It’s the new thing on the cultural horizon. In fact, from Time magazine to major news shows, transgenderism is here. How should Christians respond?
On ABC’s 20/20, former Olympian Bruce Jenner recently announced that he is a woman. Explaining that he’d always been confused about his gender identity, he believes that while God had given him the body of a man he’d also given him the soul of a woman.
Jenner’s interview brought 20/20 its highest ratings in fifteen years. Sympathetic commentators said Jenner was “brave” to “transition” from a man to a woman. And the transgender community is delighted.
But what did Jenner, 20/20, and the commentators leave out?
Well first, those people who consider themselves transgendered are suffering from what is still recognized as a mental disorder. In the Wall Street Journal, psychiatrist Paul McHugh writes that “the transgendered suffer a disorder of assumption like . . . other disorders familiar to psychiatrists.”
For instance, those who suffer from anorexia are convinced that they are overweight, even when they are unhealthily skinny.
In a similar way, a man’s belief that he is really a woman (or vice versa) also, McHugh says, “does not correspond with physical reality,” and if not properly treated “can lead to grim psychological outcomes.”
For example, Sweden’s Karolinska Institute found that the suicide rate for those who had undergone gender reassignment surgery was 20-fold higher in the 30 years following the surgery compared to a nontransgender population. That is simply horrifying.
And here’s another important fact hardly ever mentioned from two different studies—one at Vanderbilt University and one at Portman Clinic in London—70 to 80 percent of children who report transgender feelings “spontaneously lost those feelings.”
But so many doctors and parents these days are encouraging children, younger and younger, to undergo drastic, life-altering treatments and surgery for a condition that may well be temporary.
Folks, this is just another area in which worldview desperately matters. While homosexuality and transgenderism are distinct issues—one is primarily about external sexual attraction, the other about internal self-identity—they do have one thing in common. Members of the LGBT movement believe and teach that gender is infinitely malleable, that observable physical reality has nothing to do with what it means to be male and female.
And this is one reason that I find it so disturbing that a growing number of Christians and even so-called evangelical pastors are now “affirming” gay marriage and the gay lifestyle. In essence, what they’re saying is that God-given, created reality is now irrelevant to the conversations regarding gender, sexual attraction, sexual behavior and marriage. I don’t know how else to say it, but isn’t that a denial of creation and therefore a denial of the Creator?
We need to educate ourselves about transgenderism because every single person is made in God’s image. Already, as McHugh notes, several states have made it a crime for psychiatrists to restore to transgender children “natural gender feelings.” These will be additional victims of our social experimentation, and Christians must be there to care for them.
And like so many have discovered, this is not just an issue that’s merely “out there” in the culture. Just recently, a mother confided in me that her teenage son wanted to begin the process of gender modification: And yet she felt that there was no Christian to whom she could turn. Church, that is not only unfortunate, it’s sinful.
People who struggle with gender confusion, and those who love them, deserve our love and compassion—and they need us to point them to the only One who establishes human identity and value, and that of course is God, who made each and every one of us in His image.
— John Stonestreet
Stonestreet is the Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and is heard on Breakpoint. Copyright© 2015 Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with permission. BreakPoint is a ministry of Prison Fellowship Ministries.