(A. Philip Brown, II Answers In Genesis) In a recent Huffington Post article, Mark Olmstead claims that, according to Jesus, some people are born transgender and that expressing transgender identity behaviorally is no big deal. In Olmstead’s view, people who panic, demonize, or make a fuss about nontraditional categories of gender expression should just “get over it.” To justify his claim, Olmstead appeals to Jesus’ statement regarding eunuchs in Matthew 19:12 (NASB). Specifically, he asserts that the phrase “eunuchs, who were born so from their mother’s womb” may legitimately be understood to include traditional eunuchs, intersex persons, and transgender persons.
Olmstead concludes from the final phrase of Matthew 19:12 that, “However [transgender persons] get [here], Jesus clearly has the same suggestion in how to treat them: ‘He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.’” In other words,
from the mouth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ himself, no less … [t]here it is in black and white. People who don’t fit into traditional categories of anatomy and gender expression are simply people who don’t fit into traditional categories of anatomy and gender expression. No need for panic. No need for demonization. No need, really, to make a fuss.
Along the way, Olmstead manages a drive-by shooting at the recently published Nashville Statement as “the same old [expletive deleted] appropriation of the Bible to justify modern tribal prejudices.” Olmstead, himself an LGBTQ advocate who lives a homosexual lifestyle, explicitly states that he views the Bible as a “sweeping work of historical fiction,” which he normally rejects as a basis for justifying anything. But his reading of Jesus’ words, in his mind, gives him warrant to use the Bible against evangelicals whom he regards as misusing it.
Despite its overt bias, Olmstead’s piece reflects a growing trend in how Matthew 19:12 is read. Christians who are committed to the authority of Scripture need answers to the following questions:
- Did the Greek word translated eunuch refer to transgender or homosexual persons, whether they were born with same sex attraction or not?
- Does Jesus’ statement, “He who is able to accept this, let him accept it,” mean that his followers should regard the nontraditional gender expressions of transgender persons as acceptable?
- Is there any validity to the charge that the Nashville Statement is an appropriation of the Bible to justify modern tribal prejudices?