June 3, 2015

Bruce Jenner's Gender-Bending

[Disclaimer: Because of the sexual nature of this article, there will be some sexual overtones and euphemisms that are somewhat unavoidable].

I apologize for the tongue twisting title for this post, but I couldn’t resist. I also apologize for the length of this post but it is necessary to dispel media and culture driven confusion. The title is about as absurd as being expected to call Bruce by his new self-designated moniker of Caitlyn. More shameful is the media manipulation referring to him as a her when in reality he is closer to an it…or more specifically a mutilated man. I've borrowed some verbiage from my recent series on homosexuality. Is transgenderism and sexual immorality the same thing? Yes and no. It is not exactly the same in our current culture but in the Bible, they are both considered immoralities and sin and they are grouped together as sins that receive the same punishments or legal restrictions. In sum total they are sin against a holy God.

I have heard it said that homosexuality is not directly condemned by the Bible. This is incorrect and I just finished a 20+ series of posts to dispel this cultural myth starting here (The Bible and Homosexuality I). I am now hearing that many don’t believe that the Bible has anything to say about transgenderism either. I beg to differ and because some of these comments are coming from self-described Christians making incorrect theological statements, it officially makes it my issue now as a theologian to correct them. These comments are being prompted by the most recent tabloid fodder about former 1976 Olympic Decathlete Bruce Jenner and his gender reassignment circus. The statement that transgenderism is not mentioned in the Bible is similar to the comment that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. The comment is naïve and frighteningly incorrect.

This statement is being made by people that are either willfully ignorant of Scripture or have a pro-transgender agenda. The Bible is replete with statements of what proper gender distinction is so by default the reverse would be considered unbiblical. The proper approach to Scripture is to see if there there any blatant statements about transgenderism in the Bible or prohibition of it? I suspect there are. There are also statements prohibiting transvestism in the Bible. Although the specific words are not transgenderism or transvestism, the principles are most certainly are. Besides, it is naïve to think that a man has a sex change just so he can continue to dress as a man. That would be self-defeating. He'll end up cross-dressing also. The principles are all there in Scripture to base an interpretation on. The thing we need to do is understand intent of writers and what words meant to Paul and his 1st century audience, and Moses and his audience. We also need to understand God's intent behind His commandments.

So indirectly, I believe transvestism becomes relevant to the biblical position. Furthermore, at the time of the writing of the transvestism prohibitions in Deuteronomy, sex change surgery as we understand today was not possible. There were only three options when it came to altering your gender or appearance of gender/sexual orientation. There was cross dressing, homosexuality and then the  third option in terms of sexuality or lack thereof...it was called being a eunuch. This becomes rather important and comes into play a little later.

So from a hermeneutics point-of-view, can we somehow construe the verses on transvestism or homosexuality to apply to true transgenderism via the following? The answer is yes. It be done through (1) the principle of the passages (2) the intent of the writer or (3) through the “norms of language” or proper use of words at the time of usage. Having reviewed two of the passages in question, I posit that we can show that Jenner’s gender-bending adventure is sinful, unbiblical and prohibited in scripture.

First, can a commonly referenced sin specific passage be used to frown upon Jenner’s poor choices? I believe 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 can be used because of the specific usage of a gender/sexual specific word that is clearly delineated from but mentioned in association with the ancient word for homosexual. As I’ve said in past posts, proper interpretation demands that the words can only mean what they meant to the original writer and his original intended audience. Anything else is revisionism. So what words are used in 1 Corinthians 6? Let’s take a quick look.

Firstly, I will note that the 1 Corinthians 6 passage is a much stronger invective against Bruce Jenner’s digressions than Deuteronomy's. The transvestism verse clearly prohibits cross-dressing but can it be construed as prohibiting transgenderism? We are in danger of committing the fallacy of Affirming the Antecedent in that argument. I will address that after the 1 Corinthian’s passage. I believe it's a weaker argument but it still carries some validity in this debate.

First I present Paul's diatribe to the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 - Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

What this passage really boils down to is what the words malakoi/μαλακοὶ and the arsenokoitai/ ἀρσενοκοῖται mean in the original Greek manuscripts and what we do with these terms mean today. Today the modern English versions like the ESV, NIV and NASB use the words effeminate for malakoi and homosexual for arsenokoitai. Obviously I am not as interested in arsenokoitai / homosexual since Bruce has acknowledged he is still attracted to women. What I will add though is that he has not said he is not attracted to men. This could be a case of gender-bending bisexually.

Regardless, the word we zero-in on here in verse 9 is the word μαλακοὶ/malakoi or effeminate. Secondarily, we see the word "adulterer” μοιχοὶ /moichoi which means a male paramour/mistress/lover; or figuratively it means apostate. The implication being that this entire passage (v.6-11) including the effeminate is leaning towards a sexually apostate audience or people that have turned their back on God to chase their sin.

The entirety of this passage speaks of sinner types that will not make it into the Kingdom and endanger one’s salvation. In other words they are not getting closer to God performing these sins (adultery, homosexuality, stealing, and effeminacy), they are getting farther away from Him. It is a matter of obedience versus disobedience. What people feel is proper is irrelevant. These passages are theological treatise on what God thinks is proper.

How does this apply to Bruce Jenner? Simple really. By definition of the 1st century and how we would understand the same today, Jenner can conceivably be considered a μαλακοὶ or effeminate by definition. Perhaps not a sexually-active μαλακοὶ , but a μαλακοὶ. How? The word "effeminate" μαλακοὶ/malakoi is referring to males. It is a nominative masculine case ending. As such it would mean (in its 1st century context) a catamite-effeminate, a male soft-one, or a female-ish male (Harrison-Vol. 3 999, Rienecker et al 402). So what is a catamite? A catamite was the passive partner in a homosexual relationship between a man and a boy (Evans 288). Usage of this word can also include the effeminate passive partner in a homosexual relationship (Evans 288, Halperin 720). Interestingly, effeminates were often prone to dress effeminately and at time…get this…they were sometimes surgically altered through castration. Their genitals were surgically removed or mutilated. Functionally they became eunuchs (usually for masters, older men).

The effeminate often were men who sold themselves to other men as "mistresses." This type of practice was so rampant that Roman Emperor Nero was known to have castrated (surgically altered) a male named Sporus. Nero then married him and lived with him as his wife in his palace (Champlin 146-147). To castrate a male is to effectively create androgyny or maintain effeminate attributes in a male. If that does not sound like what Jenner has done to himself purposely, then we're all in denial. 

Bruce Jenner may not be currently homosexuality/bisexually active but the misappropriation of all the God-given “equipment” has taken place as described in the Bible and the ability to now misuse these misappropriated tools is highly probable (gateway to greater sins). Those biblical descriptions of Jenner's current physical condition(s) clearly comes with prohibition(s) because they are clearly outlined as sins. We should also note that in Jesus' reference to eunuchs in Matthew is under the context of celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom, not sexuality or gender per se or a sex change operation. Contextually, we cannot make Jesus' reference relevant to this argument. I need to focus contextually on the gender aspect here which is why I have focused on 1 Corinthians 6 and Deuteronomy 22.

Additionally, it can be seen from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 that Paul understood that there was a distinction between homosexuals and other types of men that he referred to as effeminates in Corinth. Understanding this he also understood that they had come into the church. In other words he understood their former practices which he denounced on the basis that they were sins that were not compatible with a Christian worldview. What Paul wrote about concerning effeminates in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 he soundly denounced.

There is no equivocation in this passage regardless of what modern linguistic experts have intended by intentional misreading. The authorial intent of 1 Corinthians 6 is clearly referring to the effeminate as unrighteousness ἄδικος/adikos wicked, sinful and it is stated directly in the text.  They are categorically condemned if they do not turn from their sinful ways. Those that accept these sinful practices therefore act as enablers and accomplices to sin. Christians are to denounce it for what it was. Sin which is an affront against God.

The other passage I want to take a look at is a verse on transvestism or cross-dressing. At face value this looks like it doesn’t apply to Bruce Jenner because it is transvestism and not transgenderism. The truth is we must keep in mind the only sexual alterations surgically possible at the time of the Bible authorship was castration or genital mutilation. Therein lies the twist in this argument. 

What lies behind the transvestite passage in its principle?

Deuteronomy 22:5 ~ “A woman shall not wear a man's garment, nor shall a man put on a woman's cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.”

What is Deuteronomy 22 really saying and how does it apply today? The Deuteronomy passage is indirectly referring to a principle called complementarianism which says then men and women were specifically created for certain roles and purposes. This principle of complementarianism and purposeful roles for men and women should not be mixed and matched are that principle is rooted throughout Scripture. Genesis 2, Ephesians 5 and 1 Corinthians 11 to name at least a few of the places. Men and women were created for specific roles by God. The really pertinent portion of this verse is the view God takes of the sin of transvestism. Cross-dressing or transvestism is considered an abomination. The exact same description given to the sin of homosexuality in Leviticus 18:22. It was therefore viewed with the same severity of a sexual immorality like homosexuality which in the Old Testament came with severe covenant penalties. Why such harsh penalties? Read on.

The roles and distinction between the sexes were to preserve the purity and chastity of the genders. People were not to confuse the roles of the sexes that God had determined (complementarianism). Transvestism carries with it a manifest sign of effeminacy in the man, an arrogance in women and an irreverence of God’s commandments in general. Today we call it a casual disregard. Transvestism and transgenderism are therefore serious sins and an inversion/ perversion of Gods prescribed order. It also potentially opens the door to wider evils…just like a gateway drug does in substance abuse. I believe we see hints of just how bad Bruce Jenner’s sin is here and how it has compounded to the point he has given over to it completely.

Why weren’t Israelites allowed to do cross-dress? Because it was the practice of the pagans they had supposedly driven out of the land and practices of the lands they had left behind like Egypt. Israelites were to be a separate and holy people. A distinction in difference of sex and gender role has been made by God. It is therefore biblically proper and necessary to understood that a distinction should to be carried over to not only differences of dress but also sexual behavior. Otherwise, greater evils are capable of occurring which biblical history has shown that they have. To not follow God was to follow the ways of the culture and therefore pagan practices…and pagan gods. At its root it is idolatry, plain and simple.

Does this mean that men cannot dress like women? Yes! It says so right in the verse. It’s an imperative or a command. Transgenderism therefore follows in logical sequence from transvestism since transgenders will dress as the opposite sex after surgery to be seen and recognized as the other sex. As I said earlier, people with sex change operations do not physically alter themselves to hide that fact, they do it to be visibly and physically different. It would logically follow that most if not all would therefore dress effeminately or cross-dress. So even if Jenner didn’t cross genders or have homosexual sex, he is still in unbiblical waters. He is therefore in rebellion against God and building wrath against himself in his willfully sinful behavior.


In the end Bruce is still Bruce, not Caitlyn. Bruce is still a man not a woman. He is a he not a she. Genes and chromosomes define your sex, not necessarily just hormones and external “paraphernalia”. What we as Christians cannot do is be sucked into is a forced confusion of deconstructed terms and forced use of incorrect terminology. It is deliberate misuse of terms or misnomers to produce a desired result. As the phrase has been coined before: If you tell a lie long enough it becomes truth. When we allow for a he to be called a she and give a female name to a disfigured man we allow the confused and debased to define the terms in society incorrectly. Christians cannot allow this. Jenner must be continually referred to as a man or those intent on changing the cultural norms of morality will then be allowed to deconstruct language and change the “norms of language”. 

Said another way, the normative aspects of language put a substantial constraint on our conceptions of meaning and truth based on the time, context and culture at the time the words are used. To allow men to be called women can eventually allow gender distinction to become meaningless. Eventually this can directly affect/effect sexual morality and ethics in general. We are already seeing this in the re-definition of marriage. This has been the intent of Gay Liberation since the early 1970’s. One only needs to read the Gay Manifesto written 40 years ago to verify this fact.

So can a biblical case be made for a prohibition against transgenderism like one can be made for homosexuality and transvestism? Yes, I believe I just made a pretty strong one, don’t you? The Bible tells us that if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. This means people need to do something drastic to avoid sin.

Matthew 18:7-9 ~ “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

In Bruce Jenner’s case I would say he needs to cut other things off and throw them away too but it appears he has already done so. So what we see here is that the outward or façade of a man or woman is not the whole essence of who and what they are. Jesus told us this when He said it is not what is outside of man that defiles him but what comes from within.

Matthew 7:15 ~ “There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”

Here is where we get at the truth of Bruce Jenner’s sin and mankind’s in general. It isn’t the Bruce Jenner's physical modifications that are necessarily his overriding transgression here, it is his heart or rebellion against God and the natural state of an unrepentant and reprobate sinner. Whether his rebellion be intentional or inadvertent is irrelevant. His mind and heart are clearly given over to sin (Romans 1) and against God. If he knows he is doing wrong it is willful rebellion against God, if he doesn’t understand he does wrong he is still guilty by omission. Regardless, he’s in the wrong…and so are we if we encourage the sinful behavior.

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