It is less than three months since I placed my initial stake in the ground concerning the subject of transgenderism (see here). While I have written about and added several posts on the subject of homosexuality, it was the first time I had posted regarding sexual identity as opposed to sexual orientation. I felt then and feel even more so now, that the issue of sexual identity is going to be every bit as significant in the next few years as sexual orientation has been in the past few years, and is symptomatic of where society is heading.
I suspect this is one of those “where angels fear to tread” subjects as the likelihood of getting a negative response and being misunderstood is high. Just as in the recent years when I got to know a number of gay people compared with the time before when there were few I knew who were openly gay, I am finding now the same applies to transgender people. I can think of no instance where my relationship is NOT congenial, although the issue of sexual identity is rarely touched on in our discussions.
I write now as there are two items that have come my way that I feel it is worth commenting on, for I am pretty sure this is just a taste of what is to come. Not only does society have to come to terms with those whose sexual identity is other than the sex of their birth but so does the church, and as one who preaches and also as a community activist, I am duty bound to respond in an appropriate manner.
As an USA watcher, I am all too aware that what happens in the USA often sets the trend as to what happens elsewhere, including the UK. Not long ago, the Obama administration issued guidance on how public institutions, e.g. schools, should stop discriminating against transgender students and allow them to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. There has been a reaction against this move, such that the courts in certain states have blocked the enforcement of the guidance. Another story relates to a major company, Target, having faced a boycott over its policy of allowing transgender customers and employees to use the bathroom of their choice, announcing it is going to spend $20 million to expand bathroom options at all of its U.S. stores in order to keep all sides happy. There is already indications of organizations, especially those that are faith based, facing repercussions for failing to act on the expectations of those advocating transgender equality. It is a matter of watch this space for there will be significant developments.
I recently came across an argument by a Christian theologian who like me is all too aware of how things might be heading. In an article titled: “How Should Christians Respond to Transgenderism?” there is included in it a 3 minute video clip which reflects to these trends. There are broadly three points made:
- While transgenderism is not a new issue, what is new is the force it is being thrust on the public in general and the church in particular. There is a move to normalize it and also require society to approve of it. It is the latest phase of the sexual revolution, a fruit of a secular humanist worldview, which idolizes pleasure and human autonomy, supplanting a Christian worldview consensus.
- As Christians we must not respond superficially and we need to address the whole subject from a true biblical understanding, that takes in subjects like creation, our sinful nature and redemption.
- Our response may be at several levels e.g. apologetic in the face of the cultural war that pervades all around us, and a pastoral one, mindful this affects people in different ways, ranging from those who aggressively promote transgender rights to those who are struggling with their own sexual identity, and that the gospel is relevant to all of us, regardless of where we stand on these issues.
Just as my earlier post was by way of a stake in the ground, in this one I am merely building on some of the things I felt pertinent at the time, being in no doubt this is an issue that will NOT go away.