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Does the Bible Really Portray Gender as a Spectrum?

Does the Bible Really Portray Gender as a Spectrum?

The University of Dayton is a Catholic university, and one of its professors, Esther Brownsmith, has come out with the novel assertion that the Bible supports the idea that individuals can change their gender. She actually listed “a few of the ways that Scripture portrays gender as a colorful spectrum, not a rigid binary.”

According to Brownsmith:

  • Joseph was one of many people who “crossed gender boundaries”
  • Deborah led an army
  • Mordecai breast-fed his cousin Esther (she was not even his cousin)
  • Daniel was probably a eunuch

So, exactly how does she come up with the interpretation that these things represent a gender spectrum, and how can she claim that some of them are even true?


In speaking of Joseph, Brownsmith call’s Joseph’s “coat of many colors” a “rainbow princess dress.” The proper translation of the Hebrew word itself is not completely certain. Some translate it as a coat of many colors, but it can also mean a long robe with sleeves, or a richly ornamented robe. The coat was given to Joseph by his father Jacob (Israel), and based on the biblical story, it obviously showed favoritism toward him above his brothers.

There is absolutely nothing in the Bible, however, to indicate that this has anything to do with transgenderism. That said, gay theologian apologists have found a way to make a case. In 2 Samuel 13, princess Tamar is said to wear a robe. The word here is the same word that is used to describe Joseph’s robe. From that, they conclude that Joseph’s coat was actually women’s clothing – which, to them, indicates Joseph identified as a female. It is a silly argument, but that’s the way the try to justify it.


As for Deborah, armies are generally led by men. The argument here is that since Deborah was a woman and led an army, she obviously was a woman who identified as a man. There is, of course, nothing whatsoever in the biblical text to give that impression, but when you are grasping at straws to make a point, this is the kind of thing you come up with.


In the book of Esther, Mordecai is revealed to be Esther’s uncle. The tradition is that she was an orphan, and was raised by her uncle. The biblical text actually says nothing about Mordecai breast-feeding Esther, but there is a passage from Genesis Rabbah (a talmudic-era commentary on the Book of Genesis written between 300 and 500 AD) which speculates that since Mordecai didn’t have a wet nurse to breast-feed Esther, he was miraculously able to do it from his own breast. Transgender apologists take this and present it as gospel. It is simply not in the historical record.


Daniel is another person in the Bible that Brownsmith points to as an example of someone with a non-binary gender. In this case, her speculation is based on the fact that he was a single man serving in the Babylonian court, so he must have been a eunuch. And, of course, if that was the case, it is another proof to her that the Bible supports thinking of gender in terms of a spectrum. Unfortunately for Brownsmith and her ilk, there is, once again, nothing in the biblical text itself to back up this interpretation. It is simply more empty speculation.

Understanding False Teachers

Honestly, it is amazing the lengths people will go to in an attempt to promote a preferred agenda. How does this happen?

Well, it begins with a wrong starting point. If a person wants to understand a biblical worldview, the starting place is, obviously, the Bible. You read the Bible and find out what it teaches about God, man, and salvation.

But obviously, Brownsmith doesn’t start with the Bible to come up with her theology. She starts with her preferred personal beliefs, then searches the Bible to find ways to justify her preferences. It doesn’t matter if she has to take Scripture out of context, use non-biblical sources, or make off-the-wall speculations. She feels justified in her position if only she can come up with some biblical tie-in to her beliefs – even if she has to make it up out of whole cloth. And that’s the way false teachers operate who try to use the Bible to justify their beliefs.

So what is the truth? The truth is, the Bible affirms only two genders – male and female. And all the speculation and head-fakes in the world will not change it.

Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books entitled The Truth MirageRules for Christians RadicalsLiberalism vs. Conservatism, and his latest book Shattering the Truth Mirage and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.

You may also contact Freddy at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule him for speaking or leadership engagements.

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