Federal legislation on expanding hate crimes to include violent attacks against individuals on the basis of “gender, sexual orientation and gender identity” is currently being reviewed by the Senate. Christians have strongly voiced opposition to the expansion, arguing that the bill could silence believers who view homosexuality as sinful. That also applies to the transgender.–Lillian Kwon, Christian Post Staff Writer

Lillian Kwon recently wrote an article for the Christian Post entitled Media Bias on Transgenders Raising Concerns. The concern, expressed by Dr. Robert Gagnon, Peter LaBarbera and Kwon, is that there are portrayals in the first place, and that these portrayals are often positive.

Dr. Robert Gagnon, associate professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, is quoted in the article as claiming that 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 contains a prohibition against transgenderism:

Alluding to Scripture (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), Gagnon quoted Apostle Paul listing persons who will “not inherit the kingdom of God.” The list includes the “effeminate” or “soft men,” which is essentially the closest thing to transgenderism, Gagnon pointed out.

Noted Yale historian John Boswell, in his book Christianity, Social Tolerance, And Homosexuality (p. 106,107) said this about the passage Dr. Gagnon quoted:

There are three passages in the writings of Paul which have been supposed to deal with homosexual relations. Two words in I Corinthians 6:9 and one in I Timothy 1:10 have been taken at least since the early twentieth century to indicate that “homosexuals” will be excluded from the kingdom of heaven.The first of the two, “pg106_soft.jpg” (basically, “soft”), is an extremely common Greek word; it occurs elsewhere in the New Testament with the meaning “sick” and in patristic writings with senses as varied as “liquid,” “cowardly,” “refined,” “weak willed,” “delicate,” “gentle,” and “debauched.” In a specifically moral context it very frequently means “licentious,” “loose,” or “wanting in self-control.” At a broad level, it might be translated as either “unrestrained” or “wanton,” but to assume that either of these concepts necessarily applies to gay people is wholly gratuitous. The word is never used in Greek to designate gay people as a group or even in reference to homosexual acts generically, and it often occurs in writings contemporary with the Pauline epistles in reference to heterosexual persons or activity.

Dr. Dale Martin, in Arsenokoités and Malakos: Meanings and Consequences, adds the following:

The term malakos occurs repeatedly in the Pseudo-Aristotelian Physiognomy, a book that tells how to recognize someone’s character by body type and body language, including whether a man is really effeminate even if he outwardly appears virile. The word never refers specifically to penetration in homosexual sex (although men who endure it are discussed in the book). Rather, it denotes the feminine, whether the reference is to feet, ankles, thighs, bones, flesh, or whatever (see esp. chap. 6 passim). It always represents the negative female characteristic to which the positive masculine characteristic is contrasted. For example, if a man has weak eyes, it means one of two things: either he is malakos and thLlu or he is a depressive and lacks spirit (808a10). Each option contains a pair of synonyms: just as “depressive” and “lacking spirit” (katLphLs, athymos) are synonyms, so are malakos and thLlu, both referring to effeminacy. Malakia, therefore, was a rather broad social category. It included, of course, penetrated men, but many others besides. To put it simply, all penetrated men were malakoi, but not all malakoi were penetrated men.27

In fact, malakos more often referred to men who prettied themselves up to further their heterosexual exploits. In Greco-Roman culture, it seems generally to have been assumed that both men and women would be attracted to a pretty-boy. And boys who worked to make themselves more attractive, whether they were crying to attract men or women, were called effeminate. An old hag in a play by Aristophanes drags off a young man, saying, “Come along, my little softie” (malakion), although she has perfectly heterosexual things in mind (Ecclesiazusae 1058). The Roman playwright Plautus uses the Latin transliteration malacus to indicate effeminate men. But whereas in one comedy the term is cinaedus malacus, referring to a penetrated man, in another it is moechus malacus, referring to a man who seduces other men’s wives (Miles Gloriosus 3.1 [1.668]; Truculentus2.7.49 [1.610]).

Dr. Gagnon’s use of I Corinthians 6:9-10 here seems to be unsettled and questionable, at the very least.

Dr. Gagnon continues:

But, as Gagnon mentioned, many argue that this is not something transgenders have asked for. Studies have shown that a transwoman (male-to-female) tends to have a female-sized BSTc (central subdivision of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis) in the brain.”The argument basically is that that particular portion of the brain that has to do with sexual identity is more female-like in males who become transgendered and more male-like in females who go from a female to male,” said Gagnon, who has debated on the transgender issue. “In a sense, you’re saying because of one minute portion of the brain, but not the total brain, [that] will be the decisive factor in overriding one’s sex. And that’s the problem.

No, the problem is that Dr. Gagnon, a theologian and not a scientist, sees sex and gender and binary dichotomies. I won’t reargue it here, but I have argued that there is a scientific problem with viewing sex and gender as fixed dichotomies.

Dr. Gagnon has his own credibility problems as well. Gagnon’s book (The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics) contains thirteen direct references to Paul Cameron’s work, including two appeals to Cameron’s pedophilia “study” (pgs. 412, 479-80), one to his 1983 survey (pg. 419) and one to his lifespan myth (pg. 472). He also references The Gay Report (pg. 457) and the Bell And Weinberg study (pgs. 419-20, 453, 457) as if they were scientific studies, and in general displays a tendency to accept, with few or no reservations, any data that appear to support his arguments, while dismissing anyone who disagrees with him as “dogmatic.”

Finally, Dr. Robert Gagnon says that the media is trying to normalize transgenderism. To an extent, he’s correct in his assumption. Transgender people have begun watching what is said about them in the media (including the article reviewed here) and writing to media outlets or writing commentaries when the portrayals are inaccurate, when transgender terminology is used that isn’t in compliance with the transgender entry in the Associated Press Stylebook; and/or GLAAD Media Guide, and in the case of fictional characters, when they are portrayed as comic foils or one-dimensional villains.

What civil rights leader Bayard Rustin said about the gay community in 1986 is true for the LGB and T community now:

[T]he job of the gay community is not to deal with extremists who would castigate us or put us on an island and drop an H-bomb on us. The fact of the matter is that there is a small percentage of people in America who understand the true nature of the homosexual community. There is another small percentage who will never understand us. Our job is not to get those people who dislike us to love us. Nor was our aim in the civil rights movement to get prejudiced white people to love us. Our aim was to try to create the kind of America, legislatively, morally, and psychologically, such that even though some whites continued to hate us, they could not openly manifest that hate. That’s our job today: to control the extent to which people can publicly manifest antigay sentiment.

Eugene Wagner contributed significantly to this article.

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