About a week ago The European Congress of Endocrinology (ECE) held its annual event, which took place this year in Barcelona, Spain. This event is a gathering of researchers and scientists from Europe and all over the world to share new scientific research and thier findings in their respective disciplines. One of the presentations at ECE was a professor by the name of Julie Bakker, who was the lead researcher with a team at the University of Liege in Belguim. The team presented what they stated as evidence for the reality of transgenderism, which is defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as follows:
Transgender is an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth.APA (2018). What does transgender mean? Retreived from: http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/transgender.aspx
Julie Bakker and her team observed 160 males who were diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a psychological diagnosis that is characterized, generally, by an individual who may have a desire to remove primary and secondary sex characteristics and are convinced they were born the wrong sex. Julie and her team of researchers performed brain scans using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) on these men and compared them with the brain scans of women, and these men who were tested were found to have similar brain activity to that of women.
Those who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria are usually taken in to see a therapist or a psychiatrist for treatment. However, Julie and her team, due to their findings, hope that those who struggle with this are given more resources to assist them in their uneasiness about being in their own body. Julie Bakker, in presenting highlights this when she said the following at the ECE below:
“Although more research is needed, we now have evidence that sexual differentiation of the brain differs in young people with GD, as they show functional brain characteristics that are typical of their desired gender…We will then be better equipped to support these young people, instead of just sending them to a psychiatrist and hoping that their distress will disappear spontaneously.”Transgender brain scans promised as study shows structural differences in people with gender dysphoria (2018). Retreived from: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/05/22/transgender-brain-scans-promised-study-shows-structural-differences/
In addition, there are various religious institutions that have sought to deal with the issue of transgenderism. One such example is a woman by the name of Joy Everingham who became the first Methodist minister to be appointed to ministry as a transgender. Another example was a Lutheran church in Hoboken New Jersey which a transgendered parishioner, at the main service, took on the name of “Peter.” With the culture using various methods and arguments to advance the ball of transgenderism how are those who hold to a biblical worldview to believe in terms of this societal movement?
In the book of Genesis, we find God in the sixth day of creation, declaring that He is going to make man in His image and likeness, giving them dominion over all of the creatures that He has made, and expresses He will create mankind male and female (Gen. 1:26-27). This creation of mankind is also observed where God took the dust of the earth, formed man, breathed into His nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (Gen. 2:7). Later in the narrative, Eve is formed from the rib that is taken from Adam’s side (Gen. 2:10-21). God brought her to Adam and he observed one that is made just like him, thus the being was called “woman” (Gen. 2:23).
What does this passage have to do with transgenderism? It was not until God breathed into man’s nostrils that man became a living being (or living soul). The point here is that the spirit of man is who a person truly is, not just the body that the spirit inhabits. A person may be able to alter the body, a person may feel uncomfortable in their body, but the true self is housed within the body, and this does not change, because one true identity comes from God.
In addition, Scripture tells us it is God who determines who we are (and it is biology that is the means for accomplishing this). In the Psalm, David glorified God in how he was fashioned in his mother’s womb (Ps. 139:13-16). Concerning Jeremiah and his call by God to be a prophet to the nation of Israel God says this:
Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you;I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”Jer 1:4-5 NASB emphasis mine
In the text, we observe that before God formed him in the womb of his mother He knew Jeremiah. God, in His attribute of omniscience (i.e., all-knowing), knew who Jeremiah was before Jeremiah even existed, and this included his sex. Once more this highlights that God is the creator and that one’s identity comes from God Himself, and not an subjective feeling one has or does not have, about themselves.
It would also appear one’s identity is static even after one leaves their physical body. One such example is found in Luke 16:19-31 concerning the rich man and Lazarus, where both of them die, are buried, and the rich man, due to his lack of faith is sent to be tormented. However, Lazarus is sent to be comforted in “Abraham’s bosom” (a place where those who believed in the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob went). In this passage, there are several things to note in this particular text.
One’s identity is retained after death: Jesus said that the rich man, being in torment saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom (v. 23). The rich man even asked Abraham for Lazarus by name that the rich man may be comforted by him with just a drop of water (v. 24). This highlights that rich man recognized Lazarus even though they were deceased, and no longer in their physical body.
Abraham addresses Lazarus as a man after death: The rich man, when requesting that Abraham send Lazarus to cool off his tongue with a drop of water Abraham replies, “…’Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony'” (v. 25 emphasis mine). In this verse, it is observed that Abraham refers to Lazarus as a “he.” This is after Lazarus is not in his physical body.
Researchers have observed biologically that the sex of an individual is determined by the chromosomes, however, this picture from a biblical worldview is incomplete. Brain scans, as interesting as they may be, should not be the factors for determining one’s sex. God, by His omnipotence, and sovereignty chooses one’s sexual orientation, which can be either male or female. The means by which His will is accomplished is seen in the biological working of these chromosomes. In addition, the physical body is an important thing, but it is not the only thing. One may feel that they are not comfortable in their physical body, one may even detest their physical body, and this is unfortunate, but this does not change the reality that the true identity is found in one’s spirit (in fact, it is not far-fetched to say that the physical body reflects the spiritual nature of one’s identity). Furthermore, It is physical nature that displays the invisible power, divine attributes, and glory of God, which includes the creation of mankind (c.f., Rom. 1:20). However, a denial of this is a willful rejection of what God has made, which reveals the complete depravity of mankind who continues to deny God and suppress the truth (Rom. 1:18-19).
Let us as believers who hold to a Biblical worldview to continue to observe mankind, not only physical beings, but spiritual beings, whose true identity comes from God who has given it to mankind physically to display His eternal power, divine nature, and glory. Amen.
Until next time…
Soli Deo Gloria!