News of the Week

Dominating the cultural conversation these days are issues pertaining to human sexuality and gender. Whether we’re talking about same-sex marriage, transgenderism, debates over public bathrooms and locker rooms, or drag queen story hours being hosted by schools and libraries, stories that fall loosely under the ever-growing LGBTQ+ acronym are virtually inescapable.

When it comes to same-sex marriage, the issue for those of us who are Christians is not whether it is legal. That ship has long since sailed. Instead, the debate in churches is whether to be fully affirming or to hold to a traditional Christian sexual ethic. It’s an issue that is splitting congregations and denominations.

Here are some news stories about recent developments in the Church of England and it’s position on same-sex relationships. You can read about it in The Christian Post here and at The Gospel Coalition here and here. With their recent decision to allow churches and clergy to “bless” same-sex unions but yet not permit such couples to marry, its attempt to thread the needle has managed to alienate both progressives and traditionalists. It’s hard to imagine it will be long before the Church of England becomes fully affirming and therefore abandons traditional, orthodox, biblical teaching on marriage and sexuality.

Other churches are dealing with the same issues, and you can read about the Evangelical Covenant Church here and the United Methodist Church here.

We would be foolish to think that the pressure to bend to the cultural pressure will not increase and affect more and more churches and denominations.

Despite this continuing debate, over the last few years the conversation has shifted from same-sex marriage to the acceptance of transgender persons. And when we say acceptance here, what is meant, again, is the full-throated affirmation that gender is psychologically and individually determined, not biological. In my country, this now has the force of law, however that might work out in actual practice. Though here is one family that has been torn apart by all of this. This case is not an anomaly.

One of the important aspects to this and other dimensions to the cultural conversation around sexuality and gender is the manipulation of language. Not only is the case with the use of pronouns, but also how people discuss basic biological realities. For instance, from the story above about the father and his “son,” we have this: “The father, whose name is under a publication ban along with his son’s, went to court after learning his child, who was assigned female at birth, was undergoing hormone therapy to transition to a boy.”

Do you see how the article shifts language around in order to normalize the idea of gender transitioning? It says that the child in question was “assigned female at birth.” Throughout the article, the child, who was born a biological female, is referred to as “son” or “boy.” Rather than simply a question of recognizing a biological reality, the idea of gender is now subservient to the expressive individualism of our age.

A larger concern is how the shift in language can effect how people think about the nature of personhood and sexuality. The words we use matters to the way in which we conceive of reality and act truthfully in the world. Consider, for example, the move to talk about “pregnant people” rather than pregnant women. The only real reason for this particular shift is the prior assumption that gender is subjective and that we should adjust our terms to avoid offending transgendered persons. In a society where men can be women and women can be men, using a phrase like “pregnant people” seems like an obvious means of softening resistance to larger changes.

Or, at a more extreme and disturbing level, think about the way pedophiles are being re-branded by some as MAPS or “minor attracted persons.” Is this simply a benign attempt to reduce the stigma towards people with depraved, but unwanted, desires or to begin normalizing a condition and its accompanying behaviour?

As Christians, it is incumbent on us to be informed about these developments. Even if no one in our immediate circle of family and friends is transgender or same-sex attracted or holds to more progressive views on sexuality and gender, we probably have neighbours for whom these matters are much more pressing. Certainly there are other Christians and churches and pastors for whom this is also true. In any case, we both need to be aware of what’s going on around us and how to think about such developments from a biblical perspective.

Let me also say this. I know these are sensitive matters. We’re not only talking about issues; we’re also talking about flesh and blood people made in the image of God. How we talk about the issues in a larger, say, philosophical or theological or cultural sense, is one thing. How we have conversations with actual people who are struggling with sexuality or with their gender identity is another. Followers of Jesus are called to speak with love, to embody grace and truth.

One thought on “News of the Week

  1. Thank you for stating this so clearly. Corrupting language is a very powerful and dangerous tactic . It’s a bit terrifying to watch it happen. If this is not the beginning of the end times’ grand delusion, I shudder to think what else is coming .

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