Editor's Note: This is Part 2 in a Christian Post series on how Christians should respond to transgenderism. Part 2 will look at the theology. Click here for Part 1.
When it comes to making a biblical case for transgender identity, some have cited scriptures about "natural-born eunuchs" and Apostle Paul's words that there is "neither male nor female" in Christ Jesus. This argument and arguments against it were already laid out in a previous Christian Post article.
Offering more insights on what the Bible has to say about the issue of gender identity, Dr. Richard Land, who is president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in North Carolina, and Pentecostal pastor Bishop Harry Jackson spoke with CP and began with how God created humans.
"The Bible tells us in Psalm 139 that God knits and embroiders us together in our mother's womb. And all of our parts were in God's book before any of them came to be. Clearly, God is involved in every conception that takes place," said Land, noting that it is a biological fact that one's sex is determined at that precise moment.
Jackson, who leads Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland, explained that one's biological sex is not only a divine imprint but part of God's "assignment" to the human being.
"I believe that God gives us the original assignment of gender, even nationality — what we would call race — where we were born, and the family into which we were born. All of that is pre-selected by God. He wants us to steward that uniqueness as a beginning point, as a gift from God," Jackson said.
"In the context of that, the Lord has a fairly strict set of boundaries that He wants us to carry out, principles by which we live."
At a recent SES event on "God, Sex, & Gender," Land posed the question, "What is a human being?"
He pointed to the first chapter in the first book of the Bible — Genesis — where it states that God made man in His image and likeness, and "male and female He created them."
There is a difference between human beings and the rest of creation as humans are the only creature that have the divine image, Land stressed.
"A human being is a special creation of God, thus human life is sacred," he said.
Additionally, the Apostle Paul, Land noted to CP, calls the human body "the temple of the Holy Spirit" in 1 Corinthians 6 and the word he uses for temple in the Greek refers to the Holy of Holies, the innermost part of the temple. This was the very place where the Holy Spirit — the shekinah glory — dwelled.
With all that said, when someone maintains that he or she was born in the wrong body, this is not just a matter of confusion; it represents the "ultimate rebellion" against God's design for them, Land contended.
Jackson also called transgenderism a rebellion against the original assignment God gave each person.
In essence, Land believes that transgenderism is "self-idolatry."
"It is the ultimate attempt to become one's own god. I want to be different than the way God made me so I'm going to employ modern medical science to change my gender, chemically and surgically," he maintained.
"The religion of America today is narcissism. … We want to define our own version of truth of who we are regardless of anything else."
He went on to explain that at the root of the transgender movement is a resurgent Gnostic belief that the body and mind are not united and the hedonistic creed of the sexual revolution: "If it feels good, do it."
"The sacred trinity of modern man is I, myself, and me. And it is only with modern science that people have the ability to claim they can change their gender and seek to do so," Land, a father of three, said.
Renowned Anglican theologian N.T. Wright also recently called the confusion about gender identity a "form of the ancient philosophy of Gnosticism."
"The Gnostic, one who 'knows,' has discovered the secret of 'who I really am,' behind the deceptive outward appearance," Wright said.
"This involves denying the goodness, or even the ultimate reality, of the natural world. Nature, however, tends to strike back, with the likely victims in this case being vulnerable and impressionable youngsters who, as confused adults, will pay the price for their elders' fashionable fantasies."
Christians should have particular reverence for their God-given biology and the human body because the Lord took on a human frame, noted Land, who is also executive editor of The Christian Post and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
"We are not what God intended us to be," he said, speaking of how much our bodies matter. "He intended us to be the vice-regents of creation and we have become slaves to our own sin and desires through the Fall. But Jesus came … in order that He might make us everything that He is."
And when people receive Christ and what was accomplished on the cross by faith, they are in the process of being all that God created them to be.
Pastorally speaking, both Land and Jackson emphasized the need to love transgender persons.
"Christians have an obligation and a responsibility to love people who identify as transgender and to seek to act redemptively toward them," Land emphasized, adding that those who struggle with gender dysphoria should never be made fun of or mocked.
At the same time, pastors should not affirm transgenderism as normative.
"You do them no service by acquiescing to their malady and calling it normal," Land said. "Calling it normal does not make it normal, affirming it as healthy does not make it healthy.
"God has set the norms and when you live in a society where there are no norms, everything is normal, and that is a recipe for madness."
For Jackson, he outlined three things he would tell someone who has gender confusion:
"1) God loves them, 2) they are not an accident, and 3) they should be willing and expect the grace of God to help them comply with God's commandments for their behavior on any level," he explained.
"We have to understand that the people who come to us for help in the context of Christian ministry, they have to be willing to accept the Bible as the highest authority for human behavior, and whatever counseling and encouragement and help will be based prescriptively on what the Bible teaches."
Jackson said that if he pastors someone who thinks that ministers are prejudiced against them, he said he cannot help it, because he's not going to change the doctrine of his church to accommodate an exceedingly small minority of people.
People must come to understand that when they accept Jesus, it is a call to a lifestyle and journey with God, Jackson added, emphasizing that it's imperative for churches to find a way to teach about these things in a loving but directive manner in order to set people on a course to have a normal family life as they pursue God and the Scriptures.