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LifeSiteNews’ Ben Johnson misrepresents “Christian position” on transgender people, fails to actually cite the Bible

Daniel Gonzales

August 1st, 2013

Eunuch Ebed-Melek successfully argues against the rest of King Zedekiah’s court and leads a team of 30 men to rescue the prophet Jeremiah from a well. (Jeremiah 38)

 

Ben Johnson of LifeSiteNews is in a tizzy over Pat Robertson’s declaration that transgender people altering their bodies is not a sin and thus he will not condemn it. Johnson cites multiple sources attempting to condemn transgender people.

Traditional Christians have condemned such actions as a form of self-mutilation since the days of the ancient church.

Well that’s overly broad and has no source to back it up.

Speaking specifically of castration, the Apostolic Canons, a fourth century Syrian document, states, “If a layman mutilate himself, let him be excommunicated for three years, as practising against his own life.”

The Apostolic Canons were merely church orders issued in 692, many of which were rejected by Pope Constantine.  The Apostolic Canons were written several centuries after the last books of the Bible were written.  Johnson continues to cite irrelevant sources:

More contemporary teachers uphold the Christian admonition to maintain one’s biological gender and respect our bodies.

“To destroy organs purposefully that are healthy and functioning, and to try to create imitation organs which will never have the genuineness and functioning of authentic organs lacks charity,” said Fr. William Saunders, professor of Catechetics and Theology at Christendom College’s Notre Dame Graduate School. “Such surgery which purposefully destroys the bodily integrity of the person must be condemned.”

Continuing to avoid citing the Bible at all costs, Johnson instead cites the National Catholic Bioethics Center for his final jab at trans people.  I won’t bore you with a quote.

Had Johnson bothered to open his Bible he might find clarity with Matthew 19:12 which quotes Jesus:

For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. [KJV]

Yes, the King James Version quotes Jesus as using the phrase “born that way.”  I’m sure printing that would cause LifeSiteNews all sorts of problems.

Or perhaps Johnson could ask why God hasn’t selected the transgender person mentioned in The 700 Club to spread the gospel.  This would be Biblically consistent with Acts 8 : 26-39 in which God selects an Ethiopian eunuch to spread His word to Ethiopia. That eunuch by the way was the modern day equivalent of Secretary of the Treasury to the queen of Ethiopia.

In fact in Biblical days eunuchs held the most powerful positions in government. In the Book of Esther eunuchs ran the royal court of King Xerxes and a eunuch by the name of Hegai personally selected Esther to ascend to the throne from the royal harem.

And I haven’t even cited all the references to eunuchs in the Bible, just my personal favorites.  Transgender and gender non-conforming people play major rolls all throughout the Bible and consistently held positions of power and importance.  Rather than looking to the Bible for his article, Johnson grasps at straws to condemn them.

 

Comments

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Timothy Kincaid
August 1st, 2013 | LINK

Incidentally, the Ethiopian Eunuch was the very first recorded Gentile convert to Christianity. And it should be remembered that the term eunuch could be either literally a castrated man or, more generally, any person whose sexuality was not expressed heterosexually.

In a faith heavy with symbolism, surely it was not coincidental that the person selected by the writer of scripture to represent the “unto all the world” appeal of Christianity had a lot more in common with RuPaul than with either Ben Johnson or Pat Robertson.

Boo
August 1st, 2013 | LINK

Ok so it’s great to be supportive and all, and show the nuances of the Bible and all that. But.

We’re not eunuchs. You get that, right?

Timothy Kincaid
August 1st, 2013 | LINK

And I guess that Ben Johnson’s Bible also omits any reference to Daniel or Hananiah Mishael and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace), eunuchs all.

Timothy Kincaid
August 1st, 2013 | LINK

Boo,

the excellent work by Norwegian theologian Raghnild Schanke says that we are. Any who were non-traditionally heterosexual fell into the category of “eunuch”, a term similar to how some in our community use “queer”.

Boo
August 1st, 2013 | LINK

I can appreciate how you’re using the term, but some people could find it insulting. Such people could include me.

Timothy Kincaid
August 1st, 2013 | LINK

Yes Boo. I can see how the usage of the work “eunuch” and the blanket assumption that it was castrati – along with what I suspect have been slurs and sneers – could make this an offensive word.

But I think it’s important to know that it’s use in scripture is different from the assumptions that have been applied over the years. It is a term that would have been applied to both of us, along with a good many others, at the time that the epistles were written.

I suppose that those who are sexual minorities will always seem odd to some and we will forever be explaining ourselves. So I guess we can only echo those 2000 year old words, “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”

Nathaniel
August 7th, 2013 | LINK

Boo, I don’t like using “but he started it” arguments, but in this case, we are arguing against someone who has equated the term ‘eunuch’ with ‘transgender’. The simplest way to counter his argument is to dispel the negative connotations Johnson associates with the word. For those of us used to countering bad theology, it also has the benefit of providing internally consistent approach in so much as we demand the original meanings of texts be brought to light for the best understanding of the message they contain.

Rob
August 7th, 2013 | LINK

Boo-

Your offense at the word is reasonable in modern context, but one can not be offended by the use of a word in its HISTORICAL context, which is how it’s being used here. To eliminate historical words based on modern interpretation would be wrong. They recently tried that with the novel Huckleberry Finn, where they substituted the word nigger with the word slave. Revisionist history isn’t a good thing. If one was using the word here as a modern construct, your indignation would be fully appropriate, but it isn’t being used in that manner, it’s a direct reading of a book using the language of that book. Timothy even went to great trouble to explain the historical context of the word as used in The Bible.

Jols
August 9th, 2013 | LINK

Transgender people (who, may I remind everyone here are both of the man and woman variety) are not eunuchs (depending on their surgery status, they either have their native genitals or newly constructed genitals).

And Eunuchs are not transgender people either – esp. those who were forced into castration, were probably male-identified, which perfectly aligned with their birth-assigned gender. And in many instances, they were still able to perform sexually, so were probably heterosexual male-identified.

Anyway, this article is still very interesting, but I’d take great precautions with comparing the two as if they were one and the same thing.

shaed
August 18th, 2013 | LINK

Jols, we transgender people come in more categories than men and women, and some of us do not want any sort of genitals.

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