A Christian Perspective on Gender Identity Disorder
James R. Aist
“A woman must not wear man’s clothing, nor is a man to put on a woman’s clothing. For all that do so are abominations to the Lord your God.” – Deuteronomy 22:5
In a previous article on the transgender movement (1), a comprehensive and scholarly review article (6) by the Family Research Council was presented. The purpose of the present article is to present a Christian perspective on Gender Identity Disorder (GID) itself. (The numbers in parentheses are keyed to the numbered references listed at the end of the article.)
What is Gender Identity Disorder?
Gender Identity Disorder – often called “Gender Dysphoria” to de-emphasize the mental delusion involved – is a mental disorder characterized by the feeling and belief that you are not really the gender of the body you were born in, but that of the opposite gender. Thus, a person born a male feels and believes that he is really a female trapped in a male body and identifies his gender as female, and a person born a female feels and believes that she is really a male trapped in a female body and identifies her gender as male. Such a person is said to be transgender, because he/she perceives their real gender to be opposite (trans) their birth gender. Conversely, a cisgender person feels and believes their real gender to be the same (cis) as their birth gender. Transgender people experience intense anxiety, distress and inner conflict, because their perceived gender does not match their actual, birth gender. These feelings and beliefs are, themselves, very real to the person experiencing them, but they do not correspond to the actual, biological gender. Therefore, they represent a virtual, rather than an actual, reality. That is to say, persons with GID are delusional with respect to their gender. The best estimates of the prevalence of GID put it in the range of 0.33%-0.47%, or less than one-half of one percent, of the general population (7). Thus, GID is not “normal.”
What is a Christian Response to GID?
What does the Bible say?
Let’s begin with Genesis 1:27 (with Mark 10:6) and Genesis 1:28. God makes mankind, including transgender persons, in His own image as male and female. Recall that God Himself created the first two human beings, Adam and Eve. Thus, as male and female, mankind can manifest the image of God by participating with God in the continuing creation of new, male and female, human beings. GID can prevent this manifestation of the image of God in us and keep us from being the complete man or woman God desires us to be. Therefore, GID is not natural.
Now, let’s move on to Deuteronomy 22:5, where God gives us instruction concerning a common manifestation of transgenderism; namely, “cross dressing”: “A woman must not wear man’s clothing, nor is a man to put on a woman’s clothing. For all that do so are abominations to the Lord your God.” (Note that this Old Testament instruction is a moral law, and, as such, is fully in force in today’s Christian church.) The Hebrew word translated “abomination” in the KJV and MEV translations is translated in many other modern English versions of the Bible as “detestable”, disgusting”, “abhorrent”, or “hateful” to God, leaving no room for doubt that God does not approve of transgender acts. But notice further that the verse says that “all that do so” are, themselves, abominations (hateful) to God. “But”, you may object, “doesn’t God love sinners?” Indeed He does, but, at the same time, He also hates those who are sinning (Psalms 5:5, Psalms 11:5, Proverbs 3:32, Proverbs 11:20). This may be a surprise to you, but remember the good news: God’s perfect love has made a way for His hatred of sinners to be cancelled, through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. This good news is for all who sin against God in any way, including transgender people.
Finally, we come to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, and you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus by the Spirit of our God.” Professor Robert Gagnon, one of our most prominent, contemporary, evangelical Bible scholars, had this to say about this passage, and I quote: “Paul includes “soft men” (malakoi) in the offender list in 1 Cor 6:9-10, which in context designates men who attempt to become women (through dress, mannerisms, makeup, and sometimes castration), often to attract male sex partners. The fact that Paul includes such persons among those who “shall not inherit the kingdom of God” suggests that acting on a desire to become the opposite sex can in fact affect one’s redemption” (4). Fortunately (for them and us), the same passage goes on to say that the power and authority (i.e., the “name”) of Jesus is able to both rid them of their sinful behavior and save their souls!
Let’s look into this aspect a bit further. I see a parallel here with the condition of homosexuality. God does not hate homosexuals because they develop same-sex attractions; they do not choose to have them. But He does hate them when they choose to act on those feelings by having homosexual sex (a sin). Likewise, God does not hate transgender persons because they develop GID; they did not choose to be gender confused. But, when they choose to act contrary to His design and purposes (sin, e.g., by cross dressing, undergoing so-called “gender re-asssignment”, etc.), that’s when He hates them. And, this is the same manner in which God deals with mankind concerning any other kind of sin, is it not? We sin and trigger God’s hatred, not by being tempted to sin, but by giving in to the temptation and choosing to commit sinful acts. With that perspective, it should be easier for us to refrain from condemning transgender persons; for we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
And, here is a further, often overlooked, ramification of Deuteronomy 22:5 and 1 Corinthians 1:6-9. If a male-to-female transgender person has sex with a man, he is committing a homosexual sin, because he is, in reality, still a man. Likewise, if a female-to-male transgender person has sex with a female, she is committing a homosexual sin, because she is, in reality, still a woman. Do not be deceived: God will not be mocked by anyone masquerading as a member of the opposite gender. After all, He is the one who created man with the XY sex chromosome configuration and woman with the XX sex chromosome configuration, and no amount or manner of pretending will ever change that.
That brings us to my final point in this section. Some transgender activists accuse God of making people gender confused. So, let me be very clear about this: God does not make anyone transgender! What kind of a “god” would create human beings that he purposely made to be an abomination to himself?! The God of the Bible is neither sadistic nor self-defeating. While it is true that God does not make mistakes, it is also true that God, for the time being at least, does allow mistakes to be made. For example, does He not allow us to sin? So then, how is it that transgenderism developed in a world created by a sovereign, morally perfect God? The answer is right before our eyes: like homosexuality (2), transgenderism came about as the result of original sin (16) and the resultant curse under which all of creation will continue to be compromised until the return of Jesus Christ to restore God’s creation to its original, perfect condition. Until then, let us not slander God by accusing Him of creating in us the sin nature that we struggle against, regardless of how that sin nature is manifested!
How should Christians respond?
In short, we should not condemn transgender persons themselves, and, at the same time, it seems to me, we should not affirm their gender delusion. In this regard, however, Yarhouse (7) recommended the following approach : “If Sara shares her name with me, as a clinician and Christian, I use it. I do not use this moment to shout “Integrity!” by using her male name or pronoun, which clearly goes against that person’s wishes. It is an act of respect, even if we disagree, to let the person determine what they want to be called. If we can’t grant them that, it’s going to be next to impossible to establish any sort of relationship with them.” In any case, we must treat transgender persons with dignity and respect, be honest with them, have compassion for their suffering, and pray earnestly for them. We should not try to “fix” them (7). If the opportunity arises, we should encourage them to seek God’s help through prayer and/or psychotherapy in order to work through their underlying psychological issues and concerns. As with all ungodly conditions and behaviors that afflict fallen mankind, God can say the word, and healing will come. Of course, whether, or how, He chooses to heal is up to Him.
Perhaps you would like to read what several, prominent, evangelical Christian leaders have recently written about a Christian response to transgenderism. If so, I refer you to references (3, 4, 5, and 7) at the end of this article. These are all potentially helpful articles for anyone who sincerely wants to be Christ-like in their response to the transgender movement. I especially recommend that you read the article by Yarhouse (7) and then the article by Gagnon (4), which is a response to it. As Christians, we must be careful to reach out to transgender people on our own terms, not theirs, if we want to help them find redemption in Jesus Christ. And that should be our end game.
A good, Christian website with personal testimonies and lots more information on GID is “Help 4 Families” (8).
(For more articles by Professor Aist on HOMOSEXUALITY, click HERE)
1. Aist, J. 2016. The Transgender Movement: A Comprehensive Review (click HERE)
2. Aist, J. 2014b. God Does Not Make Anyone Homosexual! (click HERE)
3. Brown, M. 2015. Can the Church Embrace the Transgender Community? Charisma News. (click HERE)
4. Gagnon, R. 2015. How Should Christians Respond to the Transgender Phenomenon? First Things. (click HERE)
5. Moore, R. 2015. What Should the Church Say to Bruce Jenner? The Christian Post. (click HERE)
6. O’Leary, D. and P. Sprigg. 2015. Understanding and Responding to the Transgender Movement. Family Research Council. (click HERE)
7. Yarhouse, M. 2015. Understanding the Transgender Phenomenon. Christianity Today. (click HERE)
8. Help 4 families. (click HERE)