Jesus’ answer to transgenderism
By Andrew Packer
Easter changes everything. It even answers the question of transgenderism. But to understand how, we first need to grasp what Jesus’ resurrection means. Gregory of Nazianzus expressed this beautifully when he said, “Yesterday I was crucified with Christ; today I am glorified with Him. Yesterday I died with Him; today I am given life with Him. Yesterday I was buried with Him; today I live with Him.”
Perhaps Gregory was thinking of what Paul said to the Corinthians:
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Cor. 15:13–19)
If Christ has not been raised, Paul says, then nothing else matters, and Christians are the biggest fools in the world and deserve to be pitied more than all the rest of humanity. But Christ is indeed risen from the dead, and His resurrection assures us that our sins have been forgiven. It proves that Jesus is indeed the true and unique Son of God. It proclaims that our Lord has conquered death, hell and the devil for us. The resurrection also proves that our bodies will be raised up on the Last Day just as Jesus promised. So, we sing with Moses, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name” (Ex. 15:1–3).
St. Paul continues, “So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body” (1 Cor. 15:42–44). Our fathers in the faith use this passage to teach that our risen bodies will have at least these four attributes: glorified, powerful, spiritual and heavenly. While both the ungodly and godly will have immortal bodies, only the resurrected bodies of the godly will have these four attributes. Our bodies will be glorified; they will be clothed with honor, splendor and glory — they will shine like the sun (Matt. 13:43). Our bodies will be powerful — free from all sickness, disease and pain. Our bodies will be spiritual, that is, raised up, transformed and perfectly ruled and sustained by the Holy Spirit. Finally, our bodies will be heavenly; they will shine perfectly with heavenly light and glory. The Christian’s heavenly body will be whole, complete and perfect. Our bodies will be like Christ’s resurrected body.
These teachings on what the resurrection means for our past, present and future are a precious treasure. Easter truly has changed everything for us. We have faith that the resurrection has secured our present salvation and gives us hope for our salvation and resurrected bodies in the world to come.
What, therefore, does the resurrection have to do with the current battles against transgenderism in 2023? Everything. The resurrection teaches us the importance of our bodies as we live in the here and now.
The Bible and our Lutheran fathers are clear: Christ will raise up and transform the same body that went into the grave. Job confessed: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (Job 19:25–27). This simple truth has profound implications for current discussions and debates surrounding transgenderism, even though this is not something anyone before our time has had to struggle with. For most of history, it was taken for granted that your “sexual identity” matched your “biological identity,” either male or female.
God created two sexes — male and female (Gen. 1:27). This is no accident. This is God’s design, plan and intent. That your heavenly Father created you male or female matters. It is foundational to understanding who you are and what God has intended for you in this life. What God has created — whether male or female — let not man seek to undo or reverse. You are an embodied soul. That body does not lie. Your anatomy and your DNA reveal what God has created you to be. Certainly, you are not only male or female, but you are not less than that either.
God’s design and intent for you includes living bodily as either a male or female — whichever He has created you to be. Your body qualifies you for certain vocations: husband, wife, father, mother, to name just a few. God will raise your current body, which He has made either male or female, on the Last Day. You will live for all eternity in your resurrected body as a man or a woman. It will not and cannot be changed, even in the resurrection. That impacts the way you view, use and treat your body right now.
If our bodies will be raised up, then they are not accidental or secondary to our life here in this world. We are not Gnostics who believe that the body is unimportant. Indeed, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit even now. You serve your neighbor in love and glorify God through the body that the Lord is going to raise up on the Last Day. Consider your vocations — how often are you using your physical body to fulfill your duties in those vocations? All the time. If this is true, then we must take care of our bodies. Jesus is working through it here in time and will also do so in eternity.
When we talk to those who struggle with this sin, we must keep these fundamental truths in mind. God has both created and redeemed them as a male or as a female. This matters for all eternity. God has not made a mistake by giving you the body He has given you. He has given you the body that He intended you to have. And you will always have it. This clear teaching cuts through the confusion of our times. Many people are confused, scared and misled into bondage by false teachings about the body. The teaching of Christ’s resurrection and of our incorporation into His resurrection can free them from these delusions and sins.
This teaching can anchor those tempted to mutilate the God-given body that they possess. The teaching of the resurrection can also comfort those who have already mutilated and maimed their bodies. Isaiah writes, “For thus says the Lord: ‘To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off’” (Isaiah 56:4–5).
If it has not happened in your church, it most likely will: Someone who regrets trying to change the sex God gave them at birth will show up looking for Good News. Much of what they will have done to their bodies cannot be undone. We cannot recreate their bodies, but we can declare to them that in Christ they are a new creation. We cannot fix their bodies here and now, but we can proclaim to them that our heavenly Father has given them an everlasting name in His house because of the death and resurrection of His Son. We can promise them that in the resurrection of the dead on the Last Day, that body that has not healed in this life will be raised up. That body will be healed. Their once-mutilated body will be glorified, powerful, spiritual and heavenly. Easter has changed everything for us and them. Easter answers the evils of transgenderism. This Easter, as you celebrate the resurrection of Christ, be assured that these things are true for you and for your neighbors — whoever they may be.