The Bible, Being Transgender and Me

This blog I had intended to be all about what the Bible says about being transgender.  As I attempted to write the blog, I actually found very little in the scriptures about it.

Into the circular file with the first draft.

Then I thought I could discuss examples of gender variance, like eunuchs, found in the Bible.  As I searched the Web, I found a lot of people have already discussed this topic so why do I need to add to all that?

Out the window went the second draft.

So, here I am sitting at my desk, facing a blank screen and wondering how I can express in some form of how I feel and what I believe on this whole topic.  I am no theologian or expert on the scriptures and as I write this, there is one thing I don’t want this blog to sound like, a sermon.

I finally came to the conclusion that I will just talk to you about what God has taught me over the years from my own personal devotions in the hopes that you may find them useful as well.

There was one verse that caused me great distress as I was growing up. It is the one verse that seems to be the most used by those opposed to the idea that someone can be transgender or those who believe that being transgender is a sin.  Deuteronomy 22:5 which says

“A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman's garment; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.”

What many who use this verse against the trans community fail to do is to put this verse into the context of the era in which it was written.  At the time this book was written, the Israelite people were occupying a land that did not share in their belief of one true God.  The Canaanites believed in multiple gods and had many rituals surrounding them.  One of these rituals required men to dress as one of the goddesses and serve as prostitutes in her temple.  The prohibition in Deut. 22:5 addresses one of the most visible acts of pagan idol worship of the time.  God gave the law to create a separation between the Israelites and the pagan culture of the day.  By following the law, people of the day could plainly see that the Israelites were different and did not believe in their pagan gods.   When you put this verse into context, this law and many others from Deuteronomy have no context in today’s world.

Only in the last few years have I really started to be aware of how, even as Christians, we judge each other.   I don’t care who you are, some time in your life you have been judged and have judge others.  After being the victim of many peoples judgments about my decision, I have leaned on one scripture passage, James 4:10-12

10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.11 Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. 12 God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?

If we disapprove of, condemn, denounce, judge or anything but love our neighbor, we sin in the eyes of God.  My parents have lived out this passage for me.  Whether or not my parents had any problem with my decision to transition, not once did they ever openly question it.  Of course they had questions about the process, but through out the last 3 years, they have shown what they have ALWAYS shown to me, their love.

As I was growing up, one question was repeated time and time again in my prayers “If we believe in Christ, does it matter who or what we are?”  The answer is plainly NO.  God sees us as sons and daughters, all equal in his eyes.  Galatians 3:26-29, I Samuel 16:7

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. Galatians 3:26-29

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7

You can be the President of the Untied States or the homeless man begging at the bottom of the ramp coming off the Kennedy Expressway, the CEO of Google or a woman that fled the oppression in Afghanistan, if you are in Christ, you are all children of God. God does not see us for our looks, our position in life or all the things we do.  God does not look at whether we were born with a male body or female body.  He sees us as our true selves.  He sees our hearts.  Are we humble? Are we caring?  Are we loving our neighbor?  This is what our hearts should be.

I think that instead of what God says or doesn’t say about being transgender is less important than what he says about how we treat and see each other.  Who am I to tell anyone else what is and is not a sin?  God has already done that through his word.

We are all God handy work.  He has given, each and everyone of us, a unique combination of gifts.  We are all his children.  We are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

Should we not focus on that?

Filed under: Uncategorized

Tags: Bible, Christian, God, LGBT, Transgender

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  • fb_avatar

    The restriction from the Old Testament about cross dressing is interesting. It's not a topic I've thought about very much. But I'm not certain that it can be explained away by allusions to male prostitutes dressed up as women. I'm not really up on my Canaanite history but at first read that seems an awful lot like a "just so" story like the idea that the "eye of the needle" in the Gospels referred to a small gate leading into Jerusalem. The earliest mentions of such a gate date to the medieval era when poverty became a controversy. I would be slightly surprised, but only slightly, to find that the Canaanite male prostitute thesis has strong historiographic evidence.

    The questions of gender and sex as they pertain to Christian theology are ones that I find interesting. I've seen a few different takes on them and it seems to me that most are problematic in that they are interpreting the Christian tradition from a certain conceptual schema that decides the questions in advance.

    A while ago I tried to do some cursory explorations on what the first few generation of Christians thought about the idea of transsexuality. I should revisit the topic.

    http://doxos.blogspot.com/2007/05/transexuality-and-early-christianity.html

  • In reply to Lee Malatesta:

    You need to go back to Leviticus 18 to see what God told Moses about separating themselves from the inhabitants of Canaan. " The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. 3 You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. 4 You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God. 5 Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord. " God set up laws for his people so that they were not get entangled in the rituals of the land they were to occupy.

  • fb_avatar

    I'm a Trinity Evangelical Divinity School drop out. i was in the MDiv missions program, but wanted to switch to MA counseling before i dropped out.
    I agree with you concerning the main issues. I also believe the Bible is clear on what is considered immorality. Is is sin. However, modern conservatives seem to remember this, but forget the other noted sins that they commit daily.
    I genuinely tried for 30+years to pray, confess, drugs from a Christian shrink, and much more, but i did not change. I just have to admit i do not agree with Scripture. I spent a lot of time trying to find an excuses for scripture just as conservatives strain to find justifications for women to teach. IMHO the only reason they spend so much time on this is because on many issues they do not believe scripture either. Worse yet they do not have the integrity to say so let alone admit it to themselves.
    IMHO Biblical progression shows an increasing compassion from the oldest books to the newer NT. However, scripture stopped being added to canon. Scripture spoke to the culture of its day and after 2000 years it seems we continued on a progressive path, but patristic literature does not carry the same weight as it did in the first century.

  • Meggan,

    I appreciated your retreat into your own heart for this blog. We can all Google the details or read a book to get another's view but I think it is what is in your heart and your own experience that we want to hear. I have always struggled with the realationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament. There is clearly a change and departure from the old covenant in the Gospels. In the Gospels, Jesus and his teachings really represented a revolution and a departure from many of the rules and requirements of the Old Testament. It is clear that is true because he basically says so. If you read your Old Testament there are a lot of rules and regulations that have clearly fallen to the wayside, and even the most staunch born-again religious righter will clearly laugh them off as historical artifacts. Things like dietary restrictions, the isolation of women during their menstrual cycle, temple rules and animal sacrifice. Bring up any of these and we almost laugh at how backwards it would be to all of sudden declare these as Biblical and reinstate them in our lives, and more disturbingly perhaps try to legislate them for our country. But what of the other Old Testament provisions that lay right beside these we have dismissed, the one's that are not so outrageous (although unjust). Is it the right of the Christian community or a particular denomination to handpick which of these they like for themselves and society and preach on them and use them as their sword? Either Old Testament law is a cultural artifact or it isn't. Some conservative Christians seem to almost be completely consumed with gay marriage and other LGBT issues, it seems to dominate their mind, their preaching and their activism. I find this odd considering Jesus himself never found it important enough to mention in the Gospels. The only discussions of homosexuality and similar "issues" in the New Testament are some brief mentions in Paul's epistles. These passages carry with them some fairly robust debate on Biblical interpretation, and by that I do not mean theological unpacking, I mean literal interpretation of whether some of the words used have been translated as originally intended. Those are all arguments above my paygrade, and it is certainly plausible that Paul may have spoken on the subject. But Paul is not the Gospel, and it is the Gospel that supplies us with the constructs of our salvation. While the basis for any Christian to judge a homosexual or transgender is shaky at best, what is not shaky at all...and from the mouth of Jesus...is that we are not to judge at all. That is stand I feel safe making, and that is where I will make my stand.

    Your friend.

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    You might consider http://throughthecracks.org/Deut21_5.html ...........

    Note that Deut. 22:1-4 and 6-9 basically teach do no harm. The modern translation for Deut. 22:5 clearly does not fit this teaching. ...............

    It is more apt to be translated as: "Never cause or force a warriors Weapon to be used by a (woman or weak person); neither dress warriors armor on a (woman or weak person) for to YAHVEH, GOD of HOST, disgusting is such that do so." ................

    The bible is silent with regard to the term transgender because the word transgender was not known then. Eunuch, however, was well known..........

    Isaiah 56:4-5
    For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off..................

    Matthew 19:12..................
    For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it..............

    Some Eunuchs were gay, some dressed as women, some were sterile, some castrated, etc. There were number of different reason to be labeled a Eunuch..............

    However, generally, a Eunuch is usually considered to be someone who was sterile, by birth or by castration, however, one must ask how such a Eunuch was easily identified on the street? Did he dress different? If so, how?..................

    Also, in Genesis we find the story of Leah and her giving Jacob a number of sons. In some Jewish teachings, Leah supposedly prayed that she have a daughter, and God turned one son to a daughter while in her womb, and she was named Dinah...................

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    Meggan Sommerville

    Meggan Sommerville is a Christian transgender woman with a heart for educating others about the transgender community and her faith in her Savior, Jesus Christ. Her career life has taken her on a variety of adventures, from being a veterinary technician in the Western burbs of Chicago to being an EMT/Paramedic, EMS instructor, and a paid on call firefighter for Bolingbrook , Illinois. Since 1998, she has been the frame shop manager for a national craft retailer. You can contact Meggan via email at Transgirlatcross@aol.com or find her on Facebook at Trans Girl at the Cross

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