We have long warned about the psychologizing of Christianity and the Bible because of the potential corruption of biblical teachings. Someone recently sent us two past articles from Christianity Today. The first article is by Dr. Mark Yarhouse, a professor of psychology at Regent University. Some time back we wrote an article titled “Pat Robertson, Regent University & the DSM.”1 The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is the official bible for identifying and categorizing mental disorders. The DSM provides lists of descriptions of thinking, feeling, or behaving that fit the various diagnostic categories. Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals use these DSM categories to diagnose mental disorders for financial reimbursement.
A full-page Regent University ad in an issue of the APA (American Psychological Association) Monitor, features a picture of a Bible resting on top of a copy of the DSM. The accompanying message referred to both as “Good Books” and declared that the “DSM and the Holy Bible belong together on the bookshelves of any future psychologist who desires to treat the whole person: body, mind and spirit.”
Yarhouse’s Christianity Today article is titled “Understanding Gender Dysphoria.”2 His article suggests how the church should view those who have transgendered from one sex to the other through the use of hormones and sex-reassignment surgery. Yarhouse’s article is a perfect example of what we have long warned about, i.e., viewing the Bible through academically jaundiced eyes. To see how jaundiced their eyes are, one need only go to the website of the American Psychological Association (APA) and read their “Resolution of Marriage Equality for Same Sex Couples” as well as APA’s numerous other statements supportive of those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). The APA is adamant and active in support of LGBT causes. As you read the following discussion be aware that Yarhouse’s logic regarding “gender dysphoria” applies equally to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals!
Yarhouse defines “gender identity” wrongly as follows: “‘Gender Identity’ is simply how people experience themselves as male or female including how masculine or feminine they feel.” Up until Yarhouse and others redefined “gender,” one’s gender has always been based upon physical characteristics and not on “how people experience themselves.” Once one moves from “physical characteristics” of gender (DNA) to “how people experience themselves,” one opens the door to a multitude of departures from Scripture.
Having set the stage by changing gender identity from physical to experiential and from literal to figurative, Yarhouse defines “Gender dysphoria” as: “deep and abiding discomfort over the incongruence between one’s biological sex and one’s psychological and emotional experience of gender.”3 A parallel example is that of Rachel Dolezal, who was president of the NAACP’s Spokane chapter. Dolezal was outed for claiming to be black! Though Dolezal’s parents state categorically that Rachel is not black, she explains, contrary to the physical facts of birth, that’s how she experiences herself, i.e., racial identity versus racial reality. The next step following Yarhouse’s scheme would be to describe Dolezal’s experience as “racial dysphoria.” According to this logic, if a woman experiences herself as black, she needs to be accepted as black. By inserting references to race in Yarhouse’s explanation, one might conclude that “[Racial] dysphoria refers to a deep and abiding discomfort over the incongruence between one’s biological [birth] and one’s psychological and emotional experience of [race].”
Yarhouse describes “three cultural lenses through which people tend to ‘see’ gender dysphoria.”4 To show how absurd his reasoning is, we simply insert race into Yarhouse’s “three cultural lenses” and apply them to Dolezal to see how she would be described by each.
Lens #1 Integrity: “Cross gender [cross racial] identification is a concern because it threatens to dishonor the creational order of [the physical reality of mankind].”
Lens #2 Disability: “This lens views gender dysphoria [racial dysphoria] as a result of living in a fallen world, but not a direct result of moral choice…. But this lens also makes room for supportive care and interventions that allow for cross-gender [cross-racial] identification in a way the integrity lens does not” (bold added).
Lens #3 Diversity: “This lens sees the reality of transgender [transracial] persons as something to be celebrated, honored, or revered.”
Continuing with the application to race, Yarhouse’s gender dysphoria [racial dysphoria] is:
a reflection of a fallen world in which the condition itself is not a moral choice…. Yet we should reject the teaching that gender [racial] identity conflicts are the result of willful disobedience or sinful choice…. Redemption is not found in measuring how well a person’s gender [racial] identity aligns with their biological sex [race], but by drawing them to the person and work of Jesus Christ, and to the power of the Holy Spirit to transform us into his image (bold added).
Yarhouse leaps from what the Bible teaches to an illogical, unbiblical conclusion that gender dysphoria is “not a direct result of moral choice.” The Apostle Paul lists some of the lusts of the flesh, which believers are not to fulfill. He says:
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21).
Using Yarhouse’s logic, all of the above “works of the flesh” can be rationalized, as some form of “dysphoria,” which are “not a direct result of moral choice” (Disability), but are “to be celebrated, honored, or revered” (Diversity). We repeat, applying Yarhouse’s logic to lesbian, gay, and bisexual practices makes their lifestyles “not a direct result of moral choice” (Disability) and, therefore, “to be celebrated, honored, or revered” (Diversity)!
The loud intimidation from both Yarhouse’s article and the one we will discuss below is that anyone who disagrees with affirming these people is not loving. After all, Christians are called to love one another and to love their neighbors as themselves. How then are we to love? Those who equate love with acceptance of a person’s self-deception, basing identity on feelings rather than reality, may perceive that they are loving, but is it truly loving to affirm people who define what they are by how they feel?? If I feel I can fly and jump off a building reality will hit hard. If someone loves me enough to point out reality, I may not jump. And how many of us might be intimidated by the idea that we may not be loving if we are not accepting life-style choices and behavior?
Introducing the article, Christianity Today trumpets Yarhouse by saying: “The leading Christian scholar on gender dysphoria defines the terms—and gives the church a way forward.” This is not “a way forward,” but rather it is a way backward—all the way back to the Garden of Eden.
Yarhouse reflects a “Bible dysphoria,” which we could describe as “a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with” the Bible. Why else would he oleaginously slip from the lens of integrity (Bible truth) to the lens of diversity (experiential “truth”)? His experience of the Bible trumps truth for him. Yarhouse’s “way forward” sounds much like Satan’s temptation of Eve. To use Yarhouse’s expression, once Satan tempted Eve, she became “dysphoric,” i.e. she was in “a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life” regarding how she experienced herself. Yarhouse’s argument would suggest that no one should “try to ‘fix’ her unless I’m her professional therapist.” To be consistent, as “her professional therapist,” Yarhouse would also have to view Eve’s dysphoria through the three lenses. First, he would view her through “”Lens #1 Integrity” (God’s Word): “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17). Accordingly, Yarhouse would proceed to “Lens #2 Disability,” which leads right into Satan questioning God’s Word: “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Gen. 3:1). Satan’s words infer that God is withholding something important from Eve. In modern psychological language she had a “disability.” Instead of being satisfied with how God had created her, she wanted to be like God. “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). Her perception of disability prepared her for disobeying God by eating the forbidden fruit and giving it also to Adam to eat.
Following Yarhouse’s framework, this is “not a direct result of moral choice,” because there was a perceived disability, which prepares one for “Lens #3 Diversity,” rationalizing divergence from God’s original design. This departure into diversity left mankind with a new sense of self, which has foolishly celebrated itself ever since that fatal day. Rather than discovering God’s best for them, they lost the most important part of themselves: spiritual life at one with God. Adam and Eve found themselves naked and clothed themselves with fig leaves, prefiguring humankind’s deceptive self efforts to resolve their own predicaments resulting from and perpetuating rebellion against the Word of God Yet, God in His mercy pointed forward to the sacrifice of Jesus by giving Adam and Eve slain animal skins for a covering, prefiguring Christ’s sacrifice. Thus even in their newly fallen and deceived selves, there is hope for sinners as God offers new life. Rather than helping “transgenders” celebrate, Yarhouse should be giving them the truth of the Gospel leading to salvation. May God have mercy on Yarhouse and those who follow him and particularly on those misguided people whom he honors and celebrates.
“Loving My Sister-Brother”
Following Yarhouse’s article is one by Margaret Philbrick titled “Loving My Sister-Brother.” In it she relates a poignant story about her brother, who transgendered from “he” and “Charlie” to “she” and “Carly.” Philbrick’s article reveals a similar path to Yarhouse’s “Three Lenses”: “Integrity,” Disability,” and “Diversity.” All of these perspectives emerge in her description of growing up with and following her brother, now sister, through his choice to transgender. Her conclusion fits “Diversity” as her brother/sister, Charlie/Carly” is “to be celebrated, honored or revered.” But wait! Unlike Yarhouse, Philbrick admits, “Despite his [Carly] knowing that I believe his decision to live as woman is inconsistent with the tenets of my faith, he continues to draw near me and I to him.”5
Calling Evil Good and Good Evil
Yarhouse’s article reminds us of Isaiah 5:20-21: Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” What are the tenets of faith? They are the uncompromising teachings of Scripture. If Yarhouse and Philbrick truly believed the tenets of the faith, they would not be preaching “Diversity”! The two are inconsistent. Philbrick, like Yarhouse, suffers from Bible dysphoria, and Philbrick, like Yarhouse, is in rebellion against the very Word of God. The Word of God has spoken and no matter anyone’s dysphoria, including LGB as well as T, the Bible must rule in the hearts and lives of believers or the Book will be shut and “every man [will do] that which [is] right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
In Genesis 1:27 we read: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Transgenderizing a man or a woman is contrary, contradictory, incongruous, and irreconcilable with what God designed and created. When a man is externally re-genderized into a woman or a woman externally re-genderized as a man, they violate God’s original intention and creation. Transgenderizing transfigures the whole concept of being created in the image of God. It involves warping God’s original design and sculpting a new creature never intended by God. Transgenderizing violates God’s deliberate creation of man as man and woman as woman, thus transmogrifying the truth of God.
We shudder to think through the implications of this in the current “Christian” trangenderized era. Just as with the lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals occupying membership and leadership positions in the church, it is no idle concern that the trangenderized will soon be pastors, elders, deacons, teachers, missionaries, counselors, and other church leaders!
Regarding gender dysphoria, the Bible is clear. Gender dysphoria is one of the results of the fall. It is a deception perpetrated by the enemy of our souls, who seeks to kill and destroy. What better means of ruining lives and mocking our Creator than deceiving individuals into destroying their gender. After such hormonal adjustments and surgeries, the person is never really the other sex. He/she becomes something neither wholly male nor wholly female.
Anyone who believes the Bible to be the Word of God must admit that, biblically speaking, these people must repent of the ungodly physical corruption of their bodies, just as it would be necessary for those who are practicing lesbian, gay, or bisexual life styles or any other sexual perversion prohibited by the Word of God. Those who are trangenderized need to know that, while the Bible does not speak directly about such persons who were unknown and unthinkable to the inspired writers of the Bible, they need to repent of distorting God’s creation or be eternally lost. A Christian who has a lesbian, gay, or bisexual inclination but who does not follow or practice it is in a different category of soul. However, the transgenderized man to woman or woman to man has already violated the creation of God. Because transgenderized persons have already willfully sinned against God’s bodily creation, they need to be warned that because of their sin they shall not inherit the kingdom of God unless they repent and receive new life in Christ! If they believe the Gospel, turn to Christ, repent, and trust Him for salvation, their corruption will be changed to incorruption when they are resurrected to live eternally with Him.
We hope that Yarhouse, Philbrick, and the church as a whole will recognize the difference between biblical truth and human “wisdom” and will proclaim the truth of scripture even when doing so confronts societal norms, pressures and preferences. May God’s Word continually correct our vision and prevent us from becoming blinded by secular, self-exalting selves which promise a loving cure but lead to eternal destruction.
1 Martin & Deidre Bobgan, “Pat Robertson, Regent University & the DSM,” PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter,” Vol. 14, No. 2, www.pamweb.org.
2 Mark Yarhouse, “Understanding Gender Dysphoria,” Christianity Today, July/August 2015, pp. 45-50.
5 Margaret Philbrick, “Loving My Sister-Brother,” Christianity Today, July/August 2015, p. 56.
(PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, March-April 2016, Vol. 24, No. 2)