God and the Transgender Debate

What is transgender and gender fluidity? What does God's Word actually say about these issues? How can the gospel be good news for someone experiencing gender dysphoria? How should churches respond?

This warm, faithful and careful book helps Christians understand what the Bible says about gender identity. It will help us to engage lovingly, thoughtfully and faithfully with one of the most explosive cultural discussions of our day.

If you want to learn more and love better, and are open to considering what God has to say about sex and gender, this hope-filled book is for you.

Tough Questions

Author Andrew Walker answers some of the hardest questions in the debate.

Can someone be transgender and Christian?

Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6 v 9-11 offer a helpful way to answer this question:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Paul’s words show that there are practices and lifestyles that, if left unrepented of, can prevent someone from inheriting—that is, having a place in—the kingdom of God. To live as a Christian is to accept God’s authority over our own.
Transgender identities fall into that category—they are, as I write in my book, not compatible with following Christ. A person’s gender identity reflects how they define what it means to be a human being. That self-definition will either correspond to God’s revelation in his word or it will not. As we have seen, God has created human beings in his own image as male and female. Our identity, therefore, is defined by God in his purposes for his creation and in his new creation in Christ. The design of humanity is purposeful and good, and part of our design is that we are men and women. To deny or overturn that distinction is to nullify God’s revelation both in nature and in Scripture. The Bible calls it suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1 v 18).
That doesn’t mean that someone who struggles with gender identity conflicts is not a Christian. As we’ve seen, all Christians wrestle with life in this fallen world in one way or another. Let me underline that experiencing gender dysphoria does not mean you are not a Christian.
But it does mean that a settled rejection of God’s purposes for us as male or female cannot be reconciled with following Christ. Someone can embrace a transgender identity or find their identity in Christ, but not both.
Having said that, it is possible to sin in all kinds of ways in ignorance, rather than willfully and knowingly. A new Christian might not know that they are called to honor their parents, or that lust is sinful. The key is that when they read in Scripture that obedience to God means changing in these areas, they will work to do so, with God’s help. Likewise, it would be possible to identify as transgender and also be trusting Christ as Lord because they have not yet realized the implications of the lordship of Christ in this area of their life and identity. As and when they do realize it, a Christian person would change their behavior in this area, with God’s help.

What about unisex restrooms?

Should you mind if people who are biologically the other sex are in my restroom? What if it's my kids in the restroom?

Each person will respond differently to these challenges, based in large part on our level of discomfort at sharing a restroom with someone of the opposite sex.
But in general, restroom policies separate men and women based on privacy concerns. Individuals of the same biological sex share the same anatomy. Sharing the restroom with those who are of the same sex and who have the same anatomy prevents the embarrassment or vulnerability that comes from the possibility of viewing the opposite sex in a state of undress. For the sake of protecting women from sexual assault or the fear of it and to prevent men from viewing, or being in close proximity to, women in a private situation, restroom policies are wise to base access upon biological sex distinction.
When it comes to children, I think it is extremely unwise to put children in a situation where they could be wantonly exposed to the genitalia of the opposite sex or where their own genitalia could be exposed to an adult member of the opposite sex. Parents should not interpret that last sentence to mean that a son or daughter’s exposure to an undressed parent is equally wrong or harmful. What a child sees inside a house with a family member in the course of normal family life is a separate issue than government policy making opposite-sex exposure inside a public restroom the norm. Cultures will vary in the level of awkwardness someone may feel at seeing a member of the opposite sex who they don’t know in a state of undress or using the restroom. But those variations do not overrule the safety and privacy concerns of parents, who may—and should feel able to—strongly protest such a circumstance.

Do I say he or she?

It’s very common to hear debates about pronoun usage. For example, should you call a transgender male “he” (as they identify themselves) or “she” (since they are biologically female)?
Christians disagree—hopefully charitably—about pronoun usage.
Some think that as a personal courtesy, you should refer to a transgender person by their preferred pronoun as a way to extend courtesy in hopes of developing a relationship in which biblical truth can eventually be shared. Others think that it is wrong to inject further confusion into a person’s situation by referring to them with a pronoun that is not aligned with their biological sex. Some Christians argue that referring to a person by their preferred pronoun furthers the deception and delusion within a person’s mind. Seen this way, calling a biological male “she” is to bear false witness.
My own position is that if a transgender person comes to your church, it is fine to refer to them by their preferred pronoun. While a person may act out of the best intention in thinking they should confront a person’s pronoun usage immediately upon meeting them, or refuse to comply with their preference, this could result in unnecessary provocation and confrontation. If and when this person desires greater involvement or membership in the church—or if, for example, a biological male wants to attend a woman’s Bible study—a church leader will need to meet with them and talk about how they identify and what faithful church involvement and membership will look like, including (but not limited to!) which pronoun they are referred to by.
The best solution is to avoid pronouns altogether if possible. Calling a person by their legal name or preferred name is more acceptable because names are not objectively gendered, but change from culture to culture.