On Tuesday June 10, a majority of the “messengers” at this year’s Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting (a denomination of 15 million that only managed 5000 at their meeting?) approved a resolution (below) on gender identity that affirms “God’s good design that gender identity is determined by biological sex and not by one’s self-perception.” This resolution makes it clear that the SBC believes all gender related “confusion” is based in the fallen nature of humanity and that if they would only “trust in Christ” they would “experience renewal.”
It would seem that, once again, the SBC is drawing a line that would exclude fellow believers from fellowship based on proof texting (taking only bits and pieces to justify ones position) and not on scriptural interpretations that are contextually bound. And while I applaud the intention to soften the blow – another love-the-sinner-and-hate-the-sin statement – the resolution is rife with fear of this world and hatred for the complex reality of this human embodiment.
I find it fascinating that LGBT “activists” have been credited with changing the DSM-V to change “gender disorder” to “gender dysphoria.” Last I knew this was a medical manual not an activist’s playbook or biblical treatise. I also find it amusing that they think mandating bathrooms based on genitals is going to “normalize” (to use their term) the assumed binary gender norms that their world view is based upon. Don’t they realize that there are no bathroom police making sure that only the right body parts enter the right bathrooms?
All kidding aside, this resolution is yet another attempt by a shrinking group of mostly older white folks to maintain a world view that is crumbling around them. The SBC of the past that held sway in Boardrooms and the Whitehouse is no longer so important. The mid-20th century worldview of “Father Knows Best” and suburban utopia are merely blips on an historic screen.
What is true now is that gender and sexuality are complex constructions that go well beyond the limitations of a simple man-woman “and they lived happily ever after” ideal. Our global reality has shown us that this creation is filled with variations of all kinds and that we need to take seriously the idea that being made in the image of God is complex and ever unfolding.
I know a female to male transman who had lifelong health concerns until he transitioned. Now he is alive both physically and emotionally in ways that were not possible for him before. I know male to female transwomen who look and feel beautiful, both inside and out! What is so different about their alterations as opposed to men and women who have cosmetic surgery, die their hair, or get a new smile?
What is missing for me is the truth that the Gospel is not about what we do to and with our bodies as a litmus test for faith. What the Gospel invites us into is a place of compassion and engagement with “others.” Not as missionaries who desire to “save” the “heathen” but as people seeking to know and understand this amazing creation from God’s heart.
So, let us pray for the SBC since they will be repenting of this resolution in another 50 to 100 years. Let us pray for all who are so afraid that their way of life will somehow crumble if we share bathrooms. Let us pray for the people who will believe that they can pray away the trans. And let us pray that we may all live with more humility, trusting our trans sisters and brothers who are making a new way to the Beloved Community for us.
Rev. Lunn is the Executive Director of AWAB and an ordained American Baptist pastor.
Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting 2014
WHEREAS, All persons are created in God’s image and are made to glorify Him (Genesis 1:27; Isaiah 43:7); and
WHEREAS, God’s design was the creation of two distinct and com- plementary sexes, male and female (Genesis 1:27; Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6) which designate the fundamental distinction that God has embedded in the very biology of the human race; and
WHEREAS, Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles as ordained by God are part of the created order and should find expres- sion in every human heart (Genesis 2:18, 21–24; 1 Corinthians 11:7–9; Ephesians 5:22–33; 1 Timothy 2:12–14); and
WHEREAS, The Fall of man into sin and God’s subsequent curse have introduced brokenness and futility into God’s good creation (Genesis 3:1–24; Romans 8:20); and
WHEREAS, According to a 2011 survey, about 700,000 Americans perceive their gender identity to be at variance with the physical reality of their biological birth sex; and
WHEREAS, Transgenderism differs from hermaphroditism or intersexualism in that the sex of the individual is not biologically ambiguous but psychologically ambiguous; 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 biological birth sex poses the harmful effect of engendering an understanding of sexuality and personhood that is fluid; and
WHEREAS, Some public schools 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 schools are allowing access to restrooms and locker rooms according to children’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, These cultural currents run counter to the biblical teaching as summarized in The Baptist Faith and Message, Article III, 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”; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, June 10–11, 2014, affirm God’s good design that gender identity is 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 (Ephesians 4:17–18); and be it further
RESOLVED, That we grieve the reality of human fallenness which can result in such biological manifestations as intersexuality or psychological manifestations as gender identity confusion and point all to the hope of the redemption of our bodies in Christ (Romans 8:23); and be it further
RESOLVED, That we extend love and compassion to those whose sexual self-understanding is shaped by a distressing conflict between their biological sex and their gender identity; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we invite all transgender persons to trust in Christ and to experience renewal in the Gospel (1 Timothy 1:15–16); and be it further
RESOLVED, That we love our transgender neighbors, seek their good always, welcome them to our churches and, as they repent and believe in Christ, receive them into church membership (2 Corinthians 5:18–20; Galatians 5:14); and be it further
RESOLVED, That we regard our transgender neighbors as image-bearers of Almighty God and therefore condemn acts of abuse or bullying committed against them; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we oppose efforts to alter one’s bodily identity (e.g., cross-sex hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery) to refashion it to conform with one’s perceived gender identity; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we continue to oppose steadfastly all efforts by any governing official or body to validate transgender identity as morally praiseworthy (Isaiah 5:20); and be it further
RESOLVED, That we oppose all cultural efforts to validate claims to transgender identity; 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, pro- claiming what Scripture teaches about God’s design for us as male and female persons created in His image and for His glory (Matthew 28:19–20; Acts 20:27; Romans 11:36).