LGBTQ activists within the Church have long produced stories deliberately twisting the sexual orientation of biblical characters to fit their revisionist campaign. I thought I’d heard them all: David and Jonathan, Daniel and the palace master, and even Ruth and Naomi. But I hadn’t yet heard of a transgender character in the Bible. Have you?
So I was struck by a blog post published by the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN), a major pro-LGBTQ coalition active in the United Methodist Church. A “genderqueer” RMN blogger presents an altered story of Joseph and the coat of many colors (as pictured above). In this new-fangled interpretation, Joseph’s coat is not a colorful robe, but a “princess dress,” possibly making him transgender. The blogger, Mac Buff, contends:
[W]e no longer know the precise meaning of the word usually translated “coat of many colors,” but the only other time it’s used is to describe the clothing of a king’s virginal daughter. A princess dress.
Which opens the possibility that Joseph could have been, instead of an arrogant little twerp spoiled by his father, a transgender kid just trying to survive in the family.
Read Genesis 37:1-36 for Scripture’s account of Joseph and his colorful robe.
As to the blogger’s assertion Joseph was possibly transgender, the argument is deeply problematic. For starters, the author offers no evidence to support the odd claim that the translation of “coat of many colors” is questionable. Second, Scripture tells us the garment was a gift from Joseph’s father. Would Jacob have given his beloved son a princess dress? Probably not. Scripture also tells us Joseph’s brothers were jealous of their father’s special affection for Joseph. It’s doubtful all the brothers coveted a gift from their father that encouraged cross-dressing.
None of these details really matter, as the author admits later on. The point is not whether or not the blogger’s exegesis holds true. There’s a bigger picture here we need to see.
The blogger’s goal is to reposition the framework of Joseph’s story around gender identity as the substance of redemption, instead of God’s grace and guiding providence.
Determined to prove why a genderqueer interpretation of Scripture is necessary, the blogger explains:
If Joseph wore a princess dress, then for the first time, I see someone in our holy Scripture who is like me. Someone who bends–or even breaks–the expectations of gender. I can read the story of my faith tradition, the story of my Savior, and see in it the radical possibility that God loves even me. Because God has done it before. God loved and protected Joseph even through hardship.
Before you dismiss these writings as “just a blog,” consider why the distortions should not be taken lightly.
The motivating factors for this argument are pain, confusion, and deceit that should grieve faithful Christians to the core.
Satan has done well breaking down traditional sexual boundaries. Satan has done an even better job erasing the concept of sin within Western Christianity. Instead of transformation through the cross of Christ, emphasis for the faith is placed on personal feelings and self-identity. But only harm comes from prioritizing flawed human nature instead of the cross of Christ.
So pervasive are the arguments for revisionist sexual ethics that they are extending beyond secular culture, beyond the usual Religious Left circles and into orthodox Christian communities. Evangelical kids, for example, hear these kinds of twisted interpretations that turn their sin struggle into a unique characteristic, a celebration even. It dismisses sin, tears down limitations and the onus for Believers to die to oneself and find our identities in Christ.
The RMN blogger does get one point absolutely right. God does love them. But His love is not based on their age, hair color, skin color, gender, or any other self-identity. God loves you because He created you, His child, in His image.
Even if Joseph wasn’t transgender, he wasn’t without sin. The Bible is filled with the stories of flawed identities. David the adultery, Moses the murderer, Saul the persecutor. Each one was created in the image of their Creator. Each one deeply loved by Him. Each one’s identify found anew in Him. We give thanks their stories point to the One whose grace is the substance of redemption, not their own sinful identities.