Comment by Reform on GS Misc 1178 Update on ‘Welcoming Transgender People’
Every Christian community will know that there are likely to be profound pastoral struggles in those who speak of themselves as transgender (which must not to be confused with the intersex condition). Furthermore every congregation ought to know that the gospel is for all, no matter what their background. Anything which hinders someone from hearing the good news that Christ and his death proclaims needs to be dealt with. However for Christ to be good news to anyone they have to be open to the challenges that God’s Word brings. This is where GS Misc 1178 falls down, despite its good intentions.
There is no definition in GS Misc 1178 of what is meant by the affirmation to which it refers. Nor is there any recognition of an appropriate perspective on the prevalence of the condition termed ‘gender dysphoria’ (often reckoned to be 0.005% of the population – which equates to 50 persons attending Anglican churches across the country)
In its handling of Genesis 1 this document shows no confidence that God’s Word provides the way in which anyone, including those wrestling with transgender identity, can find peace and joy in Christ. It cannot be pastorally helpful to ignore what God says about our identity as people and as followers of Jesus Christ.
Paragraph 6 says ‘The image of God, in which we are all made, transcends gender, race and any other characteristic, and our shared identity as followers of Jesus Christ is the unity which makes all one in Christ’. In Genesis 1:27 we are told that we are made in the image of God, but that same verse insists that we are created male and female. Thus being made in the image of God cannot ‘transcend gender’. Furthermore our shared identity as followers of Jesus cannot negate the fact that we are made male and female and called to live as that.
Liturgy and doctrine cannot be divorced. It is good that no new liturgy is being proposed, however to use ‘Affirmation of Baptismal Faith’ in the way envisaged in this document is to change Church of England doctrine by stealth. Baptism always calls us to repent of what God defines as sin.