Adam's genealogy, animals, ark, Audubon Society, barren, Bible, birds, choosing, clean and unclean animals, daily prayer, dominion, fertile, flood, floodwaters, gender issues, Genesis 1:27, Genesis 5-7, Genesis creation narrative, God, Ham, husband and wife, hyena, ideal, infertile, Isaiah 54:1-10, Japheth, male and female, mate for life, Noah, Noah's ark, population, prove others right, representative sample, sample size, Seth, Shem, transgender community, truth
Those of us in the transgender community might think that we have enough arguments against us to debunk. However many years ago, a career counselor taught me the value of trying to prove others right. If proven, you gain truth, understanding and agreement. If the proof fails, your position has added validity as one obtained by an impartial observer. So hopefully I have brought my A game to this post (besides the alliteration in the title).
It is of utmost importance to me that my actions and beliefs are consistent with the Bible. It is my daily prayer that the Lord give my understanding of what I will read that day, whether to refresh what He has already taught me, to correct what I have learned in error or to add to my knowledge of the Word of God.
For the first time in a few years, I was given pause about my position on transgender by something in my daily reading. And so in the spirit of gaining truth and understanding, I looked into it further and meditated upon it.
A couple of days ago, I began reading Genesis as my daily devotional reading. On back to back days, I read the creation account and the account of Noah up to the point that the floodwaters began to cover the earth. What immediately struck me that I had never picked up on before was the return to the phrase “male and female” that we find in Genesis 1:27. In Genesis 5:1-2, we return once again to a quick summary of the creation account’s description of the origin of the human race. We are reminded that God created us in His likeness, and that He created us male and female. The same Hebrew words for male and female are used in both chapters of Genesis. While Genesis 4 deals with the descendants of Adam through the murderous Cain, Genesis 5 begins the genealogy of the descendants of Adam through Seth. It is this genealogy that will lead to Noah, and thereby to all descendants of the human race. For it is only Noah, his wife, his sons and their wives, 8 people in all, who will be the human survivors of the flood.
In chapter 6 starting with verse 14, God begins to instruct Noah on what he is to do to preserve the human race, the land animals and the flying animals. And after the instructions on the building of the ark, in verse 19 God begins to tell Noah about bringing representatives of the land animals and flying animals into the ark with Noah and his seven family members. From that verse until the floodwaters lift the ark off the ground (Genesis 7:17), the phrase “male and female” is mentioned six times. When God repeats something even once, it is meant to get our attention. Six times certainly grabbed my attention.
However, a curious thing occurs when we look closer. While it is the same phrase in English, in two of the six times, different Hebrew words are used than we find in Genesis 1 & 5. The words used for male and female most often are “zakar” and “neqebah”. These are very generic words for male and female, whether applied to humans or animals. But the words used the other two times, “iysh” and “ishshah” have shades of meaning not found in the more generic words. While they are also properly translated as male and female, according to my research, this is the only two times they are translated that way in the KJV. More often, they are translated as man and woman, or even more specifically, husband and wife.
Where are the more specific Hebrew words used? Only in Genesis 7:2, to describe the seven pairs of clean beasts (i.e. land animals) and the one pair of unclean beasts that are to be brought into the ark. (In Genesis 7:2-3, God expands upon the more general instructions that were given to Noah in 6:19.)
It is not clear why God uses the more generic term in 7:3 to refer to the seven pairs of flying creatures that are to be brought upon the ark. After all, the more specific term evokes the sense of mates. There are birds that mate for life. According to the Audubon Society, these include the Bald Eagle, the Laysan Albatross, the Scarlet Macaw, the Whooping Crane, the Atlantic Puffin and the Black Vulture. Surely God knows His own creation, including these facts. Regardless, He has made his point: the creatures to be brought on the ark are intended to mate once the floodwaters have receded and they can be released. Indeed, there is no other reason to bring them aboard.
In other words, the animals chosen are not necessarily representative samples. They are ideal members of their kind, just as Noah and his family were ideal contrasts to the rest of the human race at that point in history. Also, it is important to note that it was God, not Noah, who did the choosing. Genesis 6:20 makes it clear that Noah does not have to search the globe for the animals. Those of every kind will come to him. God guided those of His choosing to make their way to Noah and submit to his dominion.
We also get an idea of how ideal the choice is when we remember that God chose four specific male and female pairs of humans from one family to survive the worldwide flood and prolong the human race. This was by no means a representative sample of the population.
How large would a representative sample be? We might think that the difficulty in estimating the population of the world in Noah’s day would make it difficult to calculate such a thing. Not so, according to market research advisers at checkmarket.com. Once your sample size exceeds 20,000, the size of a representative sample does not increase very much. In fact, the sample size didn’t increase at all between 500 thousand and 1 million people. Even at the generally minimum confidence level of 95% and margin of error of 5% and rounding up to nearest hundred (as they recommend), with a population size of at least 10,000 people, the representative sample size would be 400. Even the most conservative estimates of population in Noah’s day put the world population at over 15 million people. (Note: These estimates are from scientists that do not necessarily believe in the Biblical account and/or a young Earth viewpoint.) So we have no problem using 400 as our representative sample size. This is 50 times larger than the number of humans chosen by God to continue the human race. It is clearly not a representative sample.
Okay, so how does this relate to gender issues? In this way: if we know that God deliberately chose certain representatives of the human race and of each kind of creature, then we cannot say use the term “male and female” in the worldwide flood account to make a claim that such terms exclusively apply to those people who are able to reproduce. Indeed, if the choice had been left up to Noah, he would have had no way to distinguish between animals able to reproduce and those unable to, regardless of the reason why. In fact, there are some land animals where it is difficult to even tell between male and female (the hyena, for one).
God had to choose specific animals because Noah’s random choices would have likely resulted in at least some infertile animals being chosen, animals that would still be correctly classified as either male or female. In fact, Noah’s choices may have been skewed towards the slower and weaker (i.e. not so random) which would have a greater likelihood of being infertile.
Also, we have no proof that Noah and his wife were still able to reproduce. There is no record of them having any more children. And Genesis 9:19 states that the repopulation of the earth came only from Noah’s three sons. Indeed, the same analysis that applies to Genesis 1:27 applies to Genesis 6 and 7 regarding male and female. There are a number of reasons by which males and females are infertile: age, injury, illness and congenital conditions to name those that quickly come to mind. These do not make them any less male or female, whichever applies.
Nor does having an innate gender identity that is incongruent with our anatomy make us any less male or female, whichever applies. This is the conclusion of this exercise. This is what we see over and over, looked at from all angles, both Biblical and secular.
Prior to Genesis, I was reading in Isaiah. As one unable to bear children, I was comforted by these words in Isaiah 54, verses 1-10. But it is only now that I have written this blog post that I have noticed that Noah and the flood were included in the passage. The Holy Spirit has a remarkable way of making these things happen.
Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD. Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.
For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.