Some pastors think the cases should be evaluated individually, since there is so much variety in physical issues. “This birth certificate effort will … erase the line between intersex and transgender, making folks consider them both under the same umbrella term,” says Reformed Presbyterian pastor Sam Andreades, author of a theology book on gender, enGendered: “Yes, we should acknowledge these medical conditions, but not on birth certificates.”
Andreades says parents of intersex children should decide on a gender at birth, and surgically make that a reality: Most children will be “immensely grateful to their parents for having the operations done when they were babies.” If parents want to wait on deciding on a gender, the birth certificate could read, “To be determined.”
Several years ago Denny Burk, a Biblical studies professor at Boyce College and a Baptist pastor, spoke at a campus conference about gender confusion. A youth minister asked about a situation in his church where a child, born intersex, was struggling with her parents’ decision about her gender. Burk remembered being a “deer in the headlights,” entirely unsure how to respond.
Now Burk has a position: He suggests parents should focus on chromosomes and not push for surgery to make their children’s anatomy “fit in with the norm.” Burk refers to research about intersex children who have grown up and struggled with their parents’ surgical decisions. He thinks Matthew 19:12, where Jesus refers to “eunuchs who have been so from birth,” might refer to children with intersex conditions.
“The existence of intersex conditions doesn’t mean that we no longer believe in the male and female binary,” Burk says. “We live in a fallen world. Just like you have all manners of physical malady and disorders that afflict the human bodies, intersex conditions fall into that category. … Jesus isn’t saying that they can’t be His followers or His disciples if they’re in that ambiguous situation.”