Speaking at a Ravi Zacharias International Ministries question and answer session, Sam Allberry fielded a question about transgenderism. Allberry, a pastor who struggles with same-sex attraction, makes the argument that transgenderism is not something God has designed, but rather one of the many consequences of the fall we see in human nature. Furthermore, Jesus directs all of us—not just transgender people—to deny some things that we find innate in ourselves.
“What if God created transgender people? It says male AND female, not male OR female. God also has feminine attributes…” This was the question posed to Allberry at the live question and answer session.
Allberry acknowledges it is a good question—one worth discussing.
Transgender or Not, You Must Be Born Again
Allberry starts by saying that one of the painful things Jesus says to all of us (not just transgender people) is that how we have been born is not quite right. “We’ve all been born a bit wrong,” he says.
Additionally, we forget how “extraordinarily offensive” Jesus’ directive that we “must be born again” really is. When Jesus says this, Allberry explains, he’s essentially saying “You didn’t come out right the first time, and you don’t need to try a bit better; you need to be made new.” Again, Jesus says this to every one of us.
To the person who believes “God created me transgender”, Allberry says, “we can’t pin on God every single instinct and preference that we experience.” He emphasizes that he’s not singling anyone out in this statement, but rather applying it to everyone. “Sin has distorted us and it has disordered us, so those false identities we keep giving ourselves are not a sign of how God has created us, but they’re a sign of how the fall has distorted our thinking,” he explains.
Another misconception comes, Allberry believes, when we talk about God creating us. He did not, as Allberry jokingly says, get “the flat-pack from IKEA” and assemble us, as if we are merely simple, physical beings. Rather, God comes up with the “idea” of each of us.
Expanding on that thought, Allberry says “every single one of us has the sense we’re not the person we should be.” This is a reflection of the fact that “God came up with the idea of us, but we don’t do a very good job of being us.”
Becoming Who We Truly Are
This is precisely why we need to be made new by Jesus. The amazing thing, Allberry says, is that when we allow Jesus to make us new, we don’t become “less ourselves,” but rather “who we truly are.”
When Jesus said “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me,” Allberry argues Jesus is essentially saying “your self needs to be denied.” To deny ourselves, that requires “a deep and profound ‘no’ to some of the things that are deepest within you and feel most defining of you.”
Allberry points out a very intriguing paradox in this directive of denying ourselves from Jesus: As you deny self and follow Jesus, you become the you that God always had in mind. “You become your real self,” he explains.
Allberry says he doesn’t know how Jesus “pulls this off,” but as each of us becomes more like Jesus, we don’t become more like each other, but rather we become more like the real “us.”
What About Male AND Female vs. Male OR Female?
Allberry clarifies that when the passage from Genesis says God created them “male and female”, it is speaking in binary terms, not in terms of “the blend.” That is a hard truth to swallow, Allberry admits.
He goes on to explain a bit about the nature of God, who created us in his own image. And this is where things get a little mysterious, admittedly. Allberry says that while God is the creator of male and female, he’s not contained in either one of the genders. In certain parts of Scripture, when God uses feminine characteristics to describe himself, that does not mean that God is gender fluid. Rather, he’s above and beyond gender and biological sex because he is Spirit, Allberry explains. But he reveals himself to us–and “in his inner life” is–as Father, Son and Spirit. “There’s some mystery in there, and we might not get our heads around that fully,” Allberry admits.
Concluding his statements, Allberry points out the irony that “some of the people that are insisting on everybody’s right to be called by their chosen pronoun are not extending that to God.”