“Ye Are All One In Christ Jesus” Ctd

by Chris Bodenner

A knowledgeable reader of the Bible counters the conservative Christian trying to argue away the existence of trans people:

Moore’s deflection about epistemology vs. ontology is disingenuous; the trans question is inherently epidemiological. This isn’t about whether “man” and “woman” exist, but how you categorize someone as man or woman. Do you use genitals, genetics, brain structure (which science is finding is also sexed)? And what do you do with ambiguous characteristics? And people with both male and female characteristics?

What science is finding is that brain structure is the strongest, most resilient marker of sex. That makes sense, when you think about it. A man who loses his penis and testes doesn’t become a woman. A woman who has a mastectomy and hysterectomy doesn’t become a man. And people with ambiguous bodily characteristics still have brain structures that correlate with other men and women, and identify as such. The conclusion is that the strongest way to categorize a person’s sex is through neural analysis. Or, conversely, simply ask them what their sex is. That’s what trans activism is about. Medical transition, anti-discrimination laws – all that is aimed at correcting cases where sex was wrongly categorized. This isn’t “changing” someone’s sex, it’s confirming it.

None of this contradicts MathewMark, Genesis, or Genesis. The Bible argues that the sexes exist, and are created by God, but gives no indication of how to categorize them.

In fact, in Genesis 2.19, God tells Adam “whatever [he] called each living creature, that was its name”. (Tantalizingly, the next verse is the Bible’s first reference to ‘Adam’, implying that he also ‘named’ himself.) And, as Jonathan Merritt pointed out, the brain is just as natural and God given as the rest of the body. Other than that, its condemned by neither Leviticus or Lot, and in Isaiah 56, God promises ‘eunuchs’ who keep the Sabbath and the covenant:

to them I will give within my temple and its walls
a memorial and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that will endure forever.

Incidentally, Isaiah 56 is called “Salvation for Others”. There is simply no Biblical case to be made against trans rights. Both Orthodox and Conservative Jewish leaders, who also follow Genesis regard homosexuality as a “transgression”, have ruled in favor of medical transition, and changing sex designation. For the trans question, while foreign to many, the theology is cut and dry about its status as sin.

The shame is that trans issues do raise a lot of interesting theological questions. (For example, what does this say about the relationship between brain, mind, and soul?) But that’s by comparing trans people to Legion, or by saying that trans people inherently disrupt the categories of male and female.

Ironically, Russell Moore is right; someone’s sex “can’t be eradicated by a change of clothes or chemical tinkering or a surgeon’s knife.” He’s just wrong about what side of the issue that puts him on.

Update from a reader on another version of the Bible:

Your knowledgeable reader writes “In fact, in Genesis 2.19, God tells Adam “whatever [he] called each living creature, that was its name”. (Tantalizingly, the next verse is the Bible’s first reference to ‘Adam’, implying that he also ‘named’ himself.)” Not true. Adam is named earlier; or rather, he is never named. In the Hebrew text he is always referred to simply as “the man” (Ha-adam). For some reason (perhaps the reason suggested by your reader) the King James Version starts calling him Adam at this point. What is interesting is that it is right after he runs out and names all the animals that he realises he needs a wife – and the first thing he does is to give her a name. (And, pace the KJ version, he doesn’t name her after himself.)

Another reader:

On the discussion of gendering and Christianity, I wonder if the following might not be a helpful tool for (or against) the conservative. In his essay “For You May Touch Them Not: Misogyny, Homosexuality, and the Ethics of Passivity in First World War Poetry,” James S. Campbell uses a quote by Emmanuel Levinas as an epigraph:

Perhaps … all these allusions to the ontological differences between the masculine and the feminine would appear less archaic if, instead of dividing humanity into two species (or into two genders), they would signify that the participation in the masculine and the feminine were the attribute of every human being. Could this be the meaning of the enigmatic verse of Genesis 1:27: “male and female created He them”?