Tag Archives: gender

Christianity and Gender Issues Part 3

How Should the Church deal with Transgender issues?

Many churches are quick to shame and condemn those who struggle publicly with any sin, especially sins that are sexual in nature. This is not a good approach nor has it ever been noticeably effective. The church is to be a place where people who struggle with sin can come to find spiritual encouragement and a community in which they belong. The belonging is not centered around our own fallen state of being, but rather it is centered on the work of Christ on the Cross. Christ died to save sinners. Thus we find in him mercy, grace, forgiveness, love, and calling.

Below are several ways I believe that churches should deal with transgender issues:

  1. Congregations should be rightly informed on what transgender actually means. It is important for people in the pews to understand this because when a transgender person visits a church, the gender identity struggle will likely be visible. The congregation needs to know how to appropriately welcome these individuals without calling attention to their identity.
  2. The church needs to make transgender people feel welcome. Many transgender people are suffering as a result of their identity crisis. They are looking for a place to belong, and the church should be such a place.
  3. The church needs to show empathy and compassion for those with gender identity issues. For many of these individuals, the struggle to identify as a male or female is not a moral choice intended to unravel the traditional values of our society. For many, this issue is not a “choice” at all. It is a state of being as I mentioned in the last post that I believe is a result of living in a fallen world.
  4. When transgender people visit your church, they need to be able to connect with people and begin a relationship with someone. This relationship does not need to be a project where the church member sets out to fix the transgender person, it just needs to be a relationship that points towards Christ, love, and belonging. It needs to be genuine.
  5. For anyone in the church, leadership positions need to be given to Christians who are mature in the faith. Positions of leadership should be reserved for individuals who have a contrite heart regarding their sins. Leadership should not be given to someone who is proud of or public about any sin. But all leaders are sinners and as such need humility to recognize their faults, admit to them, and keep going.
  6. Churches need to affirm that God created male and female and that he intends for their to be clear roles for each gender, but that those roles are distorted and broken because of sin. Even masculine men tend to inappropriately understand what it means to be a man. Even feminine women tend to act in ways that are not appropriate for their roles. All of us in some way have issues regarding our own understanding of what it means to be a man or woman, and more so to be one who walks according to the precepts of the Bible.

For more on transgender issues, I have found the following article in Christianity Today to be very helpful.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/july-august/understanding-transgender-gender-dysphoria.html?start=1

60190

After the last post, one reader asked: “How would Christ have approached a person with gender identity issues or now ethnic identity issues? And then, how would He go about helping them through some of these issues?”

To briefly answer I will say that I think Jesus would have approached them in love. He would have listened to their story. He would have compassion on them. He would love them. He would also call them to his standard of righteousness as he always did to others in the Gospels. He ate lunch with Zacchaeus the Tax Collector. After Jesus had dined with him, he proclaimed that he would return all the money he stole from the people. When Jesus meets people where they are at, he always calls them to a higher standard from that point on. The real question here is not how he would approach them, but what standard he would call them to? I think he would affirm their plight, he would mourn that things are not as they should be in an unfallen world, and he would probably heal them. Since we regularly do not have the power to heal people, I would suggest that we strongly recommend people with gender and ethnic identity issues to seek professional counseling. The article I mentioned above talks about how different people need different help depending upon the nature of their gender identity struggle. I think we can leave it in the hands of wise counselors after hearing the nature of the struggles to recommend the best course of help. But I believe that those struggling should seek the help of Christian counselors who have a strong belief in God’s Word and who also use modern medical knowledge to best help their clients.

What implications does this issue have on issues regarding ethnic identity, same sex marriage, and polygamy?

Whether we accept it or not, people have issues regarding personal identity. Whether we agree or not, people live in plural marriages and in same sex unions. So how should churches approach these issues?

The church should welcome anyone into a worship service whether they walk in with a same sex partner, multiple wives, or as a man wearing a dress. We should foster relationships with the visitors, make them feel welcome, and point them to Christ. We should recognize that we are all sinners and that in worship we too need to be continually re-pointed towards Christ. We should love people where they are at, and we should allow the Holy Spirit to work on the rest. To join a church, one needs to profess faith in Christ. After such a profession, the person must be willing to make Christ Lord. This involves turning from our sinful ways, and following the calling God has on our lives. No one who makes Christ Lord ceases to sin altogether. We all make bad choices because we are all easily drawn back into sin. For those with issues concerning identity and sexual attraction, these may be life-long struggles. But that no less makes the person a child of God.

As stated before, I believe those who are attracted to members of the same sex should remain celibate. Those who have gender issues should seek help from a counselor in order to understand their identity, to draw clear lines, and to move towards them. Those who struggle with identity issues concerning ethnicity, should also seek counseling, draw clear lines of identity, and move towards them. Those who have multiple wives must determine how God wants them to move forward. I have written previously about how polygamy is always a negative issue in Scripture, but I would be hard pressed to say that someone in a polygamous relationship should divorce a wife or wives after becoming a Christian, especially if there are children involved. I would however state that I do not believe that Christians should enter into polygamous relationships, nor should ministers perform such marriage ceremonies. Finally, I do not believe that Christian ministers should perform same sex weddings.

What other questions or comments do you have about these issues? Has this been helpful? I want to hear from You!!!

Christianity and Gender Issues Part 2

In the last post, several questions were raised regarding Christianity and gender issues. In this post, I will answer some of those questions.

What does the Bible say about transgender issues?

The Bible does not deal specifically with transgender issues. It does deal with birth and the human soul. Psalm 139:13 states, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” This verse has been used to discuss the value of human life from before birth. I think that is exactly what the verse does. But it also suggests that God is the one who creates us as we are intended to be. With that being said, the question arises about whether God would allow someone to be born in the wrong body. Can a person who is meant to be a female be born as a male? Can a person who is meant to be a male be born as a female? If so, does that suggest that God made a mistake in the womb?

As Christians, we believe that God does not make mistakes, but we also believe that we live into a fallen world tainted by sin. Going one step further, the Bible teaches that humans are born in sin. As such we are born separated from God. The image of God in a person is broken from the moment a person is born. Because things are not as they should be, we must ask if God potentially allows people to be born in the wrong bodies as a consequence of living in a fallen, broken, world. If so, this does not suggest that God has made a mistake, but rather it suggests that in the developmental process, sin corrupted what was meant to be for someone. If not, it suggests that everyone is born according to the proper gender, and that the inclination towards another gender happens after birth.

I personally believe that for some people, there are life experiences that cause them to desire to identify as a different gender. For others, it seems to be from the onset in life. I think the same can be said for homosexual tendencies. For some, life experience draws them to same sex attraction. For others, it seems to be there from the onset. My hesitation with saying that no one is born in the wrong gender stems from the fact that some people are born with some male and female organs. There are documented cased of males being born with ovaries in their bodies despite having other male organs. This suggests that the issue is not as cut and dry as some would like it to be. For those who make these decisions based on life experiences, perhaps it is at least in part the result of some kind of mental disorder. That is not necessarily the case in all circumstances.

Romans 1 also teaches that humans have corrupt minds and that they are inclined to trade the natural order of things for an unnatural one. This is stated in reference to sexuality. The text says that God gave the people over to their sinful desires. This passage seems to indicate that people may have very real desires to have relationships with those of the same gender, and while it is not as God intended, the feelings are no less real. I have argued before that I believe that those who deal with same sex attraction and who also profess to be Christians should remain celibate. Concerning transgender issues, I would argue the same. Even if being born in the wrong body is a result of living in a broken world where things do not always happen as they should. I would advise against gender re-assignment surgery, and suggest that those who believe they are born with the wrong organs remains celibate. I am not sure how many of those who believe they are in the wrong body have felt that way since birth as compared to those who begin to believe they are in the wrong body based on life experience (even if they are not consciously aware of such experience). More study and research needs to be done to give us a better understanding of this. The Genomics project finally concluded that there is no “Gay Gene.” In other words, nothing in our DNA suggests that one can know whether a person will be gay or not based on the genetic code. It seems likely that the same would be true regarding gender identity. In other words, this is not something that comes down to science alone.

I believe that all people are inclined towards things that are “unnatural.” For example, someone who is a pathological liar (who is inclined towards the sin of lying) will likely continue to struggle with lying even after becoming a Christian. It is a soul issue. Something intrinsic in that person compels him to lie. I think the same can be said regarding homosexuality. A person who is inclined towards same sex attraction will likely continue feeling those feelings after becoming a Christian. With that being the case, if someone who identifies with the opposite gender becomes a Christian, it is likely that these identity issues will not go away.

Is it sinful for someone to identify as the opposite gender?

If God allows people to be born in the wrong bodies as a result of the fall, then it is hard to claim that it is sinful to identify as the opposite gender. If one wishes to identify as the opposite gender as a rebellious act towards the creator, that is a different story. Any time we act in rebellion against God, it is sin. This is true for any moral, civil, or personal issue.

But for many, I wonder how much they really wish to identify as the opposite gender. I wonder if they are consciously or even unconsciously attempting to rebel against God. It seems that many are not attempting to be rebellious. This leads to the next question.

Can transgendered people love God?

I think in short, the answer is “Yes!!” Why, because all of us are sinners, and all who love God are sinners. Homosexuals can love God. Liars can love God. Murderers can love God too!!! But once a sinner finds redemption, God no longer expects the person to live in ways that are contrary to his Word. Thus, Christians submit to the authority of Christ and to the principles found in the Bible. The reason a cheater no longer cheats people when he becomes a Christian is because he is now called to live according to a new way. If a person inclined towards homosexuality becomes a Christian, he is no longer to act on those feelings. If a person who identifies as another gender becomes a Christian, he or she is to live according to a new standard.

But what is that standard? Transgender issues are not apples to apples with other moral issues in Scripture…because these issues are not openly discussed in the Bible.

Thus, I would argue that those who identify as a different gender should live according to their physical make-up. If they cannot do that in relationships, then they should practice celibacy. Again, I am speaking about people who identify as Christians. If a person who identifies as a transgender individual has already had gender reassignment surgery, then I do not think the person should have the surgery reversed. I think that person should live as he or she now is, and again, practice celibacy.

When someone comes to love God, no matter what sin the person deals with, the person is called to put away that sin. We all continue to sin (and regularly), but when we do, we should at least recognize that our actions were out of line with God’s will, and we should not be indifferent to the situation. In other words, when I lose my temper or get jealous of someone else, I should not be indifferent to my actions. I should recognize that I was wrong, confess my wrong to God, and to anyone I wronged by my action. Then I should strive to not make the same choice again.

If someone identifies as another gender, the person should search his heart to see if he or she is acting in rebellion against God or if the situation is a result of being born in a world where things are not as they should be. Then the person needs to seek what God would have him or her do as a result of what God impresses upon the person’s heart.

One reader asked, how I thought society should deal with issues such as public bathrooms and transgender individuals. I think I would answer that public bathrooms need to begin making greater efforts to preserve privacy. I think people should go to the restrooms that match their anatomy, but think it would be easier to do so for everyone (especially in men’s bathrooms) if there was more privacy.

In the next post, I will continue discussing this issue with regards to how churches should deal with transgender issues and with what implications the answers to these questions have on issues regarding ethnic identity, and polygamy (both issues that I think will become bigger in our culture in the next several years).

What are your thoughts so far? What challenged do you have for my line of thinking? What additional questions do you have now?

Christianity and Gender Issues Part 1

In the news recently Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner has received much support for undergoing the process of gender transition, while Rachel Dolezal has received much criticism for stating that she identifies as black even though both of her parents are white. So these stories among others have got me thinking about our society and identity issues.

Rachel-Dolezal2

Today in psychology it is argued that there is a difference between sexuality and gender identity. Male and female individuals can identify with either masculine or feminine character traits. However, it is also taught that people can identify as the opposite gender, meaning that a person with male physical traits can identify as female, and a person with female physical traits can identify as male. Logically speaking, if one can identify with traits not inherent to a person’s physical make-up regarding gender, then one should also be able to identify with traits not inherent to a person’s physical make-up regarding skin color.

So why is it applauded when a person chooses to identify as the opposite gender, but not when someone choose to identify as a different ethnicity?

I think it is because as a society, we are not yet comfortable with that. But then, why would someone want to identify as a person of another ethnicity in the first place? Some noted that it takes more than braiding your hair and tanning your skin to become an African American. Others have noted that having gender reassignment surgery does not allow one to really experience life as another gender. One person on Facebook argued that being a woman was carrying a child for 9 months, having hot flashes, and hoping that the men who stopped to help you on the side of the road were not planning to rape you. Even with surgery, it is not likely that Bruce Jenner will ever experience such things.

87

I was born a white male in west Texas. I grew up in an oil field town, went to college, got a job, and learned to love philosophy. No matter how much I wish I could see what it would be like to grow up as a poor African American in an urban community, I cannot ever experience that. As such, I cannot ever really identify with someone who was raised in that condition. So how can someone born as a male that grew up as a male say that he can actually “identify” as a woman? How can a white girl who grew up in a middle class home say that she can actually “identify” as a black woman? In short, neither really can. It is just not possible. What I think I see happening is that Rachel Dolzal, based on some experiences she has had in life, has developed such a heart for African American culture that she wishes she could be part of it. Bruce Jenner, based on his own particular experiences in life has developed such an interest in all that makes up being a woman that he wishes he could be a woman. So this leads to a number of questions, regarding gender identity, and the Christian faith.

  1. What does the Bible say about transgender issues?
  2. Are transgender issues part of a mental disorder, or is it something else?
  3. Does God allow people to be born in the wrong bodies?
  4. Is it sinful for someone to identify as the opposite gender?
  5. Can transgendered people love God?
  6. How should churches deal with transgender issues?
  7. If someone who has had sexual reassignment surgery joins a church, should the person reverse the surgery?
  8. Should a transgender person who accepts Christ live in celibacy?
  9. What implications do the answers to these questions have on issues regarding homosexuality, ethic identity, and polygamy?

Over the next several posts, I intend to answer each of these questions from a Biblical standpoint. In the meantime, if you have more questions surrounding this topic, share them in the comments section and I will include my answers to them in the coming posts.