The Transgender Teenager
I recently had a Christian friend mention that the Bible doesn’t say anything about being transgender. I was baffled by such a statement and asserted that Scripture has tons to say on such a subject.
The Bible doesn’t mention abortion or even the word Trinity, but we can still know God’s thoughts on such subjects. Of course they asked me to show them where the Bible speaks against transgender people. The problem with such a question is that the term “transgender” is a made-up word.
In 1941, a new category was invented to describe a social phenomena. It was the word “teenager.” This word was needed because, traditionally throughout every culture in history, we had only children or adults. There was no step in-between. The Bible says nothing about being a teenager, because it presupposes that you are either a child or you’re an adult.
The Bible gives guidelines for how a child should act and how an adult should act, but it also gives a lot of freedom by not creating any stereotypes for children or adults. For example, the Bible doesn’t say women should play with dolls as a kid. It is the world that creates these stereotypes and then tries to force people into them. The Bible gives so much more freedom.
David played the flute and wrote poetry, and Lydia was a successful entrepreneur long before any women’s liberation movement. So when someone asks me, “How do we reach teenagers?” I have to first point out that a good exegesis of Scripture in dealing with teenagers is to understand that it is a category error, first and foremost.
I won’t call a transgender male by a pronoun that differs from their biology, and I won’t call a 16-year-old a teenager. To do so is only to support terms invented by the world to give freedom but only creates yet another categorical cage for people to live in.
I say all this to prime the pump on the transgender issue. Just as the word “teenager” was invented because we failed to give a good Biblical understanding on the differences between children and adults, the same goes for the term “transgender” (though, of course, the use of “teenager” and “transgender” are not morally equal).
The world is always more than willing to create new labels for whenever we abandon Biblical principles. And these labels are always more burdensome and imprisoning than the alternative.
Scripture clearly teaches that healthy and Godly relationships are between a man and a woman, joined in a covenant marital relationship. It gives guidelines on how a man is to treat his wife and a wife is to treat her husband. Since we have now removed the fences from around the moral playground, children are playing in traffic. All sorts of things have become normative, and we have created new terms to justify them.
The Bible leaves it open for men to be effeminate-acting, but the world likes to shove people into categories. So an effeminate-acting man, oh he must be gay. A tough girl who likes softball and muscle cars, oh she must be a lesbian. The better option, by far, is to not add to adolescent confusion by inventing these terms to try to make them decide, but to show them that Scripture clearly teaches there are two genders – man and woman. And within those two terms, there is great freedom to be who you are, whether you are a muscled-up football player or a sensitive poet, you are a man. This is a biological reality.
Genesis 5:2 says, He created them male and female; when they were created, He blessed them and named them “humankind.” I have heard the response that this is not relevant because it is only speaking of Adam and Eve. This is true; however, the proof of its relevance to current issues is, from that moment on, through all of Scripture those are the only two categories used. God never refers to a man as a woman, so to now suggest that we should call some women men is to insult their true biology and only creates more confusion.
The world fails when a father tries to push his artsy emotional son into football in order to make him a “man” (usually because of the father’s own insecurities), and it also fails when it tries to say, “Well, you might be a woman on the inside.” Both of these create more chains for a child to wear.
The Bible gives so much more freedom by not defining a man by his hobbies or muscle mass, and by not defining a woman by her looks or high heels. These worldly labels are just a prison, and the whole idea of transgender is just another cage to lock someone in.
We should be sympathetic and loving to all people. This should go without saying. We should stand up against bullying and hate; we should also be willing to lovingly help people escape the cages the world has built.