Archive | Culture

When the Transgender Comes Home

Josh Bishop has a really helpful article at The Gospel Coalition telling how he and his family responded to the revelation of his sister’s transgender identity. He writes:

Jessah is 19 years old, 12 years younger than I am. I was in the hospital when she was born. I spent my middle-school years changing her diapers. She beamed with pride and excitement when my then-fiancée Becca asked her to be a bridesmaid at our wedding, and during the ceremony she looked just as beautiful and twice as proud as the older girls. Becca offered advice when she was learning to put on makeup, when puberty arrived, when she first started noticing and crushing on boys.

Today, though, Jessah identifies as a man. “I am not female,” she declared in her coming out announcement. She is legally changing her name to Jace and plans to undergo hormone treatment therapy and gender reassignment surgery as soon as possible. In the meantime, she is presenting herself as a male.

What was once a distant and theoretical discussion—How do Christians respond to the transgender issue?—suddenly became immediate and practical. Abstract became concrete; impersonal, personal. This isn’t just the cover of Time magazine, it’s Christmas dinner. It’s e-mails and phone calls, weddings and funerals, kids’ birthday parties and Mother’s Day luncheons. This big question facing me and my wife is wrapped up in a hundred smaller questions:

Do we speak of my sister or my brother? Jessah or Jace? She or he? And what exactly is the Christian witness on gender issues, anyway? How do we affirm a biblical sexual ethic and our love for my sister at the same time? Even more difficult: How do we resolve the tensions between loving my sister on the one hand, and, on the other, training up our children in the way they should go?

This piece is very practical. Read it here.

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Is it cruel and harmful to acknowledge your baby’s gender?

Christin Scarlett Milloy says calling a baby a “boy” or a “girl” at birth is like playing Russian roulette with your baby’s life. Why? Because what if your baby grows up to disagree with the gender they were assigned at birth? Milloy says that such children grow up depressed and perhaps suicidal. Milloy’s argues, therefore, that we should not risk a child’s well-being by assigning him/her a gender at birth. Instead, we should just let them figure it out for themselves. Continue Reading →

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Should you allow your children to go to sleepovers?

I came across a provocative passage today in Jim Dobson’s book Bringing Up Girls in which he discusses the issue of children’s sleepovers. In short, Dobson argues that the day of sleepovers has passed. There are simply too many risks involved. Parents, therefore, should be wary of allowing their children to participate in what for many of us was a very common part of our growing-up years.

A big part of this is simply understanding that times have changed. Our hypersexualized culture requires parents to exercise special vigilance over their children—not only because of the pervasive availability of pornography, but also because of predators who are more than willing to harm children. Parents must be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves when figuring out the best way to protect children from both. Moreover, parents will often have to pursue principles that might seem strange to the rest of the world but which are the only rational responses to very real and potential threats to children.

For this reason, I tend to agree with Dobson on this one. By and large, the age of the sleepover has passed. I am not offering this up as a new law. Nor do I wish to condemn parents who permit it under certain, well-supervised circumstances. I’m simply suggesting that wise parenting requires us to rethink old assumptions. And I believe that the sleepover-as-norm is an assumption that needs to be challenged.

Dobson focuses on the potential for abuse, but of course there are other dangers as well. Below is the relevant excerpt from pages 141-42 of Bringing Up Girls. Continue Reading →

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Transgender and “Washed in the Blood”?

Alexandra Scott has a piece over at The Huffington Post that takes issue with the statement Southern Baptists made last week about transgender. Scott identifies as transgender and as a former Southern Baptist. Scott concludes with this:

I am really curious why the SBC needs to establish such sharp boundaries, so many lines that cannot be crossed. Why can’t you worry about your eternal salvation and let me worry about mine? Is the sight of a transgender person or a gay couple so vexing and disturbing that somehow your world is rocked beyond repair? Why do you care if people different from you seek validation?
Continue Reading →

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Why surgery is not the answer for transgender

This should be the last item on transgender for the week, but it is one that readers will want to pay very close attention to. Dr. Paul McHugh is the former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and he has penned a revealing column for The Wall Street Journal opinion page. In short, he challenges the notion that sex-reassignment surgery is good for transgendered persons. His data are very compelling. He writes: Continue Reading →

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Where Same-Sex Marriage Stands in the 50 States

NBC News has a report explaining where same-sex marriage stands in the United States. There is good bit of information in this article, but I think this is the key line:

Since last summer’s Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act and Prop 8, two historic marriage cases, not a single state marriage ban has survived a federal court challenge.

This of course does not bode well for states that have lawsuits still pending. Those states are Utah, Oklahoma, Nevada, Texas, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan.

The ground is moving beneath our feet. Read the rest here.

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When sexual orientation breaks from the norm

On a recent episode of NPR’s “This American Life,” Luke Malone filed a report on people who report having a minority sexual orientation. These people have an enduring pattern of sexual attraction that does not match the norm. Malone argues that such folks must deny themselves the pleasure of acting on their attractions, no matter how strongly they feel them. He says there needs to be a plan to help them abstain:

Imagine being a teenager and being told never to act on your sexual feelings ever for the rest of your life. That’s what we’re asking of these people. At the moment, there is no clear plan for how to do that. But maybe there should be.

What happens when a teenager is asked not to act on his sexual feelings? According to the article, denying such urges can cause depression, self-loathing, and fear. Nevertheless, Malone insists that such persons must abstain from acting on such attractions, and they must refrain for the rest of their lives.

If you read the article, I’m certain that you will agree that such people must not act on their orientation. For them to do so would be immoral, harmful, and evil. Why? Because everyone recognizes that it is not just the behavior that is wrong but also the attraction.

It is common today to say that sexual orientation is a fixed, immutable characteristic. It is cruel and discriminatory, therefore, to require anyone to deny the attractions that they feel they were born with. What this report shows is that you cannot give a moral assessment of sexual behavior merely on the basis of one’s orientation. Some people’s attractions–even if experienced from a very early age–are wrong and should be changed. The moral assessment of both the orientation and the behavior that comes from it must be made on other grounds.

Some of this is difficult to read. But if you want to read a transcript of the report, start about halfway down the webpage at “Act Two: Help Wanted.” You can download the audio here or listen below. Start at 30:15.

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