In recent weeks someone close to me informed me that his teenaged son has come out as transgendered – that is, he was born with all the male markers but identifies as a female. He assured me that his son is still a Christian. I don’t doubt that the desires and feelings of their son dawned on him slowly and are a surprise to him, perhaps even unwelcome. We all want to fit in and he must know that he will face rejection. And I don’t think that his parents did something “wrong” that made him “go bad”. They are excellent parents and their son has always been a good guy. But it does leave me in a dilemma. I have to ask what God wants us to think and how we are to respond as questions about gender keep coming up.
The first thing we should agree on is that none of us can afford to be contemptuous, harsh or censorious. According to the Bible we are all broken people in every part of our lives. “There is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). That includes how we express and appreciate gender. None of us lives out gender and relates to gender as God desires. Males and females often despise and harm their opposites simply for being the gender they are. Others excuse grotesque versions of maleness (dominance and sexual aggression) or femaleness (sexual manipulation). Christians stand among the broken not above them.
The second thing we should agree on is that every broken part of our lives, including our gender brokenness, must come under the authority of God. Every person is a bundle of inclinations, wants and desires, many of them contrary to God’s will. It has been this way since Adam and Eve. But our wants and desires are not our authority for life. That’s where Adam and Eve got it wrong. Jesus came to fix the tendencies and the consequences of living outside of God’s will. Salvation in the Bible is much more than the forgiveness of sins and the promise of heaven. Salvation is the restoration of the image and likeness of God in me through Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit and through the practice of obedience to God/Christ. With “all authority” Jesus came to make disciples – those who trust his saving work and are learning to obey everything he teaches us. This includes his will about gender.
I will try to explain God’s will about gender next week but for now we should remember that the will of God is always for our good even when it doesn’t seem so. We hear the longing of God’s heart for our good in his words to Israel: “Oh, that their hearts were inclined to fear me and to keep all my commands always so that it might go well with them and their children forever” (Deuteronomy 5:29). The trouble is they never really believed it. Do we?