Chances are, many of you have seen an e-mail or a short piece on the cute things that children write when answering questions about what they have learned in Sunday School. In a Biblical version of “Kids Say the Darndest Things”, these youngsters substitute a wrong word for a similar correct one, or mix up facts from two different Bible stories, with hilarious results. For example, “Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt by day and a ball of fire at night.”
Adults may smile at such delightful innocence during the learning process. But there are times when we get things wrong about the Bible, too, only at a more sophisticated and advanced level. Or we don’t get it at all.
The Apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to the church at Corinth that “now we see through a glass darkly”. In other words, even with as much as God has revealed to us in His word, some things are obscure, hidden or difficult to understand. Even so, the fault clearly lies in the imperfect nature of people, not with the source.
So I rely on the Bible for my source of spiritual wisdom, knowledge and understanding, as well as being a practical guide for everyday life. But I know what it is like to “see through a glass darkly” and in no area of life did I know it better than as related to being transsexual.
I knew parts of the Bible prior to being saved, and for the past nearly 25 years have been reading it more regularly and studying it more earnestly than ever before. If looking for passages related to transsexualism was not at the forefront of my mind, it was at least in the back of mind every time I read it. But until autumn 2011, I was unable to find anything. There was never a time when it seemed to me that the Bible was saying that it was sinful to be a transsexual. It was that I was unable to discern what it was saying.
But that started to change two years ago. From time to time, verses still leap off the page at me. Previously, it simply was not my time for my eyes to be open. But it was always there, even if obscure. That understanding of Scriptures that relate to being transsexual is a significant part of what I plan to share in future blog posts.
Why were these verses not applied to transsexualism before? First of all, it doesn’t appear that many Christians had incentive to look for it. They were certain that transsexuals are sinners prima facie. Unfortunately, many transsexuals were forced into a lifestyle that confirmed the opinion and the vast majority of those with a more acceptable lifestyle were in stealth mode.
Second, until the second half of the twentieth century, transsexuals were not all that evident simply because with the state of medical science previously, there wasn’t much that could be done about changing the anatomy to conform to the target gender. With us not even on the radar screen, there was little reason to come up with a theological position on transsexualism prior to the 1950’s when people having had sex change surgery began to hit the news.
Third, those Christian churches that adopted positions that have identified them as “welcoming” or “affirming” churches basically did so under a broad umbrella that a loving, compassionate God would not discriminate against people who are born differently. But that wasn’t good enough for me.
An infinite God has many attributes. Being a loving God is one of them. In fact, according to Scripture, God defines the very meaning of love, “for God is love.” (1st John 4:8) God is also a compassionate, merciful and gracious God.
But God is also a God of justice. He is holy and He cannot abide sin. He is righteous.
I knew that there are many things of which God does not approve and does not approve of the person who lives by those things. Even though God is just to forgive our sins when we confess them and repent of them, we do not want to be in a situation where we know that something is sinful and yet persist in it. I had to know: on which side of the line demarking sin does being transsexual fall (or at the very least the act of transforming one’s anatomical gender to conform to one’s gender identity).
My search took over twenty years. And it was a search that had to be done alone. There was no other Christian in my circle that I knew for sure could be trusted with my innermost secret and my reason for doing this search. (And some Christians unwittingly had made remarks in my presence that told me they definitely could not be told.)
Now the reason I rely so much on the Bible as the source for understanding speaks to my beliefs about the very nature of God. First, God wants us to know about Him, at least to the extent that a finite creature can understand an infinite being. To that end, God spoke directly to Adam and Eve, to Noah, to Abraham, to Jacob, to Joseph, to Moses, to Samuel, to David, to Solomon, to the prophets and others who faithfully wrote down what the Holy Spirit told them to write. Second, God Almighty is a powerful God, not a wimpy God. The God who created the universe out of nothing by merely speaking it into existence is powerful enough to preserve the integrity of His word over time and in many languages. Third, God desires more than for us to merely know about Him. He desires an intimate spiritual relationship with us. And so, if you read the totality of the Bible with an open mind, it is evident that this is God’s love letter to us.
Yes, there are passages where God’s wrath is unleashed. But even there, you have to understand that this occurred in the context of a long-suffering God who gave many warnings and showed a willingness to turn back His wrath in the event of true repentance. As an example, see what happened when Jonah prophesied to Nineveh and what God did when Nineveh repented of their wickedness.
For the record, I will be quoting exclusively from the King James Version. It is the Bible I prefer to use. One of the reasons I will be using one version exclusively is so no one can accuse me of jumping from version to version to cherry pick wording that is the most favorable to the positions I take.
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.
And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. – 1st John 4:7-5:3