A recent op-ed in the New York Times argues that God is transgender and we have never seen it.
That’s right. After two and a half millennia, we are now seeing what has never been seen before. Leave it to the New York Times to publish such an argument.
Robert Gagnon, perhaps the world’s best authority on sexuality in the Bible, takes the argument apart piece by piece. It is worth quoting a bit from his analysis.
“It is true that the Hebrew Bible describes God in both masculine (predominantly) and feminine imagery (for the latter, see Isa 42:14; 49:15; 63:13; Hosea 13:8; by inference Num 11:12; Deut 32:11, 18; Hos 11:1-4). However, for God to transcend gender is not the same as his being “transgender”—which refers to a person’s abandoning his or her birth sex for a self-constructed and distorted self-image. It is no mere coincidence that God is never imaged as Israel’s (or the church’s) wife, but always as her husband, nor that God is never addressed as Mother. . . .
“[Rabbi] Sameth’s propagandistic reasoning goes back to the very beginning. The image of the first human in Genesis 2, who is either male with a female element or sexually undifferentiated (the adam or earthling), from whom God then extracts a part to form woman, is no endorsement of attempts to erase one’s birth sex in order to transition to the opposite sex. Sameth’s statement that “Genesis 1:27 refers to Adam as ‘them’” is true, but Sameth overlooks the fact that “Adam” is here not a proper name but a description of “the human” or “humankind”: “God created the adam in his image.” Genesis 1:27 goes on to say, “male and female he (God) created them,” which is simply to acknowledge what Sameth denies: the significance of sexual differentiation for humanity.
“Sameth opines that in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, “well-expressed gender fluidity was the mark of a civilized person,” and “the gods were thought of as gender-fluid.” In point of fact, there were many strictures against “gender fluidity” in the ancient Near East (e.g., men who assumed the role of women were generally denigrated). That opposition was ratcheted up in Israel, where any toleration of transgenderism was viewed as a mark of infidelity to Yahweh and an idolatrous concession to pagan religion.”