Transfigured or disfigured?
If you were to name one of the highlights of the New Testament, the transfiguration of Christ would have to be a major one. Imagine how Peter, John and James would have felt to witness such an event. Everything about the scene would have been startling, even after all that they had witnessed so far during Christ’s public ministry. Before their eyes they witnessed a transformation unlike anything they would have seen before. In fact, Matthew and Mark use the Greek word “metamorphoo” from which we derive our English word “metamorphosis”. But while you might immediately think of a butterfly coming forth from a cocoon, this is not merely a change in outward appearance, the Lord is allowing His glory to shine forth. Hebrews 1:1-3 records (with emphasis added): God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. This description and the Transfiguration recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke confirms that the ensuing death of Christ would not destroy the glory to follow.
Sadly, there are some in the transgender community that have equated their “transformation” with the Transfiguration. For instance, one group adopts this explanation:-
Who are our bedazzled disciples, those who have known us for a long time or known us well and yet are still befuddled by our transforming selves?
Who serves as our Elijah, Moses and Jesus’ companions, those who had experienced their own wilderness and mountain top experiences?
Who are the people in our lives– our trans companions, the trans people who have been there before us – who know the wilderness times of aloneness and also know the mountaintops?
Who are those who pronounce our new names, when we wake up from surgery and see our new bodies for the first time?
Who are the disciples in our lives, who always want to say or do the right thing but don’t quite get things right with us?
Who are like Simon Peter, who sometimes want to “set up tents,” wanting to idealize, tokenize, or display trans-people saying, “Look at our trans members. Look how inclusive we are”?
On another website which deals in “queer theology” they claim: “Transgender Theology – Our experiences reveal the divine more fully. With that belief firmly in mind, they also speak about a new initiative: “In the coming year, we’re going to be hosting an interactive course on how to read the Bible through a queer lens to understand it more deeply (and faithfully, even!). This passage (referring to Matthew’s account of the transfiguration) is one that we’ll look at more closely – and then give you the tools so that you can find your own queer connections throughout Scripture. If you’re interested in that, let us know.” I, for one, am not interested. Nor will any of my readers. There are many things wrong with their statement, but the most concerning part of all is that they are filtering the Scriptures through a lens which is unbiblical and unholy, suggesting that the interpretation of the Scriptures is subjective, depending on your ideology. In some ways, this is ideologically driven Gnosticism.
Gnosticism, from the Greek word “gnosis” (meaning, “to know”) first reared its head during the formation of the early church. The Gnostics were famous for deriving a system of self-redemption through special or mystical revelation and it was essentially a blend of Eastern philosophy and Jewish legalism. In their view, spiritual fulness could be theirs only if they entered into the teachings and ceremonies prescribed. This revelation would, according to them, release them from earthly things and put them in touch with heavenly things. There is also an atheistic form of Gnosticism (prominent today) which does not see the material world as totally evil (as traditional Gnosticism does) but rather as flawed and incomplete. In this view, mankind becomes the “deity” and it is his right to improve the human body and the world around him through his own wisdom. The danger with Gnosticism (both traditional and modern) is that it focuses on man for redemption instead of seeking to be regenerated by Christ.
Trying to equate transgenderism with the Transfiguration is not only inherently flawed in theological terms, it blasphemes the Person and Glory of God which is radiated in perfect holiness and righteousness. If you are rejecting how God created you, it is a very long stretch to claim that your actions in supposedly correcting God’s mistake are to be held in the same esteem as the Transfiguration of Christ. However, this is not the first instance of queer theorists using the concept of transfiguration for their own agenda. Susan Stryker, one of the very early advocates of queer theory even called her manifesto a “sermon”. She referred to it as, “a secular sermon that unabashedly advocates embracing a disruptive and refigurative genderqueer/transgender power as a spiritual resource for social transformation.” She continues by saying, “If we are to survive, it is time to let go of the old world. It is time for transfigured flesh to dance a new world into being.” Isn’t it interesting that she chose to use the word “transfigured” and that she refers to a “new world”, because on the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus not only revealed the glory of His Person but also gave a glimpse as to the glory of His kingdom. As Stryker admits, there is a spiritual aspect to her theory – one that involves the transfiguration of flesh through surgery to attain membership. They may call it transfiguration, but it is essentially disfiguration.
If believers want to fully understand how the Transfiguration should impact our lives today, look no further to Romans 12. Verses 1 and 2 read, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. And guess what? That word “transformed” is the Greek word “metamorphoo”, the very same word used for the Transfiguration. You see, you don’t have to disfigure your body. You have to work on transforming your mind through reading God’s Word, through prayer and through submission to the will and plan of God for your life.