Worshippers were reportedly left in tears by a sermon at the University of Cambridge's Trinity College chapel that suggested Jesus had a "trans" body.
The sermon was delivered at a recent evensong service by guest speaker Joshua Heath, a junior research fellow.
In the sermon, the researcher explored depictions of Jesus in Medieval and Renaissance art and suggested that the wounded side of Christ "takes on a decidedly vaginal appearance".
He used the 14th-century painting Pietà with the Holy Trinity, by Jean Malouel, to support his argument.
"In Christ's simultaneously masculine and feminine body in these works, if the body of Christ as these works suggest the body of all bodies, then his body is also the trans body," said Heath, according to The Telegraph.
Despite complaints of "heresy" from members of the congregation, the sermon has been defended by Dean of Trinity College, Dr Michael Banner, who said that the interpretation was "legitimate" even if people might disagree with it.
Trinity College said in a statement: "Neither the Dean of Trinity College nor the researcher giving the sermon suggested Jesus was transgender.
"The sermon addressed the image of Christ depicted in art and various interpretations of those artistic portrayals.
"The sermon's exploration of the nature of religious art, in the spirit of thought-provoking academic inquiry, was in keeping with open debate and dialogue at the University of Cambridge."