News of interest to the
Article in Christianity Today: 2008-JAN (Cont'd)
A sampling of postings:
These are the rest of the first two dozen postings by readers to the Christianity Today article. Spelling and grammatical errors were
Jennifer: "It's a complex issue, and the touted solutions often depend more upon one's personal religious beliefs and interpretation/use of Scripture rather than anything based in study or fact. Coupled with the fact that not every case of transgenderism [sic] might stem from the same source (and thus meant that a solution that is good for one person might not address another adequately) only confuses the issue. And the old standby of "God doesn't make mistakes with the physical body" doesn't begin to address the thousands of intersexed cases occurring each year (along with any other birth defects); obviously mistakes occur quite regularly and need to be addressed, as well as theology rethought. Note: The Florida case addressed in the article has been discussed extensively elsewhere and most conclude the man is bipolar and/or has psychological problems... so he's not exactly indicative of the typical trans person. Overall, a kindly-meant article that is still lopsided in presentation."
Kim: "I felt this was a very balanced article. The author does not
say that having the feelings is sinful any more than someone with XXY is
sinful. We are all sinful! However, God has laid out specific boundaries in
scripture and sometimes it is agonizing to follow those boundaries. They are
always the best, not necessarily the most comfortable. Regardless, we as
Christians are called to love people no matter what they struggle with. Christ
would have eaten dinner at a transgender person's house and built a
relationship with him or her. How could we do any less? THAT is the point of
sergey: "I understand that such problem may exist. But why make an
issue of it. If person is born with male and female traits and he or she is
Christian, he or she just should take their cross and shut up about it. You
have to understand that God is love and this trial is for reason. Suffer,
because in weakness we are strong and much grace given to one who suffer
John: "I am probably one of the more liberal readers of CT and CT
online. ... But 'transgender' issues cross a line for me. ... I fully support
the right of businesses and offices to enforce dress codes that say what a man
or a woman should wear. A man wearing lipstick, a dress, and high heals is
highly distracting and not the kind of thing that anyone has a civil right to
pursue. If in the (very rare) case you can get a doctor to certify you for sex
change surgery so you are now indeed a woman, so be it. Otherwise companies
and employers have the right to insist that you dress like a man."
EM: "This is a complex issue -- just like any other issue. We may
want to justify the behavior despite how far it takes us from being in
relationship with God. Yes, there are issues that seem 'new' in their
development or even in their relevance to our time. Let us not forget that
'there is nothing new under the sun.' The enemy [Satan] is crafty in his ways
of 'masking' himself. The result of a behavior or feeling that brings such
turmoil, unrest, and confusion is the end of what the Bible speaks of sin --
that which separates us from God. It is not only the 'feeling' of someone who
believes they should have been born the other gender, or the 'feeling' of a
woman who likes a man who is married to another woman, or a 'feeling' of
someone who feels like taking something that doesn't belong to them...and we
can go on and on making scenarios of emotions and feelings...All which bring
us into a separation from God as these things do not align with His will for
us as beings who He wants to be in relationship."
chuck: "God created us as he meant us to be, but let us not forget
that sin has altered that perfect state. It did not and does not simply alter
the mind and soul, it altered and continues to alter the tangible things that
are "us". We continue to treat disease as an invasion of sin into God's
plan--that is until we hit those physical anomalies that include sexuality.
Then, for some reason, we seem to change theologies. Is it not possible that
the (accurately diagnosed) transgender person who has completely changed to
the other gender has in fact been "restored" as best as possible this side of
heaven? I think we need to separate homosexual and transgender identities when
discussing the matter, simply because they are not the same thing. One is the
pursuit of personal pleasure at the expense of social and natural order and
the other is an effort to correct the brokenness of a life."
James: "I consider so-called "gender identity disorder" as, in fact, a disorder. As Christians, I think we need to strive to welcome people struggling with such a disorder as people in need of healing and God's grace, however difficult that may be for us. However, in a case such as that of Mr. Nemecek, when a person so afflicted chooses to abandon that struggle, and instead indulges and flaunts the disorder, he issues a tacit challenge to Christians around him to acquiesce to his behavior as acceptable. It is not. And at that point, such a person should be separated from fellowship with the body of believers in the hope that his conscience will be pierced, leading to his repentance." (Gender Identity Disorder is now an obsolete term, having been replaced by Gender Dysphoria).
truthmeister: "Why do so many transgendered people seem to live what most would call a "normal" life before "coming out?" If this was truly "in their bones" then how in the world could they stand living for 40 or 50 years, apparently happily, before they have to make this change? These areas of sexuality are replete with anecdote and pseudoscience. True objectivity is lacking. Why do we discuss such issues now more than ever? It may have less to to with scientific/cultural progress and more to do with idle hands and an unrealistic expectation of self-fulfillment resulting from narcissism (totally at odds with Biblical precepts)."
Rev Sarah Flynn: "Well did Jesus speak of you. Creating burdens for others which you do not bear yourselves. Gender Identity Disorder is recognized by the medical community and the treatment for it indicated is counseling support, hormonal therapy and sex reassignment surgery 3 when needed to relieve the distress caused by this condition. References in this article to psychological and psychiatric help are ignoring what the professional medical associations say about this condition and substituting legalistic readings of Scripture instead. I suppose that provides comfort of a sort to those of you who need an infallible text to get you through life's ambiguities, but Jesus was not such a legalist and had far more compassion than you are prepared to grant. I know you will find it an inconvenient truth, but the vast majority of post operative transsexual people lead productive lives, and no amount of Bible thumping will change that, and that truth will in the end set free those whom you mislead."
(Gender Identity Disorder is now an obsolete term, having been replaced by Gender Dysphoria).
Irene Voysey: "As a fairly conservative Anglican, transgender people were like aliens to me until I had one sitting in my home. I'd met her while out walking in our sleepy seaside village, said hello, and eventually invited her for coffee. I particularly noted her beautifully slender hands as she held her cup. She immediately said I should know her past and launched into one of the saddest stories I'd heard (I'm a journalist): Her suburban boyhood, taunts in school, no friends, beatings 'to get it out of you,' the rape by a priest as 'punishment from God', her escape at 17yrs to Sydney's red light district, glamour on stage, involvement in crime etc. She wept throughout her story, `I didn't choose to be this way.' I told her about Jesus in Luke 7:36-50. Pharisees and townsfolk saw a sinner. He saw the woman's heart and commended her. Now an old 58 yrs, my new friend cried out to God for a new life. I learned a new lesson from Jesus: assess a person's heart before judging & shunning anyone."
Christi: "Psychology can be a complex issue. Shakespeare said that the mind can make Heaven into Hell. It is sin that has brought us these tricks of the mind, and only God's redemption can save us from it."
Jane: "One of the regular members of our Bible Study group is a transgendered woman. She loves Jesus and wants to worship Him in a community of other Christians. She may be a sinner, but so are we all. Only God is to say whose sin is a splinter in the eye and whose is a log. It's not productive to be always comparing the magnitude of our sins against those of another. Because we are all forgiven sinners, we all belong in church so we can praise God for his mercy and loving-kindness. It shouldn't be a matter for tolerance. It is a test of our love. "
The last two postings before comments were halted are particularly interesting because they display totally opposing foundational beliefs about the nature of sexual orientation and gender identity:
Charlie Ray: "I'm saddened that people have been duped by the propaganda of the liberal left. There is zero evidence proving that either homosexuality or the transgender condition are biologically or genetically predetermined. The short of is that psychological disorders are a result of sinful human nature. Rebellion is merely a symptom of a deeper malady. It's called total depravity. Sin has so corrupted the human nature that no area of the human nature is left untainted, including the ability to properly reason. I find the rational basis for the so-called transgender condition to utterly and completely absurd.
Brett Blatchley: "Charlie Ray stated: ' There is zero evidence proving that either homosexuality or the transgender condition are biologically or genetically predetermined.'
On what basis can you credibly make that remark? Have you investigated this? Assuming you made your remark in 'good faith,' then I can answer your question: you have NOT investigated this. I have, and while the current state of our knowledge about HS and TG (which should not be lumped together, BTW), is that biology (nature) and personal experience (nurture) both have a role. No one understands this well, and it is just as much a mistake to say that this is Sin (with no other qualification), than it is to say that such people have No Responsibility (with no moral qualification). Yes, HS and TG ultimately boil down to our fallen selves and fallen world, but just telling such people to 'stop sinning' is no more helpful than telling an alcoholic to 'stop drinking' (to use an over-simple example). Please educate yourself before commenting."
Two postings by transgender and transsexual individuals:
One of the later postings was particularly powerful. It is by Shauna, who identified herself as a
transsexual. Its message was markedly different from other postings:
"I believe with every essence of my being that the Almighty created me as
transsexual. To deny that is to deny the Hand that created me. I won't do
that. My church has welcomed and accepted me with open arms, and I continue my
ministry as cantor and musician. Nowhere in the 4 Gospels does Jesus condemn
the LGBT community - and that is the only Scripture that really matters. When
the Second Coming happens, the Master won't appear at the Vatican nor in
Jerusalem. Neither will he appear in Mecca, Hill Cummorah or any other
religious center. He will appear among the homeless. He will be with the poor
of Calcutta. He will be serving hot meals in soup kitchens. He will be giving
strength to the child that has been thrown out [of the family home] because he is gay. He will be
holding the hand of someone dying of AIDS. And He will be with us as we are
beaten to death in a hate crime -- with the last thing we hear screamed at us
being various curses and scriptural quotes -- and welcome us home."
An anonymous woman who went by the name "Another who is Transgender and Christian" posted the following message:
"I am transgender. I sit next to you at church. I have a husband. I have an adopted child who looks just like me. You could never pick me out of a crowd. I'm a high school teacher, and a member of the PTA. I was married in the church, and I have been a member for many years. I transitioned when I was young, so much of my early life seems a distant memory. My family completely accepts who I am. My relationship with God is one of peace, and I know that he loves me. I believe that the reality of being transgender has been distorted by the media. Most of the people that you see on television revel in the attention, and their motives need to be seriously questioned. Jesus taught us that we should love one another, not condemn each other. If you remember he said, 'Let him without sin cast the first stone.' Is condemning and judging another a sin? I believe so. Is telling someone they aren't worthy of God's love a sin? I think so."
We commend Christianity Today for allowing these two very powerful postings to see the light of
day. They undoubtedly offended many of their readers.
The following information source
was used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
Christian Smith, "American Evangelicalism: Embattled and Thriving," University of Chicago Press, (1998), at: http://books.google.com/
J.W. Kennedy, "The Transgender Moment," Christianity Today, Volume 52,
- The term "sex reassignment surgery" is obsolete; it has been replaced by "gender reasssignment surgery"
Copyright © 2009 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on
Original posting: 2009-FEB-01
Latest update: 2012-JUL-26
Author: B.A. Robinson