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NOTE: Some have shied away from using Old Testament Bible verses to talk about how we are to live our Christian life. They might say, “but some things in the Old Covenant Law were only for Israel.” Or they might say, “Christians are not under the Mosaic Law.” This is somewhat true, Christians are not under the Mosaic Law, but God does not change when it comes to moral values. How he felt then is how he feels now. Christians are not obligated to keep the ceremonial aspect of the Mosaic Law, but they are obligated to live by the principles of the Old Testament.
For example, Deuteronomy 22:5 is a verse in the Bible that says, “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” This verse is not discussing styles of clothing. The prohibition is regarding one’s wearing on things specifically designed for the opposite sex. This verse is often interpreted as a prohibition against cross-dressing or wearing clothing that is traditionally associated with the opposite gender. It is believed to be part of a larger set of rules and regulations that were given to the Israelites by God through Moses, and it is considered to be a part of God’s moral code for the Israelites. The verse is often understood to be a command for men and women to adhere to traditional gender roles and to dress in a way that is appropriate for their gender. It is also seen as a way to prevent confusion and maintain social order within the community.
When it comes to appearance and clothing, generally, a man wants to look like a man, and a woman wishes to look like a woman. For God’s servant, be it an Israelite or a Christian, to behave contrary to this deep God-given sense of what is fitting would displease God. When Deuteronomy was written in the late 15th century BCE, men and women wore robes. However, there was a distinction between the clothing of men and women. The principle here in Deuteronomy 22:5 would not rule out a woman’s wearing pants.
And it is true that Christians are not under the Mosaic Law. (Rom. 6:14) Insistence on applying the written form of a law or rule rather than its spirit or intent would be in opposition to Christian teaching. So, women wearing pants today would not be in opposition to the law, which was to prevent confusion about sexual identity and sexual abuse. While Christians are not under the Mosaic law, they are guided by its principles, which means using discernment, good judgment, and applying their conscience. The Bible’s counsel is that women “women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, . . . but with what is proper for women who profess godliness, with good works.”—1 Tim. 2:9-10.
The Bible and Cross-Dressing and Transgenderism
The New Testament does not explicitly address the issue of cross-dressing or identifying oneself with words that denote members of the opposite sex or transgenderism. However, there are a few passages in the New Testament that could be interpreted as addressing these issues.
For example, in Deuteronomy 22:5, it is written: “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.” This verse could be understood as prohibiting cross-dressing.
In addition, 1 Corinthians 6:9 lists “effeminate” (malakoi in Greek) and “homosexuals” (arsenokoitai in Greek) among those who will not inherit the kingdom of God. The two Greek terms refer to passive men partners and active men partners in consensual homosexual acts. “nor men of passive homosexual acts [μαλακοὶ], nor men of active homosexual acts [ἀρσενοκοῖται]”
It is possible to interpret the passage in 2 Peter 2:10, which speaks of those who “indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority,” as applying to certain aspects of transgenderism.
In this verse, the author is warning against certain people who are indulging in sinful behaviors and showing contempt for authority. These people are described as bold and willful, and they do not show fear or respect when they speak against those who are held in high regard. The phrase “the lust of defiling passion” likely refers to sexual immorality or other forms of impurity, and the phrase “the glorious ones” could refer to angels or other beings of high status. Overall, the verse is cautioning against following the example of those who engage in sinful behaviors and disrespect authority, as such behavior is seen as sinful and disrespectful in the context of the Bible.
PREPARING YOUR APOLOGETICS BY KNOWING WHAT THEY MIGHT SAY
The New Testament does not directly address the issue of transgenderism, as the concept of gender identity and the experience of being transgender were not understood in the same way in the cultural context in which the New Testament was written. However, there are a few passages in the New Testament that those who support transgenderism might interpret as addressing issues related to gender and identity.
For example, in Galatians 3:28, it is written: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This verse, they would argue, suggests that in Christ, distinctions of gender, social status, and ethnicity are not important and that all people are equal. They would argue that this message of equality and inclusion could potentially be applied to the issue of transgenderism. Galatians 3:28 is a verse in the epistle to the Galatians, a letter written by the apostle Paul to a group of early Christian churches in the region of Galatia. The verse reads: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” In this verse, Paul is emphasizing the unity and equality of believers in Christ. He is saying that in Christ, there is no distinction based on ethnicity (Jew or Greek), social status (slave or free), or gender (male or female). Instead, all believers in Christ are united and considered equal. This message of unity and equality is a central theme in the epistle to the Galatians, as Paul was addressing issues of division and conflict within the Christian community in Galatia. Overall, the verse is an important reminder that in the eyes of God, all believers in Christ are equal and united in their faith. It encourages believers to treat one another with respect and love, regardless of their background or circumstances. A believer in Christ is a person who has faith in Jesus Christ as their savior and follows his teachings. To be a believer in Christ, a person must repent of their sins and make a commitment to follow Jesus as their Lord and Savior. This involves turning away from a life of sin and seeking to live according to Jesus’ teachings as recorded in the Bible.
Those who support transgenderism and cross-dressing would also argue that it is also important to remember that the overall message of the New Testament is one of love and acceptance of all people, regardless of their gender identity or expression. They would then twist the text Matthew 22:39, Jesus teaches that the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” This message of love and compassion should be at the heart of how we approach the issue of transgenderism and other matters related to identity and diversity. The phrase “love your neighbor as yourself” is a summary of Jesus’ teachings about how believers in him should treat others. It means that we should show the same love, care, and concern for others that we have for ourselves. This includes showing compassion, kindness, and respect to those around us and seeking to do good to others as we would want them to do good to us. The commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves is a call to love and serve others selflessly without seeking anything in return. It is an expression of the love and compassion that God has for his people and that he desires us to have for one another. This phrase “love your neighbor as yourself” does not refer to our accepting a person transitioning from one gender to another or cross-dressing.
You see, you have to anticipate these replies and then have a ready response.
The Bible presents gender as a binary (two genders), with people being referred to as either male or female. The rarity of intersex individuals does not undermine the Bible’s creation design of man and woman. Rather, it gives another example of creation “groaning” because of all that has resulted from human imperfection.
Romans 8:20-22 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
God did not create those whose sex is ambiguous at birth. This is simply another example of the result of sin and missing the mark of human imperfection.
Those who truly wish to follow Christ means that they are to die to themselves (Matt. 16:24), they are to be transformed by the renewal of their mind, that by testing you may discern what the will of God is, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:2), and no longer walking as they once did (Eph. 4:17-18). The modern concept of being “true to ourselves” will always end in failure. Genesis 6:5 and 8:21 says that fallen man is mentally bent toward evil. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that imperfect humans have an unknowable heart that is treacherous.
If the binary of male and female is God’s creation, which is how he designed humans, and we are expected to accept it, then our biological distortions of his creation by our redefining terms to fit our preferences would be in opposition to God, displeasing to him. The Bible is quite clear that men should not act sexually as women (Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:18-32; 1 Cor. 6:9-10), that men should not dress like women (Deut. 22:5), and that when men and women embrace, obviously other-gendered expressions of identity it is a disgrace (1 Cor. 11:14-15). We do not have an inalienable right to do whatever we want with our physical selves. We belong to God and should glorify him with our bodies (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God with your body.
In this passage, the apostle Paul is writing to the Christian community in Corinth and reminding them that their bodies are not their own. They have been purchased by God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and therefore they belong to God. Paul is urging them to honor God by treating their bodies with respect and using them in ways that honor God. This includes taking care of their physical health and abstaining from behaviors that would harm their bodies, such as sexual immorality or substance abuse. It also includes using their bodies to serve others and to further God’s kingdom.