In response the Susannah’s comment on a previous post, here’s what I had to say about my current approach to transsexualism.
I have to be totally open and honest with you (and my other readers) at this point and admit that I am currently engaged in a rethink on this issue of transgenderism. When we lost our second son to a chromosomal disorder (in his case Trisomy 18 – Edwards Syndrome), I spent quite a bit of time exploring issues around chromosomal disfunction and other gender issues. I’m still in the middle of that exploration, but at the moment my position can be summarised as follows:
- If we lived in a perfect, Edenic, un-fallen world then issues of Transgenderism wouldn’t occur. That is to say, I am convinced that transgenderism is a result of the Fall.
- However, if transgenderism is simply one variant expression of the brokeness of all humanity, we cannot (as you rightly point out) make its experience in and of itself as disbar to ministry of any kind. We are in a sense driven back to the behaviour / orientation distinction in the issue of homosexuality.
- My current issue therefore is what “behaviour” in the life of those who have transgender issues is sinful and what isn’t. For homosexuality I think we have clear Scriptural guidelines on sexual expression. For those with transgender issues we do not.
- My key current concern is whether in assuming that the displayed sex of a person (i.e. that which they appear to be biologically) is the “correct” sex, are we actually missing the truth of the situation for some people? For example, I assume Susannah that if you are a male to female transexual, your sex chromosomes are XY. A traditional conservative approach would be to argue that since you present as biologically male that is your true gender and any attempt to deny it is to embrace fallenness rather than to reject it.
- However, might it actually be the case that your true gender is female and that the development of your sex chromosomes as XY is actually a result of the Fall (in the same way that my son having a third 18th chromosome was fallen, not “good”). If this is the case then helping you transit from male to female is actually a “good” thing rather than a “bad” or sinful thing.
- At the same time, I am aware of a number of cases where those who have presented with very clear sex/gender self-divergences have, through bringing areas of emotional and relational brokeness to God in prayer and allowing him to heal them, have seen their self-perceived gender realign with their biological sex.
I’m not decided yet on this issue, but I am in a position where I am not prepared to condemn those who have transited sex to their self-understood gender. Certainly, I cannot see the experience of transgenderism itself as a disbar to employment in a church, though I can understand why some churches would be hesitant to employ someone who has actually transited.
I’m reposting this (as it were) because this afternoon Andrew Marin made some interesting comments on the subject of Obama offering a White House post to a male to female transsexual.
As for the Christian world’s response to this appointment, I am not surprised about (generally) their vocal, slippery-slope-driven reactions. However, what does continue to surprise me is the question of why Christians are always so surprised by such things!
We do not live in a Christian society no matter how many of us like to think the opposite. Ours is that of God’s Kingdom; something we are commissioned to bring here to our world. However, our world is governed by a secular culture that governs in a secular fashion. Yet we still continue to place our worldview upon them, expecting that one day they will ‘wake up’ and see the boundaries we are placing upon them to be able to productively work with us. That is not going to happen. Instead, let us continue to hold on to our belief and start working within the mainstream worldview that has been placed upon us; to figure out how to peacefully and productively bring our Kingdom within the structure we have been given. Or, we could just keep expecting something different to happen by doing what has always been done? You know, whichever you think is best.
I urge you brothers and sisters, take the structure that has been given to us and work to find a way to bring Kingdom to that—not working to try to have Kingdom rule and dominate a culture unwilling to allow such a thing to happen.
This is the challenge for us in the 21st Century isn’t it? Do we think we should spend our time on a reactionary culture war, constantly opposing (and abusing) everything we think is wrong? Or perhaps we could stop, accept that we are in a largely non-Christian society like the first few generations of the Church, and try to learn from them how to engage with a world that is, like it or not, not operating in even vaguely the same paradigm that we are.