“How Would You Respond When Someone Prefers to be Called by Their Opposite Gender?”

Sue, my friend texted me this:

“How would you respond (or how have you responded) when someone prefers to be called by their opposite gender? I had a man correct my daughter (she’s only two, almost three) today because she referred to him as ‘he.’ I told him out of deep love for him I could not in good conscience refer to him as ‘her’ but how do I explain that to an almost three-year-old?”

I answered, “Oh wow. That hasn’t happened to me yet. My big kids know and we said that sin clouds their judgment and how they see/feel so they think they will be happier living life as a different gender, but then we remind them that God doesn’t make mistakes and He chooses gender. He made us in His image (like Him) and His design is perfect . . . people mess it up, not Him.”

I tried, but would love to learn from your response also!

Sweet friend, LOVE your answer!! I would explain that sometimes people are confused in their thinking. God made that man a boy and so that is what we call him.

How do you lovingly respond to the gender confused person?

It depends on how the conversation goes, but I would remain warm and cordial while not backing down by embracing a delusion.

Think “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Just because everyone appears to be celebrating something that doesn’t make sense, doesn’t make it true. And just as the crowd shushed the little boy who piped up with what everyone could plainly see—the emperor didn’t have any clothes on at all—people are being shushed and canceled when they speak up about the transgender delusion.

One of the reasons the transgender folly continues is people going along with the game of pretend. (And when I say “transgender folly,” I am referring to the ideology, not the people caught up in it who need compassion, not judgment. I believe they are objects of spiritual warfare, being attacked by the enemy of our souls through an insidious lie. Just like in Genesis 3.)

When the man crossed the line to correct a stranger’s little girl, he escalated from confused soul to transgender activist. And activists want the whole world to agree with a delusion. A lie. And we need to push back.

If it were me, I would suggest saying to my child, with a kind voice, “This man is playing a game of pretend, but we’re not playing that game.” This of course would infuriate the man, but he is deliberately pushing an agenda of unreality on the world in general and my child in particular, and that’s not okay. It’s my responsibility to teach and defend truth to my children, and here’s a guy lying to my child and instructing her to participate in that lie.

It’s one thing to present oneself as the other sex, and quite another to cross the line into “incorrecting” a child who could see for herself that he was male! I would let my Mama Bear come out—with gentleness and respect, as 1 Peter 3:15 says—but firmly stating the truth in the face of an egregious lie.

Blessing you,
Sue Bohlin

Posted Sep. 2022
© 2022 Probe Ministries

“What’s Your Take on ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’?”

What’s Your Take on Fifty Shades of Grey?

The bottom line for me is that this verbal porn (and now visual as well, with the release of the movie) doesn’t pass the “Philippians 4:8 test”: “[W]hatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.”

But writer and speaker Dannah Gresh blogged about it so well, I’ll just send you to it: “I’m Not Reading Fifty Shades of Grey.”

There are some disheartening comments on her blog post, which are reasonably rebutted:

“You shouldn’t judge a book you haven’t read.” There’s enough information out there about this book series to make an informed judgment. Consider God’s command in the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They didn’t know evil personally and experientially, but God still commanded them to stay away from it. God wasn’t going to buy the argument, “How can we decide whether or not to partake if we’ve never tasted evil?”

“I don’t question my faith after reading these books.” Okay, but did they bring you closer to the Lord and to His call to purity? How did they impact your view of God’s standards for sexuality? If you enjoyed books that glorify what God calls sin, how do you not see the discrepancy for a Christ-follower?

“It’s just a fictional book, for crying out loud!” This is the most disturbing of all, because it shows the writer doesn’t understand the power of story. People’s minds and hearts are not swayed by a list of facts and statistics nearly as much as they are by story, whether in a book or a film or video. The power of story is that it can slip past the “watchful dragons” of one’s belief system and turn the heart, both for evil and for good. All we have to do is watch how the values of a TV audience change over time by watching certain TV shows. We need to be more careful about novels and movies, not less.

Sue Bohlin

Added February 13, 2015:

My pastor answered the question “Is It Okay for a Christian to Go See Fifty Shades of Grey” in this 7-minute episode of Real Truth Real Quick:

Posted July 8, 2012; Updated Feb. 13, 2015
© 2012 Probe Ministries

“Why Are Bikinis and Short Skirts Immoral?”

Sue, do you ever wear a bikini? Or have you ever worn one? And couldn’t a lot of the old biblical rules for dress be mostly for those people back in biblical times? And please tell me this: Is there a certain length when a woman’s dress or skirt becomes immoral? For example, are all skirts and dresses above the knee immoral? Just curious.

Sue, do you ever wear a bikini? Or have you ever worn one?

I take it you ask such an intensely personal question because of my answer to email Is It a Sin to Wear a Bikini?. No, I don’t wear a bikini, and I never have.

And couldn’t a lot of the old biblical rules for dress be mostly for those people back in biblical times?

What “old biblical rules for dress” would those be?

Actually, what we find in terms of “biblical rules for dress” are principles that transcend time and culture. Basically,

1) Men should dress like men and women should dress like women, and not blur the lines of gender (Deut. 22:5).

2) Women should dress modestly (1 Tim. 2:9-10). (For great insight into the transcending principle behind Paul’s prohibition on braided hair, gold, pearls or expensive clothes from this verse, see this recent post by my friend and fellow Tapestry blogger Sandra Glahn: blogs.bible.org/tapestry/sandra_glahn/not_with_braided_hair…or_pearls__)

3) We should do everything in love, which includes choosing dress and behavior that will not cause each other to stumble. Causing a brother to stumble by lusting is not loving.

There is nothing about these principles that is limited to biblical times.

And please tell me this: Is there a certain length when a woman’s dress or skirt becomes immoral? For example, are all skirts and dresses above the knee immoral?

People wiser than me have said that the answer to this question depends on the culture, because styles and morals changes over time and geography. There are moral absolutes (like not murdering) and there are relative morals, which would include dress. For example, some monks at the University of Dallas related to my colleague Todd Kappelman that several of them were teaching in Papua New Guinea where both the temperature and the humidity were very high. The young women students sat in the classroom dressed only in some kind of skirt. Toplessness would have been shameful in the U.S., but in a stifling tropical location, the natives thought nothing of it.

The men, too, wore only abbreviated loincloths and strings. On one occasion, the monks went to visit a group of men who were “doing laundry”—their loincloths were hanging on the line and they were lounging around naked. Like our response to being caught in the shower when someone comes to the door, they each quickly grabbed a cord and wrapped it around his waist. Then they were no longer embarrassed, even though their genitals were exposed. That’s the way that culture works.

So, since styles and times change, we have to look at the heart issue that reveals one’s motive in choosing the way we dress. If a woman chooses garments in hopes of making men look at her admiringly in a sexual way, or if she chooses clothes in hopes of making other women compare themselves to her and be jealous, then I would say that is sinful because it falls short of God’s desire for us to honor Him and love each other.

That means there is no absolute line, particularly in relation to the knee, that defines morality.

I would also point you to an excellent answer on the “Got Questions” website:

Whether or not to wear a bikini is a question many women struggle with, but for a Christian woman, the issue takes on additional implications. The Bible tells us that God calls women to modesty, which means to not draw attention to themselves: “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God” (1 Timothy 2:9-10). God also calls us to purity: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). The question is whether or not a bikini is consistent with modesty and purity.

Another issue to consider is that God calls all people to control their thought lives, so as women, we should not cause men to lust: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-29). When we cause men to look upon our bodies lustfully, we are inducing them to commit the sin of lust and this is displeasing to God.

A further consideration is that our bodies, like our minds and hearts, belong to God and are to be used for His glory, not our own. Romans 12:1 tells us, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.” When we offer our bodies to God as “living sacrifices,” we are saying in effect, “My body is yours, Lord. Use it for your glory.” It’s hard to imagine a bikini-clad body being used for God’s glory. [Sue’s note: This is not talking about the husband-wife relationship, where there is total freedom to dress to please and arouse one’s spouse in private. See the Song of Solomon in the Old Testament.]

Or course, wearing a bikini in a private location, like a fenced-in back yard is probably acceptable, providing there is no visual access to the yard by the neighbors. According to the verses above, we have the responsibility not to put the males around us in a position that they might lust or have impure thoughts (see also Matthew 18:7).


Hope you find this helpful.

Sue Bohlin

© 2011 Probe Ministries

“God Forbids Fornication, But Webster’s Definition Is Limited. Other Sex Okay Then?”

[Editor’s Note: Probe received a lengthy, technical question regarding this topic which quoted the Merriam Webster online dictionary (www.m-w.com). The definitions of the related terms were unnecessarily graphic, but the gist of the question was this:]

Having read your Q & A section regarding sexuality and your article How Far Is Too Far?, I would appreciate your valued opinion in my response to this article. What is the boundary of illicit (premarital) sexual activity? Does it include orgasms without direct interaction of the couple’s sexual organs, which is basically the dictionary definition of intercourse? Can one engage in sexually pleasurable activities without crossing the line to fornication?

Thanks for the question. Well, the explanation you gave is certainly creative. You obviously spent plenty of time deliberating your argument and giving an inductive explanation. But I do notice some moral gaps that need to be addressed.

First, Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is not a repository of God’s holy standards. A dictionary can only give a brief technical definition of a word. We define right and wrong according to what the Bible says, not the limited definitions crafted by men.

There is no loophole by which we escape the standard of God. A dictionary has a scientifically sterile definition; the Bible is much more expansive. The dictionary focuses what happens physically for fornication to occur; the Bible focuses on what happens in the heart for fornication to occur.

Jesus gave us our highest standard of sexual sin in Matthew 5:28 when he said, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” For Jesus, it was not just about the physical act of sin; it was the mental and spiritual act of sin. The Lord’s standard of sexual immorality focused on the person’s heart and their intent.

In reading your argument, it appears quite obvious that what you described is a sexual act by merely examining the result. The end game of sexual activity is sexual gratification. In the eyes of God, how you get there is less important than arriving at a place of sin. The touching of one another’s genitals while kissing heavily until there is a sexual climax is a sexual act. It is obvious that you are describing the touching of a sexual organ, stimulating it for pleasure, and having a sexual release. That description is a classical physical definition of sex.

In your hypothetical description, you stated there was prolonged and pronounced kissing. I will borrow from the logic of our previous article you cited:

Scripture says, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman” (1 Cor. 7:1). One of the meanings for the Greek word for “touch” means “to press against in such a way as to kindle or catch on fire.” So another way to translate this verse would be, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman so that they become sexually aroused.”

I can guarantee that a person’s thoughts will not be pure in those moments of kissing and touching.

What is also obvious from your description is the intent of the act itself. You looked up the dictionary’s definition of sex, and then devised activities that have the same sexual pleasure of sex while avoiding the technical aspects of intercourse. The intentionality of the act is what separates two similar actions from one that is acceptable versus one that is sinful. For example, touching your boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s genitals would be sin because the touching is for sexual pleasure. By contrast, a nurse touching someone’s genitals for a checkup is not sin because of the intent (medicinal analysis).

As believers, we are to honor God; not gratify our fleshly desires. When we try to rationalize questionable actions, we are not abiding by the Spirit of God. We are to control ourselves in a way that is holy and honorable (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8). If we ever have doubts as to what is godly or not, we can ask ourselves this question: If Jesus were standing here, would he approve of my actions? The answer to that question will lead us to an answer that upholds God’s Word, His Will, and our integrity.

I hope that answers your question.

Nathan Townsie

© 2010 Probe Ministries

“How Do I Fill the Void of Loneliness to Fight Sexual Temptation?”

When I saw the question: “My Wife is Seriously Ill: Does That Mean No More Sex Forever?” and the answer, it touched me deeply and filled me with great resolve to be celibate as God commands. When I read “when God has made it off limits for some people,” I knew that was speaking to me and it was a great blessing but it brought up a very important question.

I’ve lived a life of service and have come to accept that it is not in God’s plan for me to be married. But I’ve only recently come to understand that it was my deep loneliness that was instrumental in bringing me to sins of a sexual nature. Sins of masturbation, homosexuality and cross-dressing.

My question is: How can those of us who have sinned by doing things of a sexual nature fill the void of loneliness so we may better break free from the acts of homosexuality, masturbation, and other sexual sins?

You know, men like you are my heroes for your willingness to face the dark corners of your soul and invite God to be the God of Light in those dark corners so that you can bring glory to Him in every place of your being!!

What I have learned from years of ministry to those dealing with unwanted homosexuality is that the aching void of loneliness is addressed by developing emotionally healthy relationships with other people (especially godly, non-erotic same-sex relationships) in the Body of Christ. God’s plan is for us to experience connection with other believers, such as David and Jonathan, who experienced a deep, real, God-glorifying same-sex friendship (and of whom we are told, their hearts were “knitted together”—by God, presumably). If there is a men’s ministry in your church, or if you can find a place to make connection with other men especially, and with other believers in your church, that will help with the loneliness issue.

At the same time, it’s important to have a plan for something ELSE to do when your flesh is raging (and you will experience greater temptation during times of stress). The key is to pre-decide on an activity that is incompatible with masturbation, cruising and cross-dressing—something like going for a run. It makes a huge difference to have a plan PLUS an accountability partner that you can call when you’re struggling with temptation. I pray you will find one.

Are you familiar with Joe Dallas’ excellent book Desires in Conflict? He can help you understand the dynamics of the homosexual struggle and how God brings healing.

Also, there is a free online support group at Living Hope Ministries You can find connection with other men who are learning to be overcomers in the same struggle. Most are not cross-dressers, but all struggle with homosexual attractions. It’s a safe place to be real and find strong support. http://forums.livehope.org

The Lord bless you and keep you today!

Sue Bohlin

© 2008 Probe Ministries

“What Does the Bible Say About Masturbation?”

Dr. Bohlin:

I have just read your article on “Sexual Purity” & found it to be an excellent resource. You have really hit this subject on the head.

Can you please address the following question?

I am a Christian male, age 36. My girlfriend, maybe soon to be fiance is also a Christian. We do not cohabit, nor do we have sexual relations, albeit we are not virgins.

The secular world would have us believe that masturbation is a healthy practice. Research has shown that men think about sex more often than women. Obviously men and women are wired differently.

I catch myself entertaining sexual thoughts and I feel a tremendous amount of guilt. What does the Bible say about masturbation & entertaining sexual thoughts? I know that we can commit fornication in our hearts by our lustful thoughts & desires.

You raise a difficult and even controversial topic. Christians have disagreed on the issue of masturbation. Some allow it and some do not. Here is my take. The Bible is clear that any sexual activity outside of marriage is sin. The biblical term “fornication” (sexual immorality) simply refers to any sexual activity outside of marriage. Jesus also clearly indicated, as you mentioned, that we can commit adultery in our hearts without any physical activity involved. Part of our sanctification process is to be transformed from being self-centered to being other-centered. With this background, consider these realities. Masturbation is sexual activity outside of marriage. Most if not all masturbation is accompanied by sexual thoughts to accentuate the experience. Masturbation is essentially self-centered, seeking to fulfill one’s own needs by oneself. There is no specific Biblical admonition to refrain from masturbation. However, based on the review above, it is difficult to find any justification for it either.

This is not to say, of course, that avoidance of masturbation in young men is easy. We praise God for His finished work on the cross that allows for forgiveness of past, present, and future sin, even besetting sins.


Dr. Ray Bohlin
Probe Ministries

“Is Masturbation OK When My Wife and I Are Apart?”

This is an embarrassing question but here goes…….

I am a soldier in the US Army and a born again Christian. Many times the army sends us away from home for long periods and we are separated from our families. I have read your responses to others concerning masturbation but my dilemma is this. I have done this but I do not use porn and I am thinking of my wife when I do it. My wife and I have a very healthy sexual relationship and when together we enjoy each other just as the Bible allows!!! Do you stand firm on your direction for those of us who are married and do this?? I have prayed and have not felt the same conviction as I have on other issues I have taken to the Lord. I know this doesn’t mean that okays it but that is usually the way he answers my issues.

Thanks for writing and your encouragement. You bring up a very important issue, masturbation within marriage.

Since you have read my other responses let me remind you of something I said within one of those responses.

“Masturbation is essentially self-centered, seeking to fulfill one’s own needs by oneself. ”

I’m afraid this still holds in your case. I fully recognize that the long separations are difficult. But by relieving your sexual tension on your own (even though you use your wife in your mental image) you are robbing your wife of her proper role and responsibility in your sexual relationship. For example, it is well recognized that the longer the time interval between sexual experiences, the greater the enjoyment and the more powerful the experience when finally consummated. By masturbating during separation you ultimately dampen the reunion for both you and your wife. Ask yourself, biblically, who should be the sole recipient of your sexual energies? I think you would answer that it should be your wife alone.

Masturbation also creates conflicting signals for your mind and body. A high frequency of masturbation creates a pattern in your mind and body on how it is best satisfied. And this will be apart from your wife. You may also fantasize situations with your wife that she may be unable to fulfill in person. This can also create a situation where your actual experiences together may not be able to measure up to what you have created in your mind. This can easily erect a barrier in your mind for when you are together.

Also this is still a sexual experience outside of marriage as God intended, which is fornication.

I challenge you to refrain from masturbation during your next separation with a willing attitude of submission and purity and see if it doesn’t make a significant and “very positive” difference in the intensity of your reunion.


Ray Bohlin
Probe Ministries

“Is Masturbation A Sin?”

This has plagued me for a long time. Is masturbation a sin, and if so how serious is it? I have been doing good for a while but I am starting to slip again. I need help. If you could get back to me I would be thankful and I am ashamed of this.

You raise an issue that affects more young men (and a growing number of women) than you probably realize. When young men are unmarried their sexual drive seeks satisfaction, so you are certainly not alone in this struggle. Most Christians will agree that masturbation is sin for two very important reasons.

First, God has defined sex for within marriage only. The numerous Old Testament prohibitions on fornication or sexual immorality refer to any sexual experience outside of marriage. This would included self-inflicted sexual pleasure.

Second, most masturbation takes place with pornography to look at either actually or in your mind through fantasy. Since Jesus condemned not only the act of adultery but lusting in our mind, this is clearly included.

You must also keep in mind the addictive nature of nearly all sexual sin including pornography. It eventually becomes a form of idolatry. We worship our sensual pleasure over Jesus.

Jesus’ response to Peter’s question as to how many times he must forgive (70 x 7) is meant to assure us of God’s infinite capacity to forgive even habitual sin. Masturbation can only be conquered in the power of the Holy Spirit. If you follow Philippians 4:8 when tempted, you will find that the thoughts vanish or they remain only at your desire. It must become a question of Lordship: Jesus or you. The masturbation becomes only a symptom of a deeper need for intimacy with Christ. Habitual sin does not lead to questions of salvation but of Lordship.

I encourage you to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and everything else will follow. This is not to say it will be easy or quick. True discipleship is costly and our personal secret kingdoms must be rooted out one by one. But Jesus said I will never leave you nor forsake you. He meant it.

Also, may I suggest two websites for help with sexual addiction and pornography addiction? The first is Setting Captives Free at www.settingcaptivesfree.com, and the second is Blazing Grace at www.blazinggrace.org.

Dr. Ray Bohlin
Probe Ministries

“You Are Degrading Teenagers in Your ‘Safe Sex’ Article”

I just quickly glanced over your article about STDs and pregnancy (Safe Sex and the Facts). I was extremely set back by the hypocritical phrasing, “immature teenagers.” You may want to take a long, deep thought about how people could judge you at this time in your life. Just because teenagers may lack experience, “immaturity” would not be the world to use especially used in your degrading sense.

I think if you had read the article more carefully, you would have seen that I give teenagers a lot of credit where I know credit is due, as in this paragraph:

“Current condom-based sex-education programs basically teach teenagers that they cannot control their sexual desires, and that they must use condoms to protect themselves. It is not a big leap from teenagers being unable to control their sexual desires to being unable to control their hate, greed, anger, and prejudice. This is not the right message for our teenagers! Teenagers are willing to discipline themselves for things they want and desire and are convinced are beneficial. Girls get up early for drill team practice. Boys train in the off-season with weights to get stronger for athletic competition. Our teens can also be disciplined in their sexual lives if they have the right information to make logical choices. Saving sex for marriage is the common sense solution. In fact, it is the only solution. We don’t hesitate to tell our kids not to use drugs, and most don’t. We tell our kids it’s unhealthy to smoke, and most do not. We tell our kids not to use marijuana, and most do not.”

This paragraph puts my comment in context:

“Condoms are inherently untrustworthy. The FDA allows one in 250 to be defective. Condoms are often stored and shipped at unsafe temperatures which weakens the integrity of the latex rubber causing breaks and ruptures. Condoms will break 8% of the time and slip off 7% of the time. There are just so many pitfalls in condom use that you just can’t expect immature teenagers to use them properly. And even if they do, they are still at risk.”

The comment you found disgusting is not meant in a derogatory way, it is simply a realistic observation. My wife and I have raised two sons, now ages 22 and 24. They are certainly more mature then when they were 13 and 15. Even they would acknowledge that. Teenagers are immature in many ways and that is natural. They haven’t had many life experiences, especially sexually, to allow them to act as mature adults and make wise decisions. That was my point. From the statistics cited about teen sexual behavior, the immaturity shows. I also certainly understand that some teenagers are more mature than others. Not everyone fits a generalization. That is understood.

I’m sorry you interpreted the phrase as being degrading. That was not my intention and I see no reason to change it.


Ray Bohlin
Probe Ministries

“Is Pole-Dancing for Exercise Okay for Believers?”

Does Probe Ministries have anything in writing about not doing “pole dancing” like strippers do? A friend wants to do this (just for exercise, she says) but like yoga, I think this is something that is far from Christianity. She refuses to believe it’s anything other than “just exercise” but the whole format is sexual. Please help?

Great question! Let’s think about what the purpose of pole dancing is: pure eroticism. The point of it is to arouse the watcher. If anyone pole dances alone, I would think, it would be in preparation for doing it for an audience, right?

So is there any scenario in which that is acceptable? Absolutely! By a wife, for her husband, in total privacy. There is a biblical precedent for erotic dance of a wife for her husband in Song of Solomon 6. The privacy of a married couple is also, by the way, the only appropriate place for sexy behavior and clothing that would be immodest if worn out in public or for anyone elses eyes.

Hope you find this helpful.

Sue Bohlin

© 2007 Probe Ministries