Does a Sex-Change Operation Change Ontology?

John C. Rankin

[excerpted from First the Gospel, Then Politics …, 1999, Vol. 2, not published]

Once I encountered this issue was with a Christian woman at a seminar I was teaching in San Francisco. She did not know the Bible well, but wanted to. By the same token, she had some issues in her past where she struggled with accepting the Bible on its own terms.

The central one dealt with her “brother” who had been born her sister. She had a sex-change operation to become a man, stating that she always felt she was a man trapped inside a woman’s body, and now felt “whole” after the operation. Her sister loved “him” very much, affirmed “his” decision, and was emphatic on insisting that “she” was and had always been a “he.”

When I did not refer to her as a “him,” the Christian woman was offended. Thus I had a delicate balance to maintain in order to serve integrity – I stated that her sister was still her sister even though she had the sex-change operation to become a “man.” By the same token, as the Christian woman struggled with this issue, she was doing so out of genuine love for her “brother,” and I wanted in no way to mitigate that love.

Yet, does a sex-change operation – the literal mutilation of the body – affect ontology, the very nature of the given sexual being? Xx remains xx, and xy remains xy.

The Son of God came not to condemn, but to save. Thus I said that though we disagree on this matter, it did not diminish the respect I had for her freedom to regard her “brother” thus, and that she should not change her opinion unless she became convinced of it biblically (apart from which, and the work of the Holy Spirit, what can I do?). And I too am open to be convinced biblically otherwise, if indeed I am in error. Tough and confusing issues, and mercy triumphs over judgment for those who seek God on his own terms, and listening is far more valuable than winning a point of debate.

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House of Lords 17 October 2017

Text of John Rankin’s address on the occasion of the 500th annive5rsary of the Reformation.