View Full Version : For Peterson, Genee and anyone else who can help
06-19-2012, 11:58 AM
Even though I consider myself an atheist at this point in my life, I still live in a world with a *lot* of religious believers around me. (I live in Kansas.) That being the case, I have a need for a particular kind of religious education.
I already know about the seven verses in the Bible used to condemn gay people. (Growing up gay will encourage this sort of self-education.) But even though this is great for the "L," "G," and "B," in our community...that leaves off the "T." I consider this a part of being a well-educated gay man in modern-day America, so what I would like to know is:
1. What Bible verses are used to condemn transgendered people, and how is the condemnation derived from the verses?
2. What response to this condemnation can be made, presumably through increased knowledge about the Bible?
3. What verses can be used to portray transgendered people in a good light?
Thanks in advance.
06-22-2012, 11:09 AM
I was hoping for more of a response. Just in case anyone's wondering, I'm serious about the "anyone else who can help" part. I'm heading into social work, and in my practicum (already concluded,) I've already run into one transgendered individual. I think it's great that I can assist with education a gay man, lesbian or bisexual individual; but I'd like to be able to do the same with transgendered persons.
06-23-2012, 03:20 PM
Wanderer, the verse used the most against transgender people is Lev 22:5.
I did a study on this verse because I was a crossdresser at the time. What needed to be taken into account that the Canaanities ,both men and women, crossdresed during their pagan religious rituals. What God wanted was for the Israelites to be distinct from the culture around them.
Back then, it was forbiden for men to show any feminine traits. Women weren't allowed to demonstrate anything connected to masculinity (wearing armour, control over men both publicly and privately, etc.) Romans 1:26,27 is the new clobber verses these days.
I have responded with the history of when Leviticus 22:5 was written. In Isaiah 56 eunuchs were to be included in partaking of the faith. Previously they were forbidden because they were consider damged and unclean.
I refer to Matthew 19:10-12 when putting transgender folks in a positive light. Jesus by his statement here shows that ALL are welcome into his kingdom. John 3:16 is another verse I use because it was rattling in my brain and spirit during my own transition.
06-23-2012, 04:43 PM
But don't for a second, feel that you have to stop there. If you think of something else to add, feel free. I'll take all the help I can get.
And to everyone else: if you know something, feel free to chime in.
Thanks again, Gennee.
06-23-2012, 07:35 PM
...and it wouldn't be the first time that *that* has happened, either.
Anyway, I looked up your references, and most of the connections that you're making I understand. But you referred to "Lev 22:5," and in the Bible I usually use (the New American Bible, which is a Catholic translation) the verse is rendered:
"...or if anyone touches any swarming creature or any man whose uncleanness, whatever kind it may be, is contagious..." (The ellipses are there to show that the verse as rendered is a part of a larger sentence. The entirety of verse 5 is there, I promise.)
If I go to the Douay-Rheims, the verse is rendered:
"And he that toucheth a creeping thing, or any unclean thing, the touching of which is defiling..."
In the KJV, the verse is rendered:
"Or whosoever toucheth any creeping thing, whereby he may be made unclean, or a man of whom he may take uncleanness, whatsoever uncleanness he hath:..."
The remark about the ellipses in the NAB translation applies to the other translations, too.
My question is: did I miss something? Or is there an error in the verse cited?
Thanks in advance,
06-23-2012, 07:57 PM
I will get back to you on these, Wanderer.
06-24-2012, 08:10 PM
...Deut 23:2? As it is rendered in the NAB:
"No one whose testicles have been crushed or whose penis has been cut off, may be admitted into the community of the Lord."
Wow, what a gruesome verse! But I could see someone using it, gruesome as it is, to make an argument against transgendered persons. Is this the verse you meant?
06-27-2012, 02:49 PM
That's the one, Wanderer. In order to understand why this verse was put in, one needs study the context behind them. A good friend of mine who recently passed wrote about eunuchs in the Old Testament. It is detailed and in depth. You can log onto www.epistle.us. Scroll down to authors then click. Scroll down to Bruce Gerig. He wrote many wonderful articles about many things.
Isaiah 56:3-5 are the verses where the prohibition was removed.
07-07-2012, 11:36 AM
Hi Wanderer. Haven't heard from you. I wonder how your search is going? Don't hesitate to post if you have any more questions.
07-08-2012, 09:52 PM
...and, boy, does it go into detail!
There's also some other stuff I got off of various sites. If you think it's a good idea, I may post a digested version of the stuff I'm learning. My current thinking is that I'll do a first post of "bad news," i.e., the verses referred to by those who use them as "clobber verses" for transgendered folks. I'd probably start with those closest to the core of the issue, and work outward from there. (Some of those guys just love to go into detail.)
Anyway, after that, I'd post a rebuttal of those assertions. (I'm currently thinking that that would be a separate post.) A third post would be about "hidden gender variant characters" in the Bible. A fourth post would be a kind of general, "dignity verses" post (...for want of a better title.) The idea in this last post would be verses that any person, transgendered or not, could use to answer clobber verses with verses that seem more gentle, loving, peaceable, etc.
All of this is my current thinking. It could change five seconds from now, five minutes from now, or never. Do you have any input? I think that this might at least help the self-esteem (and personal knowledge) of trangendered people who come across this website.
07-10-2012, 02:06 PM
I use John 3:16 because it was vital in my perception of how God looked at transgender people. The key word in this verse is whosoever. It was also instrumental to me becoming a Christian. Psalms 139:13, 14 arewonderful verses in which I'm writing an article for the Epistle magazine. I would love to read your rebuttals because it may prove interesting.
07-16-2012, 05:20 PM
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: I do *not* want to cite these verses in an effort to make the lives of transgendered individuals more difficult. I *do,* however, want to assemble, in an organized fashion, information dealing with the objections that some Bible-believing people have towards transfolk. Given that, I think that the most logical starting point is to get to know what those objections are, and what verses are used in discussing these objections. So...without further ado...
I. The central core of the argument against transfolk:
A. Verse used against gender-transgressing modes of dress: Deut 22:5
B. Verse used against sex-reassignment surgery: Deut 23:2 (This can be verse 1 in some translations. Check carefully.)
II. Broader arguments used against transfolk:
A. Humanity, created male and female: Gen 1:26
B. Creation of humanity in God's image/creation of gender: Gen 1:27
1. This gender is assigned at birth: Gen 1:27; 4:1; 1 Cor 11:12
C. Gender differences are required for human reproduction: Gen 1:28
D. "Gender distinctions evolved: Rom 1:20-22"
1. Gender distinctions are to be honored and maintained: Deut 22:5; Rom 13:11-14; 1 Cor 11:14
a. Failure to do so is self-centered: Rom 1:25,28; 1 Cor 6:13, 15-20; 2 Tim 3:2,4
b. Gender distinctions are defined by God: 1 Cor 11:3
c. God blessing these distinctions/giving identity and roles: Gen 2:18-22
E. Nature, teaching that gender transgression is sinful: Rom 1:26-27; see also 9:20-21
F. Transgendered behavior:
1. ...disregards God-given differences: Deut 22:5; 1 Cor 11:14-15
2. ...promotes homosexuality: Lev 18:2; 20:13
3. ...evidences lust, discontent, self-interest, lack of self-control: Rom 1:24
4. ...dishonors marriage and home: Gen 2:23-24; Eph 6:2; Heb 13:4
5. ...accomodates choices made in the heart: Prv 23:7; 3:1-8
a. Christ calls for change of heart: Ezek 18:31-32; Mk 1:14-15; Eph 4:17-24
G. If people are born transgendered:
1. ...then God is responsible: Eccl 11:5; James 1:13-15; see also Zech 12:1
2. ...this would remove personal responsibility: Eccl 7:29; James 1:16
H. God looks at the heart: 1 Sam. 16:7
I. God forms person and identity prior to birth: Jer 1:5
J. We are not born with the wrong gender: Ps 139:13-16
K. People can change their lives to conform to holy living: James 4:7-10; 1 Pet 1:13-16; 4:1-3
I trust that anybody here will see numerous problems with many of these citations, probably without even looking them up. For example, I simply have no clue what the site I visited meant by "Gender distinctions evolved." Seriously. I don't. I looked up the reference in Romans, and it doesn't seem to me to say word one about gender *anything.* I'll cover refutations in Part II.
07-30-2012, 12:14 PM
Quite a list, Wanderer. The apostle Paul had no knowledge of such topics as transgender. Rome was a very bisexual society and to Paul, this may have been disconcerting to him. Such things were forbidden in Jewish society. It did exist, that's for sure. I'm looking at this from the context of the society Paul lived in.
07-30-2012, 12:41 PM
I had an opportunity to increase my computer skills, and I took it. That's how I got distracted from this series of posts. Without further ado...
PART II: Refuting assertions based on the verses above.
My apologetic will necessarily be basic, as I do not have the resources to understand the culture of ancient Israel, beyond a few things that I own and whatever I can locate on the Web. So...anyone with more/better resources can consider themselves invited to chime in with further elaboration on these verses.
GROUP 1: Inarguable (but often inadequate for the case which is trying to be made.)
In this category, I would put the listings for II.A.; II.B.; II.F.5.a.; II.G.1.; and II.K. I allow that these verses say more-or-less what is asserted for them. (For example, I agree that "Humanity, created male and female" is a reasonable conclusion to draw from Gen 1:26.) If the case being made were confined to these verses alone, there would be no case.
GROUP 2: HUH?
These references just leave me wondering what on earth the person who made the website I took much of this from was thinking. Seriously. What on earth does the phrase "Gender distinctions evolved" mean, and what does it have to do with Rom 1:20-22, which is about apostasy and idolatry? Items in this category are: II.D.; II.D.1.a.; II.D.1.b.; II.D.1.c.; II.E.; II.F.2. (although I think the intended verse is for Lev 18:22; but still that verse says nothing about anything "promoting homosexuality."); II.F.3.; II.F.4.; II.F.5 (another special case; the Bible doesn't treat the human heart as all bad--see Prv 20:27; Eccl 9:9-10 and Jn 1:9); and II.G.2.
GROUP 3: IT DOESN'T SAY THAT!
Sometimes, the website I used seems to simply assume that the Bible reads as he/she wishes, without actually bothering to pay attention to what is, or isn't, on the page. In this category would be II.C.; II.F.1.; and II.J. Also to be considered in this light is II.D.1., (for the most part, anyway; the reference to 1 Cor 11:14 at least seems to discuss gender differences. But even here, it should be noted that "nature" as used by Paul, means "custom," and does not refer to the philosophical concept of "natural law." Another on-the-fence listing is for II.B.1. Gen 4:1 does come close to saying that "gender is assigned at birth," but it never actually gets there.
GROUP 4: ARE YOU TRYING TO UNDERMINE YOURSELF?
Only two listings are in this group: II.H.; and II.I. 1 Sam 16:7 does indeed speak of God looking at the heart, but that could easily be understood in a way that is trans-positive, rather than trans-negative. The reference to Jer 1:5 seems to so argue even more strongly. After all, if God forms the personality and identity before birth, then the existence of transgendered folks would logically be the will of God.
I didn't get around to part I (the central arguments) in this post. I will get around to that in the next post. No, really...I will. Promise. I haven't forgotten about this, and I have every intention of finishing what I've started.
08-04-2012, 06:29 PM
I saved for last the two verses most central to arguments over transgendered people. These are, of course, Deut 22:5 and 23:2.
First, the texts, as rendered in the New American Bible.
Deuteronomy 22:5: "A woman shall not wear an article proper to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman's dress; for anyone who does such things is an abomination to the LORD, your God."
Deuteronomy 23:2: "No one whose testicles have been crushed or whose penis has been cut off may be admitted into the community of the LORD."
Obviously, the first reference is used in reference to cross-dressing; the second in reference to sex reassignment surgery. Right away, we see one problem with respect to the usage of the second verse: sex reassignment surgery is a very recent occurence. The first such surgery took place (according to Wikipedia) in stages in both 1921 and 1930. The Bible simply *could* not be talking about this surgery; it didn't exist for millennia after the writing of the Bible. A second problem is the tradition the Catholic Church had at one time of the singing "castrati." Whoever forced those boys to...ahem...keep their childhood voices...would, by traditional interpretation, be violating Scripture (and forcing souls out of the Church, presumably to their eternal detriment.)
More to the point, we simply don't know what the original context of these verses was, i.e., what behavior they were trying to prohibit. Guesses for the Deut 22:5 reference include:
1. In Pagan temples, priests sometimes cross-dressed. The Deut 22:5 reference above, then, would concern itself with this worship, and essentially be one more admonition to not engage in Pagan worship.
2. The cross-dressing could have been used as a disguise for a member of one sex to gain intimate contact with the apposite sex. Thus, Deut 22:5 is essentially about avoiding adultery.
For the Deut 23:2 reference, the main consideration seems to have been that this verse was written for a small nation, which needed to increase its population. As Gennee noted in an earlier post, this was revoked in Is 56:1-5; another passage to keep in mind in this regard is Acts 8:26-39. Indeed, it is sometimes interesting that the Bible portrays God as far more willing to change his decrees than "his church(es)" give him credit for doing. In this regard, you might compare Genesis 9:6 with Genesis 4:1-15. You might also compare Numbers 26:52-56 to Numbers 36:1-12 (and note the implication in the second passage of a defect in "God's legislation.") Still one more comparison is to compare Genesis 17:11-12 with 1 Cor 7:19.
Interesting factors surrounding these verses include:
1. The sexes are not treated equally here. (I'm sure that nobody will be terribly surprised at this.) The reference to an "article proper to a man" is supposed to be vague; basically anything that would have been considered "uniquely" male is forbidden to women. This includes not only all male clothing, but also weapons, armor, tools of "male trades," etc. But the reference to "a woman's dress" refers only to one particular kind of robe, worn by women of the time.
2. The surrounding verses almost seem to be a "miscellaneous" category of laws. Many of these laws deal with lost animals; some deal with home safety, mixing items, marriage/sexuality rules, and even a verse on twisted cords on cloaks.
3. No punishment is decreed for this "abomination to the LORD, your God." None.
This, at least, is what I have learned so far in regards to interpreting the Bible on this issue. Next up: some hopefully more optimistic verses.
08-05-2012, 09:34 PM
...that was supposed to be the *third* post in the series. But then, I had to go and split the rebuttal section into two parts.
Anyway...here is a list of gender-variant/-transgressive characters in the Bible.
Adam (Gen 1:26--2:20)
The text here, it should be noted, does *not* require that Adam be exclusively male. In fact, verse 1:26 carefully states, "male and female he created *them.*" (Emphasis mine.) This seems to present Adam, at least at this early point, as an androgynous joined-at-the-hip two-person creature. The removal of a "rib" from Adam would then actually be a splitting off of Eve from Adam. This reading seems to receive some support from Jewish tradition, which interprets the passage more-or-less in this fashion.
Zipporah (Exodus 4:25)
She functioned in this passage as basically a mohel, which was an exclusively male occupation.
Deborah (Judges 4:14)
She commanded a male general in combat.
Jael (Judges 4:21)
She killed an enemy general; that said, she seems to have done so while obeying the law against women using things (like weapons) which were considered proper to men. The tool she used to undo Sisera was not considered a "male occupation tool."
The worthy wife of the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs, chapter 31)
She is identified as a breadwinner in v. 16. She also is called "mighty," which is a term with military (i.e., male) connotations.
Ebed-melech (Jeremiah 38:1-23)
This was the eunuch who rescued Jeremiah.
Hathach (Esther 4:5-9)
This eunuch acted as a go-between for Queen Esther and Mordecai.
Harbona (Esther 7:9)
This eunuch informed the king that Haman had a facility for hanging Mordecai. This facility ended up being used on Haman, instead.
A Roman centurion, his lover, and Jesus (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10)
In Matthew, the term pais is translated as servant. It actually was a term used to refer to a man's male lover. Note Jesus' response in v. 10.
A male water carrier and the Last Supper (Mt 26:17-19; Mk 14:12-16; Lk 22:7-13)
The carrying of water was considered "womens' work" in that day.
Eunuchs in the Bible generally:
1. We can *not* say definitively that they were LGBT.
2. Eunuchs *were* considered gender-variant (or if you prefer, gender-transgressive) and effeminate.
3. They were often given such jobs as: cupbearer, chamberlain, chief eunuch, supervisor of womens' quarters, one who gave access to the king, and a few were even generals
In my final post, I'll put in some verses about the surprisingly exalted things the Bible says about Christians in general. That should give some encouragement to transgendered Christians.
08-06-2012, 02:37 PM
Here, I'd just like to post my last list. Admittedly, there is no order, here. While it's true that I currently reject the Bible as nonsense, I also recognize that other people disagree. Indeed, some folks even commit suicide over what they believe about God. If taking some time out of my life to study the Bible can put me in a position to help someone who otherwise might go down that path then, nonsense or not, I consider this time well spent.
Here is a list of things that the Bible attributes to all Christians:
1. Child of God Jn 1:12
2. Branch of the true vine and conduit of the life of Christ Jn 15:1,5
3. Friend of Jesus Jn 15:15
4. Justified and redeemed Rom 3:24
5. No longer a slave to sin Rom 6:6
6. Will not be condemned by God Rom 8:1
7. Freed from the law of sin and death Rom 8:2
8. Fellow heir with Christ Rom 8:17
9. Accepted by Christ Rom 15:7
10. Called to be a saint 1 Cor 1:2; see also Eph 1:1; Phlp 1:1; Col 1:2
11. Possess wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption 1 Cor 1:30
12. Temple of the Holy Spirit 1 Cor 6:19
13. One spirit with the Lord 1 Cor 6:17
14. Led by God in the knowledge and triumph of Christ 2 Cor 2:14
15. Unveiled mind 2 Cor 3:14
16. New creature in Christ 2 Cor 5:17
17. Become the righteousness of God 2 Cor 5:21
18. One with all who are in Christ Gal 3:28
19. Child and heir Gal 4:7
20. Free in Christ Gal 5:1
21. Obtained spiritual blessings Eph 1:3
22. Chosen, holy and blameless Eph 1:4; see also 4:24
23. Redeemed and forgiven Eph 1:7
24. Predestined for an inheritance Eph 1:11
25. Sealed with the Holy Spirit Eph 1:13
26. Alive with Christ Eph 2:4-5
27. Seated in the heavenly places Eph 2:6
28. God's workmanship, created for good works Eph 2:10
29. Brought near to God Eph 2:13
30. Member of Christ's body, and partaker of his promise Eph 3:6; see also 5:30
31. Have confident access to God Eph 3:12
32. Light in the Lord Eph 5:8
33. Citizen of heaven Phlp 3:20
34. Heart and mind guarded by the peace of God Phlp 4:7
35. All needs supplied by God Phlp 4:19
36. Complete in Christ Col 2:10
37. Raised up in Christ Col 3:1
38. Hidden with Christ in God Col 3:3
39. To be revealed with Christ in glory Col 3:4
40. Chosen of God, holy and beloved Col 3:12; see also 1 Thes 1:4
I want to reiterate my call for more information. This is focused primarily on what I dealt with in the second and third Bible analysis posts--refuting anti-transgendered assertions. So if anyone has any more information on that, (even if that means correcting what I've written here,) then please post it.
08-08-2012, 10:53 AM
Everything on your list is true. I'm sure that you will find more verses. How I handle anti-transgender rheotic is take it head on. I have responded to a number of inaccurate and misleading claims by so called "Christians" stating that they are a stench in God's nostrils. I have found Matthew 19:10-12 very helpful because Jesus doesn't condemn transgenderism.
08-08-2012, 08:53 PM
And if you---or anyone, really--come up with additions and/or improvements, don't hesitate to add them. (I'm thinking primarily of an increase in the level of scholarship with respect to the verses I've cited, but I'll take anything I can get.)
Thanks again, Gennee.
08-25-2012, 04:13 PM
I'm still interested in anyone able and willing to add their scholarship to what I've written. Don't be shy.
09-08-2012, 01:11 PM
I'm not sure this is the sort of input you're looking for and I'm new to
this forum so hopefully I'm not being redundant, but it seems to
me that the bible is just used by closed-minded people to rationalize their
existing homophobic and transgenderphobic beliefs.
So I'd imagine that directly refuting their ideas would just lead to them
entrenching further into their positions. After all, the basis of their
argument already makes no sense at all. Why would reason change it now?
And then, I think there are people that feel they have to believe certain
things about LGBTs because those beliefs are part of a larger set of beliefs
that all need to be held in order for them to have access to heaven and
supernatural benefits here on earth.
So arguing with these people about specific hot button issues sets off
all sorts of negative emotional reactions because it threatens the worthiness
of their very identity (ego) ("I am a man. I am straight. Men are straight. I am
good and correct. He is a man. He is gay.." *DOES NOT COMPUTE* *THIS IS A
THREAT TO MY GOODNESS AND CORRECTNESS AND WORTHINESS OF
ACCEPTANCE* *NEGATIVE EMOTIONAL REACTION*) and their perceived
access to supernatural goodies.
If I challenge their beliefs, it's as if I were to swipe $20 out of their hand
and run off with it. They would be angry and upset with me. They lose perceived
value when they lose their beliefs about themselves.
And then there's the problem that their beliefs about their own identity and
their religious beliefs are what entitle them to being accepted by their
group of likeminded friends. To have a different identity and different
religious beliefs would likely lead to social rejection on one level or another.
And, in terms of evolutionary psychology, we are wired to avoid this.
Most people will choose to come up with idiotic rationalizations in order to keep
the beliefs that allow for social inclusion.
So I don't think that a frontal assault on their beliefs will work.
I think a passive strategy of not attacking their beleifs/ego and just being
non-judgemental and accepting is best. That way if they start judging and hating,
they just look like hateful assholes and the victim looks like a saint.
09-09-2012, 09:43 PM
First of all, thanks for taking the time to reply. I'll take any and all constructive criticism.
Second, I think you're right on target, re: members of churches who are opposed to LGBT people. What may surprise you is that that is not who I mean to address. Some explanation is in order.
In my OP, I mentioned that I'm intending to go into social work. Thus, I expect to come across sexual minorities of all stripes--some of whom may be suicidal. While I don't believe anything in the Bible myself, obviously not everyone agrees with me. If I am confronted with such a person, I'd much rather be able to grab a Bible and try to talk them down, rather than lecture them on how their beliefs are completely invalid. (I trust you see why that might not be the best circumstance for a freewheeling discussion of the flaws of religion.) Being an educated gay man, (...I took an "Introduction to LGBT Studies" course...) I have not failed to notice that my education did not include reference to either transgendered or to asexual individuals. My personal research for classes has, I think, closed the gap where asexuals are concerned, but that still leaves transgendered people who may need to know that the universe (...or, "God," if you prefer...) does not hate them. If that means I grab a Bible and play pastor for 30 minutes, so be it. Better that, than not having any answer that they can listen to.
I hope that this explains my goals better. I'm not thinking of debating pastors. I'm thinking in terms of helping people in need.
09-10-2012, 03:24 PM
Every week I have been presented with the opportunty to educate someone about being transgender. This week it was a couple that we know. There are people who desire to know about LGBT people and topics. There's much misinformation from many corners and I challenge them.
09-11-2012, 09:38 PM
...and, by the way, sorry I misspelled your handle in my OP.
10-02-2012, 11:40 PM
I think its wonderful that you are considering the beliefs of someone who may be troubled. Not everyone is willing to throw the Lord away, just because they are part of the LGBT community. There are many who still have a love for Him and know that he can accept His children however they may be.
02-25-2013, 07:51 PM
I was hoping for more of a response
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