6.25.2014

Gender Identity

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I shouldn't have to preface this post, since my whole blog is called "Musings of an Urban Christian."  But let me note before we get into things that sometimes I use this space to think out loud.  So consider these musings as unprocessed and as part of the process of processing my thinking on this subject.

I've been thinking about the transgender movement for a bit now, and last month's Time Magazine cover story has pushed me to get down some of my thoughts. I apologize in advance if my words are offensive, clangy, or ignorant; I confess I don't know this world, don't know the right terms to use, and am feeling out my thoughts on what is a controversial and sensitive subject.

Let me start by reiterating, in no particular order, what I've written many times on a separate but related issue, which is the issue of homosexuality and gay rights.  These are my beliefs, and obviously not everyone shares my beliefs. 

First, I tend to be fairly tolerant of gay marriage in society.  I think of marriage as having both state and religious aspects to it, and though I believe Christian marriages should be between a man and a woman I'm fine with other marriages being between people of the same sex. (On a related note, I think of religious groups having both state and religious oversight to them, and so though I believe Christian groups shouldn't be allowed to discriminate in terms of membership, I do believe Christian groups should be allowed to discriminate in terms of leadership.)

Second, I believe that there is such a thing as sin, in terms of (1) God existing, (2) God clearly stating what is and is not accepted behavior, (3) God having the authority to say what is and is not accepted behavior, and (4) there being consequences for us engaging in unacceptable behavior.

Third, I believe that homosexuality is a sin.

Fourth, I believe that people are born with different levels of homosexual tendencies: some none at all, some a little, and some a lot.

Fifth, I believe that the fact that people are born with different levels of homosexual tendencies doesn't change what I believe about my second and third points above.  People are born with different levels of all kinds of tendencies, good and bad, and while understanding these differences is important, it doesn't negate that there is such a thing as sin and that there are consequences for engaging in it.

Which brings me to transgendered people.  As noted above, I believe that homosexuality is a sin, and that even people who are born with strong homosexual tendencies are sinning if they engage in homosexual behavior.  But is it a sin for a boy who identifies as a girl to act like a girl, dress like a girl, and pass as a girl?  Is it a sin for a girl who identifies as a boy to take steps to physically become a boy?

I am not very well-read on this subject, but it is my understanding that gender identity can be surprisingly fluid, elusive, and not always consistent with how you are physically made.  Reread my fifth point above so you understand where I'm coming from.  Tendencies do not excuse sinful behavior.  But is it sinful behavior to want to be the opposite gender than your body?

I'm not entirely sure if it is or isn't.  I do know for sure that God made everyone and loves everyone, including those whose gender identity doesn't match their body.  That's about all I can say for sure until I learn more. 


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