Baptists Hold Conference on Transgender Movement

A panel of R. Albert Mohler Jr., Denny Burk, James M. Hamilton Jr., and Owen Strachen discuss the transgender movement during the ACBC/CBMW preconference, Oct. 5. (SBTS photo by Emil Handke)
A panel of R. Albert Mohler Jr., Denny Burk, James M. Hamilton Jr., and Owen Strachen discuss the transgender movement during the ACBC/CBMW preconference, Oct. 5. (SBTS photo by Emil Handke)

The transgender movement presents an unprecedented theological and cultural crisis for the church, said Southern Baptist scholars at an Oct. 5 pre-conference event, “Transgender: Transgender confusion and transformational Christianity,” at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The preconference preceded the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) annual conference, which is being held at the seminary Oct. 5-7 in Louisville, Ky. The preconference, co-sponsored by ACBC and the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), is believed to be the first time evangelicals have held such an event to discuss the transgender movement.

“We have underestimated the challenge that we’re facing, and we have underestimated it in ways that betray the fact that the lessons of church history are so quickly forgotten,” said Southern Seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. “The challenge that is now presented us by this comprehensive moral revolution taking place around us is tantamount for the kind of theological challenge that the church faced in the Trinitarian and Christological controversies of the first [few] centuries.”

The preconference featured Mohler, Owen Strachan, president of the CBMW and professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College. Burk and Heath Lambert, executive director of ACBC and associate professor of biblical counseling at Southern Seminary and Boyce College, recently wrote “Transforming Homosexuality,” and Burk is author of “What is the Meaning of Sex?”

In his plenary session, Mohler — whose new book about the sexual revolution, “We Cannot Be Silent,” addresses the moral revolution facing Christianity — argued that the transgender movement represents the cultural dilemma about gender and sexuality even more clearly than homosexuality. The moral revolution has expanded so rapidly as to put the “very existence of biblical Christianity” into question, he said.

“The transgender revolution presents a more acute and more comprehensive challenge than merely the issue of homosexuality,” Mohler said. “Because of the identity questions rooted in creation, the transgender revolution represents a challenge on an altogether different scale.”

Strachan presented two competing worldviews on gender during his address, juxtaposing the constructionist perspective —┬áthat all gender differences are socially cultivated and not inherent to each person –with the essentialist perspective —┬áthat gender differences are part of God’s creation design and that men and women are essentially different. One’s God-given sex, Strachan argued, does define and determine how one should live.

“We cannot be whatever we want; we cannot make ourselves whatever we would wish to be,” he said. “Our body is not supposed to be whatever we make of it. Our frame is intricately woven. How different a perspective is that than a transgenderist perspective? Our bodies are woven by God, as with a beautiful loom of creation.”

Reading the creation story in Genesis 1 as formative for gender identity, Strachan argued that manhood and womanhood are both unique and intentional. The differences are not incidental, he argued, but part of God’s purposes in creation. Therefore, girls should be encouraged to be girls, and boys should be encouraged to be boys, he said.

“We, unlike the culture, are not asking our little boys to change,” he said. “Many boys simply need a father who takes notice of them, who throws his iPhone against the wall and gets on the floor and plays with his boy and doesn’t abandon his son. That’s what the church needs more of, I think, and that’s what the culture needs more of.”

Strachan strongly opposed claims that Paul’s theology of manhood and womanhood emerge from the apostle’s confusion regarding sexual orientation. Far from being bound by his time and culture, Paul was witnessing the very creation order of God, Strachan said.

“The apostle Paul isn’t behind the times. The Apostle Paul doesn’t need education. The Apostle Paul was a living apostle of Jesus Christ who died in the name of Christ. And I will trust a slain apostle before I will trust a blogger anytime.”

Strachan encouraged the conference attendees to hold firm to their convictions, leaning on their confidence in the provision and power of God himself.

“Know that God has not messed things up. The church is not a crisis PR firm, cleaning up the messes Jesus has made. That is not our role,” he said. “God does not need new PR; God needs people who will preach the truth in love.”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Andrew Smith

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