Recently a post went across my newsfeed. This post was an article written by a high school classmate who was coming out as non-binary. The author of this article proclaims to be a Christian, and encourages intersex, same-sex attracted, and gender dysphoric people to find their identity through expression of LGBTQ+ sexuality/gender as the author is doing. The perspective being propagated asserts that the Bible is not an obstacle to an LGBTQ+ identity or practice, that gender and sex are unrelated/independent of each other, and that to love someone who is LGBTQ+ you must affirm them without hesitation. This is celebrating sin, and finding personal value and identity in sin (rebellion from God) rather than repenting of sin. My classmate sets forth several supports from various scholars and offers interpretations of some relevant biblical texts to support this position. I am concerned for the author based on the position being advocated as well as the numerous Christians who have responded positively and been influenced by this position. I am setting forth to examine this position from a historical, Christian, theological and exegetical perspective seeking to show that this viewpoint is incompatible with a meaningful understanding of the Bible and incompatible with historic and orthodox Christianity.
In light of the purpose of this writing, my hope is that the Christian would be equipped with confidence in God’s Word; I hope for the Christian to believe the historical position of the Christian faith in the areas of sex and sexuality. I also pray that non-Christian or confused readers would by God’s grace repent of their sin and trust in the risen Savior for their salvation, or, short of this, that they would not pretend to be Christian if they are not. The Lord Jesus articulated the two greatest commands of God’s law as, “love God, and love Neighbor,” (Matthew 22:36-40). My effort in this writing is to do both, but the Scriptures define love, not our emotions. 1 Corinthians 13:6 says, “Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth.” So a Christian’s first obligation is to love God. Second, they must love their neighbor. But this love cannot be a celebration of things that are detrimental and damning to our neighbor. This is seen in that the Lord Jesus never (not even once), affirmed someone in their sin to continue sinning. The Lord Jesus never affirmed someone finding their identity in something that God had forbidden.
When beginning to address this topic one must start at the beginning of humanity, looking at the creation of sexuality, marriage, and mankind. God created humans in His image in Genesis 1:27. This means that humanity is supposed to reflect what God is like. Humans do this by being in community as God is in community within the Trinity. Humans also image God by exercising dominion over the world, as God has done, by working for God as his stewards. Another way humans image God is with their moral agency, having the opportunity to make moral decisions with consequences. There are many other significant discussions on the image of God, but relevant to this discussion is that of gender and sex in the image of God.
In the Genesis account, Adam is found without a suitable mate. He is alone, and none of the animals that God created are suitable to serve as a helper for him. God declared that this was the only “not good” part of His creation and created Eve, to be his wife. Eve was taken from Adam’s side, formed from a rib of Adam, as Adam had been formed from the dust of the earth. Eve is called “woman” because she came from man. Together, the sexes serve together as God’s image. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them [plural],” (Genesis 1:27). This is significant because of the distinction. There are very clearly two sexes seen here. And there are two corresponding genders. Walker agrees, “Male and female, according to the biblical portrait, are fixed, bodily realities; meaning they are not interchangeable or eradicable.”
There are also different roles for each sex seen in the Genesis account. Adam works and he leads (1 Corinthians 11:3). Eve, his wife, supports Adam and produces children (1 Timothy 2:15). At the irreducible core of the distinction of the sexes are these roles, which continue throughout the biblical storyline. In the fullness of redemptive history, the union of marriage points to the relationship of Jesus Christ with His bride, the church (Ephesians 5:23). Jesus leads, and does the work necessary for the salvation of the church. The church submits to Christ the Lord, and serves as a “helper.” They do this in preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God (Matthew 28:18-20). In a spiritual sense, the church is the vessel that “bears fruit” in bringing forth children. The church does this by discipling new believers that are born by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3).
If one is to blur the lines between the distinctions of the sexes they are approaching Christological heresies. This is done when what they say about the sexes is translated to Ephesians 5 and the nature of Christ and the church. If there is no real objective sex or gender then Christ and the church are interchangeable; if this is the case, the gospel is nonsense and there is no true redeemer. Biblically the distinction between gender and sex is completely absent. The author is entirely right that there are different ways for gender to be expressed in different cultures. However, masculinity is masculinity… A scholar, a football star, a soldier, a hunter, a waiter, a chef, a writer, and a painter can all be masculine. Any of these may be valid representations of masculinity, and just because it varies slightly in different societies does not mean that the scholar, the hunter, and the soldier are all different genders or a spectrum of different genders. Jesus Christ is the standard of true masculinity as He sacrificed of Himself for His bride. He leads, makes hard decisions, and subdues all His enemies. Jesus kneeling to wash the feet of His disciples was not taking an effeminate role but being truly masculine in leading His people to serve after Him.
Often it is alleged that Jesus didn’t say anything about homosexuality, or issues of transgenderism. However, Jesus when challenged to address divorce in Matthew 19 actually quotes Genesis. In doing so Jesus affirms the age-old definition of sex/gender and marriage, leaving no room for any perversions. Jesus says, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? (Matthew 19:4b-5). If one holds to the orthodox position that Jesus is, in fact, God in the flesh, the second person of the Trinity, who died for the sins of the world, and rose from the dead on the third day— they are forced to believe Jesus not once took the opportunity to affirm the “unjustly suffering” LGBTQ+ individuals in second temple Jewish society. Instead, Jesus took this opportunity to perpetuate the classical understanding of marriage and sexuality in correcting the unjust practice of no-fault divorce. This despite statements like the following from scholars of this perspective quoted by the author, “On the one hand, if God loves human beings, then God cannot abide the pain of gender dysphoria. It is not real love to allow such harm to take place…” (Michaelson). Answering this, the article says the following, citing two sources that agree,
“…the Bible obviously never explicitly references being Transgender, but celebrates people who rebelled against their gender roles. Everyone from Deborah the Judge, to Jacob, to even Paul. The only one explicit condemnation being against eunuchs (in Deuteronomy) which is later revoked in both Isaiah and by Jesus himself in Matthew.” (The article from my classmate)
But the author’s exegesis (extracting meaning from the text) is severely lacking here to a frankly stunning degree. I agree that the Bible does not explicitly mention being transgender, and that is because the whole dichotomy between gender and sex integral to this perspective is entirely absent from the Biblical worldview.
Esau was a man, and Jacob was a man. Esau liked hunting, and Jacob liked cooking. Esau was hairy and Jacob didn’t have much body hair. This is hardly proof that Jacob was transgender, or even that he was feminine. These are all completely morally insignificant facts that are not presented in a positive or negative light. Their masculinity was expressed in different ways, each masculine. The Bible mentions Jacob with male pronouns (and every other male in the Bible) consistently. Likewise, Deborah is identified as a woman consistently… Not only that, but she tries desperately to not take the role that she was forced into of leading the forces of the Jews into battle (Judges 4). The book of Judges chronicles a dark time in Israel’s history, and the point of the narrative is that the men are being negligent, disobedient, and cowardly. The point is not that Deborah was a man (or defying her God-given gender or sex).
To twist the words of Jesus, Paul, and Moses as has been done in this article is truly exegetical gymnastics: one tries desperately to make one’s worldview fit into the biblical text. Deuteronomy 23:1 says that men with damaged genitals cannot enter the temple. The author interprets this to mean be a moral prohibition of eunuchs and therefore gender fluid, transexual, or intersex people. The author then understands this prohibition to be later reversed by Jesus who says “there are eunuchs made such for the Kingdom of Heaven.” The article even goes so far as to say that Paul was effeminate and defying gender roles by being a eunuch of sorts by being celibate. However, this Deuteronomy passage is a law of ceremonial purity, not a moral condemnation of eunuchs. Laws like these pertaining to ceremonial purity pointed forward to Christ and His holiness (Colossians 2:17, Hebrews 8). In Matthew, Jesus talks about those made eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus speaks of those like Paul, who functioned as eunuchs in that they were celibate because of the dedication they gave to the things of God (1 Corinthians 7). Jesus likewise was celibate, and yet Jesus is presented as thoroughly male. Jesus is the Son of man (Daniel 7), the Son of God, with whom the Father is well pleased (Matthew 3:15). Jesus even now is seated at the right hand of the Father, in a resurrected and glorified male body, (Psalm 110:1-2, Acts 2:32-34, John 20:27). To state that celibacy makes Jesus or Paul effeminate is incoherent, intellectually dishonest, exegetically lazy and deceptive. For those looking to better understand the masculinity and the sexuality of Jesus, I cannot more highly recommend Mere Sexuality by Todd Wilson to explore these issues in greater depth.
The diatribe also addresses some of the so-called “clobber texts,” these are the direct and clear portions of scripture that condemn homosexual practice. First, addressing the topic of the destruction of Sodom. This narrative in Genesis 19 details the destruction of a wicked city by God. In the account, two angels come to the city to confirm the wickedness of the inhabitants. After arriving in the city, the men (ALL of them) surround Lot’s house, where the angels are staying for the night. They demand that Lot bring out his visitors so that they can gang rape them. Lot refuses, and incredibly offers his daughters instead (this is not excused or advocated in the text). Before Lot’s daughters can be harmed, the angels miraculously blind the wicked men. The text says the men literally exhausted themselves trying to find the door to rape Lot’s guests. Ironically, the men Lot fends off from the angels accuse Lot of judging them, but this is neither here nor there. The advocated new interpretation says that the crime of these men is that they were inhospitable. Classically, the sin of Sodom has been understood to be, in fact, sodomy. This traditional view results from a face-value reading of Genesis 19 and requires no special hermeneutical tricks other than letting the Bible say what it says. The contrary interpretation is based on poor exegesis of Matthew 10:12-14. Matthew writes of when Jesus sent His disciples to preach the gospel to the surrounding towns. Jesus says that for those who don’t receive the disciples and their message, it will be “better for Sodom than for those on the day of judgment.” Proponents of this view would read into this text that Jesus is responding with indignation against these cities for their lack of hospitality. The assumption then is that it is the same sin committed by these cities as by Sodom… since Sodom is referred to. Therefore, the sin of the Sodomites wasn’t homosexuality or sodomy, but inhospitality. However, this view is entirely novel to the gospels and completely absent from the text of Genesis 19. The point Jesus is making is found in the immediately following passage in Luke’s account (Luke 10:11-14) of the same sending of the disciples. Luke elaborates on the same event giving more detail than Matthew here. Luke tells of Jesus rebuking the cities that He had preached to and performed miracles for that would not repent (turn from their sin). Jesus says that if other famous cities destroyed in the past, Tyre and Sidon, had heard His preaching and seen His miracles they would have repented… This principle is that of “to whom much is given, much will be required,”(Luke 12:48). Jesus is condemning the cities that reject his disciples because they reject the gospel, a chance that Sodom, Tyre and Sidon were never given… a chance to repent and welcome the King, Jesus. The disciples represent Jesus, and the Jewish cities that rejected Christ and His disciples were given more revelation than Sodom, Tyre and Sidon, therefore their guilt was that much worse.
Leviticus 20:13 is expressly more difficult for the new progressive perspective. “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them,”(NASB). This is clarified by a previous verse, Leviticus 18:22, “you shall not lie with a male as with a woman, it is an abomination.”(ESV) This isn’t obscure. There are not a lot of ways to say this more clearly if you were trying to prohibit homosexual practice. While I am not a Hebrew scholar, it is interesting to note that the word for wife and woman is the same in Hebrew, and must be determined by context. So this could be read as, “you may not sleep with a man as you do your wife.” Likewise, the word for man in both verses is the same word translated as husband, the context must determine the meaning. So likewise Leviticus 20:13 could read, “if a husband lies with a male as with his wife…” However, neither passage has to be translated this way to be clear. Both the ESV and NASB English Bibles sufficiently say what the text says without any ambiguity. The author’s interpretive argument is entirely based on the word “mankind” or “male” in Leviticus 20:13 being ambiguous and/or being in reference to temple prostitutes. However, this word means simply male. Context grants clarity, but the NASB translated it as boy 4 times, and male 54 times (this is just the Old Testament). This online study tool helps show this linking to Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew interlinear/concordance. The opposing argument here is less than persuasive.
Another so-called clobber text is Romans 1:18-32, in which Paul writes about those who rebel against God, and many of the external manifestations this rebellion reveals. Paul says unequivocally, God does not believe in atheists. He says that those who rebel against God will be given over to what they have chosen instead of Him to their own destruction. The critics of the traditional and face-value reading of this text interpret this as either pedophilia, sex slave and master relationships, or cult prostitutes… seemingly anything to get away from what it says. Punt (one of the cited sources) comments “The anti-homosexual use of Romans 1 generally harbours a thinly vieled [sic] heteronormativity…” The hinge that Punt refers to in his work is that of the word nature. He argues that this is speaking of heterosexual people committing homosexual acts contrary to their nature. However, the nature of man that Jesus references in His dealings with marriage (see above) is that of the created order, it is Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, man and woman created in God’s image. Man and woman covenanted in marriage for a one-flesh union, a unique bond of spiritual, emotional, physical, and sexual complementarianism that is integral to the created order. So I may be assuming a “heterosexual-normality” to this passage… But so does Paul, and so does Jesus, and so does all of Christendom for 2 millennia. To dismiss this appeal to the created order is not to dismiss my opinion or even that of the historic Christian church, but that of the Lord Jesus Himself in Matthew 19.
Punt objects to the identification of homosexual acts as sin because it is given as an effect of judgment rather than a cause of judgment in this text. This is an astute observation,
“In Romans 1, however, homoeroticism is already the consequence of sin, the failure to acknowledge God as God.” (Punt) I agree with Punt here. But this does not negate what has already been established in divine revelation through the Law. This is exactly Paul’s argument, judgment is terrible because not only are you punished, but you keep sinning and you keep sinning in deeper perversion and wickedness. God removes His gracious restraint from you and lets you plunge into the mire that you love instead of Him. This is how the wrath of God is revealed even now against the wicked: God loosening His restraining hand and giving them what they have desired. We serve the creature rather than the creator. Ultimately, the creature we would rather serve is ourselves or at least a god that looks very much like us and likes all the same things we do because it is a god of our own invention. We do this because we hate God (v.30), and instead love self (2 Timothy 3:2) which is a sick inversion of God’s law to love God and love our Neighbor.
The author’s diatribe ultimately does the same thing those “silly” Christians are reportedly doing. The writer accuses Christians of cherry-picking what they want from the story of Sodom, and yet, then in an alternative interpretation of Romans 1:18-32, and Leviticus 20:13 chooses to condemn cult prostitutes, prostitution, and pedophilia. My question is, by what standard are these rejected? This is the logical fallacy of special pleading, where these prohibitions of the Christian ethics are accepted but those against homosexuality are rejected… and why? If one has rejected what Jesus says about marriage, rejects Moses, rejects Paul in favor of one’s own preferences they lose all standing to call anything wrong. The pedophile, the rapist, the incestuous, the animal abuser, or the polygamous can only be different, not wrong. When one loses their objective standard (God’s Word and God’s standard) then they are left with no actual standard other than preference. One may be left with some form of religion, some form of moralism that is extracted from their preferences, but whatever that is, it isn’t Christianity. One is left with another religion altogether, with a different god who is not the true God, and with a savior who offers no salvation.
Briefly, I would recognize that gender dysphoria, same-sex attraction, and intersex people are a reality. I am not an expert on these issues nor do I suffer from these experiences, so I do not want to speak from ignorance. These must be addressed with compassion in a case by case pastoral setting. A broad brush does not work here. But there is a big difference between these people, and the larger transgender movement and the LGBTQ+ community. According to one expert, the percentage of the population that is intersex is 0.018% (Sax). This would amount to an approximate number of intersex people in the US of 58,896. However, according to recent estimates, there are 1.4 million transgender people in the US (Hoffman). This number is quite disproportionate if intersex is to be taken as God’s allowance of transgenderism; The discrepancy is because we are living in a Romans 1 world in a society under the judgment of God. We have been given over to a reprobate mind to do what ought not to be done, and we are collectively rebelling against our creator to serve ourselves instead of the triune God.
Often, one will say that because someone is born gay or born transgender, it is something to be celebrated not suppressed. The author agrees, “So when God fearfully and wonderfully made us, He also made us Trans and/or Gay. It is not a deviation from God’s plan and creation but a fulfillment of it.” However, the message of Christianity is that we live in a broken world because of sin (Genesis 3:17-19, Romans 8:22) while we await the Lord who will make all things new in His consummation and return (Revelation 21:5). We are born inherently under God’s wrath, and born dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1). This means that we all are born with certain proclivities towards one sin or another, but just because one man is naturally promiscuous, or someone is a liar by nature, or someone is drawn to murder or rape does not excuse these behaviors. The message of Christianity is that Jesus gives new life, and He redeems those who were once homosexuals, drunks, gossips, murderers, and idolaters (1 Corinthians 6:11). He washes His people and makes them new so that their identity is not found in those sins (even though the temptation may remain) but their identity is found in their unity with the risen Savior (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 6:4).
The contrite and broken people suffering from these issues are not condemned by Jesus. They are welcomed and called to new life in Him. Jesus says to the contrite and humble (Psalm 51:17), “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28) But the movement of LGBTQ+ is not contrite and humble. In the pride marches and abhorrence to all who dare disagree, the movement is a defiant fist raised towards heaven. The LGBTQ+ movement represents reveling in the things that we know are against God’s law and defying their creator (Romans 1:32). Those who justify homosexuality or any other sin, are not the poor in spirit that Christ speaks of (Matthew 5:3). Paying Jesus lip service is not enough. Jesus says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and yet do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). Just trying hard to be loving towards a neighbor or God will not save you. Loving God and neighbor is God’s law and, “for by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight since through the law comes knowledge of sin,” (Romans 3:20). So even trying to be loving will not save you anymore than trying to be a good person will save you. Jesus is the only one who saves.
The message of the gospel is that Jesus is King. The Lord Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father after being raised from the dead. Jesus died for the sins of the world, and commands men and women to repent of their sin and trust in Him (Mark 1:15, Acts 17:30-31) because there will come a day when He will return and judge the living and the dead. Regardless of your sexuality, your gender identity, or however you have lived your life, you will stand before His throne and give an account for your life (Hebrews 4:13). Only those who are found in Christ will be declared righteous and forgiven. The rest will bear the just wrath of God against their sin forever, (John 3:36). Paul writes of the gospel saying,
23 …“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith… so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-26)
Jesus Christ in His death on the cross satisfied the wrath of God that the sinner deserves, and He offers free redemption for those who repent and trust in Him. If you have read this paper then you have been given much, and much will be required of you… In the name of Jesus Christ, I implore you to repent of your sin and turn to the living God.
Inviting further dialogue,
Soli Deo Gloria,
A common response to the the above examination of the sin of Sodom by progressives is an appeal to Ezekiel 16:48-49 (ESV). “As I live, declares the Lord God, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.” The argument then is made that the sin of Sodom was that of pride, indulgence, and lack of concern for the poor (not sodomy). However, the Bible is really helpful when we read it, and if one reads the next verse, they see “They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it,”(v. 50). It doesn’t take an attentive eye to recognize the parallel to the passages in Leviticus discussed above. Sodomy, is specifically identified as an “abomination” by God’s law. And let us remember the scene of Genesis 19, where ALL the men of the city gather out front of Lots house to gang rape his guests. Is the argument that this was a one time thing? When one reads the text, it is clear that Lot is scared for the angels if they were to stay in the town square as they suggested. I think it is a reasonable assessment that this was a regular accurance in Sodom. My basis for this is previously in Genesis Sodom is described as wicked (13:13), and the Lord had already declared his judgment upon the city, (18:20).
However this argument is not required for the sin of Sodom to still be understood as Sodomy. The New Testament writers also understand the sin of this city to primarily be sexual immorality. When Jude is discussing the sons of God and their immorality, he compares them to Sodom. “…just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire [see Romans 1], serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.” (Jude 7)
When these verses are considered in the context of the previously covered passages, the universal witness of the Scriptures is that the primary sin of Sodom was sexual immorality, the act of Sodomy (an abomination before the Lord). This sin was them compounded by their pride and haughty attitude(Ezekiel 16) as they turned up their nose in a pseudo-righteous indignation towards all who would oppose them (Genesis 19:9), just like today.
Works Cited and Referenced
Hoffman, Jan. “Estimate of U.S. Transgender Population Doubles to 1.4 Million Adults.”
The New York Times, The New York Times, 30 June 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/01/health/transgender-population.html.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version Containing the Old and New Testaments: ESV.
The Holy Bible: Updated New American Standard Bible: Containing the Old Testament
and the New Testament. Zondervan Pub. House, 1999.
Little, Becky. “Male, Female or Both? Reactions to Intersex People Through History.” History,
Michaelson, Jay. “What Does the Bible Teach About Transgender People?” The Daily Beast, The
Daily Beast Company, 4 Mar. 2018,
Punt, Jeremy. “Romans 1:18-32 amidst the Gay-Debate: Interpretative Options.” University of
Stellenbosch, NTSSA Congress, 2007, pp. 1–18.
Sax, Leonard. “How Common Is Intersex? a Response to Anne Fausto-Sterling.” Journal of Sex
Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2002,
Walker, Andrew T. “Gender and Sexuality.” The Gospel Coalition,
Wilson, Todd A. Mere Sexuality: Rediscovering the Christian Vision of Human Sexuality.
Rosaria Butterfield, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert
James White, The Same Sex Controversy
Todd Wilson, Mere Sexuality
Doug Wilson, Father Hunger