Joseph & the Transgender Dreamcoat?

Joseph and the Transgender Dreamcoat?

on September 22, 2017

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.

 

  1. Comment by Randy Kiel on September 22, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    Your analysis is right on point! Our society has become entirely self-centered, and feelings have become the “basis” for “truth.”
    The one critique I have of your article is that in the paragraph that begins, “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.” you use pronouns in a way that the “genderqueer” would have you use them. “Them” and “their” are plural pronouns. How about “God does love him/her. But His love is not based on his/her age, hair color, ….”
    We need not confuse our language to satisfy the whims of a small minority.

  2. Comment by Melvin Aycock on October 25, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Spot on Chelsen and Randy. God does love them and us when and where we are. But God loves all of his creation too much to leave us in our own self-centered mire and filth. He also loves us enough to invite us to change and walk with Him, or in His footsteps if we can’t keep up and match His stride.

  3. Comment by Masha Leah on March 4, 2018 at 8:35 pm

    Sorry, but using the male gender for G-d is also not correct; G-d is both male and female. Using out definition of gender doesn’t apply to G-d. Using the male pronouns just because of convention and being historically accurate is equally wrong.

  4. Comment by Sean Hachem on February 16, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    God is my Father. The pronoun “He” is correct.

  5. Comment by Don Zlaty on September 23, 2017 at 9:06 am

    It is amazing how self centered humanity can be. Rather than allowing God to transform us, we seek to transform God. It sounds silly even as I write it. How do we reconcile with a God that we do not respect and adore more than our own private agenda?

  6. Comment by Joan Sibbald on September 23, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Lesbian Methodist bishop, Karen Oliveto, seeks to eliminate the bigotries of Jesus from Christianity. She has a following who agree. Satan smiles!

  7. Comment by MarcoPolo on September 23, 2017 at 9:45 am

    I suspect many people see the decline in truthfulness to one’s self, others and to God as a dismantling of our society.
    I don’t disagree with that, as Truth is being trampled by our current “leader” President Trump, and he alone has lowered the bar for those who are equally immature. Sad!

  8. Comment by diaphone64 on September 23, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    You’re not helping with the quotes. If he’s not your leader than you’re not a US citizen.

  9. Comment by Penny on September 25, 2017 at 12:13 am

    MarcoPolo trolls this website and frequently makes those kinds of comments.

  10. Comment by John Smith on September 25, 2017 at 7:17 am

    “he alone”? Even for you that’s reaching.

  11. Comment by Bob Biermann on September 27, 2017 at 7:59 am

    This particular article is about a misinterpretation of something from the Old Testament that adversely affects our Christian faith today. Why do we have to bring American politics and do everything? It’s almost a sickness. Perhaps, you need to reevaluate yourself in the light of God’s word, and let politics take care of itself.

  12. Comment by Becky Jordan on September 23, 2017 at 9:52 am

    This is yet one more pathetic attempt to legitimize their beliefs and behavior that fly in the face of The Truth. I echo what Joan Sibbald said in her commit- Satan smiles. Actually, I think he is rolling on the floor laughing….

  13. Comment by diaphone64 on September 23, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    “The point is not whether or not the blogger’s exegesis holds true.” Obviously it’s eisegesis not exegesis.

  14. Comment by Richard benitez on September 24, 2017 at 1:38 am

    I would think any event or passage in the Old Testament would consider the Hebrews oral and written and point of inclusion in scriptures. In a 4000 year history, if the Hebrews never, ever considired, intended, spoke of or made commentaries on Joseph’s coat of many colors to reflect whafling sexual identity, then any transgender nature was not part of God’s salvation history.

  15. Comment by Penny on September 24, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    The re-writing of God’s Word is moving much faster than I expected. When I read this I felt dizzy and almost nauseous. Shocking!!

  16. Comment by Skipper on September 25, 2017 at 11:06 am

    The Rainbow first appeared after all the evil people had been drowned. Only Noah and his family were still alive to see it.

    I once had a conversation with an Episcopal bishop who approved of alternate lifestyles. I ask if homosexuality was evil. He surprised me by saying it was “very evil.” He admitted he could not reconcile his position with the bible. I suspect that today’s “ministers” who live in or approve of alternate lifestyles do so knowing full well that it is evil. What is so sad about this is that that God’s Word in the bible is very specific about the consequences of willful sinning. But for the living, it is not too late to turn back to God.

    “If you turn to my disciple,
    then I will pour out my spirit on you
    and teach you my words.” Proverbs 1:23

  17. Comment by Mark Gilbert on April 13, 2020 at 8:53 pm

    Anen!

  18. Comment by Craig Buchanan on September 25, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of trying to seduce her (Genesis 39:7-20). That would not have been a believable accusation had Joseph been a eunuch. And Joseph sired two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim (Genesis 41:50-52), something quite impossible for a eunuch to do.

  19. Comment by James Nelson on September 25, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.” (Deuteronomy 22:5)

    “He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 23:1)

  20. Comment by Jeffrey Olah on October 25, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    I consider myself to be very conservative and outspoken about my views and I’m pretty sure if this found it’s way into my church I don’t think the minister would like my response

  21. Comment by Rai Funo on November 6, 2017 at 2:30 am

    Wow. How cruel. The Rabbis identified six distinct genders; it is entirely possible that Joseph was trans or some sort of genderqueer. The person who wrote that post was saying they were trying to reach for someone to identify with within our faith. To cast their inquiry aside is to rue any notion that scripture has room for trans people. The church exists as an evolution of Christ love, radical love, and for you to not meet that love somewhere in the middle and perhaps GO to the texts and do some research on this notion, as I am about to do, is NOT in God’s image. Who did Christ sit with? Whom did He love? Those cast out by society and the ruling class. So to argue that a kind patriarch like Jacob couldn’t possibly love a child who *was* different in all accounts from his brothers is to not treat scripture like the living document it is.

  22. Comment by Mark Gilbert on April 13, 2020 at 9:00 pm

    They have room. Its called tg he born again experience.
    Acts 2:21 says who so ever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
    That pretty much includes everyone. Then they must learn who they are in Christ Jesus
    Romans 12:1-2. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
    Romans 12:1‭-‬2 KJV
    https://bible.com/bible/1/rom.12.1-2.KJV

    Gods already done what needed to be done. He sent his son Jesus to die for ours sins. Everyone’s sin past present and future.
    We make it so hard yet its such a simple beautiful Love Story.
    John 3:16
    John 3:3-7

  23. Comment by Mya Byrne on November 6, 2017 at 2:52 am

    The original article’s veracity has been proven in various texts. The only other reference to the exact wording in Hebrew ( kethoneth passim) of the “coat of many colours” is in 2 Samuel, in reference to Tamar, the daughter of David. Cf. https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/2%20Samuel%2013:18 and https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coat_of_many_colors. As Hebrew uses highly gendered language, I don’t think there should be much doubt that the scholarly work reflects that Joseph was indeed wearing a garment of the type reserved for royal virgin daughters, per 2 Samuel in KJV and pretty much every other translation.

  24. Comment by Ben19 on June 19, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    Here’s another way to look at it. Why would you give a boy something that flamboyant?
    That probably made Joseph’s brothers more angry seeing him wearing clothes like that.

  25. Comment by Emily on June 20, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    “Satan has done well breaking down traditional sexual boundaries.” That’s a really strange statement to make about a story about a man who had two wives and had sex with their servants. So who broke down that traditional Biblical sexual boundary? But honestly, what do you think Jesus would say to someone who was born with both male and female genitals? Because that happens. What is important is how we love one another. Right? Right?!

  26. Comment by Hayden on October 28, 2020 at 1:25 am

    Thank you for pointing me to a source for that interpretation. You mentioned that the blogger did little to back their claim about the translation difficulties, but a simple search even on Wikipedia backs that claim. It is absolutely true that the only other passage that word appears in the bible is in 2 Sam 13:18 in reference to the robes of a princess. From a linguistic perspective, inferring that Joseph was gender nonconforming is a logical possibility. Also, it is absolutely true that God loves even transgendered people, so that is not a morally bad conclusive to draw in any Christianity. Additionally, Abraham broke his own gender role expectations when he obeyed God and left his father’s house. Oh yes, and the Eunuch on the road in Acts could have been intersex, since that is one of the valid interpretations on Eunuch which even Jesus mentioned. Are you a biblical scholar?

  27. Comment by Arianna on December 9, 2020 at 9:01 am

    And here I am, after having read this story to my 4 year old child, as part of an advent calendar. My child who tells me in a quiet voice “inside I’m a girl”. My boy who twirls, and dances, and captures bugs. My child who listened to the story about brothers giving away their sibling who wore a colourful special coat. It reads much differently when presented to someone like my child. In fact, leading me on a google search to see if anyone else had ever felt strangely uncomfortable with this possibly transphobic story.
    At the end of the reading he told me he would only wear a coat that was blue. And he told me that when he says he wants to be a girl, he is only joking. He only wants to be a tiny bit of a girl.
    My heart aches.
    I encourage you to think about kids like him, beautiful, caring, sensitive, kids who don’t perfectly fit the gender dichotomy. Created by God. The same God you claim to know so well.
    I encourage you to look at his face and then write about how Satan has done blah blah blah to his blah blah blah.

    Meanwhile, I will be looking for the most beautiful coat I can find.

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