Christianity,  Culture,  Theology/Bible

Bruce or Caitlyn? He or she? Should Christians accommodate transgender naming?

How should Christians respond to transgenderism in general and Bruce Jenner’s “transition” in particular? I think Christians are at their best when they recognize a need for both compassion and truth-telling. Compassion for those who experience painful alienation from their own bodies and truth-telling in the face of fictional accounts of gender identity.

As I have written before, transgenderism is a denial of God-ordained differences between male and female (Gen. 1:26-27). It is an untruthful suppression of the sexual binary that God has encoded into every cell of our bodies. When a person feels their gender identity to be out of sync with their sexual identity, the problem is not with the body but with the mind. To steal a phrase from Sam Allberry, the conflict is evidence of how sin distorts us not of how God made us. Thus, it is unloving and contrary to human flourishing to deny or obscure these truths.

I have seen one issue popping-up in the commentary this week that appears to be unresolved among Christians writing and commenting about transgenderism. How do we refer to people who have adopted a transgender identity? Transgender ideology says that we must refer to transgender persons by their assumed name, not by their given name. It also requires using pronouns that match their transgender identity and not those that match the sex they were assigned at birth. Should Christians go along with this or not?

Just yesterday I saw Christians coming at this question from opposite directions. On the one hand, Marty Duren writing in The Washington Post refers to Jenner with the name Caitlyn and with feminine pronouns. Duren explains, “How does insistence on calling Caitlyn by her birth name help me reach Lisa who now goes by ‘Fred,’ or Tom’s kid who remains confused?” Duren believes that we close-off opportunities for evangelism if we don’t go along with the way transgender people want to be named.

On the other hand, Doug Wilson refuses to go along with transgender naming, saying, “I am afraid that I am not going to be addressing him as Caitlyn — the most accommodation I will offer is that of calling him Jenner.” Thus Wilson rejects both feminine pronouns and the name Caitlyn.

(I could perhaps mention a third way. I have heard arguments from people I respect that take a somewhat divided approach. They agree to use a person’s legal name, whatever that may be, but refuse to adopt pronouns that contradict a person’s birth sex.)

These are just a couple examples that I read yesterday. I could marshall many more. The questions is, however, which one is right? I am still thinking through these things myself, so consider the following a first draft of my thinking on this. Above all, I aim to be biblical in coming at this question. So here are the principles that have guided my thinking thus far.

1. Avoid unnecessary provocation.

Paul writes, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18). That means that offensiveness doesn’t necessarily equal faithfulness. Offensiveness might be an evidence of fidelity to the gospel. Or it might be an evidence that we are pugnacious. And we don’t get brownie points for being angry jerks. The fool is the one who “speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword” (Prov. 12:18), but the wise “ponders how to answer” (Prov. 15:28). In short, the foolish person offends people with his words because he’s self-absorbed and thoughtless. The wise person is persuasive because he’s constantly strategizing how to use his words to bring healing and life (Prov. 16:24).

When it comes to gospel witness, we need to build bridges wherever we can. And of course that includes how we speak to and address sinners with our words. Paul modeled this for us at Mars Hill in Acts 17 and broke it down for us in simple terms in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.”

The practical upshot of this principle is that Christians should not adopt the posture of a scold. If you can avoid conflict over this point and still speak truthfully, then do so. Wilson’s “Jenner” accomodation seems reasonable to me under this principle. Under this principle, one might also avoid certain pronouns in order to postpone a confrontation that is better left for a later time.

2. Embrace necessary provocation.

Truth-telling is always necessary for the Christian (Eph. 4:15). We are not allowed speak in ways that are fundamentally dishonest and that undermine the truth of God’s word about how he made us and the world. Transgender ideology is fundamentally a revolt against God’s truth. It encourages people–sometimes very disturbed and hurting people–to deny who God made them to be. It traps them in a way of thinking and living that is harmful to them and that alienates them from God’s truth. We do not serve them or love them well by speaking as if transgender fictions are true.

We are called not to participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead to “expose them” (Eph. 5:11). That means we must always “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 5:18). We must realize that real love always, always, always “rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6). So loving our neighbor means telling them the truth, even when that truth brings an unpleasant confrontation.

The doctor does his patient no favors by speaking in ways that conceal an unpleasant diagnosis. Likewise, we do our neighbors and loved ones no favors by speaking in ways that conceal the truth of God. The proverb says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy” (Prov. 27:6). That means that an enemy will tell you what you want to hear, but a real friend will tell you what you need to hear. Sometimes saying the right thing is hard, but we won’t shrink back from the confrontation if we really love our neighbor.

The practical upshot of this principle means that I must never encourage or accomodate transgender fictions with my words. In fact, I have an obligation to expose them. For me, that means that I may never refer to a biological male with pronouns that encourage him to think of himself as a female. Likewise, I may never refer to a biological female with pronouns that encourage her to think of herself as a male. In other words, I have to speak truthfully. And that includes the choice of pronouns that I use.

It seems to me that the use of a legal name may present a special case. What if the only name you know is the assumed legal name and not the birth name? Aren’t some names ambiguous with respect to gender? It may be that a consistent application of the principles above would allow the use of the assummed name in some situations and not allow it in others. I can only say that the principle of truth-telling in love always has to determine whatever choice you make.

There may be scenarios that are not covered by the principles as I have articulated them here. I’m open to being persuaded from the Bible that another approach is better or that I need to consider another angle. So I invite any feedback aimed at helping us to think and speak with greater biblical faithfulness.


  • Chris Ray

    Denny –

    I appreciate your post on this. I believe that you are representing a solid,biblical approach to the matter. Let me pose a question to you, though. What is one’s company dictates that they respect transgender identities in the workplace. Would the manager instructed to call Jenner “Caitlyn” by biblically sound in refusing to do so, even if it jeopardized his job? Would it be an Acts 5:29 situation, or a necessary concession in order to live peaceably?

      • buddyglass

        Saw that too. Agree on it being a good read. Both in tone and content. (Contrast with Matt Walsh’s annoying response to the Jenner issue).

        That said, this bit stuck out:

        Eight of the fourteen subjects assigned to be females had since declared themselves to be male. Five were living as females, and one lived with unclear sexual identity. The two raised as males had remained male. All sixteen of these people had interests that were typical of males, such as hunting, ice hockey, karate, and bobsledding. Reiner concluded from this work that the sexual identity followed the genetic constitution.

        Is the trend toward sexual identity following genetic constitution? Seems so. But five of the sixteen were living as women. To me, that says “genetic constitution” is far from determinative.

        • Chris Ryan

          It was an enjoyable read. I thought it weird that his chief way of determining who was male or female was based on their interest in having babies, or if they liked playing Cowboys & Indians. A good third of my female friends were entirely cold to the idea of having children and only had them because they were pressured into it. And then there were my female friends who wanted nothing to do with dolls & preferred sports. They’re no less female because of it.

          • steve hays

            That reflects the sample selection bias of your particular social circle. It also says something about the decadence of a culture in which many women prefer dogs to kids.

            • Christiane Smith

              wait a minute . . .

              many MEN prefer dogs to kids also . . . even in the ways that are selfish, men and women share a common humanity
              . . . but it is important to remember that this common humanity also includes what is the best about us . . . our bond with Christ through the mystery of the Incarnation

              Women are not a sub-species. They are fully human persons.
              Men are not a sub-species. They are fully human persons.
              Our Lord was fully human and fully divine.
              The Incarnational bond Our Lord shares with both men and women is the same bond:
              our common humanity.

              • steve hays

                Ryan then burns a straw man. Was the question at issue whether women are subhuman? No. The issue, as Ryan himself brought up, is women who disdain motherhood.

          • buddyglass

            It wasn’t just the gender stereotypical interests though. Eight of the fourteen assigned to be females were self-identifying as male at the time of the followup.

          • Chris Ray

            Chris –

            I understand what you are saying, but I think you are misreading a bit.
            Dr. McHugh writes that, “Eight of the fourteen subjects assigned to be females had since declared themselves to be male. Five were living as females, and one lived with unclear sexual identity. The two raised as males had remained male. All sixteen of these people had interests that were typical of males, such as hunting, ice hockey, karate, and bobsledding.” While it is true that many females enjoy these socially boy-ish activities, that does not undo his point.

            The main point here seems to be that a majority of the subjects had identified so strongly with their male genetics that they had since declared themselves male. While they “male-type tendencies” existed in all of them, this is not the main argument, though it does tend to make one go, “Hmmm . . .”

            Whatever we laymen make of these abbreviated results, they were deemed significant enough to prompt a respected segment of the medical community reconsider their stance on sex-change counseling and procedures. In a world that is insistent in the assertion that we create our own reality (particularly in the area of sexuality), this article represents another aspect of the argument. Of course, this type of opinion does not please the self-idolizing masses. Rather, declaring things once understood as fixed to be relative allows one ultimate freedom to behave as they please. As Dr. McHugh writes,

            Without any fixed position on what is given in human nature,
            any manipulation of it can be defended as legitimate. A
            practice that appears to give people what they want—and what
            some of them are prepared to clamor for—turns out to be difficult
            to combat with ordinary professional experience and wisdom. Even
            controlled trials or careful follow-up studies to ensure that the
            practice itself is not damaging are often resisted and the results

            – Chris

            • Chris Ryan

              I understand what the DR was doing, its just that including “hockey, hunting, karate, and bobsledding” in your list of evidence that “proves” someone is male or female undermines your argument. It proves that he’s hung up on chauvinistic definitions of gender. Not just chauvinistic but increasingly anachronistic. As I recall Sarah Palin said that she knew how to hunt and field dress a moose and that hockey moms were “bulldogs with lipstick”.

              • Christiane Smith

                Hi CHRIS,
                i was offended by the stereotype, myself. My daughter played field hockey, and was in karate from the time she was a little girl. The other sports she was interested in were skiing and rowing crew while in college. I’m not sure WHAT the thinking is that is going on in some peoples’ heads about the differences between women and men as to career choices, sports, military duty, education, etc. but I know that the ‘hockey . . . bob sledding’ remark was out of line badly, and I commend you on calling it out. Respect for women is a vital consideration in Christianity and in the world today. There should be no tolerance for the disrespect of women as human persons made in the image of God. If people don’t realize what ‘disrespect’ looks like, they need to be told, and apparently that is the deal for many people. Education is better than criticism when people don’t have a clue what they are doing.

                • Christiane Smith

                  Another thing: my niece served in Iraq and in Afghanistan and she has PTSD as a result of her duties there. I never want to see our American soldiers disrespected . . . a lot of them have given their best to their country and we owe them no disrespect if they are women. My niece is a highly-trained trauma nurse. She also is qualified for military combat, if need be. No amount of chauvinism can take away those honors from her, nor should they. Chauvinism is a pitiful way for men to behave. Chauvinists abound in certain cultures, but they have no place in our country abusing our women citizens, no.

                  • steve hays

                    Nurses have often performed heroic service on the battlefield. That’s admirable.

                    It is, however, inappropriate to use that as leverage to justify women in combat. That’s no different than the claim that we must honor homosexuals who volunteer for the military. Whether or not that’s legitimate should be decided as a matter of principle, and not emotional manipulation. You can’t coerce my approval for doing something I didn’t ask–any more than squeegee bandits are entitled to demand my money after they presume to wash my windshield at a stoplight.

                    • Christiane Smith

                      Hi STEVE,
                      perhaps you have served in the military? then you would know very well how to honor women who have served and given their lives for their country . . .

                      sometimes, in the ‘culture’ where women ‘don’t belong’ in certain fields because they are women;
                      we find men who haven’t seen women in action as professional soldiers, fighter pilots, and nurses stationed in outlying field hospitals . . . these men sometimes have NOT served their country in the military, so how COULD they know?

                      I think your perspective might change if you had seen my niece present at an IUD explosion where she saved the life of one of our soldiers on the spot by clearing his airway and controlling his hemorrhaging . . . then again, some things don’t make a difference to people who have their priorities . . . I do know that the young man whose life she saved appreciated her presence ‘in combat’ . . . when you serve in today’s wars, ‘in combat’ can be anywhere the terrorists have left their traps.

                      Perspective. It makes a difference.

                    • steve hays

                      Once again, you resort to emotional manipulation because that’s all you’ve got.

                      Your appeal is interchangeable with homosexual soldiers who say that if we just got to know them and know their contributions, then we should honor their service.

                      I’m not somebody who can be manipulated that way. You’re resorting to a popular tactic of trying to shame people into agreeing with you through purely emotive appeals. That doesn’t work on me.

                      I’m under no obligation to be grateful to somebody for doing something I didn’t ask them or want them to do. You can’t impose a sense of obligation on me. Don’t demand that everybody rubber-stamp your choices in life. Don’t simultaneously make your own choices, then demand that we approve of your choices.

                    • steve hays

                      You’re resorting to the emotionally appealing, but ethically subversive principle that we’re morally disqualified from commenting on what we haven’t personally experienced. Thus, only soldiers have a right to comment on who should serve.

                      Aside from the fact that you blow right past the article I cited in which female soldiers admit that women are unsuited to combat roles, the general principle you rely on would mean, if carried out consistently, that I’m not entitled to comment on police brutality unless I’m a policeman, I’m not entitled comment on judicial misconduct unless I’m a judge, I’m not entitled to comment on prosecutorial misconduct unless I’m a DA, I’m not entitled to comment on suicide bombers unless I’m Muslim, I’m not entitled to comment on medical malpractice unless I’m a doctor, and so on and so forth. Sure you really want to go down that road?

                      Do you think women have no right to comment on male behavior since women don’t know what it’s like to be a man?

                      Perspective. It makes a difference.

                • Chris Ray

                  Christine and Chris –

                  There is no stereotype present here. There is a great difference between making a descriptive observation like, “Group A preferred Activity X more often, while Group B preferred Activity Y more often,” and a prescriptive one like, “Group A should prefer Activity, while Group B should prefer Activity.” The “hockey . . . bobsledding remark,” as Christine calls it, was merely one of the observations of what was without being determinative of what should be. In fact, as I stated before, this observation was not even the point, but only an ancillary observation. If, in reporting my observation of children on a playground, I state that I observed ten girls and one boy on the swings and one girl and ten boys on the soccer field, for you to say that I am being chauvinistic is unfounded.

                  Christine – I agree with all you said about respect for women and its importance to Christianity. Also, I have great respect for your daughter’s service to our country. However, to make that accusation of this article is to build a straw man just so you can attack it. Additionally, it does nothing to add to the discussion at hand.

                  – Chris

                  • Brian Holland

                    I’ve been out of this debate for a while, but if we can’t say “in general boys tend to be more…” or vice versa then we are truly screwed as a society. And forgive me if my usage of the word “screwed” offends, but it’s an accurate description. There are exceptions and there are rules. Exceptions don’t negative rules. It also reminds me of what Dennis Prager often says “truth is not a left wing value.” Obviously there are dishonest people on both sides, but on the left, there is a pretty widely held belief that it’s ok to lie if “the cause is just.” As Christians we have to value truth, defend it, uphold it, even when (in our hearts) it might make us uncomfortable.

  • Brian Holland

    I don’t think it’s really that complicated. To refer to Jenner as Caitlin is to participate in a charade, much like it is for Christians to recognize same sex marriage. We can still have compassion for him as someone who needs serious psychological help, and pray for his conversion without agreeing that he’s a woman now. I think the person who suggested that not calling him Caitlin is detrimental to evangelism should go back and reread the NT, and the clarity and conviction that Paul, Peter, James, John, John the Baptist, and Jesus himself all spoke with…

    My latest blog entry is all about understanding the Bruce Jenner story, and the media, but I think the focus should really be on why is this a heroic act? There is a war against the definitions of male/female in our culture, as you have rightly pointed out Denny…

      • Christiane Smith

        I can’t hate ‘Caitlyn’ any more than I could have contempt for the ‘Bruce’ who suffered.
        The trials this individual has been through are personal and extremely difficult . . . if I haven’t been able to help bear their burden, how can I then address the person with Christian integrity ???

        The thing about God’s mercy is that it is much greater than we are able to envision. Only He knows the heart of any individual. Only He knows the sufferings of this world and all of humankind . . . He knows personally, from the cross. And He, having taken on our humanity, understands it in all of its weaknesses and all of its imperfections.

        It is HIS understanding of ‘Caitlyn/Bruce’ that I trust. Only His.
        We will find Christ present within the sufferings of ALL humankind, including those of ‘Caitlyn/Bruce’.

        Are we called just to compassion? Or to something infinitely more healing?
        Look on Christ and find your response to ‘Bruce/Caitlyn’ within Him. Let your response be a reflection of His merciful love and it will convey the Peace of Christ to the trans person . . . the same Peace of Christ is present in your own soul.

        • steve hays

          God’s judgment is much greater than we can envision, too. Keep in mind that divine forgiveness is predicated on contrition.

          • Christiane Smith

            You are not an arm of ‘God’s judgment’, though. You are called to serve and to love. In the name of all that is holy, God is the ONLY One who knows all that there is to know in order to judge any human person rightly.
            Men may judge one another and punish one another, but men don’t see the bigger picture, they don’t see inside men’s souls.

            God reserves judgement for Himself alone. Put your stones down, my friend. Go and be thankful for the good in others, and in yourself. It comes from God, this goodness. 🙂

            • steve hays

              To begin with, you’re changing the subject. In addition, you fail to distinguish between eschatological judgment, which is God’s prerogative, and the human administration of justice, both in terms of church discipline and penology.

          • James Bradshaw

            Steve writes: “Keep in mind that divine forgiveness is predicated on contrition.”

            You can’t very well repent of behavior you don’t believe is a sin, though.

            Do you believe that the founders of the Southern Baptists – men like Richard Furman – were in error when they defended the practice of slavery based on their understanding of Scripture?

            If they are in error, it appears they never repented of it. Are they in Hell?

            • Gus Nelson

              James: Your point is well taken. If you don’t believe in sin or don’t believe you have sinned, then you are not able to repent. However, perhaps you will agree with me that whether a person believes in something (or does not believe in something) does not determine whether that thing is real. In which case, sin is either real or not regardless of what we subjectively believe. If it is real, then there are significant consequence for failing to deal with it. If it’s not real, then none of this really matters. Yet, here we both are commenting as if it does matter. Maybe, just maybe, there might be something to this sin thing?

              • James Bradshaw

                Gus, of course, objectively speaking, what God finds offensive is what God finds offensive.

                The question is whether one can have faith in Christ and still be condemned for not knowing we offended Him in the first place.

                • Gus Nelson

                  James: Thanks for the response. I really like the conversation, such as it is, in these comments.

                  Maybe that suggests we err on the side of caution? Let’s assume that most of the time our likely first thought about anything is probably just that: “our thought” rather than God’s. We can thus know that more often than not we are likely offending God because we tend to worship at the altar of self more than any other altar. My suspicion is that the occasions when we are unsure if we’ve offended God are much fewer than those when we have some sense we’re on the wrong track. Of course, there are plenty of times when we know we’ve simply point blank violated Scripture, but those are easily identifiable and not what we’re talking about here.

            • steve hays

              You’re confusing the general recognition that a Christian is a sinner with a detailed awareness of what, in particular, he’s guilty of. But sin itself creates blind spots. A Christian can be penitent about sin even though he may be oblivious to a sinful attitude he has.

                  • brian darby

                    “Why do you think God demands the impossible? ”
                    The bible answer as I understand it to drive us to Christ and the Gospel. My experience in practical application, it is a mind game to mess with you. It is also very effective in maintaining control through utter fear and terror.
                    There was this movie where one character asked a preacher basically the Christians think the Christians are saved and the Muslims think the Muslims are saved etc. The Character said what if none of us is saved? I lean towards the none of us.

                    • dr. james willingham

                      God demands the impossible in order that we might know our inability and cry to Him for help. A drowning man is helpless, and it is only when he knows his helplessness that he will let the one seeking to save him acts he must. Like the man with the demon possessed son who cried, “Help my unbelief,” i.e., help me overcome my unbelief. I am not able to cope with my inability to believe. Ever hear of therapeutic paradoxes?

  • Brett Cody

    How do we respond (if at all) to those who use the scriptures to ‘accuse’ us of unnecessary provocation? This has been a tactic that works well to put Christians on the defensive. It is employed by many on your blog as well. I am sure you will see it employed in the comments for this post.

    • Christiane Smith

      Christians have no need to be ‘on the defensive’ for themselves . . . God provides for them to be defended against evil

      Christians ARE, however, to defend those who are in need, who are being abused, who have been injured, who need protection, who are fragile in mind and body, who are threatened by those who would take advantage of them . . .

      Christians are protectors and defenders of OTHERS.

      Christians have too much to be thankful for to be concerned for their OWN well-being in THIS world. They belong to the next world . . . to the Kingdom of God, and for them, all shall be well.

  • Nathan Cesal

    I have an unusual last name that no one knows how to pronounce. Growing up I’d tell people that it didn’t matter how they pronounced my name. A lot of people were uncomfortable with that because they felt it was disrespectful to mispronounce my name.

    I get it now. A person’s name is a basic way we show someone respect. It shows that we care when we make an effort.

    Wilson’s approach is disrespectful. He’d rather foist his views on someone who disagrees with him by using name-calling. That seems pretty juvenile to me. Grow up, Mr Wilson.

    • steve hays

      To the contrary, it’s Bruce Jenner and the power elite who are foisting their views on everyone else. That’s a form of intimidation: “You *must* call me Caitlyn!”

      It reflects the dictatorial methods of the power elite.

  • steve hays

    As a rule, we should call people what they want to be called. If Clive Staples Lewis wants to be called Jack, that’s what his family and friends ought to call him.

    When, however, names are propagandistic, when names are used to promote something false or unethical, then we should resist.

    Finally, some foolish parents who gives their kids embarrassing names. In that case, it would be better for friends to call him by a nickname that’s not embarrassing.

  • Chris Ryan

    The only courteous thing to do is to call him by his chosen name and pronoun. There’s nothing unBiblical about that.

    One thing about transgenderism though. We we don’t know about medical science pales next to what we do know about it. I wouldn’t be so quick to say that those people who experience gender dysphoria have a deficiency of the spirit. People experiencing GD are in real mental pain and anguish. Its not unlike people who experience Body Integrity Disorder ( ) and deeply wish to amputate a limb (one guy even laid down on railroad tracks to lose a leg). I think its a legitimate medical/mental illness and we, as Christians, should respect it as such. In extreme cases medical treatment may be necessary.

    About this so-called gender binary. Almost the whole of what we consider “masculine” and “feminine” isn’t determined by DNA but is determined by sociology. In the 1800s pink was for boys and blue was for girls. But after lots of advertising in the ’30s it switched. Suddenly pink was for girls and blue was for boys. The Smithsonian has a powerful display on this. Men and women are much more similar than we are different. We shouldn’t forget that.

    • steve hays

      That trivializes the issue. I think everyone understands that some emblems of masculinity and femininity are arbitrary social conventions. But that hardly means gender is reducible to cultural symbolism.

      If fact, the argument backfires. Emblems of masculinity and femininity reflect or project an underlying difference. Absent that underlying difference in the first place, there’d be no corresponding emblems. It’s different psychology, different hardwiring, that motivates these differential expressions of masculinity and femininity.

      Ironically, Bruce Jenner has become a parody of a woman. It’s a stereotype. But that bears witness to the underlying difference.

      • Chris Ryan

        There are different hormones at play, and obviously different anatomy, if that’s what you mean by hardwiring, but that’s about it. Gender is mostly reducible to symbolism. Most of what we adduce to “womanhood” goes back to how little girls were raised and socialized. Women aren’t inherently “weaker” they’re taught to be submissive. I have a sister who was raised as a ‘tomboy’ by my father. She wore pants back when doing so was scandalous, rides horses, and is a better sharpshooter than any man I know.

        But this isn’t a scientific debate, this is a spiritual discussion. The Bible itself is mostly silent on the differences between men and women with only about 2 dozen verses on the subject out of 31 thousand. Any differences we’ve created not explicitly defined in the Bible–and we’ve created many–are wrong. Even some in the Bible (eg, wearing braided hair, gold or pearls) have more to do with ancient times than with modern times.

        • steve hays

          Manhood and womanhood are fundamental biblical doctrines. And they, in turn, become major theological metaphors.

        • Brian Holland

          Chris, with all due respect, I think your leftism supersedes your Christianity. Male and female brains have vast differences from birth, which has nothing to do with nurture or environment. All throughout Scripture fundamental differences between men and women are noted. I think it’s also safe to say that homosexuality is such a huge deal to God, because it denies His created moral order.

          • Christiane Smith

            Hi BRIAN,
            I don’t think a person with same-sex attraction would set out to consciously deny God’s ‘moral order’, no,
            . . . these individuals carry a burden that you have been spared,
            and they may not comprehend why they have feelings that are not considered ‘the norm’;
            many ‘know’ they are ‘different’ from a young age, but still it is not a choice for them.
            And ‘choice’ is a necessary factor in ‘denying’ God.

            When it comes to God’s created ‘natural order, what a Christian person with same-sex attraction is facing, according to the Church, is a ‘disorder’, and this is, for them, not a sin but a burden to carry. The mission of the Church is to be there for them to help them bear that burden within the context of the Church’s teachings on sex and marriage. St. Ambrose of the early Church offered this insight:

            “Solomon says: “Be not overmuch righteous;” (Ecclesiastes 7:17) for restraint should temper righteousness. For how shall he offer himself to you for healing whom you despise, who thinks that he will be an object of contempt, not of compassion, to his physician?
            Therefore had the Lord Jesus compassion upon us in order to call us to Himself, not frighten us away. He came in meekness, He came in humility, and so He said: “Come unto Me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.” (Matthew 11:28) So, then, the Lord Jesus refreshes, and does not shut out nor cast off, and fitly chose such disciples as should be interpreters of the Lord’s will, as should gather together and not drive away the people of God. Whence it is clear that they are not to be counted among the disciples of Christ, who think that harsh and proud opinions should be followed rather than such as are gentle and meek; persons who, while they themselves seek God’s mercy, deny it to others”

            • Brian Holland

              Christiane, thank you for your thoughtful comments. You challenge me to be more compassionate towards those who are afflicted with such a terrible burden. I have no doubt that this is a consequence of the fall, and certainly not a design flaw of Almighty God’s. Life is hard for every man, woman and child on the planet. For many it is brutally hard, and it’s always been that way throughout history.

              With all due respect, I think what you’re missing here is that we can reach out with compassion and understanding towards people who are hurting in the LGBT lifestyle while simultaneously resisting the radical gay agenda. In other words the answer is not to change society to accommodate the transgendered, but to truly offer them support and help. We can’t compromise the truth of Scripture, and nor can we lower the bar of expectations. We all fall short and must repent, so that God can transform us into new creations.

              • Christiane Smith

                Hi BRIAN,
                I don’t think Christians need to ‘react’ to provocations, perceived or actual, because that is not a part of the mission that Christ has ordered for them. ‘Reacting’ involves a lot of fear, opposition, and negativity . . . all things that are born out of lack of faith in the power of the Holy Spirit to move where He wills . . .

                Remember this truth:
                The patience that endures all things with love, in the end, offers to the ‘other’ the very Source of that love.

                • Brian Holland

                  Christiane, I’m still not sure what you would have us do in light of such attacks on biblical truth, like the distinctions between male and female that are occurring in our society? Do we not stand for and defend the truth of Scripture? What did Jesus mean when he commanded us to be “salt and light”? I think disengaging from the culture and failing to speak the truth has been disastrous for both the culture, and the church. I would encourage you to read Genesis 1:26-28 what has rightly been called the Cultural Commission.

          • Chris Ryan

            Brian, actually my Leftism comes from the Bible. Why do you think there are vast differences between the brains of men and women? What are they? Where is the empirical evidence? What neurologist or scientist documented these differences?

            As far as homosexuality goes, it certainly is a sin, but its no bigger or lesser than any other sin (except, of course, blaspheming the Holy Ghost). All sin is sin, and all sin will be judged by God. Transgenderism is very different than homosexuality. Intersexual conditions are a real medical phenomenon. Genitalia and sexual related hormones may not fully develop or develop at all. There was the case of a S. African athlete, Caster Semenya, who looked to be fully female, but after Olympic doctors tested her they realized that her significant strength/speed advantage derived from her body’s over production of testosterone, which was as much as a man’s. They ruled that she was male & banned her from competing as a female.

            So based on what little we know about intersex issues I’m uncomfortable castigating the man. Of course, God knows the truth of whether this is a medical condition or a spiritual deficit and He will ultimately judge it. And I’m comfortable with that! 🙂

            • steve hays

              Notice Ryan’s bait-n-switch, where he confounds physical birth defects (intersex) with a psychological condition (gender dysphoria), as if that’s interchangeable. But, of course, a person can suffer from gender dysphoria while having perfectly normal sexual anatomy. It tells you something about their agenda when proponents resort to this sleight-of-hand.

              • Chris Ryan

                Hi, Steve. No bait and switch. I’m not conflating Intersex with Transgenderism. I’m explicitly saying that they’re quite possibly one and the same. If you can be born with screwed up “plumbing” you can also be born with screwed up “software”. There are lots of conditions we know to be mental illnesses today–eg, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, epilepsy, etc–that long ago people thought to be demonic possession. But the truth of the matter these are all conditions brought on by physical problems with the brain. Of all human organs we know the least about the brain. I lost my mother to epilepsy. Her sudden death was accompanied by some bizarre behaviors. I was shocked and saddened to learn that with the great majority of epilepsy cases we never find the cause–because we know so little about the mechanics of the brain. It made me profoundly humble about speaking grand pronouncements about what is and isn’t determined by medical conditions–like gender dysphoria. Not very long ago people would’ve tried exorcisms on my mother. I, myself, had no idea at the time that her behavior stemmed from the epilepsy (our neurologist was pretty horrible about communication). So with so many questions why not leave the judgment to God? He knows with perfect certainty. Can you say with 100% certainty that there’s no chemical imbalance or physical problem that causes transgenderism?

                • steve hays

                  They are obviously not one and the same inasmuch as there are people who claim to suffer from gender dysphoria who have perfectly normal genitalia. They are not intersex.

            • Brian Holland

              Ryan, thanks for responding, but do you honestly believe that leftism and biblical Christianity are compatible in this, or any other area? And with all due respect, you can rail against sound science, and common sense all you want, but your arguments are based on anecdotal evidence, and outlier cases.

              • Chris Ryan

                Of the 2 parties, Brian, I think the Democrats come closer to Jesus’ commandment to love one another as we love ourselves. About the only people the GOP loves are Wall Street bankers.

                I’m not actually railing against sound science. I’m actually making an argument that we should give room for the science to bloom. The fact of the matter is that science doesn’t yet know why people suffer from Gender Dysphoria or Body Integrity Disorder or Autism or many other mental illnesses. Its an indisputable fact that not very long ago people thought these were spiritual disorders not mental disorders. I think its likely that in another 50-100 years scientists will have discovered what medical issues cause Gender Dysphoria. If there’s anything the Caster Semenya case should teach us its that outward signs of gender can be misleading (even to the person themselves). So the best course of action is to refrain from judgment. God doesn’t need our help to judge and in that light only he without sin should cast the first stone.

                • Brian Holland

                  Thanks for clarifying, and all I can say is “wow, you are the perfect example of why churches should make biblical worldview training mandatory.” You honestly think the Democrats are closer to Scripture on defending the sanctity of life of the unborn, defending traditional marriage, religious freedom, supporting Israel? And since you mentioned it, where in the Bible does it say that the government is supposed to take care of the poor by taxing productive people in order to give to (at least some) people who are able bodied and lazy, or addicted to drugs and alcohol? Doesn’t that go against the whole “if you don’t work, you don’t eat” principle that Paul laid out in 2 Thessalonians 3:10?

                  • dr. james willingham

                    Dear Brian: While I agree with you that the Democrats hardly come close to representing our Lord’s views concerning the matters you mentioned, I would also point out that the Republicans as well as the Democrats have a tendency to forget about such commitments when the corporations let their feelings be made known. Just think about the influence of this headline in the Durham North Carolina Newspaper, IBM opposes RFRA. Our Republicans got cold feet at that bit of knowledge about like those in Indiana. Could it be due to the fact that the corporations fund both parties’ campaigns? And when 20 per cent of the people (really a smaller amount than that, I think), own 80 of the wealth of these United States, you have a ready made situation for a conspiracy to succeed, one that cares naught for God nor man (including not only aborted babies of both sexes but penal slavery and cruel prisons as well). Private prisons lend themselves to mistreatment and a disregard of human rights.

                    • Brian Holland

                      Dr. James, your point is well taken in that I have no use for RINO/establishment Republicans who won’t uphold and defend the constitution, but the key difference is that there are some decent, and honest people within the Republican party. They may have to fight against their leadership to uphold those eternal principles, but the party platform is not antithetical to traditional biblical values either. So I can’t say that both parties are equally bad. One is clearly worse than the other. My point with Ryan was that conservative principles line up with Scripture. You could argue that so do many classical liberal positions as well, but you can’t make the argument that progressive/left-wing values are in line with Christianity.

                  • Chris Ryan

                    I think the GOP’s politicians are mostly false prophets. 2 Thess 3:10 provides a great example. The modern GOP has corrupted the Bible. GOP Congressman Stephen Fincher cited that very verse when he voted to slash food stamps, even though with his next bill he voted to increase the corporate welfare which has already resulted in taxpayers giving him $3.5M.

                    When Paul wrote that chapter he was singling out Christians who were being disruptive. He said that it wasn’t that he didn’t have a right to such help (Jesus enjoins us to help the poor), but that these folks were busybodies who were causing trouble. Well, indeed, idle hands do the Devil’s work. The GOP has promoted the fiction that the richest people are the most productive. But we’re all God’s children and our worth is not determined by how much we earn. Not even our “productivity” as you call it is determined by how much we earn! That’s a teaching of libertarian false prophets, like Paul Ryan, who say they’re Christian in one breath, and then praise Ayn Rand with the next.

                    As far as “Biblical Worldview Training” goes, I’m a literalist born & bred. With 5 services a week at our church and pop being the pastor, I couldn’t have escaped it if I wanted to. The man didn’t even like sports. Even at dinner that was all we talked about 🙂

            • Brian Holland

              Sandra, if you are truly doing the Lord’s work then I applaud you, but my concern is that you’re not calling on the people to repent of their sins and to be washed and cleansed. God never wants to leave us in our sin and broken state. We are all called to make righteous judgements based on what the Word of God says, and ultimately we all have to repent all of us. All are without excuse.

    • Brian Sanders

      Chris: Are doctors amputating the limbs of those with Body Integrity Disorder and how do you know that also does not have a strong spiritual component?

    • steve hays

      Actually, it’s extremely demeaning to women to call Bruce by a woman’s name and treat him as if he’s a real woman. That cheapens the meaning of womanhood.

      Bruce Jenner does not and cannot epitomize what is good and distinctive about womanhood. He’s a parody of a woman. A travesty.

      Moreover, continuing to call him Bruce is to honor the fact that he’s still a man, underneath the cosmetic surgery and digital enhancement. That accords him greater dignity than he accords himself.

  • Johnny Mason

    I’m amazed at the sheer lunacy of the left. They are falling all over themselves in adulation for a man who has a severe disorder. They can’t keep their arguments straight anymore. Is gender fluid or immutable? Is gender a social construct or something that has specific qualities? They are contradicting themselves at every turn.

    Check out this nuttery:

    “Michelle Goldberg, senior contributing writer for The Nation, suggested that using the word “women” in abortion language “excludes trans men.”

    The only appropriate response to these people is ridicule and a refusal to participate in their madness. Orwell said it best – “In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

  • Daniel Moody

    Pronouns are attached to the sex of some body, whereas a forename cannot be inherently attached to a particular sex because names are empty labels. Andrew means Man, but there is no real reason why a woman (who knows herself to be a woman) cannot be named Andrew.

    When Maurice Micklewhite changed his name to Michael Caine, he was saying “new label despite same person”. Likewise when Vincent Furnier changed his name to Alice Cooper, he was not saying “new label because new person”. He was just embracing a persona. Bruce Jenner is saying “new label because new person”, yet his sex has not changed so his pronouns have not either.

    To refer to a male through a name generally thought of as being ‘for females’ cannot inherently be wrong, whereas to describe him though female pronounces is inherently wrong – because you would be talking about some body else!

  • dr. james willingham

    A planned conspiracy. Not natural. Not a mere social aberration. Not a historical development. Tried a planned effort, backed by money, involving in-depth study and knowledge of American ways and how they might be corrupted. Of course, it works even better, if the actors do not know that their scripts were written for them long ago or that there is a natural fruition of secularism, atheism, and corporate capitalism (remember the Corporations that opposed the Religious Freedom Acts? And how they have ordered their same sex couples to get married?) which can be pushed by certain guiding principles and instigators. Now what will we do, when the law says you must call them by the name, gender, etc., that they want, that you must not only accept such deviancies but also approve of them. Penalty of law attached for failure, and not light ones at that. Could it be that such incredibly destructive practices are meant, in the providence of God to drive us to our knees for the Great Counter Flood of righteousness that is promised, when the enemy shall come in like a flood?

  • Alastair Roberts

    To my mind, the most natural thing to do is to use feminine pronouns when speaking about the female persona, Caitlyn, while using masculine pronouns to refer to the person who has that persona, Bruce. The persona genuinely exists, so it is appropriate to use ‘she’ and ‘Caitlyn’ on occasions. However, it does not exist in the way Bruce Jenner and much of the world supposes.

    In short, I relate and speak of Bruce and Caitlyn Jenner much as I would Barry Humphries and Dame Edna Everage.

  • Tom

    When I wrote about Bruce Jenner I used his given name and parenthetically stated that I couldn’t call him Caitlyn. I think 1 Cor. 3:16 is important for this conversation, Christians are to rejoice in truth. We can’t rejoice with Jenner and his transformation because it doesn’t align with truth. We can’t pretend that what he’s done is good, healthy, or wise, and using female pronouns, to me, would be to accept and embrace his choice.

    No different than a parent who can’t rejoice with their wayward child’s actions. Christians can’t celebrate sinful actions and though it may be easier to just go with the flow and call him Caitlyn, we shouldn’t.

    I’ll stick with Bruce or simply Jenner

  • Kent McDonald

    There is some interesting information at Walt Heyer’s site Walt is a transgender who went from male to female. Became a Christian and reverted to his birth gender of male. Unfortunately he had reassignment surgery 8 years before reverting to male. He has a strong argument (with links) that most transgenders have underlying mental health problems (depression and more) that should be dealt with prior to making a non-reversible surgery decision. He is convinced that if he had his depression properly addressed prior to surgery he would have never gone down that road. Also Paul McHugh MD the senior psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins ( where sex reassignment was first done) says transgenderism is purely a psychological problem, not biological. The hospital has abandoned doing sex reassigments even though they were the first to do it in the beginning.

    • Karen Butler

      Although there is nearly always comorbidity of depression with these disorders, Walt says his diagnosis should have been Dissociative Identity Disorder — formerly known as Multiple Personalities. IThis is where the transgender community enjoys attacking the validity of his story, saying he was never really a true sufferer of GID at all.

      But really, absent biomarkers for organic disease, psychiatric diagnosiis itself is is just pulling rabbits from hats. Walt can only be diagnosed from his behavior, and he behaved like a transgender individual for most of his life. Diagnosis using the DSM is notoriously unreliable — no two psychiatrists will diagnose the same patient presenting the same symptoms,

      • Kent McDonald

        Thanks Karen. I published the DSM-5 article on my website. Interesting how little consensus actually exists in that field. Also interesting how altering the statistical criteria to achieve the desired resulting scores looks a lot like altering global warming stats and dumbing down the SATs to receive the desired outcomes is more common than we may have thought.

  • Sandra Stewart

    The verse in Genesis, there is no “and” it is an inserted word.
    There is no binary Matt 19:11-12

    11Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”


    The same three Born that way, intersex, made that way by man, castrata, made themselves that way i.e. Higara of India, are present in the contemporaneous cultures of India and China.
    There are intersex peoples down through history and current thinking of many physicians is that being transgender (made them selves that way) for many/most is an intersex condition.

    Most of the transgender individuals I know hate christians (purposeful small c) with good reason. I am transgender and have a ministry to the transgender community and quite frankly you make my job very difficult. I continually have to tell them the very minority view of judge-mental christians does not represent the majority. For the majority of these individuals, they are lost to eternity separate from God, because of christians.
    Miss-naming and miss-gendeirng serve no purpose other than judging, and you will have to answer for it.

    • steve hays

      You’re deliberately confounding birth defects (intersex) with mental illness (gender dysphoria), as if they are interchangeable.

      “Miss-naming and miss-gendeirng serve no purpose other than judging, and you will have to answer for it.”

      Radical sociologists invent ersatz categories. The fact that Christians refuse to acknowledge these made-up, propagandistic categories is commendable.

      • Karen Butler

        “Radical sociologists invent ersatz categories. The fact that Christians refuse to acknowledge these made-up, propagandistic categories is commendable.”

        What about the ersatz categories of psychiatry? Why do we give a pass to this equally unscientific profession? Just as the DSM committees have voted out homosexuality and transgender from their nosologies, and it is becoming clear they are preparing the ground to do the same to pedophilia –considering it in the latest DSM as “disordered” only when it distresses the subject or causes him to victimize others — why do we acknowledge their equally arbitrary categories that bow to the winds of political correctness?

        • Brian Holland

          To answer your question I’d have to quote Dennis Prager in saying “that Leftism is the most dynamic ‘religion’ there is today.” That’s why so much of this destructive absurdity goes unchallenged. That and most Christians and conservatives refuse to really fight on these issues. Your post was excellent, but I think when we use the term PC, we let the Left off the hook for their destructive ideas. I would just change it to say “bow to the winds of leftism” or secular humanism, which are really one and the same.

      • Michael Jefferson

        Citing a fringe view in medical and psychological academia doesn’t seem to negate the reasonableness of viewing bodies and chromosomes as able to be disordered due to the Fall. They can be, which is why persons with XX-male syndrome may reasonably identify as a male, or someone with XXY syndrome may reasonably identify with either gender. Transgender people may simply be another exception to the chromosome rule, as their chromosomes and bodies are disordered so as not to match the possibly proper wiring of their brains.

        • steve hays

          i) He was the dept. head of a world-class teaching hospital.

          ii) To say it’s a fringe view is a circular appeal. The contemporary APA is highly politicized. Take the softening-up exercises to normalize pedophilia.

          iii) You’re aren’t entitled to posit out of thin air that gender dysphoria has a chromosomal basis.

          • Michael Jefferson

            i) I didn’t dispute his credentials. Rather, his fringe view, which is not reflected by the position and consensus statements of leading medical and psychological organizations.

            ii) You can’t posit that his view of transgender people is not fringe by citing alleged general politicization of a particular organization and that organization’s alleged softening-up exercises to normalize pedophilia. Red herring.

            iii) The article to which I linked provides 15 studies evidencing the biological origins of gender dysphoria. You merely, and perhaps mistakenly, prefer to use chromosomes to determine everyone’s gender. Chromosomes can be, and are, disordered from a theological as well as a biological perspective because of the Fall.

            • steve hays

              i) To call his position a “fringe view” is a tendentious characterization. That’s a rhetorical tactic to preemptively discredit his medical opinion. Spares you having to actually engage his argument.

              ii) Are you simply unaware of how the APA has been politicized, or do you just not care? Are you unaware of the fact that the APA has redefined pedophilia so that it’s no longer classified as a mental disorder?

              Because McHugh’s career is safely behind him, he’s free to express himself without fear of professional reprisal, unlike younger colleagues.

              iii) I’m not the one who brought up chromosomes, you did. If you think it’s a mistake to use chromosomes to determine gender, why did you bring it up in the context of this debate?

              iv) Are you claiming that Bruce Jenner has an extra X chromosome? Do you have evidence for that?

              v) You chalk it up to “the Fall.” Do you actually subscribe to a historical Fall? Do you think Adam and Eve were the progenitors of the human race? Do you believe what Scripture says about manhood, womanhood, and homosexuality?

              • Michael Jefferson

                i) Calling his view a “fringe view” is an accurate characterization, which underscores the silliness of citing it to sway someone’s view on transgender persons. You simply assume there are “right” or “wrong” views in this debate, rather than many “reasonable” views.

                ii) The general politicization of one organization and that organization’s position on an irrelevant issue has no bearing on the scientific consensus with respect to transgender persons. Red herring.

                iii) So you agree that chromosomes are not necessarily connected to one’s true gender? I brought it up because Denny never responded to my particular criticism, and refused to post it until now. My comments are rarely approved. Like the one where I reference Dworkin’s semantic originalism on his recent post about gay marriage and constitutional interpretation.

                iv) I never said anything about Jenner. Irrelevant.

                v) Yes. And nowhere will you find Scripture saying that a Y-chromosome necessarily means one’s gender is male after the Fall. Chromosomes can be disordered from a theological, as well as biological, perspective.

                • steve hays

                  Calling it “silly” begs the question.

                  “You simply assume there are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ views in this debate, rather than many “reasonable” views.”

                  You’re dissembling. You yourself clearly think your own view is right.

                  “The general politicization of one organization and that organization’s position on an irrelevant issue has no bearing on the scientific consensus with respect to transgender persons.”

                  It’s terribly naive to think that studies which are driven by an ideological agenda have no bearing on the scientific integrity of the foregone conclusions.

                  “So you agree that chromosomes are not necessarily connected to one’s true gender?”

                  I haven’t said one way or the other. Gender has both physical and psychological dimensions. In addition, the physical dimensions of gender are multifaceted. They aren’t confined to chromosomes. They include primary and secondary sexual characteristics. Distinctive organs, hormones, body parts, &c.

                  “I never said anything about Jenner. Irrelevant.”

                  Because you’d rather disregard examples that don’t fit your theory. Anything that’s inconvenient for your theory is duly dubbed “irrelevant.” That’s very convenient–and intellectually evasive.

                  “And nowhere will you find Scripture saying that a Y-chromosome necessarily means one’s gender is male after the Fall.”

                  You need to bone up on the relationship between general and special revelation. One doesn’t need to find everything in Scripture to honor the fundamental Biblical framework. Various details can be supplemented by extrascriptural knowledge.

                  • Sandra Stewart

                    Current understanding of etiology of being transgender is a combination of genetic which we know from twin studies, endocrine disruptors during pregnancy (chemicals that are estrogenic and androgenic in nature) and quite literally God only knows. Why do we not know more, lack of credible research. This in part because of those with a negative bias such as Paul McHugh, Ken Zucker, Richard Green et. el.
                    One of the tracks at WPATH was the high percentage of those that are transgender and in the autism spectrum, in excess of 20 times the norm to perhaps 40 times the norm for female to male. When I asked the etiology one of the researchers indicated it is the same as transgender.

            • steve hays

              You have a counterproductive way of defending transgender identity. You say their chromosomes are messed up. What makes you think that’s any less offensive to the trans community than the conservative Christian assessment? You’re saying transgender individuals are genetically defective. Their condition is the result of genetic defects. That’s a fence-straddling defense which is bound to alienate both sides of the debate.

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