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In my opinion, it seems that the following verses emphasize the gender binary classification (i.e, Either male or only female, but mutually exclusive from each other)

Genesis 1:26-28 (NASB)
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the [a]sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the [b]sky and over every living thing that [c]moves on the earth.”

Matthew 19:4-5 (NASB)
4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?

Genesis 5:2  (NASB) 2 He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them [a]Man in the day when they were created.

Also, the lesbian, gay & bisexual, and probably those who struggle with gender dysphoria or willingly decide to be transgender but physically show either male or female genitals, but not both (i.e, not showing any sort of intersex characteristics or hermaphrodite characteristics) could be because of

  • selfish fleshly sinful desires associated with said sexual perversion 

  • and/or (from a charismatic/pentecostal perspective) be under some kind evil demonic spirit that brings about desires associated with said sexual perversion 

However, in regards to those showing any sort of intersex characteristics (or hermaphrodite characteristics) which would be case where "an individual has both ovarian and testicular tissue. The ovarian and testicular tissue may be separate, or the two may be combined in what is called an ovotestis. Affected individuals have sex chromosomes showing male-female mosaicism (where one individual possesses both the male XY and female XX chromosome pairs)" (Credit reference: Britannica, article at: https://www.britannica.com/science/hermaphroditism), I can only think of the following bible verses that:

Matthew 19:12 (NASB) 12 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.”

but then it seems like "eunuchs" would be a poor English translation to be associated with those who are in the Intersex (or Hermaphrodite) category.

ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΤΘΑΙΟΝ 19:12 (1881 Westcott-Hort New Testament) 12 εισιν γαρ ευνουχοι οιτινες εκ κοιλιας μητρος εγεννηθησαν ουτως και εισιν ευνουχοι οιτινες ευνουχισθησαν υπο των ανθρωπων και εισιν ευνουχοι οιτινες ευνουχισαν εαυτους δια την βασιλειαν των ουρανων ο δυναμενος χωρειν χωρειτω

ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΤΘΑΙΟΝ 19:12 (SBL Greek New Testament) 12 εἰσὶν γὰρ εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες ἐκ κοιλίας μητρὸς ἐγεννήθησαν οὕτως, καὶ εἰσὶν εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες εὐνουχίσθησαν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, καὶ εἰσὶν εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες εὐνούχισαν ἑαυτοὺς διὰ τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν. ὁ δυνάμενος χωρεῖν χωρείτω.

I do not know any Koine New Testament Greek, therefore, is there any possibility that the Koine New Testament Greek translations above would take into account people who are in the intersex (or hermaphrodite) category?

Basically, I am trying to find a biblical approach as to how Christians should approach someone who sadly and unfortunately was born into the intersex (or hermaphrodite) category. I understand that people might bring up "encouraging" verses like

Galatians 3:28 (NASB) 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is [a]neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Which is alright, but I'd like more insight into what the Bible has to say.

  • Approach them how? Explain why they were born this way? DNA from Nephilim hypothesis? Whether they can marry and be sexually active? If they should undergo surgery? Please clarify what you mean. Thank you – Nihil Sine Deo Sep 16 at 3:04
  • Hermaphrodites are mutants? What makes you think that we arent the mutants? You think its "normal" to have half your brain turned off? – R. Emery Sep 16 at 6:16
  • @nihil-sine-deo my question is quite broad, therefore, please go ahead and give an answer that covers numerous aspects of the topic. As long as it is helpful in exploring The Biblical Word. 😀 – crazyTech Sep 16 at 9:11
  • @R.Emery who has half their brain turned off? The brain is actually two organs side by side not one organ with two sides, just as we have two eyes, two kidneys, two lungs to name a few. And they function differently; some people are right handed and some left handed, same with the brain some people are right brain dominant and others left but that doesn’t mean the other brain is turned off. – Nihil Sine Deo Sep 16 at 12:22
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    Literal eunuchs are physically castrated, either by mother nature, or by fellow men; Christ, through His life and teachings, presented the spiritual eunuch as the ultimate moral model, who, not by external necessity, but by internal will, gains complete self-control and mastery over oneself. – Lucian Sep 17 at 19:50
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The New Testament is far more informed about “intersexuality” than most realise. Strictly speaking, a eunuch is an emasculated male but the term became used more generally to approximate what we now might call “intersex”. As Jesus said:

“And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.” Matt 19:9-12.

There are several things about this passage that become immediately clear.

  • The ideal created in Eden and intended by God was male and female in marriage.
  • Jesus recognized that by His time, there were more than simple distinctions between male and female. Some had been born that way and others had been made that way. That is, people are not uniformly sexually binary.
  • Thus, while there was an ideal as created by God in the Garden of Eden, sin had had its effect and it was not always possible to have the ideal. Some were, for various reasons, eunuchs and so could not marry.
  • Jesus also recognized that not all can accept the Edenic ideal. This was presumably another reason that the Torah did not prohibit divorce but recognized it as a reality and regulated the process.
  • A comparison with Acts 8:27-38 shows that being a eunuch was no impediment whatsoever for being a Christian.
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    The Greek 2135 eunouchos doesn't necessarily mean someone who had been castrated (see What Is a Eunuch in the Bible?). Had the Ethiopian eunuch been castrated, he would not have been able to go to Jerusalem and worship as a proselyte. (Deut. 23:1) – agarza Sep 16 at 0:38
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    @agarza - Emasculated men could not enter the courtyard of the temple but that did not stop eunuchs being in Jerusalem as evidenced by several that lived in Jerusalem Jer 38:7, 52:25, 2 Kings 23:11. – Dottard Sep 16 at 0:58
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    You are correct that they could have lived in Jerusalem. I guess what I took from your last bullet was that the Ethiopian eunuch from the Acts account was emasculated, which I don't believe he was. I believe he was a court official as is how the Greek word is sometimes translated. The context gives more information about how the word can be translated. – agarza Sep 16 at 2:14
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εὐνοῦχος (eunuch) has the following meanings:

  1. A castrated male; either literally, or figuratively, meaning a court official (from the practice of court officials being castrated in some cultures)

  2. a male who is without a physical operation, is by nature incapable of begetting children

  3. a male who abstains from marriage, without being impotent, abstains from marriage/sex

(Source: BDAG – "A Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed.", Walter Bauer; Frederick William Danker)

An intersex person could fall into the 2nd category, but this doesn't imply any suggestion that sex is non-binary, and certainly not that this was the pre-fall template.

In the context of v1-10 (that divorce should not be freely available), and the disciples' response (v10) "If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.", it seems best to interpret Jesus's use of εὐνοῦχος here as (3), i.e. "If you aren't prepared to commit to marriage, stay single".

This passage does not seem to be relevant to the issue of intersex.

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  • The passage is relevant to the issue of intersex because if the intersex indeed fall into that second category then the intersex had to be celibate for the rest of their lives because that is what an eunuch is in all of its three types. These people in Matthew 19:12 aren't getting married at all. They are celibates either by their choice (self made eunuchs) or by being made one by others (man made eunuchs) or simply by birth (eunuchs by nature). – Radz Matthew C. Brown Sep 20 at 16:04
  • @RadzMatthewC.Brown yes, they could fall into category 2. But the passage is about commitment in marriage. Other than in passing categorising ‘made’ and ‘born’ eunuchs, Jesus is not commenting on the reasons for these, or passing any value/moral judgment on these, so it would be dangerous to try to draw any further views from it on intersex. It certainly doesn’t suggest Jesus thought sex was non-binary - in fact, the word ‘eunuch’ meant a sterile male, which suggests a binary view. – Dan W Sep 20 at 16:15
  • The passage is about those not able to get married due to their state (i.e. eunuch). If intersex falls into that second category (i.e. eunuch by birth), then, they are in a condition or shape in which they can accept to live celibate lives since they were naturally fit to that status, being physically deformed in their genitalia. Marriage is only allowed for those male and female (gender binary) with normal genitalia. This interpretation is taught by New Testament scholars and exegetes. – Radz Matthew C. Brown Sep 20 at 16:46
  • @RadzMatthewC.Brown - I disagree. From the context of v1-10, these verses are about those who are able to get married, but are scared by the idea of commitment for life. They - Jesus tells us - should remain celibate like those who (because of birth or intervention) are unable to marry. That’s clearly the big message of the passage, and to draw tangential conclusions is dangerous. – Dan W Sep 20 at 16:49
  • Indeed, the context is about marriage but not everyone is able to get married (i.e. the eunuchs) which is the point of Matthew 19:12. And about the eunuchs-by-birth , l your very own answer said: " "intersex could fall into the 2nd category".So, if you disagree, you're disagreeing with your own answer. – Radz Matthew C. Brown Sep 20 at 17:06
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In any case, an intersex is not allowed to undergo corrective surgery but to remain in the person's natural birth gender: "sexually ambiguous". In other words, one must remain "an eunuch from the womb". - Matthew 19:12). Plus, the intersex is not allowed to marry due to the same text (man-made eunuchs and self-made eunuchs were explicitly parallels with natural born eunuchs in Matthew 19:12). In other words, Jesus spoke of all kinds of eunuchs as celibates.

Dr. Rob Gagnon, a New Testament scholar, says:

The overwhelming percentage of the tiny subset of the population often categorized as “intersex” do not in fact straddle equally between two sexes but are marked predominantly as one sex or the other in terms of the possession (or lack) of a mostly functioning X chromosome.When Jesus discusses briefly “eunuchs (eunouchoi) who were born so from the womb of their mother” (Matt 19:12) he rejects neither the binary male-female foundation for marriage nor the principle of duality of number secondarily derived from the foundation that he had just established (19:3-9). On the contrary, he presumes that if “born eunuchs” cannot enter the covenant of marriage as “men” they must remain celibate (source: https://stream.org/memo-to-the-washington-post-the-bible-does-reject-transgender-behavior/).

One reason for not being allowed to get married is that being intersex/eunuch has a genitalia that is contrary to nature. Only those who possess a normal genitalia, so to speak, is allowed to get married. This idea is also reinforced in the context of sexual acts. See Romans 1:20-27 where normal genitalia cannot undergo homosexuality.

Note

"contrary to nature" refers to the disagreement with the original design (normal genitalia of male and female) of God in the book of Genesis. If one is born without normal genitalia (intersex), that is contrary to nature (i.e. against the natural design of God in Genesis). Homosexuality is also described as contrary to nature in this manner in Romans 1:20-27 because they are against the original function of the normal genitalia which is heterosexuality.

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    Allowing that there are those who believe with religious fervour that chemicals such as dioxins are responsible for birth defects, precocious puberty etc., is there any objective evidence that there were people of ambiguous gender 2000+ years ago? If there is not objective evidence, is it ethical to seek passages that might apply to them in the Bible? – Mark Morgan Lloyd Sep 16 at 14:52
  • How would be something that happens naturally be contrary to nature? If someone is born intersex, it is either because nature itself allows it or because it was willed so by god. If it was willed by god to be so, it was his design, and thus can't be contrary to nature. – T. Sar Sep 16 at 14:52
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    @MarkMorganLloyd India had cases of intersex people tracked down to way way way way back then. They had a whole different view on the issue, but it certainly is something that can happen by chance in nature. It is no different from any other rare birth trait, be it a negative or positive one. – T. Sar Sep 16 at 14:54
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    Many scientific studies show that intersexuality, homosexuality and transsexuality are all natural (they have biological etiology) but this is not what the Bible says about "nature" (φυρις). – Radz Matthew C. Brown Sep 16 at 15:20
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    "Eunuchs that are made" in Matthew 19:12 were eunuchs who receive surgery NOT to make the genitalia normal but to destroy, change, disfigure the normal genitalia. Deuteronomy 23:21 (NLT) “If a man’s testicles are crushed or his penis is cut off, he may not be admitted to the assembly of the LORD." – Radz Matthew C. Brown Sep 16 at 18:17

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