Select Page

TRANSGENDERISM RELIES ON GALATIANS 3:28 FOR BIBLICAL SUPPORT

The transgender movement cites Galatians 3:28 as support.  For example, an October 14, 2016 article by
Michael Gryboski at the Christian Post entitled “LGBT Activists Misusing Bible Verse Galatians 3:28 ‘Neither Male Nor Female,’ Says SES Prof. Nora Hale” (link:
https://www.christianpost.com/news/lgbt-activists-misusing-bible-verse-galatians-328-neither-male-nor-female-says-ses-prof-nora-hale-170864/ ) cites such a usage:

LGBT activists who cite Galatians 3:28 in an attempt to justify transgenderism are corrupting the
scripture, says Southern Evangelical Seminary professor Nora Hale. … While some Christians who support gender-neutrality and transgenderism have argued that the verse justifies transgender identity, Hale said that such an interpretation is wrong. … Hale’s remarks about Galatians 3:28 and its proper context are in response to claims made by LGBT advocates like Heath Adam Ackley, a transgender individual who once headed the theology department at Azusa Pacific University in Los Angeles, California. During a 2013 sermon Ackley came out as transgender, and in comments given to The Christian Post around that time cited Galatians 3:28 as justification.

As another example, see the comment about an LGBTQ+ activist’s citation of Galatians 3:28 in the December 4, 2017 article by David Robertson entitled “What should the church do about transgender?” in the Christian Post (link: https://www.christiantoday.com/article/what-should-the-church-do-about-transgender/120493.htm ).  There is no argument that those who advocate transgenderism use Galatians 3:28 to justify their reasoning.  Here, a dictionary definition of the term “transgender” reads (link: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/transgender ):

: of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity differs from the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth especially : of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity is opposite the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth

Looking at Galatians 3:28 in a vacuum, one can see why a transgender supporter would be attracted to Galatians 3:28 (ESV), which reads [emphasis added]:

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for
you are all one in Christ Jesus.

The critical question is does a proper interpretation of Galatians 3:28 support the transgender movement?  The clear answer is in the negative for at least two persuasive reasons.  First, the literary context reveals that Galatians 3:28 applies to salvation and does not eliminate as-born biological gender in the temporal sense.  Second, the analogy of faith shows other passages support the current existence of the as-born biological gender distinction between males and females.

THE LITERARY CONTEXT SHOWS THAT GALATIANS 3:28 DOES NOT SUPPORT THE TRANSGENDER MOVEMENT

The immediate context is Galatians 3:23–29 (ESV), which reads:

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29
And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

To better understand verse 28, I copied verses 23-29 along the lines of what is suggested in the GraphōbleÔ Hybrid Bible Copying Journal (link: https://stevebelsheim.com/blog/2019/11/12/better-bible-study-through-using-a-graphble-hybrid-journal?rq=hybrid  ). What I found was: (1) salvation is through faith in Christ, (2) all
saved people are “sons of God,” (3) all saved people have “put on Christ,” (4) all saved people are “in Christ,” (5) all saved people are “Abraham’s offspring,” (6) all saved people are “heirs according to the promise,” (7) for
all saved people, there is no ethnic differentiation, (8) for all saved people there is societal differentiation, and (9) for all saved people, there is no biological gender differentiation.  

The conditions of being “sons of God,”  “put on Christ,” “in Christ,” “Abraham’s offspring,” and “heirs according to the promise” are spiritual conditions.  Galatians 3:28 teaches that in the spiritual realm, the listed distinctions no longer exist because all saved people are “one in Christ Jesus.”

Being in these spiritual conditions does not change a person’s temporal condition meaning that their physical condition remains the same.  The Greek-Jew, slave-free, and male-female contrasts do not mean that saved people are no longer Jews or Greeks or slaves or free or male or female in the temporal sense.  To make sure my observations about the context are not “off the rails,” I examined what others say.  One commentator writes:

3:28. Having explained the vertical change that grace brought, now Paul shows its horizontal effect when he states you are all one in Christ. In Christ, human distinctions lose their significance. Regardless of race, profession, or gender, all who come to Christ must come the same way—through faith and repentance. As a result, with all distinctions erased, all believers are united in Christ. This does not mean that all distinctions are erased on the human level. A slave was still a slave in the eyes of Rome, but not in the eyes of God.

Anders, M. (1999). Galatians-Colossians (Vol. 8, pp. 39–40). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Another commentator writes:

It is not that the distinctions between Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free men, male and female no longer exist, as a literal rendering might suggest (RSV, NAB, NEB), but that in union with Christ Jesus, those who are baptized are all one, and that there is no difference between them because of their nationality, their social standing, or even their sex. In other words, the distinctions which exist are no longer important and present no impediment to any of these persons becoming children of God.

Arichea, D. C., & Nida, E. A. (1976). A handbook on Paul’s letter to the Galatians (pp. 84–85). New York: United Bible Societies.

The literary context of Galatians 3:28 reveals that Paul did not intend to erase as-born biological gender distinctions in the temporal sense.  The literary context cuts against the use of Galatians 3:28 as support for transgenderism.

THE ANALOGY OF FAITH SHOWS THAT GALATIANS 3:28 DOES NOT SUPPORT THE TRANSGENDER
MOVEMENT

At page 51 of book Knowing Scripture [(2009), InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois 60515), R. C. Sproul describes the “analogy of faith”:

The primary rule of hermeneutics was called the “analogy of faith.”  The analogy of faith is the rule
that Scripture is to interpret Scripture. … no part of Scripture can be interpreted in such a way as to render it in conflict with what is clearly taught elsewhere in Scripture.”

Applying the Bible study principle of the analogy of faith shows that when he wrote Galatians 3:28, Paul did not intend to erase as-born biological gender differences.  Many passages in Scripture reveal that as-born biological gender distinction exists.  For example, in an article in Tabletalk Magazine by Mr. Aaron
L. Garriott that addresses Galatians 3:28 (link: https://tabletalkmagazine.com/article/2019/08/galatians-328/ ), Mr. Garriott cites 1 Timothy 2:12-15 to show that gender distinctions between believers remain while still on this earth. 1 Timothy 2:12–15 (ESV) reads:

12 I do not permit a woman [gynē] to teach or to exercise authority over a man [anēr]; rather,
she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

The text teaches that as-born biological gender distinctions exist.  The Greek noun gynē means an adult female person, and the Greek noun anēr means an adult person who is a male as opposed to being a female.  These two nouns differentiate between an as-born biological male and an as-born biological female.  This differentiation is consistent with Paul’s reference to Adam and Eve, who were a biological male created by God and a biological female created by God, respectively.  As Mr. Garriott correctly opines, the context and application of the analogy of faith teach that “Paul is not saying that all distinctions become naught.”

When applied to Galatians 3:28, the analogy of faith reveals that Paul did not intend to erase as-born biological gender distinctions in the temporal sense.  The analogy of faith prohibits the use of Galatians 3:28 as support for transgenderism.

BIBLE STUDY TAKEAWAYS

The first major takeaway is that all interpretations that do not factor in the context are a pretext.  The following
advice at the preceptaustin.org website is very important (link: https://www.preceptaustin.org/the_key_inductive_study_pt2 ) [boldfacing in the original]:

If you ignore context, the accuracy of your interpretation will suffer and may even be “spiritually dangerous.” Remember that a text taken out of context potentially can become a pretext (a fictitious or false reason given in order to conceal the real one or given in order to justify an action – Example = “He gave plausible reasons for his conduct, but these were only a pretext to conceal his real motives.” You’ve never done that have you?). It follows that using Scriptural pretext is a major “tool” of the cults or non-Biblical systems of belief about life, death, eternity, etc (click example). If you fail to read (hear) the verse in context it’s like the all too typical experience with cell phones where you may hear every other phrase or word which can lead to a completely inaccurate understanding of what the other person has said which can potentially have dire consequences!

The second major takeaway is that a Bible student must apply the analogy of faith to keep from developing a wrong interpretation of a text.  As Kay Arthur et al. write on page 73 in How to Study Your Bible [(1994, 2020), Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon]:

The Bible is one revelation without contradiction.  Therefore, when studying any particular book of the Bible, ultimately that book must be evaluated in light of the entire Bible. … Because Scripture will never contradict Scripture, the best interpretation for Scripture is other Scripture.

I hope this post has been helpful.  Please send me any comments at steve@stevebelsheim.com or use the
comments feature of the blog.

NOTICE OF PERMISSIONS – I am mindful of and respect the rights other authors and publishers possess in their works.  I thus try my best not to violate any copyright rights other authors and publishers possess in their works.  The below copyright permission statement is the result of my best efforts to understand that limited usage or “fair use” is available and to secure direct permission for specific works.  Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version) copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission.  The brief quotations from other resources are fair use.