Darryl's thoughts on the Christian Faith, Facts, and World Events
This issue is so emotionally and politically charged that people are unable to even have a reasonable conversation about it. My goal here is to handle this topic in a peaceful manner that will help the readers think about and discuss this topic in a way that does not compromise the Biblical teaching on the subject. I freely admit that my interpretation of the Bible could be wrong, but the Bible itself is still the correct authority on this question.
I came across a version of this question on Facebook and it took me a while to formulate a response to it. Here is a paraphrase of the question:
If God created us as we are, why would it not be wrong (or a sin) to get braces for crooked teeth (change your hair or eye color etc.) but it would be wrong to have a sex change surgery?
I asked this question in the bravest apologetics Facebook group that I know, and the administrators have not yet allowed it to be posted so I feel like I must try address it on my own.
In order to answer this question, we need to break it down into smaller, more manageable questions.
1. Did God create us as we are? The answer to this question is "Yes, God created us." and "No, not as were are now." According to the Bible, God created the first humans, Adam and Eve and said that his creation was "very good" (Genesis 1:31). However, after Adam and Eve sinned and suffering and death came into the world (Genesis 3 and Romans 5:12).
So, humans now are not the same as God created us to be before Adam and Eve sinned. We have suffering, sickness, deformity, and death. Even though Psalms 139 says that God knits us together in our mother's wombs it does not say that our bodies are "very good" as they were at creation (Genesis 1:31). Romans 8:22 says, "For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now."
2. Are braces and other corrective surgeries wrong? I myself had braces for crooked teeth as a teenager and I had surgery that changed the shape of my nose as a young adult so that I could breathe better. From my understanding of Scripture, these are not wrong because they are just human efforts to reverse the curse for sin (Genesis 3). During Jesus Christ's ministry on earth, He healed many kinds of diseases (blind, lepers, paralytics, and more). There are many instances of healing recorded in the Bible so I believe that this encourages medical procedures in our times.
3. Are cosmetic changes wrong?
From my understanding of Scripture, changing one's appearance for the better is also allowed by Scripture. For example, in the book of Esther, Queen Esther went through cosmetic treatments (Esther 2). I personally doubt that Adam and Eve before the fall had any need for cosmetic changes of any kind because they were personally created by God and were "very good." However, after sin, humans have degraded so cosmetics may also be a way to "reverse the curse."
4. Is our sex part of the curse?
Based on everything I have seen in Scripture, I do not believe that our sex, being male or female, is a curse in itself.
Matthew 19: 3-6 says, "Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no person is to separate.”
Furthermore, on studying the miracles of the Bible in general and specifically the miracles performed by Jesus, I can find no example of God changing someone's sex miraculously. If the Bible taught that sex was part of the Genesis 1:31 curse (Adam and Eve were male and female before sin) and there was a miraculous sex change, I would support sexual reassignment surgeries. However, it doesn't, so I can't.
So what now?
Even though I do not support sexual reassignment surgeries, those who are either considering them or have had them still have the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) as any other human. God loves them and Christ died for them the same as for me (John 3:16 etc.).
I hope that Christian churches will develop ministries to those who either are considering or have had sexual reassignment surgery which follow the model of pre and post abortion ministries. This is a new mission field.
Recently, there has been a lot of confusion about Jesus Christ's physical appearance caused by people who have a political agenda. Before we can answer this question we need to break it down into two questions: 1. What did Jesus Christ probably look like before the ascension (Acts 1: 6-11)? 2. How does the Bible describe Jesus Christ's appearance after the ascension?
Before the Ascension:
The Bible does not give much detail about Jesus appearance during Jesus' life on earth before the ascension. Here are some clues.
1. Jesus was Jewish and therefore it is reasonable to assume that Jesus looked like a Jewish man of his time. At his crucifixion he was known as the "King of the Jews." (Mark 15 and John 19)
2. Judas had to identify Jesus from among the disciples with a kiss (Matthew 26). If Jesus were 10 feet tall with green hair and purple skin, then this would not have been necessary. But, if Jesus looked like the rest of the disciples (Jewish men of a similar age range), then a simple description would not be possible.
3. Jesus was mistaken for a gardener after the resurrection but before the ascension. (John 20). This further indicates that he was not remarkable in appearance one way or another.
For more information on #2 and #3 see www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_197.cfm
4. Jesus probably had a beard because that was the custom of the day but we can't be completely sure. For more information see opentheword.org/2014/10/07/did-jesus-have-a-beard/
After the Ascension:
The greatest source of confusion about Jesus' appearance comes from people who attempt to apply the Bible's descriptions of Jesus after the ascension to Jesus before the ascension.
The main description of Jesus after the resurrection comes from Revelations 1:12-17 (NKJV). I will underline the key descriptive points.
12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. 17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid;I am the First and the Last.
Another description of Jesus comes from Revelation 19: 12-16
11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS.
Unlike the descriptions of Jesus before the ascension, these descriptions of Jesus after the ascension are VERY remarkable. Do you think that if Jesus were to run around Israel for 33 years with "head and hair...white like wool," "eyes like a flame of fire," "feet like fine brass," a "voice as the sound of many waters", "in His right hand seven stars," and "out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword" that Judas would need to pick him out of a crowd? Do you think that children would come to him? When John saw Jesus in this form, he "fell at His feet as dead."
So, is there any reason to take the descriptions of Jesus having "hair white like wool" (describes color but does not mention texture) or "feet like fine brass," out of context, and attempt to apply them to the physical appearance of Jesus before the ascension? If so, why not also mention the two-edged sword coming out of his mouth?
The most important thing to focus on is not Jesus' appearance, but the fact that Jesus Christ is the "The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29.
A Christian Apologist, Author, Missionary, Husband, and Father. Darryl has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University (CA), an MA in TESOL from Azusa Pacific University (CA), and a BA in Political Science from Truman State University (MO).