David Closson is Director of the Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council. This article appeared in WORLD Magazine on March 22, 2023.
President Biden’s morally charged language on transgenderism about falls short
President Joe Biden’s commitment to the moral revolution has never been in doubt. As a candidate and now as president, Joe Biden has championed every imaginable cause of the LGBT movement. From lobbying for legislation like the Equality Act and Respect for Marriage Act to nominating outspoken activists such as Rachel Levine to influential positions in the government, the president, at every turn, has aggressively and energetically supported the objectives of LGBT activists.
Earlier this week, the president once again stressed his support for LGBT policy goals, noting his view that minor children should have access to gender transition procedures. In a recent interview, the president was specifically asked about the federal government’s response to states considering laws that would prohibit gender reassignment surgeries for children that identify as transgender. In answering the question, President Biden attempted to frame his answer in theological terms, noting, “What’s going on in Florida is, as my mother would say, ‘close to sinful,’ alright? I mean it’s just terrible what they’re doing.”
Although the president regularly invokes his Catholic faith in public speeches, the choice of language here is insightful. In the president’s mind, access to gender reassignment surgery is sacrosanct, while efforts to prevent access to these procedures are intolerable. The issue is so important that while condemning state legislators who dissent from transgender ideology, the president evidently believed that only language with strong moral import would do. Barring children from cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers is not only wrong; it is “almost sinful.”
From the standpoint of Christian theology, “almost sinful” is not biblical language. Moral action does not exist on a spectrum between “sinful” and “not sinful” with gradations between; there is no category of action, biblically speaking, that is “almost sinful.” There are righteous acts and there are sinful acts (actions considered adiaphora i.e., morally neutral, are still carried out in ways that either honor or dishonor God) (Colossians 3:17).
The Bible defines sin as a violation of God’s law (1 John 3:4) and rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 9:7). The reality and gravity of sin is why the incarnation was necessary; sin is so serious that the Jesus’ death on the cross was the only way to save and redeem humanity. This is why Christians should take the charge that something is “sinful” seriously.
President Biden’s muddled attempt at using morally charged language underscores the religious-like devotion the current administration has placed on advancing perceived LGBT policy goals.
First, President Biden’s muddled attempt at using morally charged language underscores the religious-like devotion the current administration has placed on advancing perceived LGBT policy goals. Clearly, the White House believes it is a political winner to pick a fight with conservatives over whether children with gender dysphoria should have access to these drugs and surgeries. (It will be interesting to see if this political calculus changes; one of Biden’s possible 2024 challengers, Gov. Ron DeSantis, has already responded to the president, arguing, “It is not ‘sinful’ to prohibit the mutilation of minors”).
Second, when it comes to the topic of gender reassignment surgeries, Christians agree that sin is involved. However, unlike the president’s suggestion, the sin is not in drafting legislation that prevents minor children from accessing puberty-blockers, cross-sex hormones, or surgeries. Rather, the sin is the radical gender ideology that says it is permissible to pursue behaviors, inclinations, and lifestyles outside of God’s design for sexuality. Sin is the rejection of God’s work in creating human beings in His image. While this is increasingly unpopular to say publicly, it is nevertheless what the Bible teaches, and the position Christians have held for 2,000 years.
Additionally, since the president alluded to Florida’s House Bill 1421, it is worth noting what this legislation would actually do. If passed, the bill would prohibit “gender clinical interventions” for minors, including “puberty blocking, hormone, and hormone antagonistic therapies.” While critics say the bill is unnecessary, groups like Planned Parenthood openly advertise that they prescribe cross-sex hormones without mental health assessments or parental consent. Although the number of children who grow out of their gender dysphoria ranges from 70 to 97.8 percent in biological males and 50 to 88 percent in biological females, social and medical transition is often the only treatment option offered to those with gender dysphoria.
In Isaiah 5, the prophet says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil” (v. 20). While we should be cautious when applying Isaiah’s words to the speech or actions of our elected leaders, it seems appropriate here. President Biden’s contention that it is “almost sinful” to deny life-altering, irreversible gender reassignment surgeries to minor children experiencing gender dysphoria is theologically confused, morally problematic, and scientifically unsound. In his attempt to marshal theological language in defense of these procedures, the president once again showed us how untethered his worldview is to biblical Christianity. Christians would do well to take notice.