God transcends gender.
Theologically speaking, God is nonbinary.
That means in English, God’s pronouns are they/them.
God is trans.
I’d love to say this thought was originally mine, but that would be another cis white man commandeering someone else’s thought, my friend’s thought: Kevin Garcia.
Kevin is a nonbinary queer theologian who is spunky and smart and ambitious. They put me to shame when it comes to thoughts of the divine and spirituality; maybe it’s the master’s degree in theology.
The thought of God being trans — transcending gender — is provocative, important and ultimately true. We can see it all over Scripture.
God, Creator of the universe, is neither male nor female. And humans — males, females and all in between — are created in “their” image. The term “Spirit” is feminine in nature, and Scripture compares God to both a father and a mother.
“Creation itself is nonbinary.”
Creation itself is nonbinary. Scripture speaks of God creating night and day, yet we know by observation that there are in-between times such as dawn and dusk. When it comes to animals, Genesis says God created creatures of land and sea, yet we know there are amphibians. And while Scripture says God created man and woman, we know 1.7% of the population are born intersex. The nonbinary is all throughout creation.
The very nature of God transcends a binary description too, and we are reflections of that nature. Is it any wonder that gender is expressed in various and wonderful ways? We can again look at the biblical text to confirm this.
In Christ, gender is abolished. In ancient Jewish thought, there were eight genders. In Christ’s early church, it was a eunuch who was entrusted to carry the gospel to Africa. And even Jesus says many will become eunuchs and are born eunuchs (some scholars view this as intersex).
“Transness” is not only the nature of God; it also is ours. It is written into the very text Christians are somehow invoking today to block transgender individuals from basic human rights. This religious zealotry intends not just to block these children of God but to cause harm.
As of today, there are nearly 500 anti-trans bills up for votes across the United States; in 2022, more than 20% of far-right demonstrations were anti-trans in nature, and in 2021, there were 50 trans fatalities as a result of violence, all while anti-LGBTQ rhetoric has been on the rise for three consecutive years.
“It’s not a coincidence that hateful rhetoric perpetuates and empowers hateful behavior.”
It’s not a coincidence that hateful rhetoric perpetuates and empowers hateful behavior. Actions begin with words. Words begin with thoughts, and thoughts begin with beliefs.
Our theology has consequences, and those consequences are lives. Lives that have transformed me.
It was a trans woman who first taught me the vast discrepancies between being a man and a woman. It was a trans man who taught me we are continually and beautifully always becoming. And it was a nonbinary person who taught me God is trans. All these people deeply love God and are committed to following Them when the Church has done nothing but hurt and try to destroy them.
What is bewildering to me is that Jesus, who continually took in the marginalized, often is invoked to persecute the very people he would have protected.
Where is this bigotry endorsed in Scripture? Where are the words of Christ that say, “Love thy neighbor but hate thy trans child”? Where did he say, “I am the way, the truth and the life, everyone comes to the Father except those with their/them pronouns”?
“Where is this bigotry endorsed in Scripture?”
Instead, Jesus listens to the outcast and calls those whom society hated as the most faithful. He says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are you when people falsely say all kinds of evil against you.”
Jesus would stand with transgender individuals, and many who are leaving the church understand that. It’s why more than 25% of those leaving the church are leaving because the church refuses to stand with and love LGBTQ people.
To my trans siblings who are experiencing so much hate from those who are called to love, I say you are blessed. You are blessed because you are poor of spiritual nourishment, because the church has barred its gates to you. You are blessed because you have mourned and mourned and mourned as you have been cast out and aside. You are blessed because you’ve been called horrific things without any evidence to support the fear and hate mongering.
You are blessed. By a transcendent, transgender God who sees you and understands you and who was killed by the religious leaders of the time.
You are not alone. I stand with you because I know Jesus would stand with you too. I hope and pray the church will repent and do the same.
Brandon Flanery is a gay ex-pastor who has written for Baptist News Global, the Colorado Springs Indy, and the University of Colorado’s Scribe. He often writes about the intersection of faith and sexuality, and his debut book, Stumbling: A Sassy Memoir about Coming Out of Evangelicalism, is scheduled to release this June with Lake Drive Books. Read and learn more about Brandon at BrandonFlanery.com.
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