Not a week goes by but what a new story emerges about sexual orientation, gender identity, or the implementation of some new SOGI policy. In our county, the Prince William County School Board will be voting on a proposed change to the school non-discrimination policy.
With so much discussion about sex and gender going on, our church considered on Sunday what Scripture says about gender and how the gospel speaks to those facing gender dysphoria (defined by Mark Yarhouse as “the experience of distress associated with the incongruence where in one’s psychological and emotional gender does not match one’s biological sex”). This biblical inquiry requires us to consider how creation, fall, the law, the gospel, and the new creation inform our understanding and stir our affections. What results is a sevenfold approach to answering the question: What does the Bible say about gender?
You can find the audio here and Scripture references, discussion questions, and resources below.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)
17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”” (Genesis 3:17–19)
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain 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. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:19–23)
“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.” (Deuteronomy 22:5)
“And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” (Luke 2:21)
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4–5)
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. (Titus 2:1–8)
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. (Colossians 3:9–10)
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
8 it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” (Revelation 19:6–9)
3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 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’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” . . .
. . . The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.” (Matthew 19:3–6, 10–12)
- Before tracing the seven bookmarks of gender, it is vital to have empathy for those who struggle with gender dysphoria. Why is that? How can you develop such care and compassion?
- What were the seven bookmarks (passages) that made up a biblical theology of gender? Why is it important that we not define gender with only one verse?
- How does the distinction between male and female reflect the nature of God and creation/church? Hint: the sexual distinction (male and female) reflects the spiritual distinction (God and man).
- What are the two points in Matthew 19:4 and 12 that must be upheld to rightly balance a biblical theology of gender? What happens when we only appeal to one or the other?
- Romans 8 speaks of the groaning all creation feels under the curse of God. In personal terms, where do we experience this? How does this verse confirm the experience of someone who struggles with gender dysphoria? How does it offer hope? Read Romans 8:19–23, if needed.
- What might you say to someone who denies the essential nature of gender (i.e., “that gender is a social construct, not a biological given”)? What hope does the gospel offer for those who suffer from gender dysphoria (or any other body, mind, body-mind distress?
- How can you pray for family, friends, and neighbors struggling with confusion related to sexual orientation and gender identity? What can you do?
- What Does Love Look Like? A Talk on Transgender and Intersex by Andrew Wilson
- Confronting the Transgender Storm: A Sermon on Deuteronomy 22:5 by Jason DeRouchie
- Gender Confusion by Jesse Johnson
- The Good News About Gender by David Schrock
- Transgender by Vaughn Roberts — This little book will be released next month. The good friends at The Good Book Company graciously shared a pre-release copy. It is a must read for anyone who wants to biblically understand and compassionately share Christ with individuals suffering from gender dysphoria.
- We Cannot Be Silent by Albert Mohler — Mohler’s book covers the whole range of the sexual anarchy in our day. One chapter specifically tackles transgender. As usual, Mohler is thorough, comprehensive, and clear. Anyone who wants to see the larger impact of transgenderism should read this chapter.
- Understanding Gender Dysphoria by Mark Yarhouse — I take exception to much of Yarhouse’s therapeutic approach to gender, the gospel, sin, and sanctification. That being said, Yarhouse gives a comprehensive treatment of the current research and discussion about gender dysphoria.
- From Agender to Ze: A Glossary for the Gender Identity Revolution by Joe Carter
- Nine Things You Should Know About Transgenderism by Joe Carter (TGC)
- What You Should Know About LGBTQ by Joe Carter
- The Not-So-Unified Narrative of the LGBT by Evan Lenow
- Understanding and Responding to the Transgender Movement by the Family Research Council
The Bible, Science, and Culture
- What Does the Bible Say About Transgenderism? by Kevin DeYoung
- “Transgender Surgery Isn’t the Solution” by Paul McHugh
- “Sex Change” Surgery: What Bruce Jenner, Diane Sawyer, and You Should Know” by Walt Heyer
- “What the Gospel Has to Say to Transgendered Persons” by David Schrock
- “What Would Jesus Say to Leelah Alcorn?” by Garrett Kell
- “Joan or John?” by Russell Moore
On the Intersection of Gender, Title IX, and Public Schools
- Safe Schools, Gender Non-Conformity, and Common Sense: A Letter to the Michigan State Board of Education by Kevin DeYoung
- The Transgender Movement and “Gender Identity” in the Law by Family Research Council
- Title IX and Transgendered Students by Family Research Council
- Bathroom Bills and Pandora’s Box by Family Research Council
More resources can be found in this older post.
May the Lord grant his disciples wisdom and compassion to befriend their neighbors and share the truth in love with those who are most painfully impacted by these matters of gender.
Soli Deo Gloria, ds