(By Andrew T. Walker, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission). The pace at which the transgender debate has been thrust on American culture has left most Americans, and especially most Christians, playing catch-up. It’s hard to keep up with the expanding vocabulary of sexual identities. Perhaps most of all, Christians find it difficult to express objections to evolving gender identity norms when authority on one’s gender identity is mediated through personal experience.
The weight of personal testimony raises a good question that Christians must answer if we are going to be faithful to the Bible’s view of sex and gender: If a person who desires to live as a member of the opposite sex says “This is how I feel” or “This is how I was born,” how should Christian respond in heartfelt compassion when people wish merely to live out the identity they believe will bring them happiness and joy?
We must first begin by understanding how a common story underwrites everyone’s experience.
As I lay out in my forthcoming book, God and the Transgender Debate, Genesis 1 and 2 offers a picture where gender and biological sex are connected. This means that in the uncorrupted world of Genesis 1 and 2, an accurate view of how sex and biology should be related is depicted.
Creation did not stay uncorrupted. Rebellion occurred, and disorder resulted.
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. (Genesis 3:7)
The first result of the first rejection of God by Adam and Eve in Genesis is that people feel ashamed of, and awkward in, their bodies. Something went awry between the person’s experiences of who they are and what their body is. This wasn’t gender dysphoria per se, but it does testify to the reality that in a fallen world, our fallen sense of self manifests itself in an alienation from our bodies.
Genesis 3 means that everything went haywire. In a fallen creation, it should be expected that individuals would experience a sense of alienation between their biological sex and their perceived gender.
This is why the “I was born this way” argument holds so much sway, but remains problematic. In a fallen world, people are going to experience all sorts of different feelings about themselves. And in a very real way, all people are “born that way”—but we’re “born that way” because we are distorted versions of our created selves.
Nothing about experiencing the world through a particular feeling demands that we accept those feelings as normative and praiseworthy. People are born with all sorts of afflictions and predispositions that do not produce joy and wholeness. Whatever “we are born with” is to be evaluated by Scripture.
Listen as Carmen interviews Andrew Walker on The Reconnect.