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No matter where you look, Bruce Jenner is all over the news. Now it might not be with his name Bruce Jenner. It might be the name Caitlyn Jenner. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this, here is a brief rundown. Bruce Jenner competed in the Olympics and actually won a gold medal in 1976 in the decathlon, which is a track and field series of events. Recently, he has been on the cover of Vanity Fair as a woman because you see Bruce Jenner no longer exists, at least as the narrative goes. Now Bruce no longer exists but Caitlyn Jenner exists and is a person.

Bruce Jenner has changed his gender, and now Caitlyn is the person formerly known as Bruce and Caitlyn totally identifies as a woman. The question is, as Christians, how should we respond to this type of situation which is becoming more and more common? Whenever we are talking about how we should respond to a situation, the bible should be our authority. The question should become “what does the bible say about transgender issues?” Directly, not too much, but that doesn’t mean the bible doesn’t have something to say here. 

What it does mean is that we should look all the way back at the beginning in Genesis where God says Genesis 1:27 that he created as male and female in his own image. Male and female, we were created, and as Christians we understand this but we were created in the image of God. That gives us a dignity, an intrinsic worth and we are all worthy of respect in that way as image bearers of God but we are also created different. He didn’t create “androgynous person 1” and “androgynous person 2”. He created a male and a female. These are distinct from one another. They are complementary, but they are not able to substituted for one another. 

This is key, as Christians, our anthropology — our concept of man and who he is — is very important. It must include the fact that man, as a race, is made up of men and women who are distinct and are complementary. That’s the first couple of things. You must affirm that genders or sexes are different and that also both sexes have a value and intrinsic worth and dignity. The next thing we need to affirm about man as part of our biblical anthropology is that sin has corrupted everything. By “everything” I mean everything and everyone. No one is exempt or untouched by the blemish, the stain and the corruption of sin. 

In a fallen world, in a Genesis Three world, it is not going to be uncommon to see people who are not happy with themselves, who wish they were somewhere else, who wish they were someone else, who wish they were a different gender. When we have a robust concept of man based on the bible, these types of issues of men thinking they are women or wanting to be women, shouldn’t necessarily surprise us because the corruption that results from sin really has no limit, except for what God restrains. We see examples of this in homosexuality. This flows from a corrupted or a sinful nature. Transgender issues or gender dysphoria — not being happy with your current gender or even feeling like that gender accurately reflects who you are — would be an example of something that would occur and does occur in a fallen world. 

There is also another area that’s related here that isn’t often talked about: “transabled” people. This is a new term and so often these conversations are marked by new terms. Last week quite a few people were asking what’s a throuple? That word doesn’t exist in the dictionary. Well, that’s a grouping of three people who want to be in a relationship all together. The fact is, the vocabulary here is struggling to keep up with the social situations. So much of this is changing so quickly. Transabled is another new word. Here is a brief story about this man named Jason in Ottawa Canada, and here I’m quoting from an article that I will post in the resources section. 

He cut off his right arm with a very sharp power tool and this man who now calls himself ‘one armed Jason’ let everyone believe it was an accident but he had for months tried different means of cutting and crushing the limb that never quite felt like his own. He trained himself on first aid so he wouldn’t bleed to death and even practiced on animal parts which he got from a butcher. He said, “My goal was to get the job done with no hope of reconstruction or reattachment and I wanted some method that I could actually bring myself to do.” His goal was to become disabled. People like Jason have been classified as transabled people.

They feel like impostors in their own bodies with their arms and their legs in full working order. This was the man who wanted to become disabled. He felt like his arm didn’t actually fit who he was. It was not a part of him so he wanted to remove it. What did Bruce Jenner feel like? He felt like “I’m not a man. I’m a woman in a man’s body, so I need to change that”. But what often results from these desires to change? They end up mutilating themselves and that’s what Bruce has done. He started this process. He has gotten breast implants. He is a man with breast implants. This ‘one armed Jason’ as he calls himself hasn’t improved his condition. All he has done is simply mutilated himself. He has cut a limb off of his body.He has denied the created state that his creator gave him.

Now I think this is a great example of what’s talked about in Romans 1. In Romans 1 verses 18 and following, Paul says, For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people, who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness because what can be known about God is plain to them for God has made it plain to them. It goes on to talk about God and his eternal nature and invisible attributes which testify to his existence but I think one of the things that is also obvious about God is that we were a created people.

Now maybe from nature you don’t fully understand that we are created in his image but even little children who have never been exposed to religion believe people were created. Not that we just evolved randomly. Paul was saying that people are denying God and the truth of God in ungodliness, in unrighteousness and he says that they begin to worship the created instead of the creator. They dishonor their bodies in fact and God gives them over to this.

One of the examples Paul gives is this. For the women exchange the natural sexual relations with unnatural ones and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. 

Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty of their error. They did not see fit to acknowledge God and God gave them over to a depraved mind to do what should not be done. I think this also is an example of many different types of sin and many different types of denying the truth and unrighteousness of which transgendered issues is an example.

When a man feels like he is a woman, he is denying the physical reality of who he is.  Every cell in his body is not confused about what sex Bruce Jenner is. Every cell in his body knows that there is an X and a Y chromosome and that he is a man, not a woman. But what’s happening today is people are wanting us to reclassify who they are based on how they feel. That’s extremely dangerous.

Should a doctor mutilate a man who feels like he is a woman by removing his genitalia? Well that’s what quite a few doctors are doing. Actually, the lead psychiatrist at John Hopkins has said This is not a good idea. This is not good for people. We were the one of the first to start doing it and now we’ve stopped doing it. We don’t even do it for children anymore. We don’t say, if a child is born with a kind of uncertain physical anatomy — we are not sure if they are male or female — or they are born deformed we are not creating them to be women anymore because that’s not helpful. They can’t actually grow up and be happy in that lifestyle. They always tend to act like men because that is in their genes.

It is not just that gender is something that’s imprinted on us by how people treat us. Gender is an expression of our physical genetic makeup. People are wanting us to treat them based on how they feel. “I’m a man but I feel like a woman so I want you to treat me like  a woman so I’m going to get surgery. I’m going to mutilate myself to make that happen.” Or maybe it is like Jason where “I don’t feel like this arm is a part of my body. You need to be supportive of me and when it comes to me removing that arm.” But as Christians what we should really say when we see this is “no I’m not going to applaud that.” You are not showing courage by trying to mutilate yourself. 

What you are doing is it is a plea for help. We should have compassion on these people. We should say you really need the gospel. You need to understand that God created you the way you are and you may not be satisfied with how you feel but that’s no reason to hurt yourself, to disfigure yourself, to deny the truth in unrighteousness. Really, our response to this whole situation should not be one of celebration. It should not be one of ridicule. It should not be one of applause. We should not make fun of these people but what we should do is realize that they are harming themselves and we should not support that first and foremost.

Secondly it is not courageous to do what everyone is celebrating, especially when that thing will ultimately harm you. Thirdly what we should say is that these people need our prayers. They need our support and more importantly they need the gospel. The answer to “I’m a man who feels like I’m a woman in a man’s body” is not surgery. It should be salvation. It should be the process that comes with the spirit redefining, transforming my mind and working on those desires ,but it is certainly not surgery.

I hope these thoughts have been helpful. This is certainly a very complicated issue that is becoming ever more and more in the news but it is something we as Christians need to be able to think clearly about.

We need to be able to say that a man is always a man. The best thing for a man is to identify as  a man and the best thing for a woman is to identify as  a woman. We need to also understand biblically what it means to be a person created in God’s image. Lastly we need to keep the gospel the main thing. We need to keep that the priority when speaking on these issues. It is not just that we want to have certain laws, or that it makes us feel weird that a man would be using a woman’s bathroom, though that’s certainly a consideration. The concern needs to be that these people are doing things that they want to do but ultimately are going to be injurious and harmful to themselves.

We should not support people doing things that will end in their mutilation and ultimately end in something that’s not their good.

4 thoughts on “Episode 13 – Can a Man Become a Woman?

  1. We all have gotten caught up in this news but one thing no one seems to be saying is this truth: "God is not the author of confusion " and the contrast is also true. The devil is a liar and has been from the beginning. Prov 9 and James say essentially the same thing: you do not find wisdom in the "house" of the evil one but in the house of God. Also Eph 5 says that "He who loves his wife loves himself. " seems some parts of this equation are surely missing in Jenner’s equation of life, love and marriage. But, we are also to show compassion as Christ did.The real question is how do we as believers truly respond in love? Our pastor says it like this "holding onto God’s standard, reaching out in love"

  2. So, what of a person who was born with female genitals, and developed breasts in puberty, but has internal testicles instead of ovaries and XY chromosomes? Or what about a person who was born with a very small penis and no testicles at all, and was therefore raised as a boy, only to find out later that they have ovaries but no vagina? Thousands of intersex babies are born every year, and the best doctors in the world are unable to assign them a gender of male or female. They fall somewhere toward the middle of that spectrum.

    We can’t say that "a man is always a man," because a simple examination of biology reveals that gender is a spectrum for most species–including humans.

    Are intersex people created in God’s image? Because he did not create them "male and female."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XYgonadaldysgenesis
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAUDKEI4QKI

    1. Hey Mike, Good to hear from you!

      The first consideration, is that hard cases make bad policy (something this is often missed in our culture of cause celebre). And, there is certainly a distinction between the Bruce Jenners of the world and intersex people (as far as we know about Bruce), between "my feelings don’t match my physical makeup" and "we’re not sure how to classify my physical makeup"

      The article I linked to from a Dr at Johns Hopkins actually deals with this some. And seems to have some overlap with the video. The video makes mention of intersex people being forced to have unnecessary surgeries, and transgender people having to fight for them…. but implicit in that is that transgender people are getting unnecessary surgeries.

      Based on your train of thought, I reject your ‘We can’t say that "a man is always a man,"’ argument. With the change in topic from transgender to intersex, you’ve (rightly) challenged the idea that we can clearly identify a man in every case. But it is still valid to say, "if you’re a man, you’re always a man." There are obviously difficult cases, but we should not reason from the uncertain to the certain. We shouldn’t say, "we don’t know with intersex people, so anything can go with gender dysphoric individuals too"

      There’s a major divide between not knowing what you physical make up is, and consciously and willfully denying it.

      1. My point regarding intersex persons is relevant to the trangendered conversation because it undermines one of the core tenants of opposition to trans people: namely that male and female are two, non-overlapping sets. What makes someone a male or a female isn’t as obvious as we make it out to be culturally. In the case of transgendered persons, psychological gender doesn’t "match" physical gender. But both of those things are constructs that oversimplify what we see in nature.

        Males are essentially specialized females, and sex is an adaptation that helps vertebrates compete with the much faster reproduction/mutation rate of microbial life. Should we be surprised the incredible complicated process of sexual dimorphism doesn’t produce consistent results? Intersex people have biologically ambiguous gender and transgender people have psychological ambiguous gender.

        I’m comfortably male and straight. My psychological gender neatly meshes with my physical one. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be otherwise. But that doesn’t change the fact that it happens, and that the mechanisms behind that are complex.

        It’s a tough conversation to have because we have so many different assumptions. I assume life is the result of evolution and natural selection, and that genders are socio-linguistic constructs. You believe that genders were ordained by God and revealed in scripture, unless I am mistaken. In that framework, I can see how you arrive at your position.

        That’s why I mentioned intersex people. In your worldview, God made them, and so they must be included in any discussion of what gender is and what God’s intentions for humanity are.

        I hope you are well. I still follow your work (obviously). 🙂

        Peace, love, entropy,
        Mike

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