The Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, signed into North Carolina law last year, otherwise known as the “bathroom bill,” touched off a firestorm of debate and dialogue about gender. The Trump administration recently withdrew Obama-era protections for transgender students in public schools that let them use bathrooms and facilities corresponding with their gender identity. CNN described this move as, “A significant victory for opponents of the Obama administration’s guidelines who believe the federal government never should have gotten involved in the issue. Civil rights groups, meanwhile, denounced the withdrawal as a politically motivated attack that will endanger transgender children and sow confusion over the federal government’s role in enforcing civil rights.” As one can see, the issue is polarizing and, not surprisingly, many Christian leaders have chimed in with various perspectives concerning the law, the transgender community, and teachings of Scripture.
As is always the case, opinions and convictions vary even within the faith community.
I could summarize my feelings in three statements.
First, as an American I believe all citizens have the right to express themselves, dress themselves, and carry themselves in any way they wish as long as it does not cause harm to another.
So I stand with my transgender neighbors and affirm their right to live according to their desires. I do not have to agree or accept their lifestyle to uphold their civil right to live as they choose.
Second, I also recognize that every person who chooses to identify as the gender opposite of their biological sex is not a pedophile or sexual predator.
To stereotype individuals this way is bigoted and ignorant. True Christ followers should be angered when we see our own spewing resentful and hateful words. Not once has a transgender person ever threatened or intimidated me. Sadly, the same cannot be said of some professing Christians I have encountered.
Finally, no individual should have the right to make others feel uncomfortable or unsafe, especially in places like public restrooms.
It is undeniable that the freedom to enter restrooms of the opposite sex would allow sexual predators opportunities they do not need. My little girl does not have a choice. She, like 99.7% of the population, identifies with her biological gender and therefore uses the women’s restroom. The weight of the greater good swings well into her favor and protecting her is far more important to the overwhelming majority of the population than the .3% who may feel somehow more affirmed by going into the restroom of their choice.
However, there is more for Christians to consider and it has to do with our understanding of gender.
Biblical Christianity is supposed to be, above everything else, biblical. Even though the Bible has a lot to say about gender it seems as though many Christians are satisfied to say, “You just are what you are.” I find this unfortunate. Allow me to share with you a few truths according to the Bible that may serve to expand your understanding and appreciation of gender.
Truths About Gender, According to the Bible
Gender was God’s idea.
Gender is not a cultural construct that individuals are forced into. It is the design of our Creator and yet another aspect of His glory. As Genesis 1:27 records, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (ESV).
Masculinity in men and femininity in women are both celebrated in the Bible
….and (though not a direct parallel) the diversity of man as male and female is a reflection of being made in the image of God who reveals Himself diversely as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Gender, like many aspects of our lives, is determined and fixed by God.
According to Psalm 139:13-14, we are “fearfully and wonderfully” made by God as He “knits us together in our mother’s womb” (ESV). Scripture makes no distinction between our biological sex and our gender. There is an irony happening right before our eyes within those pushing the LGBT agenda. For years the primary argument used to defend homosexuality is that it is fixed from birth. Many argue they were born gay and so that cannot deny who they are. Now, however, this same community is arguing that gender is not fixed but rather quite fluid and can be chosen. So which is it? It seems contradictory to argue both exist. The Scripture would offer the opposite. Gender is fixed but how a person chooses to express himself/herself sexually is a choice.
While the Bible assigns different roles and responsibilities to each gender it condemns gender inequality or discrimination.
Admittedly, in the name of Christ, many injustices sinfully exist. The actions of misguided or false Christians to oppress based on gender, however, do not change what God has made clear in His Word. Paul knew that men and women were equal to God in value which is why he wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, ESV). He also recognized our mutual dependence on one another when he teaches, “Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman” (1 Corinthians 11:11, ESV).
Confusion is real and it is a result of the curse of sin.
God is not the author of confusion but Satan’s primary strategy is to deceive. People can and do experience deep seated confusion about all kinds of issues in life and this, of course, can include gender identity. Hating or hurting people who are struggling with confusion is a direct violation of the gospel. Equally damaging is affirming their efforts to find clarity by abandoning what God so clearly gave them, their biological gender. As humans, we do not need new bodies…we need new hearts. God gives those out all the time.
Just because many of us never question our gender, we are not excused from understanding what God has said about this subject. Our knowledge of God’s will is never to condemn or inform hate. Rather, it prepares us to guide one another and offer authentic hope to those struggling to make sense of life.