God casts His vision for the sexes in the opening pages of Scripture.
As Christians, we know from the creation account in Genesis 1 that God creates by “calling forth” by His spoken word (“Let there be…”). We also learn that His creation and ordering of the world involved a series of “separations.” These separations include heaven and earth, light and dark, day and night, morning and evening, clouds and seas, water and dry land, and sun and moon. Profoundly, the Hebrew concept of “separation” is rooted in the word kadosh, which – while often rendered as “holy” in English – here carries the sense of being “set apart” (separated) unto the Lord. Thus, in this series of separations, we see a consecrated and holy ordering, which at its essence reflects a “setting apart” unto the Creator God of the Universe.
Out of this paradigm, the creation account further delineates a distinct separateness for plants and then seasons, followed by all manner of living creatures found in the seas, on land and in the air. Finally, in the 26th verse, we see the pinnacle of God’s creation – mankind – called forth into being. Specifically, in humans we see not only a separation from the animals, but also a separation of mankind into two sexes – male and female – wholly complementary, yet each uniquely and mysteriously bearing God’s image – the imago Dei. It is in this bearing of God’s image as male and female that we humans are called to make visible the invisible Creator God on this planet.
Thus, it is out of the diversity and distinctive separateness of male and female that we humans are called to not only represent God in the proper and ordered stewardship of His good and wonderful creation, but to come together in unity and be joined as “one flesh” (1) in order to bring forth new life that will also somehow look like God and bear the imago Dei.
As it was from the beginning, so it is to this very day.
“Transgenderism” calls forth chaos out of order
In contrast to this divinely ordered vision for human gender and sexual expression, today we in the West are confronted by a spirit of “transgender” activism – flowing out of the gay rights movement – that says gender no longer matters, that the distinctives of male and female are merely social constructs and that the sexes are interchangeable. Ironically, while these activists argue that a homosexual orientation is fixed and immutable, they incoherently claim that gender is “fluid” and changeable. For example, Caitlin Ryan, a gay activist, clinical social worker and researcher at San Francisco State University recently said:
“I think the fluidity of gender is the next big wave in terms of adolescent development… Gender has become part of the defining way that youth organize themselves and rebel against adults.” (2)
In short, a profound deconstruction of gender is taking place within every arena of society that undermines the fundamental order established by God Himself – reflecting the very essence of who He is and who we were created to be. And when God’s order is deconstructed and then necessarily redefined, the consequences for gender, sexuality, marriage, family, and ultimately society are profound and far-reaching.
• A 12-year-old boy in Germany is being given sex-change hormones, making him the youngest sex-change patient in the world. (3)
• In the United Kingdom, new school guidelines warn teachers that telling boys to act like men leads to “bullying of those who do not conform to fixed ideas about gender.” (4)
• A New York principal was allowed to return to his job after undergoing sex reassignment surgery. (5)
• Parents of children who struggle with gender confusion are being encouraged to raise their children according to the gender they want to be. (6)
• Nationally, organizations are adopting gender neutral restrooms because ‘women’s’ and ‘men’s’ restrooms only acknowledge a two-gender system. (7)
• In Thailand, one school with 2,600 students created a separate “transvestite toilet” for its 200 “transgender”-identified students. (8)
• A man – dressed and made up to look like a woman – competes against real women to become “America’s Next Top Model.” (9)
• In California, SB 777, a bill signed into law in 2007 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger prohibits teaching or activity that “reflects adversely upon” or “promotes a discriminatory bias” because of sexual orientation or gender identity. (10) Under this law, students across California are allowed to “choose their own gender” when deciding whether to use the boys’ or girls’ restroom and locker room. A teacher in Oakland lines her students up by sneaker color rather than by gender. (11) A Fresno high school allowed a “transgender” female to run for prom king. (12)
Adding the “T” to GLB
For decades, gay activist leaders worked hard to keep those who called themselves “transgender” or “transsexual” as far out of the public eye as possible. By their own admission, the last thing they wanted was a bunch of “drag queens” and cross-dressers to scare away potential allies and ruin any hope for their community to achieve its political goals. So the activists only portrayed homosexuals in favorable and non-threatening ways.
But recent years have seen a sea-change in attitudes about cultural acceptance of homosexuality. And gay activists now believe that sufficient political gains have been won at the local, state and federal levels that they can now turn their attention to adding the “T” – for Transgender – to the GLB (Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual) acronym that represents their community.
So today, at every level of government, we are seeing the “GLBT” community press hard to add the “transgender” category to existing laws. While the initial goal of gay activists was to add “sexual orientation” to laws and to normalize homosexuality and bisexuality across every arena of society, the goal now is to add “gender identity or expression” to laws and to normalize “transgenderism.” Presently this is happening with the various forms of hate crimes and employment nondiscrimination laws at both the state and federal levels.
Of particular concern when it comes to the creation of protected class status for “sexual minorities” through hate crimes and employment nondiscrimination laws is the sobering reality that, in increasingly secular societies, when “gay rights” collides with religious liberties, religious freedom nearly always loses. Recent events in not only the United States, but in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Sweden clearly demonstrate that the cultural battles over the normalization of homosexuality are a zero-sum game – gains afforded to one group will necessarily come at the expense of another. Specifically, those who hold to a biblically orthodox view on homosexual or transgender behavior will increasingly find their voices marginalized and then eventually banned from the public arena. (13)
Christian clarity in the midst of confusion
• Focus on the Family is dedicated to defending the inherent honor, dignity, value and equality of the two sexes as created in God’s image – intentionally male and female – each bringing unique and complementary qualities to sexuality and relationships.
• Each of the two sexes is a glorious gift from God – meant to be offered back to Him either in complementary unity with the other in the context of marriage for procreation and mutual delight or in celibacy for undivided devotion to Christ.
• Not only do male and female together reflect the image of God, but their coming together in a marriage relationship to bring forth new life is used in Scripture as the deepest and most intimate analogy of God’s relationship with His people. Throughout both Testaments, God and His people are portrayed as husband and wife or as a bride and groom. The creation account found in Genesis lays out this gender-based, matrimonial picture and sets the stage for the final, eternal union of God and His people – of Christ and His bride – described in Revelation.
• Gender matters. In recent years, a pro-transgender revisionist theology has been put forth in some theological circles that violates God’s clearly articulated and intentional design for the sexes – thereby distorting His image and His plan for sexuality, marriage, family and the just and proper ordering of society.
Standing for truth in love and compassion
• We affirm God’s design for the two sexes – male and female – and sexuality as between one man and one woman.
• We disagree with pro-gay and pro-transgender revisionist theology as contradictory to foundational Christian doctrine and the Judeo-Christian sexual ethic.
• We oppose the ordination of “transgender” and “transsexual” individuals and the celebration of “transgenderism” as one of God’s gifts.
• Because “transgenderism” violates God’s intentional design for sex and sexuality, we believe that this is a cultural and theological battle that we must engage and win. The modern “transgender” movement is systematically working to dismantle the concept of gender as the Bible and the world have always known it to be. If the transgender lobby succeeds, there will be striking consequences for marriage, family, and society at large.
• While God’s intent for sexuality and gender is being turned upside down, we must remember that those who struggle with their gender identity have lived lives of great pain, confusion and rejection. And just as Jesus went out of his way to reach the outcasts of society, we’re called to humbly share His love embodied in the Gospel, to lift them up in prayer, and to allow the Holy Spirit to bring about conviction, healing and transformation.
• We affirm the Christian view that to be human is to be holistically united as body and spirit. Indeed, Scripture teaches that even in heaven believers will have gloriously redeemed physical bodies. In contrast, pro-transgender revisionists hold to the pagan view that the body is a container that the spirit is poured into. As such, they erroneously conclude that either God has mistakenly put an opposite-gendered spirit into the wrong body or that the body is not the real person – that only the spirit is real. As Christians, we believe that God can heal these disconnected, gnostic views and bring restoration and wholeness – where body, soul and spirit are in unity.
• We call upon all parents to take a proactive role in their children’s development by providing them with a strong, Christian example of what it means to be male and female. Many of the problems associated with transgenderism, like confusion and pain, stem from a lack of parental involvement and guidance. Children must be taught that just as each individual life has inestimable worth, so too does each gender brings its own unique characteristics of inestimable worth to relationships, family, and society.
• We believe that we are called to proclaim the truth and beauty of God’s design and the redemption of sexual brokenness in our lives and culture through Jesus Christ. Like everyone else, “transgendered” individuals are desperately in need of God’s truth and deserve to know the love and compassion of Christ as shown through His people.
Talking points on God’s created intent for the sexes and “transgenderism”
• Attempts to subjugate objective biblical truths to subjective human experiences lead men and women to accept lies. Those with a personal interest in the pro-transgender theology often twist the Scriptures in ways that defy logic and common sense to support their behavior.
• The biblical creation account teaches that in the beginning God created man and woman in His image (Genesis 1:26). Gender distinctions serve as the foundation of marriage, the family, and subsequently, society. Male and female co-exist – as God intended – in equal and complementary roles in ways that mysteriously reflect who God is and lead to the general betterment of civilization. And even though sex-based roles have changed over time and varied among cultures, an understanding of general and specific distinctions between male and female has remained.
• The movement promoting the normalization of “transgenderism” radically redefines the clearly articulated vision for the sexes outlined in the Bible. Significantly, the image we humans bear of God as male and female mysteriously and gloriously reflects who God is on this planet.
• The gender confusion embodied in the pro-transgender revisionist theology is a direct result of living in a fallen world. And as with the temptation of mankind in the Garden of Eden, the spirit of “transgenderism” casts doubt on God’s clearly articulated ordination by acknowledging a well-known truth and supplementing it with a blatant lie. In this case, this acknowledgment of the two sexes (the truth) is supplemented with the view that male and female are merely two possible genders along a completely “fluid” gender spectrum (the lie).
• If the “transgender” lobby succeeds in redefining gender to include a virtually unlimited number of genders, then the God-ordained concept of gender will have been rendered completely meaningless.
• Regardless of the gender-roles that existed within different societies at any given time, the general and specific distinctions between male and female have always been recognized. More importantly, as Christians, we acknowledge that the general and specific distinctions between male and female have been instituted by God from the beginning.
• Although “transgender” individuals number less than a fraction of one percent of the population, the goal of activists is to radically deconstruct the biblical and biological understanding of “sex” and teach that gender is “fluid” and changeable. We’re being called to toss aside biological sex in favor of a person’s feelings or self-identification about their gender – whether or not these perceptions conform to biological reality.
• Ironically, the same activists who tell us that “sexual orientation” can’t be changed want us now to believe that somehow “gender” can be changed!
• Gay and “transgender” activists will not rest until they have utterly laid waste to the traditional and biblical understanding of one of the most important and fundamental distinctions in creation – gender.
• The tiny minority of individuals who self-identify as “transgender” are asking the rest of society to not only affirm them in their gender confusion and pain, but to radically reorder the ways in which the culture makes reasonable and rational accommodation for the two genders.
• Efforts to promote “transgenderism” in public policy necessarily and inexorably deconstruct one of the most basic and fundamental concepts known to mankind and the organization of social systems – gender – and render it completely meaningless.
• Sexual “Reassignment” Surgery and various hormonal therapies represent the physical alteration/mutilation of the body to match a perceived – and self-defined – social role.
• “Transgenderism” attempts to create a façade of legitimacy for what is otherwise a recognizable and treatable mental illness. The American Psychiatric Association refers to this condition as Gender Identity Disorder (GID) – a mental condition, not a physical condition.
• Dr. Paul McHugh, former Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Johns Hopkins University, referred to psychiatrists who recommend medical treatment for this condition as “fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness.”
• Psychiatrists should not be allowing mentally ill patients to suffer through such a devastating condition solely for the sake of political correctness.
• Contrary to the pagan view, the human body is not a container into which God simply pours a spirit. Rather, body and spirit are meant to be holistically united from the moment of conception. Thus, humans are called to embrace their embodied gender and not seek “sexual reassignment” when they struggle with feelings of gender confusion.
This article was written by analysts at CitizenLink, an affiliate of Focus on the Family.
This article was originally published on 22 December 2008.
For Further Study
• National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality
Keyword search: transgender
Help 4 Families
P.O. Box 1225
Bradford, PA 16701
(1) Genesis 2:23-24; Matthew 19: 3 – 6; Mark 10: 6-9; Ephesians 5:28-32, New International Version.
(2) Associated Press“Youth Culture Testing the Boundaries of Gender Identity and Roles,” The Advocate Online, 4 October 2005, <http://www.advocate.com/news_detail_ektid21307.asp>, (7 October 2008).
(3) “Mistakes in God’s Factory,” 26 January 2007, Spiegel Online, <http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,druck-462516,00.html,> (29 September 2008).
(4) Laura Clark, “Don’t Say Mum and Dad… teachers told not to assume pupils have heterosexual parents,” 30 January 2008, Mail Online, < http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-511209/Dont-say-mum-dad–teachers-told-assume-pupils-heterosexual-parents.html#> (29 September 2008); Safe to Learn: Embedding Anti-Bullying Work in Schools – Preventing and Responding to Homophobic bullying in schools, Teachernet Online Publications for Schools, September 2007.
< http://publications.teachernet.gov.uk/eOrderingDownload/HOMOPHOBIC%20BULLYING.pdf > (30 September 2008).
(5) Paul Brooks, “Principal Undergoing Sex Change,” Times Herald-Record Online, 25 August 2007, < http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070825/NEWS/708250334 > (30 September 2008).
(6) See, for instance, Pagan Kennedy, “Q & A with Norman Spack,” The Boston Globe Online, 30 March 2008, <http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/03/30/qa_with_norman_spack/> (7 October 2008); or J. Michael Bailey, The Man Who Would Be Queen, (Washington DC: Joseph Henry Press, 2003), pp. 26-28.
(7) See, for example, Gender Public Advocacy Coalition’s “2008 Genius Index,” which noted a large increase in college campuses offering “gender neutral” housing and restrooms, <http://www.gpac.org/cata/news.html?cmd=view&archive=news&msgnum=0725 > (30 September 2008) and groups like “Safe2Pee,” which map gender-neutral bathrooms around the world, <http://www.safe2pee.org/beta/> (30 September 2008).
(8) Associated Press, “Cross-Dressing Students Get ‘Transvestite Toilet’ at Thai School,” Fox News online, 18 June 1008, <http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,368301,00.html > (26 September 2008).
(9) Sheila Marikar, “America’s Next Transgender Top Model?” 22 August 2008, ABC News online, <http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/Story?id=5629177&page=1> (30 September 2008).
(10) SB 777, Official California Legislative Information, 12 October 2007, <http://leginfo.ca.gov/pub/07-08/bill/sen/sb_0751-0800/sb_777_bill_20071012_chaptered.pdf > (30 September 2008).
(11) Patricia Leagh Brown, “Supporting Boys or Girls When the Line Isn’t Clear,” New York Times online, 2 December, 2006, <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/02/us/02child.html?pagewanted=all > (3 October 2008).
(12) “California Transgender Student Allowed to Run For Prom King,” Fox News online, 22 April, 2007, <http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,267543,00.html > (3 October 2008).
(13) See, as examples, Thomas M. Messner, “Executive Summary: Same-Sex Marriage and the Threat to Religious Liberty,” 30 Octrober 2008, The Heritage Foundation, http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/bg2201es.cfm; Barbara Bradley Hagerty, “Gay Rights, Religious Liberties: A Three-Act Story,” 16 June 2008, National Public Radio, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91486340; Chai R. Feldblum, “Moral Conflict and Liberty: Gay Rights and Religion,” http://www.becketfund.org/files/4bce5.pdf?PHPSESSID=bdc567ff4c9c91f54a125a72954fcd4erF;