The Doctrine of Trans, Part 2
Okay, okay so it was a little more than a week. I should have known better than to say “next week”!
So, getting on with it. If you are reading this post not having read the last previous one you should probably read it first for context. The subject at hand is “clobber verses” from the Bible that traditionalists tend to use when asked to prove that transsexual transition is sinful. Last time I covered the two major examples from the Old Testament, there are also primarily two from the New Testament. However it bears notice that quite a few of those attackers will resort to the verses which reference homosexuality in the mistaken belief that they are one and the same. In any debate with the traditionalist you may well have to disabuse them of that idea first before you can get to the verses that I am discussing in these columns. For the purpose of clarity, I’m going to reverse the order in which I discuss these two because the second one if taken in order of appearance in Scripture is very minor but the first one is the one which they are most likely to hang their argument on and the one that requires the most discussion.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,
This is a citation which seldom comes up because basically it’s only one word and the word which is subject to interpretation. That alone is enough to question the legitimacy of their argument, however there is more. The King James translation is the primary source for the use of that word for the Greek word in the original text, and there is strong critical evidence that the word is a poor choice for the concept being described in the original language. There is not space here to get into the textual criticism discussion but suffice it to say that there is tons of room to question whether or not they word “effeminate” is a word that even belongs in the Bible at all if properly translated. Now, let’s move on to the elephant in the room.
3 Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” 4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” 7 They *said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?” 8 He *said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery”
This is passage from that key chapter which is supposedly, in their view the New Testament confirmation of the Genesis 1 creation account I referenced last time. According to their logic, since Genesis refers to a strictly binary creation and Jesus in the New Testament affirms that model of creation therefore we can assume that any deviation from that model is not allowed.
However their own citation defeats the proposition because in this very passage Jesus describes a circumstance wherein it is permissible to divorce (and later in the New Testament Paul will expand upon this) and yet it is self-evident that the prefall creation model made no provision for divorce. So in the passage they cite, Jesus affirms that what is permissible in the eyes of God after the fall does not necessarily have to align to the perfect creation before the fall. But wait, there’s more! Let’s continue to read in chapter 19.
10 The disciples *said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.” 11 But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”
Let’s be clear, it is too much of an assumption to suggest that the eunuch in biblical times was a direct equivalent to the modern trans person. There may have occasionally been some parallels but not in most cases so far as we know. However, the passages relevant all the same. Let me explain. The traditionalist will argue that it is sinful for a person to actively either by conduct or by actual physical “mutilation” deviate from the creation model.
However we know as a certain fact that those which the Bible refer to has “eunuch” were men who, either by nature (“from their mothers womb” i.e. intersex persons), or by some physical alteration (“made by men”) or by the way they choose to live (“made themselves”) were people whose lives deviating significantly from the prefall creation binary model of manhood. And Jesus references these people without any hint of condemnation. You might also note that in the Old Testament the prophet Isaiah specifically speaks positively of these individuals.
Oh by the way, one more bonus point just to seal the deal at the end of your discussion: to the one who says that there is no way that God would affirm the surgical alteration of human genitals from the form in which they were born, you need only answer with a single word – circumcision.
In summary, not only does the Bible not, properly understood, say anything negative about transsexual individuals either directly or by implication, but indeed the only reference from which an application might be drawn is a positive reference. Feel free to arm yourself to counter those false arguments when you see them. See you next time.
Photo by: More Good Foundation