When Transgender Behaviors Emerge in the Church

When transgender behaviors emerge in a church, its members are often startled. Some become uncomfortable and confused. Church leaders are likely uncertain of how to respond. A basic question many ask is, “What does the Bible have to say on this matter?”

The primary Bible verse that appears to address the issue of transgender behavior is Genesis 1:26–27, which says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let him rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.”

Jesus confirms God’s created intent for us in Mark 10:6–7: “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. For this reason man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife.’” In regard to cross-dressing, Deuteronomy 22:5 says, “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing for the Lord your God detests anyone does this.”

Transgender people frequently claim that God made a mistake when He created them and say, “I must have this mistake corrected.” They also insist on a personal right to act out their preferred
gender role. This compulsive pursuit of what is thus rebelliously envied—and the insistence that others accept this obsession as normal—destroys relationships. Many male transvestites and transsexuals are, or have been, married and have fathered children. When their family discovers their condition, separation and isolation often follow.

A desire to live in self-deception by acting out in an assumed gender role, even if only for a short time, is a form of gender hatred. This hatred is likely to have developed in early childhood as a
response to traumatic events, and it should be taken seriously.

Alienation from society in general encourages the development of special-interest groups. These groups then demand that society embrace them, and Christians are seen as hostile to their worldview. In most cases, children (including adult children) of a transgender individual want a father and mother who appear and behave according to society’s norms. Hence, children of transgender parents may be scared and traumatized; in turn, their own lifestyle may become dependent on some form of detrimental behavior.

We have a relational God who desires us to enjoy wholesome Christ-centered relationships. Pursuing transgender behavior alienates a person from God and from other people. The Bible lays down firm guidelines for family structures, yet, increasingly, these structures are being challenged by society, which has led to a distorted view of family and other relationships.

The first chapter of the book of Romans gives a clear expression of God’s willingness to honor our free will. We have been freed to go our own way, but there will be consequences if we deviate from the design criteria God provided. This is a fundamental creational truth that society
increasingly rejects. Paul says in Romans 1:25 that those who choose to go their own way have “exchanged the truth of God for a lie.”

Overcoming transgender behaviors is often directly related to one’s willingness to enter into an ever-closer relationship with God. A personal, obedient, trusting relationship with Him is necessary to achieve a more wholesome, God-honoring lifestyle.

But obedience to a biblical statute alone will not bring about sexual wholeness. Transgender people are deeply wounded, regardless of how mature they might seem outwardly. Wounded people have a deep sense of shame. Addictive behaviors have roots in shame. Transgender
behavior is addictive and fueled by shame. Fantasy is an indicator of the level of the addiction. Acting out the fantasy by trying to deposit oneself into a different body with a pain-free existence can create immense distress.

Building an intimate relationship with God takes time—especially for deeply wounded people. The place to nurture such an intimate relationship with the Lord is within the church. Acting out transgender desires will be cyclical and identifiable. When sufficient motivation is present, an individual can quickly recognize this cycle of behavior in his or her life—if the person seriously wants to overcome the behavior.

For others, the behavior becomes a false comfort they have come to rely on when they face relationship deficits. The risk and uncertainty involved in surrendering their dependence on this false comfort and taking up His cross, as Jesus put it, will often be unacceptable. When we give up a fixed behavior pattern, we experience loss. This loss has to be grieved in the same way as we grieve the loss of a person, position, or country. Until someone has established a personal relationship with the Lord and is committed to it, there will be resistance. Pray for the transgender person. Have a heart full of compassion for this broken individual just as you would for a prostitute, an alcoholic, an abuse victim, or anyone else who is in deep need of the Healer’s touch.