How do biblical ethics apply to hermaphrodites?

This article is from Hank Hanegraaff, The Complete Bible Answer Book—Collector’s Edition (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008)
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The term “hermaphrodite” is derived from conjoining the name of the Greek god Hermes with the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Today, hermaphroditism is appropriately referred to as “intersex” or as a “disorder of sex development” (DSD). Regardless of the term used, confusion reigns on how to respond to this disorder.

First, intersex refers to the rare condition of individuals who are born with both male and female reproductive organs and sex glands, and in even rarer cases both XX and XY chromosomes. The medical treatment for this disorder involves the surgical and hormonal “assignment” of gender, which ideally should be made on the basis of all the relevant factors (e.g., chromosomal, neural, psychological, behavioral, and the like). If there is reasonable certainty that a medical mistake was made in the assignment of gender, it would not be beyond biblical bounds to prayerfully consider reassignment. As with the treatment of any rare disorder, gender assignment is complex and subject to human error; thus, it is crucial to seek the most competent biblical and medical counsel.

Furthermore, being born with genetic, psychological, or hormonal abnormalities is no more license for sexual sin than being born with violent tendencies is license for violence. Thus, if a same-sex attraction develops, celibacy and singleness, as opposed to homosexual licentiousness, is the proper response (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:8). Indeed, anyone suffering from gender confusion should not pursue marriage until the confusion has been biblically resolved. Though this may seem harsh, it is no different than the requirement placed on all believers to die to sin and live for righteousness through the power of Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit (Romans 6).

Finally, it is crucial to recognize that all disorders, diseases, deformities, decay, and death ultimately result from the Fall. While sin, suffering, and sickness are present realities, we have the certain promise that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

For further study, see Scott B. Rae, Moral Choices, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).


“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’
‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus,
‘but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.'”

John 9:1-3:

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