What does the Bible say about gender dysphoria?

Since there hasn’t been an explosion of news coverage recently, I thought now might be a good time to write a little about gender dysphoria. Also, it is my goal to not write anything on a subject unless I have something original to contribute. After a lot of research, thought, prayer, and discussion, I think have something at least somewhat unique to add to the conversation.

Dysphoria is “a strong state of unease or dissatisfaction.” Gender dysphoria, then, seems to be an accurate way to describe the current discussion about human sexuality. To put it mildly, some people are dysphoric about human sexuality.

What does the Bible says about gender? Simply put, the Bible says God created two genders, male and female (Genesis 1:27). The Bible says marriage is between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5). The Bible says sex outside of marriage is immoral (1 Corinthians 6:18). The Bible says sex not involving a man and a woman is unnatural (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9). The biblical message on sex can be summarized: “Sex is to be between a man and a woman within the confines of marriage. Everything else is sin.”

This message is somewhat more difficult to apply, however, when the possibility of someone being born gender dysphoric is raised.

First, some who deny the validity of gender dysphoria declare, “God does not make mistakes!” and thereby argue that every person is the gender they were born with. While I absolutely agree that God does not make mistakes, I do not think this statement necessarily applies to the issue at hand. Birth defects are fairly common (occurring in approximately 3% of births, according to the CDC). Birth defects are not God making a mistake. Rather, they are evidence of the havoc sin wreaks on us, even in the womb. We are all terrorized, tortured, and corrupted by sin. For some, sin has a more physical impact. But, make no mistake, no one is free from the corruption of sin. None of us is perfectly what God created us to be. No, God does not make mistakes. But yes, God allows sin to impact us, and it is sin that causes so-called mistakes.

Second, another frequent error I see Christians making on this issue is claiming that it is impossible for a person to be born into a state of gender dysphoria: “The Bible nowhere mentions the possibility of a male being born with a female-wired brain, therefore, it doesn't happen.” The Bible nowhere mentions a person being born with confused sexual organs (hermaphroditism), yet it undeniably happens, although extremely rarely. If a person can be born with confused internal and/or external sexual organs, how can we then say that it is impossible for a person to be born with a brain that is incorrectly "wired" sexually? How can we say that it is impossible for a male to have always felt female, or vice versa? How can we absolutely deny the possibility of gender dysphoria due to biology/genetics when birth defects can occur in the sexual organs themselves?

Before anyone freaks out, let me clarify. I am not saying that everyone who claims to have always felt like the opposite gender has a genetic cause for those feelings. In fact, I am not saying that anyone who makes such a claim truly has a genetic cause for those feelings. All I am saying is this — I don't think we can or should deny the possibility.

Do some people experience gender dysphoria due to nurture instead of nature? Yes. Do some people experience gender dysphoria due to them being twisted and depraved perverts? Absolutely. Do some people experience gender dysphoria due to being somehow born with a genetically confused and sexually mis-wired brain? I don't know. But, I can't say it is impossible.

As a result, we need to be more compassionate towards those suffering with gender dysphoria. Perhaps we should not be so quick to assume what is truly going on inside another person.

With that said, the biblical message to those suffering with gender dysphoria, regardless of the cause, is to come to Jesus in faith (John 3:16; Acts 16:31). We are all affected by sin, and we all personally choose to sin. Sin separates us from God (Romans 3:23; 6:23), and if left unforgiven, will result in eternal separation from God (Matthew 25:46). Jesus died to save us from the penalty of sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), and ultimately, after this life is over, from the presence of sin and its consequences (Revelation 21:4). Faith in Jesus Christ, and its resulting transformation (2 Corinthians 5:17), may deliver you from gender dysphoria in this life. God can heal anything, including gender dysphoria.

But, whether or not you are instantaneously delivered from gender dysphoria, God promises to walk alongside you and give you the strength to overcome any and all sinful temptations (Galatians 5:19-23).

Heterosexuality within the confines of marriage is the only sexuality God approves of. Everything else is an immoral perversion of God's creation. It does not matter if you were born with the predisposition or simply choose to explore alternate forms of sexuality. Biblically speaking, you can either have sex with a spouse of the opposite sex, or you can stay single and sexually abstinent.

How is this fair, you ask? Why does God deny me the ability to be happy? Why does God not endorse me expressing myself sexually in the way that I desire?

God knows that you will never find true happiness or contentment in immoral/unnatural relationships. Surrendering to feelings and desires that God condemns is not the answer. The answer is to live your life for God and allow Him to overflow your cup with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Note—I recognize that gender identity and sexuality are about far more than who you have sexual intercourse with. However, who you have sex with is the only aspect of gender identity the Bible explicitly addresses. So, that is my focus in this particular post.

S. Michael Houdmann

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What does the Bible say about gender dysphoria?