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Transgenderism Isn’t Self-Actualization, It’s Self-Annihilation, Part 3


“A man or a woman might feel like they are in the wrong body, but we know that isn’t true. Even when this may be difficult, Christians can take heart, and share the hope that new, perfect resurrection bodies await all those who put their faith in Jesus Christ and receive the forgiveness of sins — even sins against our own bodies — that is found at the foot of the cross.”


This is the third and final article of a three-part series exposing one of the most fundamental lies of the transgender agenda and providing a biblically-based, Christian worldview-informed response. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

In the first two parts of this series, I explained how the transgender movement promises “self-actualization” but instead delivers a disastrous attempt at self-annihilation. In this final entry, I offer a Christian response that focuses on embracing the physical bodies that our Creator God gives us.

God Gives Us Our Bodies — So Our “Matter” Matters

Having established that transgenderism is a myth, and a deadly one at that, how should Christians respond? How should we engage with those who believe they were born in the “wrong body,” or have even harmed their bodies in the pursuit of “transgender fulfillment?” What encouragement and resources do Christian sexual ethics have to offer to those who want to live in accord with their God-given nature as a man or a woman? Let’s turn to those considerations now.

First, Christians must remember that our God-given physical bodies are a teacher. They aren’t something to be “overcome” in pursuit of our “true identity.” No, they are a vital component of our identity. In a day and age dominated by expressive individualism, it can be easy to forget that our embodiment teaches us something significant about who we are. This is all the more prevalent today because the world has rejected this truth, brainwashing everyone from a young age to view their bodies as mere pieces of plastic that they can bend to their will however they want.

Our modern secular age says, “Your body doesn’t matter, only your feelings do.”

For example, the world claims that the physical male body of William Thomas, a man who now goes by the name “Lia” and competes against women in NCAA Division I swimming, simply does not matter. This is despite the objective fact that his biology gives him a distinct athletic advantage over the women he swims against.

Author Ryan Anderson, sharing research from Best Practice and Research: Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, notes that “adult males have greater total lean mass and mineral mass, and a lower fat mass than females…Adult males have greater arm muscle mass, larger and stronger bones….”[1]

These physical advantages were on clear display when Thomas became the “first known transgender athlete to win a Division I national championship,” finishing “1.75 seconds ahead of second-place Emma Weyant,” who is a girl.[2]

But even as the world speaks loudly on this issue, God’s Word speaks even louder; and as Christians, we know it must always get the final say. The Bible tells us something very important about our bodies. We see this in Scripture from the very beginning.

In Genesis 1:27, we read that “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Right before that, in Genesis 1:26, we learned that God had determined to make mankind in His image to rule. Right after, in Genesis 1:28, we learn that God gave mankind marching orders, in the form of the Dominion Mandate, to procreate, to reproduce, and to subdue the earth.

In summary, we learn that God made mankind 1) in His image, 2) as two distinct sexes, male and female, and 3) with the telos, the purpose, of embracing their procreative complementarity towards the end of having children. From the beginning, our bodies teach us something about who we are. The “matter” of our bodies matters — quite a great deal. We must remember that.

Busting the Myth of “Non-Binary”

Along with remembering that our physical bodies matter, we must also reject the myth of the “non-binary,” the idea that someone can be neither male nor female, and embrace the creation-order sexual binary of men and women.

In his contribution to Understanding Transgender Identities: Four Views, theologian Owen Strachan puts it like this: “It is stunning to think anyone could read the Bible and conclude anything other than that it affirms the sexes—so-called binary gender.”[3]

Being created in this binary, we are the product of God’s blueprint. There is no such thing as “non-binary,” and there never will be.

Additionally, Andrew Walker, in his book God and the Transgender Debate, explains:

“There was a Designer, and he had a plan for how he was going to make the world. There was a blueprint that God had in mind.”[4]

For embodied humanity, this means “our bodies matter. Your body is not arbitrary; it is intentional,” and, crucially, it is either male or female.

Walker continues: “Maleness and femaleness, according to the Bible, aren’t artificial categories.”[5] In short, one is never born in the “wrong body” because God does not make mistakes. Every image-bearer is cast in the mold of His perfectly predetermined and complementary categories of man or woman.

Thus, to be born in a male-sexed body means you are a man in your very essence and being — it is not just a part of who you are, it is who you are. Therefore, one must embrace, not reject, this reality to live rightly. As J. Budziszewski, a professor of the natural law, reminds us,

“…if we are only free when our nature is unfolding, then shouldn’t this be true of our sexual nature, too? Shouldn’t we direct our wills in such a way that the meaning and purposes that lie fallow in sexuality can unfold?”[6]

For men, that meaning and purpose, which may lie fallow, is to be brothers, husbands, and fathers; for women, it is to be sisters, wives, and mothers. Or, as Sharon James explains in Gender Ideology: What Do Christians Need to Know?:

“Nature teaches us both the fundamental distinction and the necessary complementarity between men and women. As males or females, we have distinct and different capacities for reproduction. While appearances can be altered, this reproductive capacity cannot be adjusted.”[7]

The point is very clear: God made humanity male and female. You are either one or the other. Now, there is no question that sin has marred the image of God in man and woman. The effects of the fall are profound. But the original creation blueprint stands: “Male and female, He made them.”

Becoming Who God Made Us To Be: Embracing Our Nature as Male and Female

Third, and finally, strive to live according to your God-given sex. We are only “fully human” when we fulfill our true nature as men and women. To reject what our body has to teach us about who we are and what we were made to do is to pursue a sub-human life. It is to pursue the path of darkness found in Romans 1, and in the words of the Apostle Paul, to be those who “exchanged the truth about God for a lie” (Romans 1:25).

Of course, between Genesis 1 and Romans 1, there is much to be accounted for, including Genesis 3 and the fall of man. In Wonderfully Made: A Protestant Theology of the Body, John Kleinig reflects on how sin has cast a long, dark shadow over our understanding of the sexual nature of our bodies. He says:

“There is, I reckon, no other aspect of life in the body that has been disrupted so seriously and corrupted so obviously by our fall into sin. There is no other natural, physical gift that has been so evidently misused and commonly abused as this.”[8]

As mentioned, one accurate way to understand transgenderism is as a product of sin and the fall. However, it is a particularly poisonous permutation of bodily sin because it is an effort to subvert our very natures as men and women. Rather than learning from our body and accepting the limits God has given us as men and women, trangenderism seeks to cast off all restraint and allow the fallen will, with no eye towards redeeming grace, to conquer the physical reality of our bodies.

The theologian Herman Bavinck explains it like so: “This confession directly contradicts the contemporary dogma that we become good through the conflict between our ego, which strives for autonomy, and the external world of nature and matter, which restricts us; the end goal is to overcome nature by reason and spirit.”[9] He goes on to say that to adopt this view is to embrace a “system from the abyss.”[10]

Instead of adopting a system from the abyss, as Christians we must adopt a system from above, remembering that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

Part of God’s good and perfect gifts for us as His creatures is our sex, male or female. Far from rejecting or trying to annihilate our nature, we should seek to live it out to the fullest extent possible.

Psalm 119:32 is instructive here: “I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.”

The psalmist recounts that within the commands, he can run — to thrive, to move fully and freely, albeit fenced in on either side by God’s righteous law. This is what living within the limits of our embodied sex entails: Energetically and unreservedly pursuing our maleness or our femaleness, in all appropriate ways and with all manner of godly and culturally acceptable permutations of those expressions.

Christians must embrace being a man or woman, depending on how God made them, and lean into that nature, never seeking to work against it.

The nature of our embodied life means that discipleship to Christ should include the pursuit of synchronistic cooperation between body, soul, and mind. The psychological self does not triumph, nor does the material. Neither does the will triumph over nature. As Greg Allison puts it, “wonderfully, human beings are male and female embodied beings—gendered—all the way down…an essential given of human existence is maleness or femaleness. God’s design for his image-bearers is that we are gendered people.”[11]


Our task as embodied humans is to embrace our true nature to the glory of God. We reject self-annihilation masquerading as self-actualization and instead humbly accept the limits and nature of the sexed body our good Creator God gave us. This is true freedom.

In his book What it Means to Be Human, bioethicist O. Carter Snead expounds on how our physical bodies give shape to our existence and how we must submit to the limits of our nature to live truly. He writes:

“Human beings do not live as mere atomized wills and there is more to life than self-invention and the unencumbered pursuit of a destiny of our devising. The truth is that persons are embodied beings with all the natural limits and great gifts this entails. We experience the world, ourselves, and one another as living (and dying) bodies.”[12]

Here Snead draws our attention to an essential aspect of our nature and the fact of embodiment — it is not eternal in its current form. As the Apostle Peter reminds us, in quoting Isaiah,

“For, ‘All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’”

1 Peter 1:24-25

Yes, in a fallen world, there are pains and hardships associated with our bodies. There may be a real disconnect between what we “feel” and how we “are.” But the Chr.istian life is one that is lived in humble submission to God’s revealed truth. The right way to order our lives is by allowing what we know to triumph over what we feel.

A man or a woman might feel like they are in the wrong body, but we know that isn’t true. Even when this may be difficult, Christians can take heart, and share the hope that new, perfect resurrection bodies await all those who put their faith in Jesus Christ and receive the forgiveness of sins — even sins against our own bodies — that is found at the foot of the cross.

Follow William on Twitter! @William_E_Wolfe

Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.

[1] Ryan T. Anderson, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment (New York: Encounter Books, 2018), 83.

[2] Katie Barnes, “Amid protests, Penn swimmer Lia Thomas becomes first known transgender athlete to win Division I national championship,” ESPN, accessed May 25, 2022, https://www.espn.com/college-sports/story/_/id/33529775/amid-protests-pennsylvania-swimmer-lia-thomas-becomes-first-known-transgender-athlete-win-division-national-championship.

[3] Owen Strachan, “Transition or Transformation? A Moral-Theological Exploration of Christianity and Gender Dysphoria,” in Beilby and Eddy, Understanding Transgender Identities: Four Views, 66.

[4] Walker, God and the Transgender Debate: What Does the Bible Actually Say About Gender Identity? 2nd ed. (India: The Good Book Company, 2022), 50.

[5] Walker, God and the Transgender Debate, 53, 55.

[6] J. Budziszewski, On the Meaning of Sex (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2012), 8.

[7] Sharon James, Gender Ideology: What Do Christians Need to Know? (Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications Ltd, 2019), 69.

[8] John W. Kleinig, Wonderfully Made: A Protestant Theology of the Body (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2021), 195.

[9] Herman Bavinck, Reformed Ethics, Volume One: Created, Fallen, and Converted Humanity. Edited by John Bolt. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019), 33.

[10] Bavinck, Reformed Ethics, 33.

[11] Gregg R. Allison, Embodied: Living as Whole People in a Fractured World (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2021), 45, 50.

[12] O. Carter Snead, What It Means to Be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2020), 3.