"Do not be deceived…" – 1 Corinthians 6:9b
Having established that the scriptures call us both to a confession of Jesus as Lord (with an accompanying repentance from sin and baptism in his name) as well as to a holy life, the New Testament's presentation of a holy life appears to be deeply rooted in Old Covenant Law, the Law of Moses. Indeed Paul's continual call to a holy life seems inextricably tied to Mosaic Law.
2) The Old Covenant Law of Moses was quite explicit in addressing issues of sex, sexuality, sexual orientation and even gender identity. In order to move this along let's look at just one passage that is pertinent to today's subject…
"A woman shall not wear a man's garment, nor shall a man put on a woman's cloak. For whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God." – Deuteronomy 22:5
As with the topic of homosexuality and homosexual practice, many have tried to make the case that the reason the Old Testament scriptures were so clearly adamant against such activities is that there was a desire to see the Israelite population explode. Due to this, it has been argued, anything that would play down or interrupt such an intended growth was singled out as an abomination and evil. That would include cross-dressing and, by extension, transgenderism.
The problem with this argument is that it is impossible to know the exact intent behind the law. What the old Law said is quite clear. Judaism, including the Judaism of Christ's time, embraced what had been written. But the reason for all of the laws or their restrictions is not stated. All the reader is told is that they were to be holy. "You shall be holy, as I am holy." So the idea of being set apart, marked off or made holy by certain behaviors or the refusal to engage in certain behaviors was most certainly tied to what was required of ancient Israel. Again, just WHY the people were told to act or not act in certain ways is not stated. But if one was to be holy, then one had to submit to those commands and expectations. (Those who argue that "Christ never said anything about homosexuality" reflect an ignorance both of the extent of Christ's teaching (John 21:25) and his fidelity to the law (Matthew 5:17-19)).
So here is the bottom line: our salvation is rooted in BOTH an adherence to a minimal confession (see the first week's article, point #1) AND to a lifestyle that is in at least some compliance to those of the Jews of Paul's time. And as transgenderism would minimally be viewed as a man trying to look like a woman (or a woman trying to look like a man) it is impossible to see how the apostle Paul would have condoned it.
The answer that some have proposed in getting around this conclusion is to suggest that Paul's practical theology (dealing with life's issues) was rooted in a system that was meant only for ancient Israel. And that just as the Jerusalem council allowed Gentile believers to be free from (most of) the constraints of Mosaic Law, Paul was simply slow in making that same application to the readers of his epistles to the church. Thus it could be argued that that reticence to change was not merely a "Judaizer" problem but a problem also with Paul. And it is because of that reluctance that the church has come into this place of sexual intransigence. So, it would be argued, appreciate Paul as a man of his time, but understand that "the times they are a changin'" (Dylan).
Next week we will go into this further…