“You will be expelled from the [places of worship], and … those who kill you will think that by doing this they are serving God.”

–Jesus to his disciples (John 16:2)

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Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual observance that honors the memory of transgender persons whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.

Some churches and religious groups seek to reduce and eliminate such situations by preaching love for and acceptance of transgender persons, vocally urging people to seek to know, understand, and love them, and affirming their existence as an image of God, just as anyone else.  Hundreds filled Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston this past Sunday evening, including Senator Ed Markey, to attend its Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil.  Last year, Wake Forest University’s School of Divinity held a special chapel service on Transgender Day of Remembrance in which names of transgender persons killed in acts of anti-transgender violence during the previous year were read aloud. 

Unfortunately, some other religious leaders (preachers, teachers, writers, etc.), including many in the evangelical world, fuel the abandonment, isolation, and stereotyping of transgender persons.

Abandonment and isolation of transgender persons by their family and communities — including their faith communities, their church — is a major contributor to anti-transgender violence.  Such treatment often puts transgender persons in difficult living situations and can result in them being homeless, cuts them off from support networks, makes it necessary for them to turn to risky situations just to live, makes them vulnerable to predators and drug use, creates desperation, fuels depression and anxiety, and exposes them to unbalanced and violent people.

Teaching Christians to Cut-Off Contact With Transgender Persons?

Ways religious leaders fuel the abandonment, isolation, and stereotyping of transgender persons include teaching that transgender identity and expression are sins and that Christians should withdraw from transgender persons.

In other words, they teach that the very state of choosing to identify as transgender or engage in transgender expressions without “fighting it” is a sin.

And that Christians should cut-off contact with transgender persons.

The Chapel Hill Church of Christ, for example, posted a July 2019 class titled “Homosexuality and Transgenderism” teaching that its members should withdraw from transgender persons.  “If they choose to remain in that life of sin, then we have an obligation to withdraw from them,” the teacher explained.  “…  The purpose of us withdrawing from them is to help them to understand that the sin that they are involved in is putting their immortal soul in jeopardy.  It’s also to prevent that sin from being accepted by the church and then propagated amongst the members of the church because a little leaven leavens the whole lump, but it’s to help them to understand you need to get out of this sin ….  [Y]our whole family is having to basically cut you off  ….” (Starting at 40:45 (Citing 1 Corinthians 5:1-5; 2 Corinthians 2:5-11))

Some will teach that Christians should cut off contact with a transgender person only if the transgender person claims to be a Christian but not if the person is not a Christian, citing a misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 in an out-of-context manner.

It is the Christian standard to cut-off contact with the person who used to sit right beside you in the pew because they are a transgender person?  Didn’t Jesus serve the needs of outcasts that some called sinners, accept criticism for being their friend, and sacrifice for them, including dying for them?  (e.g., John 13:1-17; Matthew 9:10-13; Luke 7:34; Luke 23:26-43)

The Bible does not say it is a sin to have transgender thoughts or behaviors, though.  Listen to a sermon or article from a person claiming it is a sin and you will find superficial scriptural analysis, fear-mongering, culture-war descriptions, and discussions of homosexuality.

Nor does the Bible command Christians to cut-off people who we consider sinners (other Christians or not).  Thinking the  Bible commands such a thing is a serious misreading of scripture.  Indeed, the Bible asks that we do the opposite.  Jesus even dined with Judas and washed Judas’s feet.  (John 13)

A lot of us would be pretty lonely if other Christians cut us off for doing things they think are sins but we do not—and so we are not going to repent for them or stop doing them.  That would be some game the Bible gave to us.

Driving Wedges Between Transgender Persons and Their Families, Friends, and Church?

Many times, religious leaders fuel the abandonment, isolation, and stereotyping of transgender persons by teaching things like transgender identity and expression are sins, that “God doesn’t make mistakes,” that transgender persons are not Christians, and transgender persons are rejecting Jesus.

Many go even further and urge Christians to take positions that essentially seek to erode or erase parts of the transgender person’s identity, gaslight what the transgender person is feeling and thinking, remove even the language needed to discuss their situation, and contradict researched and experienced medical advice with man-made doctrine that those religious leaders claim is the word of God.

Doing so, drives wedges between a transgender person and their Christian families and friends by convincing such families and friends that it is God’s view that the transgender person is living contrary to God’s wishes.

Focus Press, the publisher of Think magazine, a magazine distributed to many churches, for example, asserts that “Ultimately, transgender individuals are rejecting Jesus.”

Teachings about transgender persons like “God doesn’t make mistakes” are often seen, as well.

Andrew Walker, professor of Christian Ethics at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and one of the leading anti-transgender voices in the religious world, says that Christians should avoid using the word “transgender,” teaching that “to exist as “transgender” is, itself, a social construct offered up by revisionists.”

Conclusion

These are not isolated incidents.

These are common happenings in evangelical Christianity.

Such concepts can have a very real, very negative impact on transgender persons, helping to create an environment that can put them in serious physical, mental, and spiritual danger.

Some voices in evangelical Christianity vocally object to anti-transgender teachings and to cutting off transgender persons and explain that such things are contrary to the Bible and contrary to what Christ taught.

But the anti-transgender view is prevalent and there are too few voices speaking up for transgender persons and too few voices speaking up in opposition to teachings and actions that can lead to harm for transgender persons.

“You will be expelled from the [places of worship], and … those who kill you will think that by doing this they are serving God.”

–Jesus to his disciples (John 16:2)

 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

–Jesus to his disciples (John 13:34-35)


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Sources and Notes

See generally, and for a more in-depth discussion relative to scripture, the Churches of Christ and other evangelical discussions see:  Steve Gardner, “Churches of Christ, Southern Baptist, and Others on Transgender Persons: A Scriptural Dissent From Their Response,” AuthenticTheology.com (September 19, 2018).

Picture is by Harut Movsisyan from Pixabay.

See generally these five articles and the sources cited therein:

Steve Gardner, “Transgender in the Christian Conversation:  Mental Disorders and Gender Dysphoria,” AuthenticTheology.com (February 8, 2018).

Steve Gardner, “U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Should Withdraw Harmful & Offensive Letter on Transgender Persons,” AuthenticTheology.com (January 19, 2018)

Steve Gardner, “Sex, Gender, Transgender, and Transsexual:  Definitions Explained Briefly and Clearly,” AuthenticTheology.com (January 17, 2018)

Steve Gardner, “The Nashville Statement on Transgender People & Their Friends: Initial Scripture Review,” AuthenticTheology.com (November 10, 2017)

Steve Gardner, “The Nashville Statement on Transgender Persons and Their Friends: A Call for Signers to Withdraw Their Signatures,” AuthenticTheology.com (September 22, 2017).

Added:

https://kdvr.com/2013/08/23/gay-detectives-mother-booted-from-tennessee-church/

http://www.arlingtoncoc.com/churches-of-christ/who-are-the-churches-of-christ/

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/jd-greear-clarifies-pronoun-stance-lgbt/

Lise Eliott, “Neurosexism: the myth that men and women have different brains,” Nature (February 27, 2019), https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00677-x

Cf. https://www.wired.com/story/a-study-finds-sex-differences-in-the-brain-does-it-matter/

http://discoveries.childrenshospital.org/non-binary-guide/?preview_id=2751

https://discoveries.childrenshospital.org/leven-non-binary/

https://www.glaad.org/amp/beginners-guide-being-ally-to-trans-people

https://www.facebook.com/617802819/posts/10156498466512820/?d=n (goes with video below)

http://www.southernhills.net/www/StreamEvent/Index (2/26 services is speech on transgender persons; awful)

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Romans 13:10:  “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

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If one girl decides she doesn’t want to compete with an opposing team with a girl on it who has or had this particular medical condition, then it’s the girl who has or had the medical condition that you insist can’t play? How is that fair and equitable?

Gender incongruence and gender dysphoria are well-recognized by medical doctors as medical conditions and are in the DSM, with such incongruence being a medical state and such dysphoria being a disorder.

You want to ban your friend’s trans daughter and all trans daughters from girls sports because some trans girls were born with genes that give greater strength? Why is that? Do you also want to ban the daughters of a marriage between an NFL player and a WNBA player, as that daughter will likely have genes that give her greater strength, too?

You want to bar your neighbor’s transgender daughter from playing girls sports because some trans girls are likely born with genes that might make them stronger than most girls?

Like your neighbor’s transgender daughter, the daughter of the NFL-WNBA couple is also likely born with genes that might make her stronger than most girls.

You insist that your neighbor’s daughter must go play with the boys, whether she is physically stronger or not, and even though she has a medical condition that can threaten her life?! But the NFL-WNBA daughter can play with the girls. Why is that?

Why is that not simply discrimination against a little girl for being transgender and for having a medical condition?

Why don’t we insist she play only with the boys, you asked. Lots of reasons. One is treating her like we would want her to treat us. Treating trans girls like boys skyrockets their suicide rate, for example. Another is that your neighbors’ daughter ought to be able to play without discrimination and fear, just like you want for your daughter. There’s lots more.

Yes, your neighbors have transgender daughters, my neighbors have transgender daughters, …. The people with transgender daughters are all our neighbors, and should be treated that way. Do you insist to your neighbor that your daughter can play girls sports but you ban their daughter from girls sports because she was born with genes that might or might not make her stronger than the average girl & why?

More on why not insist a transgender girl only play with the boys: me insisting my neighbor’s daughter can’t play in the girls group because of her genes at birth (“biology”), when genes aren’t a person and when it harms my neighbor’s daughter, brings depression and anxiety to her, discriminates against her, puts her at higher risk for suicide, doesn’t allow her to thrive like the other girls, removes her from her friend set, etc., is not the way I would want my daughter treated. So I’m not going to treat my neighbor’s daughter that way.

If you had a trans daughter, is that the way you want your daughter treated?

God created male and female and intersex and …. And God created some of them transgender and some not transgender and …. Do you not recognize that God created all of them?

God created us all, transgender and not. Transgender persons are made in the image of God, too, and are deserving of being treated that way.

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