Never Make the Same Mistake Twice: Faithfulness in the Fight Against Transgenderism
If there is one thing that there is no shortage of in the United States these days, it is controversy. The twenty-four-hour news cycle is constantly packed with the latest outrages and atrocities, endlessly feeding an audience hungry for emotional highs, yet with little appetite for truly working for change. However, as the political and cultural battles continue in our nation, two fronts have emerged as the clear priority for Christian focus and involvement: abortion and transgenderism.
Really these two hot button issues arise from the same root cause, which is a radically anti-biblical sexual ethic that has overtaken our culture in the space of the last sixty years. The long-term strategy for Christians must be the rediscovery and bold proclamation of the biblical sexual ethic, centered on covenant marriage. At the present, however, abortion and transgenderism, though closely related, require differentiation—mainly because transgenderism is a very new phenomena in our culture, while abortion is comparatively much older.
Abortion was considered by many to be law in this country from the time of the Roe v. Wade opinion in 1973 until the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health opinion reversed it in 2022—marking nearly fifty years of federally sponsored baby murder. Conversely, transgenderism has only gained mainstream cultural attention over the past five to seven years, and legally speaking it was the Supreme Court opinion in Bostock v. Clayton County in 2020 that effectively made transgender affirmation the law of the land.
Although these two issues are not identical, Christians would be wise to examine the foundational failures of the Christian response to abortion over the past fifty years and seek to avoid these same mistakes in the fight against transgenderism. If we wish to avoid Bostock becoming the next Roe, if we desire to spare future generations of the perverse tragedy of transgender ideology, then Christians must not repeat the manifold errors that we have made in the abortion battle.
While the pro-life movement has experienced a handful of legitimate victories over the years, the sustained ubiquity of abortion says as much about the failure of Christians to adequately fight child sacrifice as it does about the religious determination of its supporters. One of the most significant issues of the pro-life movement that we must resist in the fight against transgenderism is the strategy of incrementalism. The pragmatic appeal of an incremental approach is admittedly tempting; is it not better to accept a small victory rather than no victory at all? Nevertheless, the fruits of this strategy have become evident. Across fifty years, the results of incremental legislation have been a hodgepodge of regulations, of arbitrary limitations, and even with Roe overturned have left abortion virtually unhindered in most of the country.
With such blatant evils as abortion and transgenderism, incrementalism cannot be an acceptable option. This move toward incrementalism is already appearing in the backlash against transgenderism. Recently, amid a flurry of revelations regarding child gender clinics and their medical “treatment” for children, some momentum has gathered across the country to make the performance of these grisly interventions on children illegal. Undoubtedly these horrific procedures ought to be criminally penalized, yet to attach sanctions only when they are performed on children is the first incremental compromise. The outrage over these procedures is legitimate, yet it should not be limited to the pediatric wing of the hospital. All genital mutilations, cross-sex hormones, puberty blockers, double mastectomies, and the rest of the slate of gender “affirming” interventions alike ought to be abhorred, abominated, and penalized regardless of the age of the victim.
To pass a law that criminalizes doctors who perform these abusive procedures only on children immediately concedes the point that there is nothing inherently evil about the practices themselves—when performed in pursuit of a transgender identity—but that their lawfulness is rooted in the entirely unbiblical standard of consent, rather than in the law of God. Christians must not begin this fight from a compromised position; we must, with one accord and by the authority of God’s word, insist that all transgender “health care” procedures ought to be criminally sanctioned. This is a stand that takes courage—yet if all who profess the Christian faith and who oppose the ideology of transgenderism simply make clear this demand from the beginning, then it will become much easier for the great multitude of ordinary citizens of like mind to take a similar stand.
As the abortion battle has taught us, incrementalism is a nearly impossible hole to climb out of once it has been dug. Only recently has the biblical response to abortion that should have been demanded from the beginning—full criminalization without exception—begun to gain marginal support in various state legislatures. And it is telling that the strongest opposition against the biblical position has come from the compromised pro-life industry. Once fundamental compromise is made, it becomes very difficult to return and correct the compromise later. Put another way, a house built on the sand instead of the rock will fall.
A second failure of the pro-life movement that carries appeal in the battle against transgenderism is the unbiblical fallacy that mere education will be sufficient to win public support and defeat this enemy. Even to this day, many pro-lifers insist that the reason why we still have abortion is because people simply do not know that what is in the womb is a child. They argue that if only people would learn the biological facts, if they understood how an abortion is performed, if they saw what an aborted baby looks like, then they would be unable to continue supporting it. This position makes the mistake of misdiagnosing the problem as one of intellect rather than the heart. It denies the plain teaching of Romans 1—that no matter how clear the truth may be, there is no truth that sinful man will not try to suppress.
Part of the reason for the recent backlash against transgenderism has been its exposure on a national level. People have seen the effects on those who have undergone hormonal and surgical treatments, they have heard about the astoundingly barbaric methods by which transgender operations are performed, they have read the LGBTQ affirming books available in schools, and they have seen the news stories about teachers and government officials interfering with parental rights.
They have been educated. Of course, the communication of knowledge is a good and necessary element of an effective counterattack, just as it is necessary for pro-lifers to understand and articulate the biological humanity of the unborn. Yet education by itself will never win the battle. Keep in mind that transgenderism suppresses the most basic truth of human existence—the reality of maleness and femaleness. Therefore, it will not be a movement defeated by simply informing the public about X and Y chromosomes, or about the fundamental differences in the biochemistry of men and women, or even by exposing the horrific realities of transgender procedures. Like abortion, the advocates of transgenderism have a religious devotion to it, and effective opposition must therefore extend beyond rationalism or materialism.
This brings us to the third big mistake of the past that must be avoided. In an effort to gain as broad of a cultural appeal as possible, the pro-life movement has proudly branded itself as “nonreligious.” Such a profession, of course, has not stopped proponents of abortion from accusing pro-lifers of trying to “shove their religion down everyone’s throat,” to which the official pro-life response is something like, “we oppose abortion based solely on the science.” It is true that one does not need to be a Christian—or even religious—to oppose abortion; however, to say that not only the question of when life begins, but also when it becomes valuable, is irreligious is simply dishonest. Christians ought to oppose abortion because it violates God’s law, His character, and His creation order. It is certainly a wonderful thing that scientific research continues to affirm the biblical worldview, but that is not the basis upon which we oppose abortion, and we must never pretend that it is. Neither is biological science the grounding of our opposition to transgenderism.
Obviously, and no matter how frequently transgender activists pervert language or appeal to their sham “studies,” the science does not and never will support transgenderism. Yet that does not stop millions of people from believing in it—because transgenderism is neither an evolutionary materialistic deduction, nor a rationally discerned observation, nor the inescapable conclusion of the preponderance of evidence, but rather a highly spiritual faith commitment. Christians would be fools not to meet this heresy from an explicitly religious position. Ultimately, we do not oppose transgenderism because of genitalia, chromosomes, or DNA, but because “male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). Our appeal must be to a higher authority, a Creator to whom all are accountable and by whom all will be judged.
This approach is not only necessary because of its grounding in the fear of God—the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7)—but also because it actually offers a true salvation and positive alternative to transgenderism. Scientific facts and data may prove biochemically the existence of the male and female sexes, and they may be able to explain the utility of the sex distinction, but such realities offer nothing to the lost individual who truly believes she was born in the wrong body, nor can they explain the goodness and beauty of the gender binary. Transgenderism will not be defeated by the process of rationalistic reasoning divorced from a Christian worldview—and even if this movement does burn itself out, it will be replaced with something no less perverse.
The only solution to transgenderism is repentance, faith, and a new identity in Christ. If we seek to combat this ideology from an overtly nonreligious footing—the way many have with abortion—then we are removing the only true escape from the identity crisis that has propelled transgenderism and the only power by which it can be defeated. Our response to transgenderism must be the clear proclamation of the authority of God the Creator and the goodness of His creation, coupled with a life lived out with an identity not in maleness, femaleness, sexuality, or any other thing coming from ourselves, but in Christ. We must provide a positive vision of true beauty lived out to the glory of God and complete fulfillment in Christ alone. Bare scientific data will convince no one.
We are living in a time in which appeals to easily demonstrable common grace facts—such as the humanity of the preborn and the distinction between men and women—carry very little capital because our culture has broadly denied the authority of the God by whose common grace we can even understand facts. What is called for now is clear articulation, without qualification, of the madness and wickedness of both transgenderism and abortion, grounded not on the authority of the “scientific consensus,” but of the living God. Until that message is clearly proclaimed, humbly received, and met with true repentance, there will be no end to our cultural insanity.
Written by Luke Griffo
Luke Griffo is an elder at Redeemer Church of South Hills in Pittsburgh where he lives with his wife and twin sons.