designated sex at birth.” (World Health Organization)

To summarize the World’s definition of gender, according to the WHO:

Gender refers to the characteristics of being man or woman as defined by society, but are not inherent attributes of a person's biological makeup. Gender is an oppressive component of society leading to inequity. A person’s identity is self-determined based on their personal, internally, felt or desired experience as part of the cultural construct and their biology. 

Why am I telling you what the World Health Organization defines gender? Because baked into this definition of gender, sex and gender identity are three assumptions that must be addressed if we are to understand what to do with the Transgender Movement.

  • Society determines what gender is, and it’s not connected to biological sex.
  • The social construct of Gender is used to oppress individuals.
  • The individual has the right to decide which gender they are based on their desires. 

I believe we must disagree with their definition of gender and with the secular and humanistic worldview that it promotes.

I believe that according to Scripture:

  • God determines gender, and that gender is integral with biological sex.
  • Sin is the root of all oppression, not gender or social constructs.
  • The individual may be confused or uncomfortable with their identity based on social constructs—and may act in opposition to their God-given gender, they cannot change it. 

This leads me to offer a definition for what it means to be transgender. 

“Transgender” is society's term for someone who suffers from “gender dysphoria” or is in the process of transitioning. Meaning they have taking social, legal, medical or surgical steps to better align their identity or body with their desired self. 

Gender Dysphoria is the psychological classification of someone who has:

“A strong desire to be rid of one’s primary and/or secondary sex characteristics because of a marked incongruence with one’s experienced/expressed gender.” 

Simply put, someone who identifies as transgender has a strong desire not to be associated with the “role, behaviors, or performance” expected of their biological sex.

This is a real and difficult struggle for people—more than we probably think. The reasons why people struggle with this part of themselves are complex and varied. 

  • Some people struggle with this as a result of physical or chemical imbalances in their body. 
  • Some struggle with it because of trauma in their past. And changing their identity is a way of trying to protect themselves form that trauma.
  • A lot of adolescents struggle with it during puberty because their bodies are changing and developing—and that is confusing and scary. But many studies show that 70-85% of those who struggle with this during adolescence change their minds within a couple year—basically when they come out of puberty.
  • Others still struggle with it because in our cultural moment this is what their friends are doing—or because they’ve been convinced that this is what it takes to be somebody—because they want to be different, but accepted. 
  • Regardless of “why”, all who struggle with it as a result of sin and our lostness from the good God and his good plan.

We live in a very broken world, full of people with broken souls and broken bodies. Daniel referred to this last week as living “east of Eden.” Suffering is not a sin. I have listened to so many stories over the last months of people who were affected by this. I’ve spoken with families and individuals who are struggling with this and who are deeply troubled by it. Many people have been deeply hurt; people on both sides of the issue. 

I have a tremendous amount of empathy for anyone who is struggling with this particular sin, or the circumstances that have come in your life to cause you to believe that your gender is not safe, or that you reject who God designed you to be. 

While it is not a sin to be afflicted with gender dysphoria—it is not a sin to struggle with gender dysphoria— it is sin a to pursue a “transgenderism” lifestyle. Regardless of why someone struggles with it—God speaks directly to the idea and practice of presenting oneself as the opposite gender:

“A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.”

(Dt 22:5)

In the New Testament we see reference to a natural order:

“Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him….” (1 Co 11:14)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was right to insist that those 

"who reject their bodies reject their existence before God the Creator.”

Scripture is very clear it is sin to present oneself as the opposite of what you were born as. This is what Christians should believe.

In my remaining time I want to address 4 different elements of the Transgender movement using 4 personas. We met the in the intro sketch:

  • Stan, Christian, Judith and SJ

“Stan”; we’ll call him the “oppressed”. He’s struggling against a deep desire that can’t be easily fixed, and he’s misunderstood.

“Christian” loves truth. He’s firmly planted in reality and wants others to live according to it.

“Judith”—she’s an advocate. She is sympathetic and wants to care for the oppressed by validating them. 

“SJ” is a warrior against the Oppressor. He doesn’t care much about why or who he’s fighting as long as it smells of oppression.

  1. Don’t be transitioned, be transformed
  2. Have a head for truth, but a heart for compassion
  3. Don’t be taken captive
  4. Don’t suppress the truth
  5. Set you mind on Christ

1. Don’t be transitioned, be transformed.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Ro 12:1–2)

Stan: I’m sorry that you are struggling with who God made you to be. Here is what God says about the way he formed you.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. 
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139)

A couple of quick observations:

  1. Your inward parts are knitted together by God in the womb. (This addresses people with internal complications—my father was born with a single ventricle and later died due to complications around this.)
  2. Your soul may not sympathize with the Lord if this is your circumstance—but I want to point out that you are alive. Again referencing my father—he was always told that he wouldn’t live, but he lived for almost 50 years, married, had children, lived and worked around the world and was a missionary to some of the best doctors in the most prestigious institutions in the world. Tell your soul the truth—you are a miracle!
  3. God knows everything about you—your frame is his customization. No one else had a say in your development. 
  4. Your days were formed along with your being. He knows the plans he has for you. You can rest in that.

Perhaps you have read this verse all your life and you are skeptical of it and you still ask the question—why me God! Why was I born this way? For that I can only point to a very special passage of scripture where the same question was asked.

“‘Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind. Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’” (John 9: 1-12)

Jesus made a man, in his own image, and made him imperfect according to our standards. Yet—it was so that God may display his mighty works in him.

  1. Jesus used a blind man to demonstrate that is the light-bringer. 
  2. God’s works were on display in this man—who had been blind for 40 years!
  3. How has your maker used you to be a blessing in the life of others? How could he do that? 

A sister in our congregation put it this way: Our gender is our job description. If you struggle with that then my encouragement is to take it to the one who formed you, just like the Psalmist. Look at all the examples of struggle and mental illness in the Bible. Job, many Psalmists, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, even Jesus of Nazareth—suffer such anxiety that he sweat blood. Perhaps this is the tool of your sanctification. 

What do you do with your feelings? Remember that your emotions are gauges and not guides.  John Bloom wrote a book called Don’t Follow Your Heart. The basic premise is that while human emotions are very real they aren’t accurate.  

What all definitions of transgender set as the defining reality of one’s true self is one’s emotions—again based loosely on what they think culture expects from them. They want you to trust your feelings.

Here is what Scripture says about our the seat of our emotions: 

Cursed is the man who trusts in man 
and makes flesh his strength, 
whose heart turns away from the Lord,

He is like a shrub in the desert, 
and shall not see any good come. 
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, 
in an uninhabited salt land.
The heart is deceitful above all things, 
and desperately sick; who can understand it?
— (Jer 17:5-6, 9)

Don’t trust your heart or your emotion, Stan. Renew your mind, by setting your mind on Christ and trusting his good design for you, and you will be transformed. 

2. Have a head for Truth, but a heart of Compassion.

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.”  (1 Co 16:13–14.)

Christian—I realize that you love the truth. You seek it, you study it, you build your life around it. You are careful, and it’s frustrating when you constantly bump up against people like Stan who are determined to live by feelings and emotions, or Judith, who intentionally misleads people, or SJ, who is opposed to truth and God. You have truth and are strong, but have you forgotten the mercy and love of Christ in your own life?

I also realize that personal experiences are overwhelming. It’s very different sitting in front of someone who passionately believes, with every fiber of their being that they are in-fact misgendered. Beyond that, to know that if you don’t agree with them that they may hate you and slander you and perhaps even cause you to lose your job, or your scholarship or at least your friendship.

I want you to realize that this is a more common struggle than we probably give it credit for, but the movement is not as far reaching as we may assume based on all that we see in the news.

It’s also not just “out there”. This affects people in your church body. And, I’m sure some level of varying conviction on how other Christians think you should respond to this issue. We must stand firm in Christ. Not with tolerance and niceness like Judith, or in the unrighteous anger of SJ—but in the true love of our Redeemer: who is making all things new.

What do we do when someone is convinced they are misgendered and are right in front of you fully expressing themselves with all the conviction they can muster? What can we do to actually help them?

First off, we must be humble. Don’t be self-righteous, or in any way give the tone of anger. Righteous anger was only seen from Jesus when he was rebuking the religious institutions for their betrayal of their responsibility as shepherds. He demonstrated compassion and patience towards those who were sick and dying. The “church” has done far more harm than good when it attempts to be “anti social-justice-warriors”. 

Second, remember that these are people—just like you. They have thoughts, ideas, hurts, confusion and experiences that are different from ours. That doesn’t mean that you must affirm their decision to sin , but we should be willing to show compassion to their hurt or confusion. For some reason they have discomfort or distrust of who they are—that is real and that is something we can listen to and help care for. Maybe it’s as simple as they are trying to be noticed, or valued as an individual, maybe they are reacting to a trauma in their life, or maybe they actually have a psychological or psychological condition. You can have a heart of compassion without compromising your head for truth. 

Third, turn the other cheek and love your enemies—but don’t compromise the truth. I’m not trying to set up the category of transgender people as our enemies here, but that if they treat you as an enemy, don’t react in kind. Don’t be self-righteous.

...Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.  (1 Pe 3:15–17)

3. Don’t be taken Captive

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Col 2:8)

To Judith—I can appreciate that you want to help people. You want to help the hurting and stand up against inequality and oppression. You aren’t as committed as SJ, but you also don’t care about truth like Christian. You just want people to be happy. Here’s the thing though truth means, “that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality”.  If we don’t have a fixed point for reality, we have no truth. We can’t trust anything.

You know there are these programs where you can buy a square foot of land in Scotland and officially be called a Scottish “lord” or “lady”. They have those for stars too. Apparently, you can go online and they have stars for sale and for the very reasonable price of $44.90 you can own your very own piece of the heavens. 

If you decide to claim truth like those online star programs. You’ll make someone feel good, ‘cause they get validation— like having a certificate that they own a star. That’s great and all, until they try navigating by it. They’re going to get lost. That thing’s going to drag them in circles, literally.

So, when Paul tells the church not to be taken captive, literally “taken off as plunder”, by philosophy and empty deceit that is according to human tradition or elemental spirits, and not according to Christ, he is making the claim that Christ is the only true, trustworthy reference for reality. 

 What he said about himself is that he is, “ the Way, the Truth, and the Life”. This claim is different from any other significant teacher or prophet in all history. They always point to “a way, a truth, a life” they don’t claim to be it. So naturally, it is this very claim that is attacked first. The first question ever asked in the Bible is “Did God actually say…”. It was a challenge to the preeminence of “the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

That question led to the first lie… “You won’t die! God knows that you’ll only get wiser, and become like him.” This of course leads to the first breakdown of trust—”Can I really trust God to have my best interests at heart.” All one needs is a little bit of doubt and the enemy can devastate one’s confidence in the truth. From that moment on the choice to reject God and trust self was the default position of man. 

Judith, don’t be an advocate of doubt and deception—you can actually help with truth!

Can a woman really be trapped in a man’s body? In his article “Body, Soul and Gender Identity: Thinking Theologically about Human Constitution” (Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) Robert S. Smith presents a biblical view of the human constitution he calls man’s “Holistic Dualism”. This view recognizes humans as having “a body/soul distinction but insists that both are necessary for human personhood.” He asks the question: How does such an understanding of the human constitution help us assess (what might be called) spiritual gender identity theory — i.e., the claim that a person can have the spirit or soul of one sex in the body of another?

The article was fascinating, but fairly complex. His conclusion after interacting with a number of different theologians over the centuries was this:

“The holism of the scriptural presentation of anthropological constitution leaves no room for a conception of human beings “as composed” of two separate entities joined together in an uneasy alliance.”

“The reason for this is that body and soul, although distinct, interpenetrate one another — we are just as much ensouled bodies as we are embodied souls. As a consequence, ‘biological processes are not just functions of the body as distinct from the soul or spirit, and mental and spiritual capacities are not seated exclusively in the soul or spirit. All capacities and functions belong to the human being as a whole, a fleshly-spiritual totality.’”

"In light of this, the claim that “a discrepancy between the perceiving mind and the existing body”“incompatible with a Christian anthropology and so is any justification built upon it.”This does not mean denying that “the deep-seated patterns of feeling and experience involved in gender dysphoria are themselves bodily”— for all mental states are necessarily bodily states also. But it does mean that “transgender individuals are not experiencing an ontological disintegration, even if they perceive themselves to be.”

"Otherwise put, gender incongruence (whatever factors may have given rise to it in any particular case) is not an experience of ontological misalignment, but of epistemological misidentification.In short, there is no mismatch between body and soul."

Judith, maybe you want a professional in the field, not just a theologian. Paul McHugh, University Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, and one of the most esteemed psychiatrists of our time.  Says this about gender dysphoria.

In fact, gender dysphoria—the official psychiatric term for feeling oneself to be the opposite sex—belongs in the family of similarly disordered assumptions about the body, such as anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphic disorder. Its treatment should not be directed at the body as with surgery and hormones any more than one treats obesity-fearing anorexic patients with liposuction. The treatment should strive to correct the false, problematic nature of the assumption and to resolve the psychosocial conflicts provoking it.

Transgender men do not become women, nor do transgendered women become men. All (including Bruce Jenner) become feminized men or masculinized women, counterfeits or impersonators of the sex with which the identify.”

If you really want the oppressed person to trust you, and you really want to help them, the ultimate solution is to accept God’s design for your life and trust him to have your good in mind. This is the only way to help the emotional suffering of someone struggling with gender dysphoria.

4. Don’t suppress the truth. 

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Ro 1:18.)

SJ, I wouldn’t be doing my job as a preacher if I didn’t tell you that the Lord has made it very clear what will happen to anyone who chooses to disregard his word. Scripture pulls no punches as it describes what has happened and what will happen to man if we suppress the truth. 

"For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error." (Rom 1)

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

  1. God gave them up to the lusts of their flesh, impurity, dishonorable passions and a debased mind—to do what ought not be done. 
  2. God will turn us over to ourselves if we continue to reject him—he allows us that terrible fate. 
  3. The outcome of being left to ourselves:
    1. To be filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness
    2. To become gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless
  4. These things aren’t good things—even the pagan would agree! 

In Mere Christiantity C.S. Lewis vividly describes how Romans 1 works itself out in the lives of those who reject God’s Law.

“People often think of Chrsitian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, ‘If you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.’ I do not think that is the best way of looking at it. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or int a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its’ fellow-creature, and with itself…. Each of us as each moment is progressing to one state or the other.” 

With every choice we make, we are making it easier for ourselves to be conformed to Christ in our mind and our wills, or to be opposed to him. However, there is always hope in Jesus, who is the great redeemer. SJ, repent from rejecting the one true God—lest he allow you to destroy yourself. 

Set your Mind on Christ‌ 

"Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. …seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all." (Col 3:2, 9-11)

As we live east of Eden, afflicted by broken bodies and broken minds, struggling with who we think we are, who we want to be, remember this. God has formed us and crafted us in his image. He has designed us with intentionality and unique purpose. We can’t always understand why hard things happen, but we can trust him. He demonstrated his love for mankind by sending his Son to suffer with us, and in our place. Sin is our own fault. Adam and Eve gave us an inheritance of death—and we own that inheritance in our flesh and our mind. That desire to live according to our own standards, to suppress the truth, to conform to the world and to be make ourselves in our own image.

Christ invites us to bring our struggles, our hurts, our trauma our confusion to him, and he asks us only to trust and obey. He invites us to put to death our flesh and evil ways that only bring pain. He invites us to become members of his inheritance and take his life, according to his way, which is the truth. Lay your own identity aside; your nationality, your politics, your ethnicity, your culture, your gender. Lay it aside and set your mind on Christ. While it brings its own struggles, He is an identity that brings true rest and peace—for eternity. 

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