This post reviews scripture recently cited by the sponsor of The Nashville Statement—a statement issued in August by 150 conservative Christian leaders that condemns transgender persons for having transgender thoughts and their family, friends, and doctors for supporting them (it condemns others, too).

My initial analysis concludes that the cited scripture does not support The Nashville Statement’s assertions about transgender people.  Do you agree?

Introduction

The Nashville Statement says it describes God’s will “revealed in Christian Scripture,” but neither cites nor quotes a single verse when addressing transgender people.

Since then, the statement’s sponsor published a list of 44 scripture passages under the heading “Scripture Reference.”  The list is at the bottom of this post.

My initial analysis of the 44 passages indicates that the statement’s linchpin premise—the premise serving as the foundation of the statement’s condemnation of transgender people for their transgender thoughts and as the foundation of the statement’s condemnation of transgender people’s friends, family, and doctors for their support—is not proven by the passages.

This post outlines part of my analysis process and questions raised by it.

The Statement’s Linchpin Premise Regarding Transgender People

The linchpin of The Nashville Statement’s condemnation of transgender persons is the statement’s premise that there is a “God-ordained” and “God-appointed link between biological sex and self-conception as male or female.”

In other words, God has ordered a permanent link between (1) a proper self-conception of one’s gender and (2) one’s biological sex at birth, per the statement.  This is discussed in detail in a prior post.

Is this premise found in any of the 44 scripture passages?

Since the sponsor did not tell us which of the passages apply to which assertion in the statement, we are left to guess.

I attempted to determine which of the 44 passages the signers of the Nashville Statement might say supports the statement’s linchpin premise.  I identified five.

One:  Genesis 1:26-28

26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

27 So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

Questions:

When verse 27 says God created “male and female,” is that a reference to their sex (based on biological reproduction function) or to their gender?  Does verse 28 give us a clue that it is sex?  If so, does this scripture tell us anything about gender?

Does God’s creation of “male and female” in the beginning mean that God’s creation is limited to “male and female” now?

Does God’s creation of the first humans as “male and female” mean that God ordered a permanent link between (1) a proper self-conception of one’s gender and (2) one’s biological sex at birth?

Two:  Deuteronomy 22:5

God gave the Israelites certain rules, including:  “A woman shall not wear a man’s apparel, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for whoever does such things is abhorrent to the Lord your God.”

Questions:

Did this rule apply only to the Israelites (see, e.g., Deut. 5:1-3, 6:1 ) and does it apply to us today?

Does “woman” and “man” in Deut. 22:5 refer to sex or gender?

Does the reference in the next verse, Deut 22:6, to a role of a mother bird (“sitting on the fledglings or on the eggs”) provide a clue?

Are pants man’s apparel?  A baseball cap?  Is a kilt a woman’s garment?  Didn’t men wear things that looked like dresses at the time of Moses?

Does God’s ordering the Israelites not to wear such apparel mean that God ordered a permanent link between (1) a proper self-conception of one’s gender and (2) one’s biological sex at birth?

Three:  Matthew 19:4-6

[Jesus] answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Questions:

Does the statement that the two shall become “one flesh” provide a further clue as to whether “male and female” in Genesis (that Christ quotes here) refers to sex (reproduction) or to gender?  Does the “one flesh” statement indicate that “man” and “his wife” refer to their sex?

Does this scripture mean that God ordered a permanent link between (1) a proper self-conception of one’s gender and (2) one’s biological sex at birth?

Four:  Matthew 19:12

Jesus said 12 “For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

Questions:

A eunuch is a castrated human male.  Depending on timing of the castration, it may have major hormonal consequences—including the eunuch behaving in a manner society might expect of a woman.  Do Christ’s words about eunuchs tell us anything about transgender people?

Are eunuchs analogous to transgender people for theological purposes?

Are some eunuchs referenced here by Christ transgender because of the impact of male-hormone loss from an early age?

Does this scripture mean that God ordered a permanent link between (1) a proper self-conception of one’s gender and (2) one’s biological sex at birth?

Five:  1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, 10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Questions:

Does it matter that the King James Version of the Bible included, after “adulterers,” the “effeminate” in this list?  Are “effeminate” transgender people?

Does it matter that the English Standard Version of the Bible, the one used by The Nashville Statement sponsors in providing their list of 44, says that the Greek language the King James Version translates as “effeminate” instead refers to “the passive … partners in consensual homosexual acts”?

Does this scripture mean that God ordered a permanent link between (1) a proper self-conception of one’s gender and (2) one’s biological sex at birth?

Do any of the other 39 passages mean that God has ordered such a permanent link?

The other 39 verses did not seem directly related to transgender.

I put the passages into five categories (I-V).  See if you disagree with my categorization and if you can identify any that mean God ordered such a permanent link.  The numbers (#) refer to the scripture-passage numbers in the list of 44 passages cited by the statement sponsor reproduced and numbered at the bottom of this post.

Passages that the Nashville Statement signers would likely say …

(I)      Directly relate to transgender people:  # 1, 10, 21, 23, and 27 (a numbered list of the 44 passages is at the end of this post).

(II)      Directly relate to the friends of transgender people: # 26.

(III)      Indirectly relate to transgender people:  # 2 and 3.

(IV)      Relate to homosexuality or to sexual sin:  # 6, 7, 11, 19, 20, 24, 25, 28, 29, 34, 35, 36, 37, 41, 42, 43, and 44.

(V)      Serve as general background:  # 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 22, 30, 31, 32, 33, 38, 39, and 40.

Would you put any of these into a different category?  Are any of them besides the five I put into Category I particularly relevant to transgender people?

The Nashville Statement condemns any friend, family member, or doctor of a transgender persons who affirms (or even who does not condemn) the transgender person’s thoughts.  Does the following scripture justify doing so?

The only scripture I identified in the 44 passages that seemed to touch on the question of friends who affirm what others assert is sin was #26, Romans 1:32, which says

32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.”

This verse is part of a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to churches in Corinth in the mid-1st century.

Context matters.  Here’s verse 32 again, along with the verses right before it:

29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

Questions:

Does Romans 1:29-32 have anything at all to do with transgender people?

Does the scripture justify condemning those who affirm a transgender person’s thoughts?  Does it justify condemning the transgender person’s doctor?

Can you think of anyone that practices “… strife, deceit, craftiness, …” or is a “slanderer[], … haughty, [or] boastful”?

Do any of The Nashville Statement signers applaud such a person?

Conclusion

I analyzed the 44 passages, but not deeply.  So far, I have not found scriptural support for the statement’s condemnation of transgender people for their thoughts or for the statement’s condemnation of a transgender person’s friends, family, and doctors.  A deeper review would include examining commentaries and the Greek or Hebrew versions.

I look forward to your thoughts on these questions.

 

 

 


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(The picture is a closer-cropped-and-slightly-rotated version of the one I used in an earlier post on The Nashville Statement and transgender people.)

Scripture quoted is from the NRSV.  The links below are to the ESV, as that is the version cited by the statement’s sponsor.

Here are the 44 scripture passages:

1 Gen. 1:26–28 16 Prov. 6:20-35 31 Gal. 5:24
2 Gen. 2:15-25 17 Prov. 7:1-27 32 Eph. 4:15
3 Gen. 3:1-24 18 Isa. 59:1 33 Eph. 4:20–24
4 Exod. 20:14 19 Mal. 2:14 34 Eph. 5:31–32
5 Exod. 20:17 20 Matt. 5:27–30 35 Col. 3:5
6 Lev. 18:22 21 Matt. 19:4-6 36 1 Thess. 4:3-8
7 Lev. 20:13 22 Matt. 19:8-9 37 1 Tim. 1:9–10
8 Deut. 5:18 23 Matt. 19:12 38 1 Tim. 1:15
9 Deut. 5:21 24 Acts 15:20, 29 39 2 Tim. 2:22
10 Deut. 22:5 25 Rom. 1:26–27 40 Titus 2:11-12
11 Judges 19:22 26 Rom. 1:32 41 Heb. 13:4
12 2 Sam. 11:1-12:15 27 1 Cor. 6:9–11 42 James 1:14–15
13 Job 31:1 28 1 Cor. 6:18-20 43 1 Pet. 2:11
14 Psalm 51:1-19 29 1 Cor. 7:1-7 44 Jude 7
15 Prov. 5:1-23 30 2 Cor. 5:17

 

The list at the statement sponsor’s web-site:  https://cbmw.org/nashville-statement (and then  click on “Resources”).