“Transgender” is an umbrella term for the many ways people experience a mismatch between their biological sex and their feelings of sexual identity. This is a complex and wide-ranging subject—physically, mentally and spiritually—that can’t be explained thoroughly in a short response. But there are some biblical principles to keep in mind.
What does the Bible say?
“God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27 Genesis 1:27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
American King James Version×). Two distinct genders is a fundamental and beautiful aspect of God’s creation. One’s chromosomes, hormones and reproductive organs positively identify gender in most cases. (However, there are rare cases of physiological disorders and syndromes that occur during fetal development that create confusion in gender identity.) It’s impossible to change one’s true identity with surgery and hormone injections (although surgery can be beneficial in some cases, such as when a person is born with both male and female sexual organs).
God’s will is for each person to appreciate and embrace his or her gender and to glorify God as a male or as a female. From observing God’s creation, He obviously loves variety, and He created human males and females to have a great variety of personalities, interests, aptitudes, talents, appearances, voices, body shapes, etc.
In the Bible, God forbids all sexual relations except those that are between a husband and wife who are married to each other. That rules out all immoral heterosexual acts (adultery and fornication) and homosexual acts (Leviticus 20:10-21 Leviticus 20:10-21 10 And the man that commits adultery with another man’s wife, even he that commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
11 And the man that lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be on them.
12 And if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have worked confusion; their blood shall be on them.
13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be on them.
14 And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you.
15 And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and you shall slay the beast.
16 And if a woman approach to any beast, and lie down thereto, you shall kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be on them.
17 And if a man shall take his sister, his father’s daughter, or his mother’s daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness; it is a wicked thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people: he has uncovered his sister’s nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity.
18 And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness; he has discovered her fountain, and she has uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people.
19 And you shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister, nor of your father’s sister: for he uncovers his near kin: they shall bear their iniquity.
20 And if a man shall lie with his uncle’s wife, he has uncovered his uncle’s nakedness: they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless.
21 And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he has uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.
American King James Version×; Romans 1:22-32 Romans 1:22-32 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things. 24 Why God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up to vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
American King James Version×; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 9 Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
American King James Version×; 1 Timothy 1:8-11 1 Timothy 1:8-11 8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for murderers, 10 For fornicators, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for enslavers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
American King James Version×). This is not the same subject as gender identity, but it often is related.
The Bible also forbids cross-dressing, which implies that God is highly displeased with deliberate efforts to be “transgender.” Deuteronomy 22:5 Deuteronomy 22:5The woman shall not wear that which pertains to a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination to the LORD your God.
American King James Version×says, “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God.” Although what is considered menswear and womenswear is determined by each culture, this scripture is forbidding deliberate attempts to appear as one of the opposite sex. And 1 Corinthians 11:4-15 1 Corinthians 11:4-15 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. 5 But every woman that prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, for as much as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. 12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. 13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray to God uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame to him? 15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
American King James Version×tells us that it is a shame for a woman’s hair to be short like a man’s and for a man’s hair to be long like a woman’s.
The overall point is this: God wants His people to do their best to avoid any confusion over gender identity.
If a person is feeling confusion and inner conflicts over their gender identity, that person should seek wise, loving, encouraging counsel and guidance with the goal of mental, emotional and spiritual healing. If the conflict is serious enough to seek the help of a psychotherapist, one should choose one who respects and believes the Bible. Even more valuable is a close relationship with God.
The ultimate source of all evil and destructive influences is Satan the devil and the demons. Satan is “the ruler of this world” and the “god of this age” who “deceives the whole world” (John 12:31 John 12:31Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
American King James Version×; John 14:30 John 14:30Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world comes, and has nothing in me.
American King James Version×; John 16:11 John 16:11Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
American King James Version×; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
American King James Version×; Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
American King James Version×). The world is in spiritual darkness because “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (Ephesians 6:12 Ephesians 6:12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
American King James Version×; 1 John 5:19 1 John 5:19And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness.
American King James Version×). Significantly, when Adam and Eve succumbed to Satan’s deception, one of the immediate effects was their shame over their sexuality.
Satan hates God and hates all things godly, including the healthy sexuality of human beings that fosters marital love and produces children who can eventually be in God’s eternal Family. The marriage relationship between a man and a woman ultimately pictures the relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. This is a powerful concept to consider.
The Bible clearly differentiates between temptations to sin and the committing of sins (James 1:12-16 James 1:12-16 12 Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him.
13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man:
14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15 Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.
16 Do not err, my beloved brothers.
American King James Version×). To have “feelings” of confusion and to experience temptations to adopt a lifestyle of the opposite sex (either temporarily or permanently) is not sinful. But when one gives in to temptation and does anything contrary to God’s will, it is sinful.
God’s people must follow the example of God to “hate sin but love the sinners.” While He was here on earth, Jesus was the perfect role model who never condoned sin but showed mercy and compassion toward everyone. He was especially loving toward anyone who was humble and teachable—anyone who was willing to learn and live by His teachings.
We must be warm and welcoming to anyone whom God is calling to be His son or daughter, anyone who is sincerely seeking to learn and obey God’s truth (John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
American King James Version×; John 6:63 John 6:63It is the spirit that vivifies; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.
American King James Version×; Matthew 11:28-30 Matthew 11:28-30 28 Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
American King James Version×; Romans 14:1 Romans 14:1Him that is weak in the faith receive you, but not to doubtful disputations.
American King James Version×). All of us have been guilty of many sins and we must extend grace to others—no matter what type of sin—as God has extended grace to us. And we should absolutely avoid gossip.
For anyone who has been confused about his or her sexual identity, we will guide the person to embrace and nurture the gender with which he or she was born. If the person has already done things that are irreversible, such as going through a sex change operation, we must not condemn or shun him. We will try to help the person figure out how to best live a life pleasing to God. We will also teach how to set the best possible example for others.