Does the Bible address transgenderism?
Transgenderism and gender identity issues have become controversial social topics in recent years. Does the Bible address this sensitive subject?
While there are no direct transgender verses in Scripture, the Bible does address the issue. Several important principles can be noted. First, God created people as one of two genders, male or female. Genesis 1:27 states, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” There was not a third gender, and certainly not fifty or more genders as some groups claim today.
Second, the transgender movement often blurs the distinction of two main areas. First, there are people born with abnormalities regarding their male or female body parts. Second, there are many other people who identify as transgender who are biologically male or female yet choose to live as a different gender.
In the case of those born with physical differences, we are called to offer much compassion with these medical issues. With the many others who seek to live as a person of another gender or even medically alter their bodies to appear as another gender, biblical teachings instruct them to think and live differently.
The Bible does not call us to attempt to change our physical gender or identity, but calls us to find our identity in Jesus Christ. When we receive him and believe in him, we become his children, his sons and daughters (John 1:12). We become a new creation in Christ: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
God himself serves as our heavenly Father. Instead of seeking our identity through a different gender, we can accept ourselves as children of God, adopted by him for all eternity (1 John 3:1). Even as believers in Jesus, we may deal with thoughts and desires that are not from God, but this does not change our biological gender nor our identity in Christ.
Even the apostle Paul spoke of being tempted toward things he knew he was not intended to do. When this happened, he wrote of disciplining his body to do what was right: “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27). We may have feelings toward certain areas outside of God’s plan for our lives, but we do not have to be controlled by these desires.
A person who struggles with his or her gender identity should not be mocked or ridiculed by Christians, which has sadly often been the case. Every person is a unique creation of God and is loved by him. We are called to show love to all people, helping others embrace God’s message of hope found in a new life with Jesus Christ.
There has been much discussion about the role of women in church leadership. The question of women pastors is not necessarily the same question as women in ministry. Women ministers? Absolutely. That said, I do believe that the Senior/Lead Pastor role is ordained by God to be male (I Timothy 3:2).
There are two subjects at play here. One is, soteriology (our understanding of salvation), but the other is ecclesiology (our view of how we do church). In Mark 10, Jesus explains God’s design for marriage–a man with a woman. The view of gender roles held by most scholars who have a high view of scripture is often called “complimentarianism.” Male and female are complementary, equal in worth and value, personhood, and equal in terms of salvation, but, distinct in callings and functions. Neither is better than the other, just different. Over the last 50 years, in the western world, as evolutionary thought and moral relativism have caused all institutions to be re-defined and re-invented, even the church has succumbed to the pressure of making decisions outside the bounds of scripture. The world’s view of gender (which much of Christendom, now, sadly, embraces) is egalitarianism. This is from the Latin word for “equal.” In an egalitarian worldview, there cannot be any differences between male and female. Even some Christian denominations have decided that the New Testament scriptures about male leadership in the local church are no longer to be followed. But as is so often the case, when you begin to deviate from scripture, the deviations continue (some of the same churches that were ordaining women senior pastors 40 years ago now have no problem performing gay weddings, because the precedent of being arbitrary in one’s handling of scripture had long ago begun.
What’s the bottom line? Biblically, and without question, historically, the Senior/Lead Pastor role was always male. Now, I have preached in churches where the Senior Pastor was a woman. And while I do think these things are very important, as a speaker and one trying to unify the body of Christ, I figure if we agree on soteriology, I’ll give you grace on ecclesiology. Again, the most important topic on which we must agree is salvation, but God is so merciful, that he still works through any of us, including some churches that are less than biblical on the structure of their local churches.
Rev. Alex McFarland is heard daily on the American Family Radio network and weekly on The Alex McFarland Show (podcast and YouTube channels). He directs Biblical Worldview for Charis Bible College, located in Colorado. Alex speaks frequently throughout the U.S. For more information go to https://alexmcfarland.com/speaking/.
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