This is the second post on this topic. If you haven’t yet, please read part 1. It’s ok. I’ll wait. You’re back? Ok, on with the show!
As I mentioned in part 1, in this post, I ask myself questions that get more into my personal relationship with God, especially as it relates to gender.
A little explanation before we get into it: Below, I’m writing a lot about transgenderism. This is simply because I look at the aspects of myself that match my assigned-at-birth gender as not at issue – I’ve never seen the Bible used to attack a cisgender person for their being cisgender. It’s the parts of me which don’t match my assigned-at-birth gender which are in contention; these parts follow the same lines as arguments about transgender people, and it’s just easier to find material about that subject.
What does the Bible say about transgender people?
Well, nothing, actually. The term “transgender” is a relatively new creation (1965). So the Bible, being centuries old, has nothing in it specifically calling out transgender people. But there are references to gender and to what might be the closest thing to a transgender person at that time.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Ok, so God created male and female bodies in His image. Bodies.While Adam and Eve’s bodies might have been perfect, we know that since then, human bodies are not. People are born with congenital conditions, and medical issues arise over the course of a lifetime.
And we spend our lives changing our bodies – we grow from baby to toddler to child to adolescent to adult. We cut our hair and let it grow out. We pierce our ears (and other body parts). And we perform surgery to correct things that aren’t working correctly. And we develop technologies and prosthetics to help those who are missing properly functioning parts can participate more fully in their lives. So please don’t tell me that the body someone is born with is intended to be the body they die with. You’re literally not the same person you were 10 years ago, because nearly all of the cells you had 7-10 years ago have been replaced with new copies.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
“There is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This is one of those that you’re not meant to take literally, but understand the underlying truth. It’s not that male and female aren’t actual things (we know they are, as much as Jews and Greeks exist), but that, to Christ Jesus, you are not viewed based upon these characteristics. To me, this is a message that categories do not decide who we are, but instead, we are souls, wearing these bodies as we work through our lives. As with clothes, sometimes the body suits the soul just fine, but sometimes it just doesn’t fit quite right. Sometimes we need to have our clothes altered to fit ourselves properly, and sometimes, we need to alter our bodies, too.
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.
Pretty cut and dried, right? You’re not supposed to wear the clothes of the opposite sex. Well, later in this same chapter, we’re told that we are supposed to kill people who cheat on their spouses (Deuteronomy 22:22), and that if a man rapes a single woman, he is to pay her father, and then marry her with no ability to ever divorce her (Deuteronomy 22:28-29). We don’t do that do we? That would be barbaric!
We don’t go taking women of people we have defeated in wars as our wives (Deuteronomy 21:10-13), we don’t go killing rebellious sons at the gates of our cities (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), and we don’t freely and willingly forgive debts older than 7 years (Deuteronomy 15:1-2).
Do you eat bacon? That’s a no-no (Deuteronomy 14:8). Shrimp? Lobster? Calamari? Sorry – those are also off limits (Deuteronomy 14:9-10). Pay or receive interest on money? Not allowed (Deuteronomy 23:19). Mules are not allowed (Leviticus 19:19). That cotton/polyester blend shirt you’re wearing? Not allowed (also Leviticus 19:19).
So is it still so cut and dried? This is another example of needing to understand the message (and in this case, context) of the verses. In the times that these parts of the Bible were written, it was common practice for a man to take multiple wives, and the survival of a tribe was dependent upon having a lot of children (remember, life expectancy back then was significantly shorter, and infant death rates were much higher). So it was important to follow practices which produced the most opportunities to increase birth rates. So laws which allow a man to take a woman as a wife against her (or more accurately, her family’s) will helped to grant those opportunities. But there again, women were treated as property, so if a man took a woman against her family’s will, the family deserved to be compensated for the loss.
More context: the decrees about what is allowable for eating have more to do with survival as well – note the language: “8 And the pig, because it parts the hoof but does not chew the cud, is unclean for you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch. 9 Of all that are in the waters you may eat these: whatever has fins and scales you may eat. 10 And whatever does not have fins and scales you shall not eat; it is unclean for you.” (Deuteronomy 14:8-10). The meat is “unclean”. What we are seeing is the beginnings of rules for food handling – this is a precursor to the FDA!
So what’s the context for Deuteronomy 22:5? I think it is the survival of the species and of the tribes. The people needed to reproduce like crazy, so they’re just trying to protect against anything which could interfere with that. We’ll return to this theme later.
But what about (insert clobber verse reference)?
Explanation: what I’m calling a clobber verse is one of a handful of verses frequently used to make the case against homosexuality.
These frequently include Genesis 1:27 (addressed above), Genesis 19 (the story of Sodom, as introduced by Genesis 18:20), Leviticus 18:22 (and Leviticus 20:13), Deuteronomy 23:17-18, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, and 1 Timothy 1:10. There’s a very good write up explaining the contexts and meanings of these clobber passages at the Evangelicals Concerned Inc. website.
Besides, those verses are (supposedly) dealing with homosexuality (which is a sexual orientation), not transgenderism (which is a gender identity). Just like Gender ≠ Sex, Gender ≠ Sexuality. A simple way to remember this is “Sexuality is who you want to go to bed with, Gender is who you want to go to bed as.” While one may inform the other, it does not determine it.
But gay people are sinners…
Yes, homosexual people are sinners. So are heterosexual people. So are asexual people. We are all sinners. If you simply can’t get past the idea that homosexuality is itself a sin, then remember that Jesus died for all sins, which would mean he died for homosexuals, too.
Am I going to Hell?
Well, see what I wrote in part 1 about Hell (you did read that already, right?). My ability to go to Heaven is not impacted by my gender, even though my gender does not conform to the binary.
Is transgenderism a sin?
To me, the answer is clear. No, transgenderism is not a sin. There simply isn’t enough information in the Bible to draw that conclusion. Besides, if sin is that which takes us away from God’s intent for us, that leads to the question…
Why did God make me this way?
And there’s the real question. The big one. And it’s a question for different post.
I hope I’ve given you a lot to think about. I hope if you’ve wrestled with some of these questions that my views help you to better understand your own answers. I don’t claim to be right on any of these, but I am writing my own truth.
Until next time,