The Church of England's New Transgender Service Subverts the Bible, Will Drive People Away
Update below: An evangelical response.
On Wednesday, bishops the Church of England released official guidance for churches to celebrate transgender identity with pseudo-baptismal services. This guidance, which officially became part of the church's library of services, directly violates the biblical understanding of humanity and will drive more Christians away from the church.
"The Church of England welcomes and encourages the unconditional affirmation of trans people, equally with all people, within the body of Christ," the guidance declares. If a transgender person wishes to join the church, he or she should be baptized, and if already baptized, then the bishops recommend the rite of Affirmation of Baptismal Faith.
In such services, the guidance stresses that the transgender person be referred to by his or her chosen name and chosen pronouns. The bishops defended this by noting that "the giving or adoption of a new name has a long history in Judeo-Christian tradition as may be evidenced from Scripture," and listed Old Testament readings involving new names ("Sarai" to "Sarah" in Genesis 17, "Jacob" to "Israel" in Genesis 32).
Importantly, the tradition of renaming never implied that someone changed their biological sex or their gender. This entire guidance is a departure from the Bible and Christian tradition.
"Those who push a line which seeks to separate gender from biology are falling into a dualist heresy," Matthew Firth, pastor of the Anglican churches St. Cuthbert's and Holy Trinity, told PJ Media on Friday. "Humanity is made male and female in the image of God, as stated in Gen 1:27. There is therefore a givenness to gender which is inseparable from biology."
Firth insisted that people "who experience gender dysphoria are to be valued, honoured and cared for just like any other human person made in God's image. But part of this care does involve the hard journey of helping those people to live with the grain of their given gender and biology and not against it."
The pastor noted that people who undergo transgender surgery face the same high suicide rates as those who do not, and that many who "transition" later return to their birth sex.
"Such therapy and surgery is psychologically, emotionally, and ultimately spiritually damaging," Firth said, calling the pastoral guidance "unacceptable."
"By its unqualified affirmation of gender transition, and by its encouragement to celebrate transition in the context of baptismal reaffirmation, it flies in the face of the gospel of creation, fall and redeemed identity in Christ," the pastor declared. "In short, the Guidance is unbiblical, theologically inept and pastorally damaging."
Transgender identity requires a certain approach to the nature of humanity that rejects the Bible's message, according to the Rev. Sam Ferguson, who will become rector of the Falls Church Anglican next year. He spoke on these issues at the Anglican Church of North America's Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic Synod last month, Juicy Ecumenism's Jeffrey Walton reported.