You know you’re at a cultural tipping-point when both Newsweek and Time magazine run cover stories on your cause within the span of a single year. Such is the case with transgender, which both Newsweek and Time have declared to be the next phase of the gay rights revolution. Transgender is the “T” in LGBT, but it is not a sexual orientation. It describes those whose perception of their gender identity does not match their biological sex.
Whereas transgender used to be considered a condition to be remedied, the sexual revolutionaries are telling us that is no longer the case. Last year, the American Psychiatric Association removed it from its list of disorders with the expressed purpose to remove the stigma from the condition. Indeed, as Time magazine has argued, we seem to be at a “tipping point.” Just as homosexuality has been mainstreamed, so the revolutionaries seek to mainstream transgender as well.
The public consequences of normalizing transgender are upon us. School systems across the country are beginning to allow boys who identify as transgender to make use of girls’s restrooms and locker rooms (see here and here). The state of New Jersey has made it illegal for licensed counselors to help a child embrace a gender identity that matches his sex. Medical professionals recommend sex-change surgeries for some transgender persons, and some parents are pursuing surgeries for minor children who experience conflict between their gender and bodily identity. Just last Friday Medicare lifted its ban on sex reassignment surgeries. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has at different times seen majority support in both houses of Congress and would make it illegal for employers to make personnel decisions based on gender identity—a measure that would restrict the religious liberty of Christian employers.
The transgender revolution also presents us with a moment of pastoral urgency. As Christians, we have the privilege and responsibility to love our transgender neighbors and to minister the gospel to them. We also need to come alongside brothers and sisters who are trying to walk faithfully with Christ while feeling deep conflicts over their gender identity.
The severing of gender identity from biological sex has implications beyond those who identify as transgender. The gender revisionists are telling us that it is wrong to raise our little boys to be little boys and our little girls to be little girls. Instead, we are told, gender norms should be treated as fluid and unfixed. To teach otherwise is to trade in oppressive gender roles that have little relevance to the modern world.
For all of these reasons and more, Christians are going to have to meet the transgender challenge as a matter of great pastoral and missional urgency. We must be clear about what the Bible teaches and be faithful to live that message out in a culture that is increasingly out of step with biblical norms.
That is why I have submitted a resolution “On Transgender Identity” to the Resolutions Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (along with my co-sponsor Andrew Walker). Next week, the Committee will decide whether or not to bring the resolution out to be voted on by the Convention. Below is the text of our proposal, though the Committee may very well make changes to it during their deliberations.
The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 says that “the gift of gender is…part of the goodness of God’s creation” (BF&M 2000, “III. Man”). So our confessional statement already has a faithful, biblical definition of gender. The hope is that this resolution will apply our confession to the transgender question. In doing so, the resolution will be a reference point for Southern Baptist colleges, hospitals, and other institutions that may be facing legal challenges for their stance on this issue. California Baptist University is just one example of a Southern Baptist institution that has found itself exposed on this issue (read about it here). This resolution will help fill that gap for Southern Baptists.
On Transgender Identity
WHEREAS, about 700,000 Americans perceive their gender identity to be at variance with the physical reality of their biological birth sex; and
WHEREAS, the American Psychiatric Association removed this condition (aka, “gender identity disorder”) from its list of disorders in 2013, substituting “gender identity disorder” with “gender dysphoria”; and
WHEREAS, the American Psychiatric Association includes among its treatment options for gender dysphoria cross-sex hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery, and social and legal transition to the desired gender; and
WHEREAS, news reports indicate that parents are allowing their children to undergo these “therapies”; and
WHEREAS, many LGBT activists have sought to normalize the transgender experience and to define gender according to one’s self-perception apart from biological anatomy; and
WHEREAS, the separation of one’s gender identity from the physical reality of their biological birth sex poses the harmful effect of engendering an understanding of sexuality and personhood that is fluid; and
WHEREAS, some public school systems are encouraging parents and teachers to affirm the feelings of children whose self-perception of their own gender is at variance with their biological sex; and
WHEREAS, some public school systems are allowing access to bathrooms and locker rooms according to a child’s self-perception of gender and not according to their biological sex; and
WHEREAS, the state of New Jersey prohibits licensed counselors from any attempt to change a child’s “gender expression”; and
WHEREAS, the United States Senate passed last year legislation titled the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would radically alter the idea of protected classes in American law, granting sexual orientation and gender identity the same employment protections as sex and race; and
WHEREAS, ENDA would make it illegal for certain businesses and organizations to fire or to refuse to hire or promote an employee because of his or her gender identity that is at variance with biological sex; and
WHEREAS, Although recent formulations of ENDA contain a religious exemption, they do not contain an exemption for rights of conscience or religious freedom to protect businesses with a religious character (such as religious bookstores, publishers, and parachurch ministries) and other businesses with religious owners or managers; and
WHEREAS, Such legislation jeopardizes our First Amendment freedoms by establishing in law the principle that disapproval of transgender behavior is a form of bigotry, equivalent to racism; and
WHEREAS, these cultural currents run counter to the biblical teaching that “Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation” (BF&M 2000, “III. Man”); now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, June 10-12, 2014, recognize that all persons are created in God’s image and are made to glorify Him (Gen. 1:27; Isa. 43:7); and be it further
RESOLVED, That we extend love and compassion to those whose experience of this brokenness includes a perceived conflict between their biological sex and their gender identity (Rom. 8:22-23); and be it further
RESOLVED, That we affirm God’s good design that gender identity should be determined by biological sex and not by one’s self-perception—a perception which is often influenced by fallen human nature in ways contrary to God’s design (Eph. 4:17-18); and be it further
RESOLVED, That we affirm that male and female designate the fundamental distinction that God has embedded in the very biology of the human race; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we affirm distinctions in masculine and feminine roles as ordained by God as part of the created order, and that those distinctions should find an echo in every human heart (Gen 2:18, 21-24; 1 Cor 11:7-9; Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Tim 2:12-14); and be it further
RESOLVED, That we invite all transgender persons to trust in Christ and to experience renewal in the gospel (1 Tim. 1:15-16); and be it further
RESOLVED, That we love our transgender neighbors, seek their good always, welcome them into our congregations as they repent and believe in Christ, and spur them on to love and good deeds in the name of Christ (2 Cor. 5:18-20; Gal. 5:14; Heb. 10:24); and be it further
RESOLVED, That we regard our transgender neighbors as image-bearers of almighty God and therefore that we condemn acts of abuse or bullying committed against them; and be if further
RESOLVED, That we condemn efforts to alter one’s bodily identity (e.g., cross-sex hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery) to bring it into line with one’s perceived gender identity; and be if further
RESOLVED, That we continue to oppose steadfastly all efforts by any court or state legislature to validate transgender identity as morally praiseworthy (Isa. 5:20); and be it further
RESOLVED, That we commit ourselves to pray for and support legislative and legal efforts to oppose the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and other legislation like it that would give gender identity the same legal protections as sex and race; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call upon all judges and public officials to resist and oppose the efforts to treat gender identity as a protected class; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we oppose all efforts by media and entertainment outlets and public schools to mainstream transgender identity in the eyes of our children; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call on Southern Baptist churches to commit to guard our religious liberty to teach and preach the Bible’s message about sex and gender; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we will to teach and model for our own children the Bible’s message about manhood and womanhood; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That our love for the gospel and urgency for the Great Commission must include declaring the whole counsel of God, including what God’s word teaches about God’s design for us as male and female persons created in His image and for His glory (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 20:27; Rom. 11:36).