I was surprised to read of a recent arrest at Central Bible College when some folks arranged a non-violent protest and an attempt to “dialog” with allegedly “homophobic” school officials over Gay, Lesbian, and Transgendered issues recently:
Central Bible College: Our First Act of Civil Disobedience (via Soulforce)
The blogger, Brandy Daniels from Wheaton, writes:
We arrived to Springfield, Illinois [knowing] at the beginning that it was likely that Central Bible College would not be as pleasant a stop. We relentlessly pursued conversation with the administrators at the school, who told us again and again that our voice was not welcome, that this was a conversation that the school did not need or want.
Arriving at CBC, the protesters found the school ready, with police and security from Evangel, CBC, and the General Concil all around (all hands on deck, apparently). After loitering on the sidewalks just off campus for several hours, silently reading their bibles, Abigail Reikow and Brandy Daniels entered campus through the main gate, walking toward the chapel when they were arrested, frisked, sent downtown and charged with a misdemeanor trespassing violation. The group left around noon. Apparently even non-violent protests give way to lunchtime hunger-pangs.
Prior to this, the Springfield News-Leader quoted campus pastor Ron Bradley:
“We have no difficulty discussing this issue (of homosexuality),” said Bradley. Instead, it is the organization and its method that led to the decision, he said. “Their track record has been ignoble at best. … “Our concern, having studied their patterns … is while their initial contact calls for dialogue, their pattern has been much more combative and on some campuses, deceptive.”
I don’t know what dialog this group hopes to foster, and I’m too pressed for time to research their claims or their theology. However, whatever one believes about sexual “orientation,” I believe it’s clear that Scriptures teach that it’s not the impulse to sin that marks the sinner (we all are tempted) but the behavior itself and the act of entertaining the temptations — nurturing sin in our hearts. Just by analogy, straight men are sexually tempted as well, but it’s not the temptation to have sex that marks the straight man as a sinner or even unregenerate: it is the behavior and the lust that defile.
Thus, I believe it’s possible to be a believer and a disciple while experiencing same-sex attraction — or any-sex attraction. Yet if obedience to Christ is the mark of a disciple, I am not as agnostic about salvation and the practice of gay and lesbian lifestyle choices.
But all that’s been discussed elsewhere and on other fora ad nauseum. If you want to see what the A/G teaches about it, review their extensive ephemera at the ag.org site here.
But the transgendered issue is still a relatively open discussion. There’s virtually nothing about it on the ag.org site, and there’s certainly no position paper on it.
Elsewhere, I own and moderate an email-based A/G discussion group. One of the long-time members of that group was a transgendered (male to female) participant who had not disclosed his/her gender mashup until another enterprising member discovered it and disclosed it publicly on the forum and called for an ousting. This was back in late 2003.
If it were just that a member on the forum were cross-dressing or undergoing gender reassignment, it wouldn’t have been a huge issue for me. We have sinners of all stripes on our message boards. Being an unbeliever, a pagan, or a sinner wasn’t a reason to get kicked off the forum or castigated. What made the ousting a bigger issue, for me, was that the individual involved was involved in lay-ministry at her local Assemblies of God church
So, I found myself struggling with the question: Is it possible to be a post-operative transsexual and remain a Christian?
I wasn’t sure, and still am not entirely certain of my position, but I suspect maybe the answer is similar to this question’s conclusion: Is it possible to divorce and remarry while your first spouse is alive and remain a Christian?
My personal view is that the transgendered operation should only be embraced by those who are born hermaphrodites or whose sexual genitalia are opposite their genetic endowments. I do not currently buy the view that being “mentally” or psychologically a woman and “physically” a male (or vice-versa) somehow justifies surgical change. The mental phenomenon may or may not be legitimate, but that’s irrelevant to me. For a believer, I don’t believe the experience justifies the surgery.
By analogy, a mental or genetic predisposition to violence doesn’t justify abuse. Similarly, a mental or genetic predisposition to thinking like the opposite sex, or being attracted to the opposite sex, also doesn’t justify cross- dressing, transsexualism, or homosexuality.
I don’t endorse the view that “God doesn’t make mistakes, therefore, nobody is ever born with homosexual or transsexual desires.” Clearly, children are born with physical defects and abnormalities, as are others are born with mental defects and abnormalities.
Current research, while controversial, seems to deny that there is a “gay gene” or a truly gay “brain shape.” And I am not certain there is such a thing as an opposing-gendered mind trapped in the wrong-gendered body. But, however the research pans out, maybe it’s possible there is a truly homosexual brain formation, or a truly transsexual self-image reflected in deep mental structures. But whether homosexuality or transsexualism does or does not have an ultimate basis in biology is irrelevant to me.
In the first case, I believe the homosexual behavior is sinful, and that would be true regardless of any biological justification. After all, biologists have been telling us for years that males are driven by biology to have sex with as many females as possible. So what? Our values and morals are not founded on biology in a fallen world. Rather, they are based on God’s Word and his nature.
In the second case, I believe that acting out a sexuality or gender that is at odds with one’s physical genitalia creates a self- contradictory gender image — and this does violence to the “image of God” within.
Marriage, by Analogy
Bear with me as I take a slight digression to reveal my thinking here. I believe the fundamental reason divorce is unlawful in God’s eyes is because he created Male and Female to not only bear his Image independently, but also to bear his Image in union — through marriage. The marital union is the only relationship on Earth that mirrors and symbolizes the relationship between God and his Bride, the church.
In the same way that murdering another person violates the image of God within that person, divorce similarly violates the image of God within the marital union. Marriage is sacred, not just because of the vows surrounding the ceremony, but it is sacred because the image of God, and God himself, is present in the marital union in a way that it is not present in any other kind of relationship we know and enjoy.
Gender and the Image of God
But marriage of this kind requires the two genders that God created to be joined as one. God created male and female, from the beginning of time, to not only bear his image independently but to combine to symbolize his relationship to Man.
In light of gender being a fundamental part of God’s design for his creation, and in light of gender being an indispensable part of the marital union and all that is symbolized therein, I therefore believe that to deny one’s gender or to confuse the matter by switching genders, violates God’s design and intention.
Is it possible to have committed this sin and remain a Christian? Probably. Is it possible to fail to repent of this sin and remain a Christian? I don’t know. I wished I did.
But on the safe side, I follow the example shown in the early Church. If God has poured out his Spirit on and individual and that person bears the evidences the fruit of the Spirit in discipleship — especially obedience and chastity — then I’ll treat that person like a child of God.
But, meanwhile, I feel it’s necessary to draw the line at ministry leadership. In the same way that divorced and remarried men and women are not allowed to hold ministerial papers in the A/G (I know many here will disagree with this), I would posit that transgendered or cross-dressing men and women also not hold positions of ministry. In my mind, that would include teaching Sunday School, leading outreach ministries, writing devotionals (with a byline), and so on.
This is one of those contemporary issues made possible by advanced medical technology that never faced the early church. Sure, I expect there were homosexuals and even cross-dresses in every age of mankind, but the ability to cross-dress the flesh itself is new. And the Church, by and large, has yet to figure out how to respond to this.
Interestingly, in 2003 and beyond, I know that the executive A/G leadership has been made aware of this issue. And yet, no studies have commenced, no committees formed, and no positional papers issued.
I suspect that’s going to have to change. And soon.
Read along with me:
- Springfield News-Leader: Gay-rights group plans Monday visit to CBC
- Springfield News-Leader: 2 Soulforce members arrested
- The Chronicle of Higher Education: Gay-Rights Activists Arrested at Oklahoma Baptist U. [cached]
- Vanity Prayer Request: Gay Christians coming to Central Bible College Springfield Mo. for dialouge.
[tags]BlogRodent, Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered, Homosexuality, Bisexuality, Theology, Central-Bible-College, CBC, Protest, Non-Violent Protest, Springfield, Springfield-Missouri, Missouri, Soulforce, arrest, civil-disobedience, divorce, remarriage, marriage, ministry, GLBT, Springfield-News-Leader, morality, sin, leadership, Bible-College, Christianity, Religion, Pentecostal, Assemblies-of-God, Assembly-of-God[/tags]