Jesus Acknowledges Non-Binary Reality
The entry below is an excerpt from TRANSFIGURED, in honor of Bisexual Visibility Day this week.
But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”
(Matthew 19:11-12 NASB)
Many traditionalist Christians of our day claim there is no gender spectrum. Matthew’s account of Jesus’ words, however, proves that claim to be unbiblical. In today’s passage, we see Jesus describing three variations of non-binary personhood.
The variations are an important detail. In wrapping up the discussion on marriage which precedes these verses, Jesus could have simply said that some people may not want to marry. Instead, he points out that there are variants in gender even within the masculine category of eunuch.
In the first case, he mentions people with ambiguous genitalia. In the second, he lists the altering of genitalia (which in that day was most likely done as an act of violence). In the third, he leaves genitals out of it, but acknowledges non-binary gender performance.
Because of this description, intersex people can see themselves in his words. Transgender people undergoing gender affirmation surgery can feel acknowledged. And people who perform gender differently than our culture currently expects can find acceptance in his sight.
Jesus concludes by pointing out that many people can’t accept what he is trying to tell them. Nothing has changed on this front since the days Jesus roamed the earth. Christians still have trouble believing that he really meant the free gift of his saving love through faith, regardless of a believer’s gender identity or expression.
In a world where trans people are demeaned, excluded, exoticized, invalidated, legislated against, and killed—the courage it takes for trans people to live fully into who they are is worthy of respect and honor. I dare say it is a holy act.