June 4, 2015

Transgendered Gnosticism

by Jesse Johnson

Gnostics were a first-century cult that taught that matter didn’t matter. More precisely, they held that our physical bodies were vulgar and thus lacked value, while our inner spiritual state represented true reality. They taught that because Jesus was the perfect spiritual being, he wouldn’t have even had a physical body. If he would have walked on the beach, he wouldn’t have left foot-prints (which, if true, would radically change many Christian posters).

I think this was meant as a LGBT-rights poster, but it it can also be read as an argument against the T part of that acronym.


Gnostics are still around today, only the best place to find them is inside the transgender movement. The modern transgender movement seeks to differentiate between one’s biological sex and the concept of gender. Your sex is what you are born with, while gender is a social construct foisted upon you at birth by a society that (wrongly) assumes that your sex is related to your gender.  

This movement has as its goal the obliteration of that connection. Now let me be quick to say that the movement entirely lacks logic and any kind of propositional truth that is remotely plausible. Consider: in claiming that sex and gender are not connected, they also claim that some people can be born with the “wrong” sex (hence a sex-change operation). For example, they purport that a person can be born biologically male, but have an internal gender of female, and hence have the “wrong” body.

Gender acrtoon

But if gender is not connected sex in the first place, then in what sense could someone be said to have the “wrong” body? If gender is all about social constructs, why change a person’s body to match one’s internal gender? It doesn’t make any logical sense. (Actually, let me rephrase that: it makes as much sense as saying gender doesn’t have anything to do with marriage.)

Last week I wrote about this issue being forced upon elementary school students in the Washington DC area, but be sure it will come to a school district near you. Short version: the Fairfax County School Board followed a Department of Education recommendation and passed a measure that would allow students to use the restroom of what ever gender they identify as, regardless of their biological sex. You maybe have heard about the gym where the male who self-identified as a woman was using the women’s locker room, or the college where the male student hung out nude in the women’s locker room. Fairfax County wants to bring that to the elementary school level.

How should we respond to this?

Understand the motivation is to rebel against God, and to force you to approve of their rebellion.

If a person is going to silence God, they have to sear their conscience, and sever any obvious ties they have to their creator. Because God is the one who designed the sexes (Matt 19:4; Gen 1:27), a full-throated rebellion against God is going to have to contain a rejection of God’s design for sex. “Who exactly does God think he is, if he thinks he can tell me that I’m a male or a female!?”

But the person who mutilates their body to bring it into conformity with their internal gender-identity still has one major obstacle in their quest to silence God: you. They need those around them to accept them, approve of them, and simply not remind them that what they are doing is sin. In fact, they demand that you approve of it (Rom 1:32). To that end they “glory in their shame” (Phil 3:19), while “casting up their own shame like foam” (Jude 13).

As Christians, we must at the very least refrain from the approval the person so desperately wants. We must be the few voices left that say, “You may not have noticed this, but God really did make males and females” (Matt 19:4).

Understand the difference between sex and gender:

Here is how to tell the difference: people have sex, and nouns have gender. A taco is masculine, and a tostada is feminine, and this has nothing to do with what biological parts they have. This is admittedly an abstract concept in English, since ours tends to be a gender neutral language, but if you remember high school French or Spanish or Latin, you likely remember that gender is a concept that is grammatical, not biological.

Unlike gender, sex is biological. There are chromosomes involved, and physical parts that correspond. With apologies to the transgender Gnostics of our day, sex is not a social construct but a physical reality. While in some cases there are people born with a biological defect (where their sex organ does not match their biological sex), these exceedingly rare examples demonstrate that in a fallen world all of our physical capacities are subject to corruption. In other words, the existence of congenital blindness does not demonstrate that eyesight is a social construct.

Certainly there are some social gender constructs: boys play with guns, and girls with dolls. But a boy that plays with dolls does not mean that he has the wrong physical parts, and he certainly should not then use the bathroom with females. Bathrooms match sex, not your childhood toy preference.

Sex is binary (you either have a male chromosome, or you do not), and in as much as gender is connected to people, it is likewise connected to sex.

Be a voice of reason:

Christians need to be balanced and reasonable in conversations about these issues. Remember that we are dealing with seriously hurting people, many of whom are confident that the source of their internal pain is that their self-perceived gender does not match the sexual parts that God gave them.

Be able to explain how as sinners we are all fallen, and how as children of Adam we all have our true identify in the second Adam. Refuse to approve of evil (John 12:43), and be the one person who is willing to clearly identify what God says about the issue of sex. We must renounce things hidden because of shame (2 Cor 4:2), refusing to glorify the sexual evils of our culture (Eph 5:12).

While our culture rejects science by attempting to separate gender from sex, we should be able to explain how the truth of Scripture conforms to what we see in this world (Matt 19:4).  It doesn’t matter if we are on the winning or loosing side in the battle of public perception; all that matters is if we are on the right side of truth, seasoned with love.

Jesse Johnson

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Jesse is the Teaching Pastor at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA. He also leads The Master's Seminary Washington DC location.
  • Linda Rice

    Jesse, this is helpful. I’ve had a hard time understanding how/why “gender” is not interchangeable with “sex.” Reading this, the light bulb flickered a bit brighter. I could use more articles like this, a concentrated, concise focus on one aspect of the issue, helping to coach on loving responses to these hurting people or, considering that there likely aren’t as many of them as the hype implies, to those who support their agenda. I appreciate all of you writers at Cripplegate.

  • Vinod Anand S

    Good post, Mr. Johnson. It was helpful. Yes, that poster can be used against their own argument.

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  • David Knight

    Thank you for the post, Jesse. I have given this issue some thought, and believe that we are approving of, for instance, Bruce Jenner’s sin by referring to him by his chosen female name, and by using female pronouns in reference to him. The reason is because Bruce is still a male, even though he has chosen to mutilate his body in the attempt to “appear” female. As you stated above in your piece, he still has male chromosomes. Further, I would argue that he also has a male soul. My thinking on this comes from the fact that God the Father and God the Son are always referenced using male pronouns in “his” word. I would love to hear your thoughts if you have the time, especially if I’ve erred in some way.

    • Agreed. Thanks David. You want to be the one person that warns, rather than affirms.

  • Robert Sakovich

    I agree with everything you are saying here and we definitely need to be the voice of reason. Sadly, I find that people don’t want to take the time to think through these issues logically and are swept up in sentiment and following their hearts instead of their conscience.

  • Boyd

    I’m just curious: What “sex” does the church use to speak of someone whose chromosomes do not easily match up to the binary xY xX pattern? A friend’s child was born with both a uterus AND an undescended testicle. The child’s body has a mix of xX, xY, and xXY chromosomes. Based on the logic of “you are what your
    chromosomes are,” according to the church, what is this child—male or female?

    • Johns’ Hopkins did a study over 20 years on these births that is fascinating to read. I’ll put the link here when I find it. But they found that most people with ambiguous organs do NOT have ambiguous chromosomes. There are people with (very, very, very, very rare) with ambiguous chromosomes (xxY), but that is not your typical hermaphrodite. For the longest time, standard medical practice was to make such births “female” regardless of what their chromosomes were. This John’s Hopkins study found that many/most of those who were made “female” either turned to suicide, or became “cross dressers” and started identifying as male. This study is largely whey Johns Hopkins stopped sex change operations for the longest time.

      As to your question: in those circumstances I think you work with doctors and parents to make the best decision for the child, given what information you have. There is obviously serious freedom involved in those parenting situations, since you are dealing with a medical disorder. Godly parents would apply biblical principles, assimilating the best medical advice available, and do what they think is best.

      I also want to say that I agree with what i think is the heart of your question: that gender confusion is a rare medical condition, and not a mere personal choice. I know that there are those who say that the existence of hermaphrodites proves that gender is not related to biology. To which I say, “no more than congenital blindness proves that God did not invent sight.”

  • Boyd

    This is just a quick Wikipedia look as SOME of the possible chromosomal issues that can make simple xX and xY definitions of “male” and “female” problematic since not all people are even aware that they have these conditions since their external genitalia seemed “normal” at birth.

    In genetics, a mosaic or mosaicism denotes the presence of two or more populations of cells with different genotypes in one individual who has developed from a single fertilized egg.

    Klinefelter syndrome is a clinical diagnosis that has a basis in extra genetic material in the form of an additional X chromosome.

    Turner syndrome (TS) also known as Ullrich–Turner syndrome, gonadal dysgenesis, and 45,X, is a condition in which a female is partly or completely missing an X chromosome.

    Swyer syndrome, or XY gonadal dysgenesis, is a type of hypogonadism in a person whose karyotype is 46,XY. Dueto the inability of the streak gonads to produce sex hormones (both estrogens and androgens), most of the secondary sex characteristics do not develop. This is especially true of estrogenic changes such as breast development, widening of the pelvis and hips, and menstrual periods. As the adrenal glands can make limited amounts of androgens and are not affected by this syndrome, most of these persons will develop pubic hair, though it often remains sparse.

    5α-Reductase deficiency (5-ARD) is an autosomal recessive intersex condition caused by a mutation of the 5α reductase type II gene.[ Individuals with 5-ARD can have normal male external genitalia, ambiguous genitalia, or normal female
    genitalia. They are born with male gonads, including testicles and Wolffian structures, but usually have female primary sex characteristics. As a
    consequence, they are often raised as girls, but usually have a male gender
    identity.[3][4] In general, individuals with 5-ARD are capable of producing viable sperm. In individuals with feminized or ambiguous genitalia, there is a tendency towards a macroclitoris or micropenis, and the urethra may attach to the phallus. This structure may be capable of ejaculations as well as erections, but may be insufficient for intercourse.

    • If you are saying that there are medical malformities that affect people’s sex, then I completely agree. I hope you didn’t miss my reply to you above: in such a situation, parents/doctors make the best choice for the child. Part of living in a fallen world is that sickness/illness corrupts that which God made (blindness to sight, Turner to gender), and in such cases we show love and compassion to people while pointing them to the spiritual wellness found in Christ.

      • Still Waters

        It also must be remembered that some of these chromosomal abnormalities would never have been discovered before chromosomes were discovered. Such children were usually raised in the gender which they appeared to be. I often think that these are the people whom Christ was referring to when he said, “There are eunuchs which were born of women…” That is just after he said that God created male and female, so he is clearly not saying that ambiguous gender is the created or desired order. Rather, he is saying that due to congenital defects as a result of the fall, some people will never be able to marry.

  • 4Commencefiring4

    This particular “trans” movement, which seems to be all the rage since Jenner’s hero status came to be, is not the only one in play. (I’m shocked! Shocked!)

    Yesterday, I first heard the news of the existence of something called the “transabled” or “transableism.” (I also discovered just now that it’s been around for several years, probably born in California sociology departments. Who knew?)

    Apparently, there are some who insist their true nature is to be disabled, crippled (which is an archaic term meaning “crippled”), handicapped, or otherwise “differently abled”, when in fact they are as whole as vitamin D milk. And to match their physical reality with their inner self, they actually resort to amputations and take other extreme measures, like blinding themselves. I’m not making this up.

    Perhaps this gives them True Fulfillment, or maybe it’s just easier than having to work. I can’t say. But we haven’t heard the end of “trans” by any means. We’re just getting revved up.

    I’m thinking of starting a new “trans” called “transwealthy.” I’m broke on the outside, but feel I’m rich on the inside. All I need to do is convince enough people to help me become my true self. Worth a shot.

  • Dave O

    The insanity behind all of this is impossible to keep up with. Rebellion is on steroids in our society.

    • Its also not new. Slavery–>Abortion–>SSM–> the slide continues.

  • Still Waters

    When I look at the transgender movement, I see three distinct groups. The first are the Intersex (formerly called Hemaphrodism), people who are born with either genitals which do not match their chromosomes (XX or XY Intersex, formerly called pseudohermaphrodism), or the rare True Gondal Intersex who have a confusion of both chromosomes and sex organs – there are also the chromosomal combinations XXY (Klinefelter’s), XXX (Turner’s), X0, and XYY; but these conditions do not usually result in ambiguous genitalia and for certain conditions, like XYY, they may never be detected without chromosomal testing. These people have a genuine physical problem, but their existence does not mean that sex has no meaning. In fact, they underscore the fact there is two sexes – their exception proves the rule.

    The second are those with a Body Dysmorphic Disorder, in which they are convinced they should be of the opposite sex. Other dysmorphias include anorexia and bulimia, where a person is convinced that they are overweight. This group struggles with mental health problem and high suicide rates. However, we know that it is not helpful to affirm anorexics and bulimics in their obsession. It cannot be any more helpful to affirm that those with a transgender dysmorphia in theirs. The therapy in both cases should be to help the person accept the body they live in.

    The third group is the Transvestites. This group gains sexual gratification from dressing and acting like the opposite sex. This is the group that forms the connection between the T and the LGB. The more I observe of the Transgender movement, the more I see that this is also the most vocal group. Too often, they hijack the first group to show that sex is fluid, and persuade the second group that their tortured minds are telling the truth.

    Transgenderism is not the next step in human evolution. India has had such communities for centuries – they often function as entertainers. Eunuchs in ancient harems were sometimes made to act as women – two Roman historians record that Nero castrated a man, married him, and treated him as a wife. In the 1600s and 1700s, boys with beautiful singing voices were castrated to stop their voices changing and they sang soprano roles in operas. All these practices were stopped, because society realized that they were cruel and dehumanising. Now, it seems that to object to the unnecessary mutilation of the human body, you are dehumanizing it. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.

    • JayRyder2100

      This explanation is very helpful.

    • Thanks for that helpful overview.

  • tovlogos

    A solid justification, Jesse, which would be impossible the other way.

    God does establish logic. The fact is: “Understand the motivation is to rebel against God, and to force you to approve of their rebellion.” There are literal children overseas, as we speak, that are refusing to deny Christ; and bravely dying by the sword.

    “Your sex is what you are born with, while gender is a social construct foisted upon you at birth by a society that (wrongly) assumes that your sex is related to your gender.
    This movement has as its goal the obliteration of that connection.” When logic doesn’t work they may take the Dan Savage approach.

    “It doesn’t matter if we are on the winning or loosing side in the battle of public perception; all that matters is if we are on the right side of truth, seasoned with love.”
    Amen — something that I have said many times in discussion. God’s operation is to save us out of this world; not to fix this world during this time period.

    “Now judgement is upon this world; now the ruler of this world shall be cast out. and I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” John 12:31-32.

  • I have been thinking over the past 6 months that transgenderism is a direct application of gnosticism. I even had a discussion with my 17 year old son about it this week. It’s amazing that 30 years ago when my pastor taught through Colossians that gnosticism was only known because somebody read a scholarly commentary. Who would have guessed it would rear it’s ugly head in the ugliest of ways in our generation?

  • Becky

    Thank you, thank you. I have a daughter who says she’s my son and immersed in the culture of LGBT. I have searched and searched for solid counsel as a Christian and a mother. What was abstract and clearly defined before, became close and real when it was my very own child. Caution, if a Christian parent looks for “support”: what I found, to the exlusion of all else, was “Christian Parent of Transgender” which was code for “we will get your mind right and into modern thinking”. If I loved my child, I would embrace and affirm. I absolutely could and cannot. I love just as much, but I will not stand idle on the sidelines and affirm that. And hopefully not one penny of my insurance pays for it. Funny this coincided with her turning away from God.
    To read this made me feel sane for the first time in a long time. I really couldn’t get the whole gender/sex definitions they use. It seemed so fluid and contextual!! And I never got the name, title or pronouns right, ever.
    And somebody explain to me how if you’re born homosexual and can’t help it- so accept it, then why the logic doesn’t carry to, if you are born transgenger (body dysmorphia is the most I’ll accede to) why do you not accept it as you can’t help it?
    Thanks again, and please tell me any support you all may have heard of for “narrow minded, bigoted” mothers such as I. 🙂 A church in Maryland too that teaches the truth is on my search list.

    • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

      Becky, my heart goes out to you, but what a great example of genuine love you have for your daughter. May God keep your resolve strong and may your daughter return to embracing who God made her.

      If it’s any comfort, one John Hopkins study stated that 70-80% of those who identified as transgender grew out of it. I will pray for her.

      • Becky

        Bless you!

  • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

    I’d like to know how treating gender dysphoria with radical surgery is any different than offering an anorexic liposuction? It’s just insane.

    I read a study done by John Hopkins that revealed that 70-80% of those who identified as transgender grew out of it! And those who went through the surgery to transgender had a 20% higher risk of suicide.

    God help us if mutilating the body is now seen as a way to treat the mind.

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  • Archepoimen follower

    The best article I have read on this issue! You are correct throughout, we, as Christians are not called to worry about winning, instead, we are called to speak the truth in love. God is Creator, He chose whether we would be born male or female. In either case, we are created in His image. God is not subject to the fall, who He created us to be is who we are.

    In Him whose Grace is sufficient,


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  • Darrel

    Jesse, unless I missed it, you left out the most important factor of all : LUST. All of this “logic” and philosophical “reasoning” is little more than a smoke screen to hide the real problem: a depraved heart and mind. Jenner claims he wants to seen as “heterosexual” in spite of the fact that all his actions say that he is just another sodomite. If he really wants to be perceived as a hetero, then why have the sex change and divorce his female wife? If, as a newly formed “female” he seeks to seen as hetero and have sex with men (that is the bottom line here) is this not just the fulfillment of a homosexual lust to lie with another man. By all Biblical definitions and accounts it is. He is still a sodomite, albeit a self-mutilated one, he is still in his sin of homosexuality, and still has no claim to the salvation he professes to possess.
    You do Jenner and all the other confused people around him no favor by skirting the issue of deep-seated homosexual lust. In fact, you do the Lord Jesus Christ a great disservice by attempting to smooth over the real issue of lust with your faux covering of “concern” and “love”. What love is it that hides the truth from another? I hope you will rethink and rewrite this from the Bible’s perspective, because as it stands now you are in opposition to the Word of God.

    • Rick_M

      Darrel, to be honest, I do think you have missed something, or several things. First, the author makes clear that the issue is one of rebellion against God. He says, “Understand the motivation is to rebel against God, and to force you to approve of their rebellion.” He has made quite plain that the problem is human depravity. And, he says that we need to speak the truth to correct their confusion. He is not advocating that we “hide the truth” as you charge, just the opposite. Second, the article is about transgender confusion about the body, not the sexual motivations about people who think of themselves as transgender. This is not simply reducible to sexual lust, or homosexual lust. Third, you refer to Jenner as a sodomite, and say he wants to have sex with men, What he has actually said is that he still likes women, not men. The fact that he says he is a woman, and that he is attracted to women. not men, and that he is not homosexual, demonstrates his deep confusion. As a physical man, who is attracted to women, he is a heterosexual male. The problem is that he claims to think he is a woman not a man. That is the transgender confusion the article is addressing, not the issue of one’s preferred partner, but of their (mis)perceived gender, and how they seek to separate the reality of their gender from their physical bodies.

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