In reality, there’s no such thing as being “transgender.” No one in the history of mankind has ever “trans” their gender. This is, of course, because gender is the same as sex and sex is molecular; it can’t be changed by chopping off one thing or adding another. However, there are some who pretend as though their gender is something it’s not and it is commonly known as “transgenderism,” an unscientific term if ever there was one. Mark Wingfield, the associate pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church, recently claimed in an Op-Ed in Baptist News Global that it’s not a sin to lie about your gender.
Wingfield has served Wilshire Baptist Church as associate pastor since 2004 and from1998 to 2003, he served as managing editor of the Baptist Standard, the newspaper for Texas Baptists. He also wrote for the Western Recorder, a newspaper of Kentucky Baptists. Wingfield has also served as associate director of news and information for the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board and director of news and information for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He’s a product of the Southern Baptist Convention, through and through.
Wingfield wrote in Baptist News Global, a publication for which he’s a columnist, “Even among Christians who appear kind or progressive, too often the existence of someone who identifies as transgender gets chalked up to ‘sin.’ No doubt that’s the root reason so many Christians happily pile on against transgender persons and their family members about bathrooms and schools because in their heart of hearts, they don’t understand transgender identity and simply default to thinking it is a sinful lifestyle choice.”
Of course, Wingfield’s claim is highly reductionist. Right-thinking Christians don’t argue that sin is a “choice” definitionally. Because of the doctrine of Original Sin (which anyone with more than an ounce of Christian theological training embraces), sin is not merely a matter of what we do, but who we are. We are not sinners because we sin, but through Biblical lenses, we sin because we are sinners. He continues:
Even among Christians who appear kind or progressive, too often the existence of someone who identifies as transgender gets chalked up to ‘sin.’
Transgenderism is a sin because God gets to make and identify people as either male or female (Genesis 5:2), not the individual. Transgenderism is also a sin because it’s a violation of the 9th Commandment, a lie. Lying about one’s gender is as sinful as lying about anything else.
On top of that, transgenderism is usually closely associated with other kinds of more overt sexual perversions (which are also sins by Biblical definition). Wingfield claims, however, that sin is only sin if there’s a volitional choice (which is flawed theology). He then assumes that lying about one’s gender somehow isn’t a choice.
I think we all can agree that a “sin” is something we do that we shouldn’t do, something we have a choice about. If I eat an entire half-gallon of ice cream, I am likely guilty of the sin of gluttony.* I didn’t have to eat the ice cream. If I fixate on why other people are more athletic and agile than me in my mid-life body, I probably am guilty of the sin of envy. There is a way for me to redirect my thoughts to avoid envy.
[Editor’s Note: “Over-eating” is not the sin of gluttony. Gluttony is selfish eating when others go hungry or snobby eating, which could bring insult to others. God invented feasting, after all]
The same is not true of transgender identity. Emphatically and conclusively, this is not a choice. It is who a person is. Did you choose to have red hair? Did you choose to be tall or short? Did you choose to have the genetic markers you have? Of course not. Transgender persons are simply acknowledging that the gender identity assigned to them at birth because of physical anatomy does not match the brain, biochemical and genetic gender identity they know inside.
Notice the cognitive dissonance of Wingfield’s argument. He asks, “Did you choose to have red hair? Your height? Your genetic markers?” What do all of these things have in common? Your hair color, height, and genetic markers are like your penis or vagina; they are given by God. Wingfield says flippantly, as though it were somehow a matter of science, that their “physical anatomy does not match the brain,” whatever that means.
Where are all the red-haired people who claim that it doesn’t match their brain and they are, in fact, blonde? Where are all the tall people who claim that doesn’t match their brain and they are, in fact, short? Of course, those people might be called mentally ill. And if they actually demanded to be identified by the wrong hair color or height, they would be guilty of lying and encouraging others to lie.
I could quote chapter and verse for study after study, and that would not change the minds of some people who are determined to label as sinful anything they do not understand, usually because “the Bible says so.” In these cases, I ask people to tell me where in the Bible being transgender is condemned as sinful. The only answer usually offered is Deuteronomy 22:5, which says: “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.”
Here’s the problem with even a literal reading of that passage: Transgender persons will tell you they are not “men” putting on “women’s” clothing or “women” putting on “men’s” clothing.
We understand transgenderism, of course. God has given them over to a debased and depraved mind, and men think they’re women and women think they’re men. Instead of repenting of this depraved insanity, they insist people reinforce their delusions. Those who don’t love them do reinforce their delusions. We get it.
Of course, Wingfield implies there’s a non-literal reading of Deuteronomy 22:5 (I’d be curious to hear what a metaphorical reading would entail), before claiming matter-of-factly that they’re not a man putting on a woman’s clothing because they’re actually a woman on the inside. Of course, they’re a man on the inside also in every scientific way that can be measured. They’re only a woman subjectively, in unquantified ways, and only presuming the existence of soul or spirit.
The problem with arguing that transgenderism exists at all is that it requires a belief in the supernatural and metaphysical. Scientifically and from a naturalist worldview, it is absolutely impossible to claim that someone is a different gender “on the inside” from “on the outside.” That argument requires a belief in the soul or spirit, that someone is metaphysically different from who they are physically. But once they acknowledge the metaphysic and supernatural, we’re on to the realm of God. And God says he makes you male or female. So whether from a naturalist or supernaturalist perspective, transgenderism ranks up there as one of the dumbest ideas ever thought of, like New Coke or spray-on hair for bald men.
Occasionally, people will point to Genesis 1:27 as a condemnation of transgender identity: “male and female he created them.” Most transgender persons will tell you they believe God has, in fact, created them as either male or female; the problem is how they have been labeled by others who are not God.
God did not “label them” by placing a subtle whisper in their heart about what gender they are. He labeled them when he slapped their genitalia on.
Wingfield’s post is an adventure in Scripture-twisting, even going so far as to argue that Genesis demonstrates someone can be “gender fluid” because God made “night and day” and “land and sea,” and therefore one person can be two things. Seriously. That’s his argument. You can read it here.