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God designed two distinct but complementary sexes within the human family. The creation account in Genesis clearly designates humans as “male and female” (Genesis 1:26-27 Genesis 1:26-27 [26] And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. [27] So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
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). Both sexes are created in the image and likeness of God. Jesus Christ affirmed this fundamental aspect of the creation (Matthew 19:4 Matthew 19:4And he answered and said to them, Have you not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
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). The Bible presents this as foundational information that communicates God’s purpose and consistent intent for humanity.

Our Creator designed men and women with many inherent differences that express mutually beneficial elements of God’s own character and personality. Within proper relationships, and especially within the union of one man and one woman in marriage as God intended (Genesis 2:18-25 Genesis 2:18-25 [18] And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. [19] And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them: and whatever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. [20] And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. [21] And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; [22] And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her to the man. [23] And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. [24] Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall join to his wife: and they shall be one flesh. [25] And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
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), these physical and emotional differences between the sexes teach us a great deal about who God is and what He expects from us.

The Bible clearly communicates that God does not approve of improper relationships such as fornication, adultery and homosexuality, and that God’s people should not engage in practices that create confusion over gender identity. Based on this, choosing to adopt an identity of the opposite sex is a sin because it goes against God’s will for us collectively and individually. (See this Related Q&A for additional information.)

It is important to acknowledge that gender identity issues profoundly impact those who experience them. In addition, many people have sincere questions about why God allows such conditions to exist, if living in this way isn’t something that He intended or approves of.

At this stage in God’s plan for humanity, His physical creation is both temporary and imperfect. Our lives are often impacted by a wide variety of challenges. Some of these are within our control, and some are not. Human imperfections also result in mistakes and sins that have all kinds of undesirable consequences. In addition, the world is currently ruled by Satan, who has chosen to make himself an enemy of God and His creation, especially human beings.

These conditions result in numerous physical, emotional and spiritual problems for all humanity. Among these problems are deviations from God’s original design and intent for human sexuality. Despite these difficult realities, it is important to understand that God created humanity for an amazing purpose. His ultimate desire is for us to succeed in that purpose and become members of His family! (See Jeremiah 29:11 Jeremiah 29:11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, said the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
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and Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
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.) However, this awesome desire and purpose can only be fulfilled when we choose to follow His way of life, rather than deciding what is right and wrong on our own (Proverbs 3:5-6 Proverbs 3:5-6 [5] Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding. [6] In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.
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; Deuteronomy 30:19-20 Deuteronomy 30:19-20 [19] I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live: [20] That you may love the LORD your God, and that you may obey his voice, and that you may hold to him: for he is your life, and the length of your days: that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
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).

God has love and compassion for those who struggle with gender identity issues. When an individual is struggling to live in the way that God intended, Christians should view them with the same love and compassion that God does. This will naturally result in feeling and expressing godly empathy for the genuine difficulties experienced by those who face these challenges.

In conjunction with this, we must also remain committed to God’s boundaries and His way of life. Love, compassion and empathy should not change our belief in the Bible’s clear teaching. As author Kevin DeYoung states in his defense1 of the Bible’s teaching on sexuality, “As painful as it can be, we must reinterpret our experiences through the Word of God, rather than let our experiences dictate what the Bible can and cannot mean.”

God will ultimately bring help and healing for these difficulties—just as He will for all human problems (1 Timothy 2:3-4 1 Timothy 2:3-4 [3] For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; [4] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
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; 2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
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). The challenges of this life have a specific purpose within God’s overall plan to bring us into His family. His plan does include solutions, whether now or in the future.

What are gender identity issues and what causes them?

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines gender identity as “a person’s internal sense of being male, female, some combination of male and female, or neither male nor female.” The term “transgender” is primarily used to describe individuals who experience gender identity issues based on their personal feelings. Merriam-Webster defines this as an umbrella term for those who feel that their gender identity differs from their assigned birth sex.

There are many different societal views on the source of an individual’s gender identity. Some believe that both gender identity and sexual orientation are innate characteristics, meaning that they are fixed at birth and do not change. Others believe that gender identity and sexual orientation are determined by a person’s internal feelings, and therefore can change. In this view, it is common to question one’s personal identity and sexual or gender-related attractions.

The belief that transgender individuals are born that way has gained much acceptance within our increasingly liberal society in recent years. This view has been popularized by advocates for sexual and gender identity issues such as celebrity artist Lady Gaga, whose 2011 hit song “Born This Way” has become an anthem2 for this community. However, one review of multiple studies presents compelling arguments3 that there is “little scientific evidence that gender identity is fixed at birth or at an early age.”

The same review3 shows that despite the obvious contradiction, the belief that gender identity is fluid, meaning that it can change in response to what the person feels over time, has also “become more prominent in popular culture.” As an example, the authors Mayer & McHugh cite the many options provided for Facebook users to describe their gender.

It is important to realize that media reports primarily focus on gender identity issues where the person experiences emotions and feelings that do not have a discernable biological cause. The Mayer & McHugh review3 states: “In reviewing the scientific literature, we find that almost nothing is well understood when we seek biological explanations for what causes some individuals to state that their gender does not match their biological sex.”

The causes for a specific individual’s transgender feelings are often unclear. Some who experience them describe feeling like they are a man trapped in a woman’s body, or vice versa. This mental state of gender confusion often leads to inner conflict related to gender identity. Others do not feel a sense of inner conflict, and confidently self-identify as a gender that is different from the one they had from birth.

What is the impact of gender identity issues for those who have them?

The main problem with a transgender lifestyle is that it is not aligned with God’s revealed intent for His creation. This can only result in separation from Him. Rejecting God’s ways leads us further and further away from what is right and what is best for us over time.

Notice this in Romans 1:22-28 Romans 1:22-28 [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;
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, from a passage that addresses turning away from God’s instructions on sexuality, and especially verse 28: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting.” A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature shows that the word “debased” carries the meaning of “not standing the test,” with the implication of accepting what is untested and unproven. A mindset based on these approaches that deviate from God’s intent will naturally result in misdirection and misuse of His creation.

These problems become evident in the practical challenges associated with attempting to change one’s gender—a goal that is ultimately not aligned with the physical and biological reality of the individual. Identifying as the opposite sex does not change a person’s inherent biological makeup. Physically altering the bodies of transgender individuals with transition therapies such as hormone injections and sex-change surgery has become more common. However, these therapies do not fundamentally change who the person is. Mayer & McHugh’s findings3 explain that the outcomes of these methods show mixed results and inconclusive evidence that they successfully address the person’s underlying feelings about their gender.

Conclusion

With many differing and conflicting societal views on this subject (especially as our societies move increasingly away from respect for God and biblical values), the topics discussed often lead to another very important question: How should Christians interact with those who are transgender or support transgender rights?

Although it is natural to feel defensive when discussing tough subjects, Christians should not be dismissive or rude to people with different beliefs and experiences. Rather, we must learn to speak with truthful discernment and grace (Colossians 4:5-6 Colossians 4:5-6 [5] Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. [6] Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer every man.
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), and with an approach that shows the genuine care and concern that God has for all people. Within those guidelines we should stand firm in the divinely revealed understanding of God’s design for humanity.

Sadly, many in our society believe that a person’s feelings are the most reliable indicator of who they are and how they should live their life. This is simply not true. The contrasting reality is well stated in Jeremiah 10:23 Jeremiah 10:23O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps.
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, that “the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.”

While feelings are an important element of our God-given human abilities, they only contribute to beneficial outcomes when we are obeying God’s laws and led by His Holy Spirit (Romans 8:4-6 Romans 8:4-6 [4] That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [5] For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. [6] For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
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; Galatians 5:22-25 Galatians 5:22-25 [22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, [23] Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. [24] And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. [25] If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
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). Outside of those parameters, our feelings will lead us in the wrong direction, and to think and do things that are not good for us. As described in Proverbs 16:25 Proverbs 16:25There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
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, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

Help for any condition that results in conflict between an individual’s feelings of personal identity and their physical reality should focus on identifying and addressing the source of the feelings. This is true for gender identity issues. Embracing a false reality does not make it true. Attempting to change a person’s physical reality to match their feelings causes additional problems without really resolving the core issues.

However, there is hope as we look forward to the coming Kingdom of God, when the many challenges experienced in this life will be truly resolved. At that time, all people will have a full opportunity to understand and live according to God’s great plan for humanity! 

Editor’s note: Unfortunately there are predators who groom and target younger people of the same sex, pressuring them to question their sexual identity. In the spirit of Jesus’ teaching to be wise as serpents, but harmless as doves, you should learn how they do it so you can be on guard. The article “Grooming Kids in a ‘Gay’ Identity” at WND.com describes several ways unbiblical sexuality is promoted and normalized in schools and communities.


References

1What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung; Crossway, 2015, pg. 27

2LGBT Anthem: Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way' on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, May 20, 2019

3Special Report on Sexuality and Gender in The New Atlantis Journal by Lawrence S. Mayer and Paul R. McHugh

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