There’s a brief interview on the Desiring God website with Australian theologian and pastor Dr. Rob Smith. It’s titled “Why Did the Transgender Revolution Catch Us by Surprise?” Although it’s helpful in explaining the philosophical and political origins of the revolution to normalize the abnormal rejection of one’s biological sex, it ignores one of the most significant reasons that the so-called “transgender” revolution has caught most Christians by surprise: the failure of many (perhaps most) church leaders to address it.
Dr. Smith discusses Enlightenment ideas, the development of antibiotics which removed the fear of STD’s, and the development of the birth control pill which severed sex from procreation and sex from marriage, all of which paved the way for the sexual revolution of the 1960’s. He explained how the 1960’s sexual revolution coincided with Second Wave feminism which promoted sometimes contradictory notions about “gender” (i.e., that gender was socially constructed and arbitrary or that femaleness has an objective nature that is intrinsically superior to maleness). And he touched on how subversive ideas about sexuality, “gender,” and the social taboos associated with them began being challenged, which ineluctably resulted in the social and political effort to normalize homosexuality and then sex-rejection (aka “transgenderism”). In other words, he explained what intellectual trends and events caused the revolution.
But in response to the important question “Why Did the Transgender Revolution Catch Us by Surprise?,” Dr. Smith said only this:
I think it is just the prominence of the homosexual revolution that kind of has obscured the transgender revolution as it were, just tucked in behind. And now that same-sex marriage is being realized in many parts throughout the western world, it is in some ways moved to one side so that the transgender movement has now stepped forward as the major point of social and legislative and other kind of engagement.
Do, theologians, pastors, and priests who failed to think deeply about the cultural implications of the intellectual trends and social and political revolutions present since at least the 1960’s bear no responsibility for the revolution at hand?
Do Christian leaders whose cowardice or desire to be approved of by man led them to ignore the homosexual and “trans” revolutions bear no responsibility for the cultural havoc and suffering that we see today?
Do church leaders bear no responsibility for failing to help their congregations understand and respond to the secular lies that defy biblical truth and undermine respect for the authority of Scripture?
Do church leaders bear no responsibility for the often brusque ways they have rebuffed members of their own congregations who did see the homosexual and “transgender” revolutions coming and begged their pastors and priests to address them?
Do church leaders bear no responsibility for claiming that the homosexual and now “transgender” revolutions are political issues and, therefore, no business of the church even though the ideas about homoerotic activity, biological sex, and marriage foundational to these revolutions are perversions of foundational biblical issues?
Does pride, stubbornness, cowardice, intellectual sloth, or elitism on the part of church leaders who have failed to read enough, think deeply enough, listen to church members, teach adequately (or at all), or otherwise take action help explain why Christians have been caught by surprise by the transgender revolution just as they were caught by surprise by the homosexual revolution?
Of course, the failure of church leaders to lead is not the sole reason for the shocking and tragic revolutions that are eviscerating the family and destroying the bodies, minds, and hearts of countless men, women, and children. Hollywood, academia, government schools, professional medical and mental health organizations, and the press are in the tank for deviance. But Christians—including those who are charged with leading—should look first to the motes in their eyes.
A pastor recently asked me the question I most long to hear from pastors regarding the cultural embrace of false beliefs about homosexuality and gender dysphoria: “What can pastors do?”
Church leaders can do many things, including offering classes, workshops, and sermons for adults, senior high students, and middle school students that do the following:
- Teach the biblical view of maleness and femaleness.
- Teach the biblical understanding of marriage as a picture of Christ and the church. If Christians come to believe that there is no difference in nature or role between men and women including even in marriage, then there is no difference in nature or role between Christ and his bride, the church. Christians need to understand that marriage has a nature—an ontology—that neither court decisions nor laws can change. And Christians need to understand that the belief that marriage has a nature central to which is sexual differentiation is not an exclusively religious or Christian belief—though it is consonant with Christian doctrine.
- Expose the intellectual errors in the specious secular arguments used to normalize homosexuality, to normalize rejection of maleness or femaleness, and to justify the legal recognition of same-sex unions as marriages. It is the secular arguments to which Christians are exposed relentlessly that confuse, deceive, and persuade.
- Teach that Christians are promised in Scripture that they will be persecuted and even hated. Christians need to be encouraged to think about the kinds of trials they will encounter and what kinds of persecution they are willing to endure. They need to think about what compromises they will and won’t make. Are they willing to lose friends and family in order to follow Christ? If they’re public school teachers, will they refer to gender-dysphoric students by opposite-sex pronouns, which John Piper and others say they must never do? If they work in wedding-related businesses, will they serve celebrations of unions that God detests? If they’re small business owners, will they permit multi-person co-ed restrooms? Are they willing to come alongside those brothers and sisters in Christ who are persecuted, including helping them financially if they lose their jobs?
- Provide a proper understanding of the separation of church and state. Many Christians falsely believe that it is constitutionally impermissible for their biblical beliefs to shape or inform their political decisions.
Although it’s possible to find this information online and in books, Christians would need to know where to look and which scholars and organizations to seek out for answers. And only rarely are all the answers they need available in one place. The church (including theologians, pastors, and priests) is the only cultural institution with the reach, power, and wisdom to battle secular or theological lies (i.e., heresy) effectively. Christians shouldn’t have to beg their teachers to teach and their leaders to lead. One would think Christian leaders would have learned that lesson from the history of the church’s shameful failure to oppose slavery and the bigotry of the Jim Crow era.
First published at Illinois Family Institute
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.