The question begins at approximately 2:30 in this clip.

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA, July 31, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pat Robertson told the audience of the 700 Club that there is “no sin associated” with having one's genitals surgically removed and receiving hormone treatments in order to live as a member of the opposite sex.

"I work with two people who have decided they are females," said a writer named David during the Monday episode of the long-running Christian program's question-and-answer session, "Bring It On." He asked, "Is it wrong to refer to them as females since they have had their gender status changes in the eyes of the law?"

Robertson began by saying, "I don't understand all that.”

But he proceeded to answer, “I think there are men who are in a woman’s body. It’s very rare, but it’s true.”

The 83-year-old evangelical said a sex-change operation is “a very permanent thing, believe me, when you have certain body parts amputated and you have shot up with various kinds of hormones.”

“I don’t think there’s any sin associated with that,” he concluded. “I don’t condemn somebody for doing that.”

Robertson told the program's estimated one million viewers that he would “question the validity” of a non-operative transgender person, because “you don't count somebody as female unless they really are.”

He concluded by saying that if someone has had such a surgery, "It's not for you to decide or to judge” about the person's motives.

Video of the segment soon went viral, drawing praise from quarters of the blogosphere that usually have nothing but scorn for the founder of the Christian Coalition. The Advocate, Think Progress, and the libertarian Reason magazine favorably covered his remarks.

“For a major religious right leader to acknowledge that being trans is a real thing, and not simply some kind of 'disorder,' and then for them to say that it isn’t sin and he wouldn’t condemn someone for getting a sex change, is a huge deal,” wrote John Aravosis, an activist who edits the homosexual America blog.

“Robertson’s statement is, at its core, sympathetic,” he added. “These are the kind of positive statements that help a movement move forward, especially one that is less known to the public than, for example, being gay. Say what you will about Robertson, but this quote is very helpful.”

Sex reassignment surgery requires men to be castrated and then have a plastic surgeon fashion a vagina out of their tissue. Women seeking to transition must have a hysterectomy and a double mastectomy before having a male sexual organ created from body tissue and a plastic rod.

Traditional Christians have condemned such actions as a form of self-mutilation since the days of the ancient church.

Speaking specifically of castration, the Apostolic Canons, a fourth century Syrian document, states, “If a layman mutilate himself, let him be excommunicated for three years, as practising against his own life.” 

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More contemporary teachers uphold the Christian admonition to maintain one's biological gender and respect our bodies.

"To destroy organs purposefully that are healthy and functioning, and to try to create imitation organs which will never have the genuineness and functioning of authentic organs lacks charity,” said Fr. William Saunders, professor of Catechetics and Theology at Christendom College's Notre Dame Graduate School. "Such surgery which purposefully destroys the bodily integrity of the person must be condemned.”

The National Catholic Bioethics Center wrote, "Changing one’s sex is fundamentally impossible; these procedures are fundamentally acts of mutilation...Doing violence to one’s body when there is nothing wrong with it is an unjustifiable mutilation.

“Furthermore, seeking such a mutilation manifests a self-hatred inconsistent with the charity we owe to ourselves,” the group added. “Persons seeking such operations are clearly uncomfortable with who they really are. Loving such persons properly demands addressing the beliefs and self-understanding that give rise to this fundamental rejection of self.”

Robertson, who has a history of controversial statements on everything from divorcing Alzheimer's patients to excusing China's one-child policy, stirred controversy again on Wednesday, when he called the use of birth control “a very important part of humanity” to protect against the proliferation of Appalachian “ragamuffins” and appeared to say Natural Family Planning violated the Old Testament Law.

The 1988 presidential candidate -- whose ministry has brought millions to Christ and into the political process -- is typically reviled for defending traditional Christian morality on abortion, homosexuality, and the feminist movement. 

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