How Should Christians Respond to the Transgender Phenomenon?

Barb Wire

by Robert A. J. Gagnon

In June, Christianity Today published an article by Mark Yarhouse, a professor of psychology at Regent University in Virginia, on “gender dysphoria.” Gender dysphoria is the APA’s current description of the condition whereby someone perceives one’s “gender” to be other than one’s birth or biological sex. The previous designation in the APA’s diagnostic manual (and in my view still preferable) is “gender identity disorder” (GID).

Yarhouse contends:

1. Church members should address a man who thinks he is a woman by her chosen female name and use feminine pronouns, and a woman who thinks she is a man by her chosen male name and use masculine pronouns.

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2. The church should not “treat as synonymous management of gender dysphoria and faithfulness” to Christ. The church should allow those with transgender desires “to identify with aspects of the opposite sex, as a way to manage extreme discomfort.”

3. For the most part, the church should give up on the “culture war” battle on this and other issues. “The church is called to rise above [culture] wars and present a witness to redemption.”

Yarhouse refers to three different lenses for interpreting the issue: Integrity (Yarhouse cites me as a proponent; go here for an online discussion), Disability, and Diversity (full affirmation of transgenderism). Although Yarhouse states that he believes “there are strengths in all three lenses,” he clearly operates with a descending scale with Disability at the top and Diversity at the bottom: “Because I am a psychologist…, I see value in a disability lens.”

Yarhouse doesn’t dump the Integrity lens entirely. “Even as Christians affirm the disability lens, we should also let the integrity lens inform our pastoral care.” He rather sees the disability lens as embracing the Integrity lens but going beyond it and even correcting it, at least at two points. First, “the disability lens also makes room for supportive care and interventions that allow for cross-gender identification in a way the integrity lens does not” (it is this allowance that is the main problem in my view). Second, it “rejects the teaching that gender identity conflicts are the result of willful disobedience or sinful choice.”

Continue reading at First Things

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

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