Question: "How many genders are there?"

Answer: The Bible asserts that there are only two genders. God’s creation of mankind, described in Genesis 1:27, makes this plain: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Male and female are the two genders.

Throughout human history, most societies have agreed with the Bible that there are only two genders. There are males and females, and there are men and women. In modern times, especially in the last century, perceptions and theories have changed. Today, there is a push for people to respect the existence of many different gender identities, including, but not limited to, male, female, transgender, gender neutral, genderqueer, non-binary, agender, pangender, and so on. With so many possible genders, the word gender has become practically meaningless, at least outside of Scripture.

People who believe that there are more than two genders create a distinction between sex and gender. Sex, they say, is a label we are assigned at birth. Some people are assigned male at birth, and other people are assigned female at birth, based on physical anatomy. The label is also referred to as birth sex or biological sex. Gender, the same people suggest, does not always align with a person’s assigned sex. People can identify their own gender, regardless of sex, and express it in individualistic ways. According to this view, humans decide their gender identity, but not the sex they were assigned at birth.

We need to be clear on what God says about sex, gender, and gender identity. Of course, we must do with this love, care, and compassion for those who are struggling to make sense of themselves. We are to “speak the truth in love,” as Paul says in Ephesians 4:15.

God defines gender within the context of creation, as He created mankind male and female (Genesis 1:27). There are undeniable biological differences between males and females. These differences extend to gender. There are differences between men and women, and God has assigned specific roles to each gender. Not only did God create males and females, men and women, but He beheld His creation and called it “very good” (Genesis 1:31). If God’s creation is “good,” in that it reflects God’s glory, then the attempt to fundamentally change it is not good.

While there are differences between men and women, both are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). This means that men and women have equal dignity. In fact, God blessed Adam and Eve rather than Adam alone and told them to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28, ESV). Of course, the very command to multiply requires two complementary genders.

The equal dignity of men and women extends to their spiritual standing before God. Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28, ESV). The gospel is equally available for men and women. Everyone needs to be saved from sin. The two genders, mentioned in this verse, are saved the same way. Once saved, men and women are one in Christ.

There are several reasons why God created the two genders with differences. First, He created men and women with different sexual organs to procreate (Genesis 1:28). Procreation can only occur between men and women. Second, God created the two genders with differences that impart value and significance to companionship. Speaking to Adam, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone,” and then He created Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. Third, heterosexual marriages represent God’s love for us. Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

Although many will disagree with the biblical teaching that there are only two genders, we hold fast to the truth of God’s Word. We “must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). And we do so unashamedly, as Paul did whenever he preached the gospel: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16, ESV).