FORT WORTH, Texas (Christian Examiner) – When the Civil Rights Movement gained momentum in the 1960s, Christian ministers were forced to confront ugly, twisted misinterpretations of the Bible that categorized black Americans as something "other" than fully human and inferior to whites.
In many places, especially in the South, that was a difficult, long-lasting process. On occasion, with fundamentalist colleges like Bob Jones University, the federal government had to step in and punctuate the equilibrium to ensure the progression toward equality continued.
Since that time, it has become clear that blacks and whites in America, broadly categorized, are culturally different. Each group has its own history, making up its prejudices and challenging the way they see their fellow Americans of different races. But there is no distinction in the way we are created inherently as human beings. The concept is not only one inherent in the Declaration of Independence; it is a fundamental truth of Scripture.
"In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus," Paul wrote in Galatians 3:28. If written in our current context, Paul likely would have added "nor black and white" to the passage.
This passage, of course, was not about Civil Rights. It was not about government legislation or altering the makeup of society and overturning God's created order for the family and the leadership of the church.
It was, in context, a statement about Christian fellowship and the inheritance that already belongs and will be received by the saints who are blessed in Abraham's Seed – Jesus Christ. It was meant to draw tight the bonds of unity between a multitude of peoples, all part of the faithful in Christ. It was a group that included a (black) Ethiopian eunuch and Gentile women, such as Lydia and Phoebe, and later churchmen like Athanasius of Alexandria, known in history as "the black dwarf."
When Christian ministers in the Civil Rights Movement appealed to the character of Jesus Christ for the wisdom and strength to pursue equality, they did so knowing that they were following His lead. They were advocating for His will and supported by the Christ of Scripture. Jesus, you might say, was a willing participant in the push for equality.
Now, however, as the push to redefine humanity in the sexual revolution is underway and the effort to seek "equal rights" for transgenders is the cause célèbre, Jesus has to be bound with chains, gagged with duct tape, kidnapped and surgically altered to serve as the champion of that movement's ideal for equality. He has to be dragged kicking and screaming to a place His creation was never intended to go.
Last week, I wrote about a Northwest Arkansas Presbyterian minister who argued that Jesus, since he took his flesh from Mary, was missing a male chromosome. Jesus, he wrote, was likely externally male but internally female. That made him a "transgressive," meaning he was capable of moving back and forth between the two "genders" – an "intersexual" of sorts.
Then, Katie Grimes, a professor of theological ethics at Villinova University, wrote a similar piece at the website Women in Theology.
"Since Jesus had no human biological father, and since God, his heavenly Father, lacks a body, then Jesus was a man who likely had no Y chromosome. Would this not make Jesus more like a transgender person than a cis-gender one? We could grant Jesus a Y chromosome, but then we would have to assign his virgin mother Mary one as well," Grimes wrote.
Now, a writer at Huffington Post – a hotbed of support for every imaginable strain of sexual deviance – claims that God is tired of conservative Christians looking at Him as the "black and white God."
In an article titled "Jesus: The First Transgender," lesbian author Susan DeWitt Hall – who has no apparent theological training or expertise in biblical languages – claims Christians who oppose transgenderism are imposing "their own filters on stories and phrases to fit their particular ideology."
That would be sort of like Hall claiming Jesus was the first transgender wouldn't it? I digress in favor of revealing more of Hall's interpretative prowess.
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"The teaching of church from ancient days through today is that Jesus received his fleshly self from Mary. The church also teaches that Jesus is the new Adam, born of the new Eve," Hall writes.
"Now Eve is a fascinating creature for many reasons. The Bible tells us she is the first example of human cloning, which I touched on in this post. But the fun doesn't stop there. If we take the Genesis account in it's literal meaning, as conservative Christians demand that we do, she is also the first case of a transgender woman. God reached into Adam, pulled out a bit of rib bone, and grew Eve from that XY DNA into Adam's companion. She was created genetically male, and yet trans-formed into woman.
Then along comes Jesus and the whole pattern is both repeated and reversed. The first couple's refusal to cooperate is turned around by Mary's yes, and the second act of cloning occurs. The Holy Spirit comes upon the second Eve, and the child takes flesh from her and is born. Born of her flesh. Born with XX chromosome pairing. Born genetically female, and yet trans-formed into man."
This is, of course, utter nonsense and not akin to any interpretive paradigm for the incarnation ever offered by any theologian, at any time, in any era, on any continent, for any purpose. It is a fabrication of minds clouded by the scars of sexual rebellion.
Though I agree that Christ is the "new Adam," obedient unto death because of the Word dwelling in Him, Hall fails to see the incarnation for what it is. It is not about the transference of DNA. It is about the taking on of "flesh" (sarx, in Greek) or "humanity."
The incarnate Christ is a "new creation." Jesus Christ is fully human not only because of Mary, but because he was created human by his Father – the same Father God who created Adam from the dust of the earth. By Hall's logic, Adam was only living as a man. He was internally mud.
The gospel of Luke (1:35) reads that the Angel Gabriel told Mary, "The power of the Most High shall overshadow you." The passage is universally recognized as an act of creation by the Father – a completed act of creation supplying all else necessary to make him human.
Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day, preached in a synagogue (which only males could do), was referred to as the "son" of Mary (and Joseph, though erroneously so), referred to exclusively by the Greek pronouns "his" and "him," and was referred to as "King of the Jews" – not "Queen of the Jews." Nowhere is it recorded that Mary dressed poor female Jesus in male clothes to ease his transition into patriarchal society. Nowhere is Jesus said to be screaming internally for his inner female self to break the chains of restrictive, theocratic society to have a coming out party.
These patently obvious cues in Scripture, however, will likely not dissuade armchair theologians on the Left from validating Hall's thesis.
I, therefore, turn to church history. In the entire corpus of writings on the church fathers, there is not a single writer who claims Jesus was anything other than anatomically and psychologically male in his humanity. The church does not depict him as schizophrenic, bi-polar, bi-sexual, homosexual, questioning, or transgender.
That Jesus Christ, the man, was crafted by God's creating agent – His Word – is addressed by Hippolytus in his Refutation of All Heresies where he writes, "The Logos (Word of God) we know to have received a body from a virgin, and to have remodeled the old man by a new creation."
He also writes in the Doctrine of Truth that the Word designed creations "requiring generation" as male or female. Other objects He made "neither male nor female." Most importantly, he writes that neither male nor female could "proceed from any one of these, were it not that God, who is the source of all authority, wished that the Logos might render assistance in accomplishing a production of this kind."
So, if God created all things – and made some male and some female by His authority – could he not make Jesus fully male in spite of the fact that he takes his flesh from Mary, and within her womb?
As Tertullian wrote in his work, On the Flesh of Christ, the Christ who was going to consecrate a new order of birth (that is, being born "from above"), "must himself be born after a novel fashion" in the virgin birth. He added:
"This is the new nativity; a man is born in God. And in this man God was born, taking the flesh of an ancient race, without the help, however, of the ancient seed, in order that He might reform it with a new seed, that is, in a spiritual manner, and cleanse it by the removal of all its ancient stains. But the whole of this new birth was prefigured, as was the case in all other instances, in ancient type, the Lord being born as man by a dispensation in which a virgin was the medium."
He is a new creation, indeed – just not one to be used to bolster a new, tired old argument about Jesus's sexuality to make transgenders feel better about their gender dysphoria or the fact that they are prohibited from using the opposite sex's restrooms.
I'd rather they just admit that they're looking for a different Savior than the one given to us in the Christ of the Bible.
Dr. Gregory Tomlin covers the intersection of politics, culture and religion forChristian Examiner. He is also a professor of Church History and a faculty instructional mentor for Liberty University's Rawlings School of Divinity. Tomlin earned his Ph.D. at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and also studied at Baylor University and Boston University's summer Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs (CURA). He wrote his dissertation on Southern Baptists and their influence on military-foreign policy in Vietnam from 1965-1973.