Defining terms is always essential to a conversation because you don’t want to talk past each other. In this case, it’s even more critical because the tweet compares two things: the incarnation and transgender ideology. The only way the tweet works is if the two things being compared are parallel…They are not.
Does Christian theology support transgender ideology? You wouldn’t think so, but someone recently tweeted, “If you believe God became a human, then you can believe someone can be a different gender than what they were assigned at birth.” Seems simple enough. God changed, so why can’t we? What’s the problem?
This is a single tweet, so why bother answering it? Though it seems like an isolated challenge, it’s worth addressing for three reasons. First, it’s a popular tweet with thousands of likes and retweets. Second, it represents the increasingly common but errant view that Christian theology provides a safe harbor for transgender ideology. Third, it’s good mental practice to see a tricky challenge and learn how to evaluate it and respond.
Christians who uphold a biblical anthropology read the tweet and know that something is amiss but often struggle to identify the problem. It’s easy to be taken aback by a simple slogan and not know how to respond. Why? The tweet trades on a different dictionary. The author defines the terms differently than you. When you clarify the meanings, though, the solution becomes apparent. Three terms in this tweet demand definition: “God became a human,” “gender,” and “assigned at birth.” Those three terms entail almost the entire tweet, which explains why this challenge seems so mystifying.
Defining terms is always essential to a conversation because you don’t want to talk past each other. In this case, it’s even more critical because the tweet compares two things: the incarnation and transgender ideology. The only way the tweet works is if the two things being compared are parallel. I recognize that in any comparison, it’s not fair to expect everything to be parallel. There will always be areas of similarity and dissimilarity. I get that. In this case, however, the details of what’s being compared need to be parallel in relevant ways. They are not, however.
First, let’s clarify the claim that “God became a human.” This phrase is theologically imprecise. I understand the author is trying to make a general reference to the incarnation. By being overly simplistic, though, he ignores the theological nuance he needs in order to see that his point is unsound. In the incarnation, God does not become human. That’s not orthodoxy. God doesn’t change his nature and become something else. While remaining fully God, the second person of the Trinity (the Logos), adds human nature to himself in the person of Jesus. God’s divine nature, however, doesn’t change.
Though this might seem like nitpicking, clarifying the nature of the incarnation is relevant. After all, the author uses the incarnation as an example of what’s possible with a transgender person. Since God changed from divine to human, so the author says, it’s alleged a transgender person can change from man to woman.
The problem with this reasoning is twofold. First, just because God can do something, it doesn’t mean a human can as well. In fact, the opposite is true. God’s miraculous activity is just that—supernatural—something mere mortals are impotent to do. Second, as we clarified, God does not become human but merely adds a human nature. That’s different, and the details matter. A transgender person claims they can change their gender from the one they were born with. God doesn’t change in that way, and therefore, it’s not evidence that a person can change their gender, either. Of course, what is meant by “gender” is precisely another key question.