"Do not be deceived…" – 1 Corinthians 6:9b
Every generation deals with issues affecting a part of the population. Out of the struggles over these issues have come laws pertaining to income taxes, the draft, child labor, civil rights, equal rights, minimum hourly salaries, abortion, homosexuality, those with disabilities and a myriad of other "social" issues. And now, of late, is the topic of transgenderism or gender dysphoria (formerly identified as gender identity disorder). This affects a fairly small part of the American public (roughly 0.002 to 0.015 percent according to the American Psychiatric Association; some surveys have suggested it is far more prevalent than this), but what is decided about it has ramifications for nearly all of us.
The case has increasingly been made that those who "suffer with" gender dysphoria (and even that language may be viewed as pejorative, though the American Psychiatric Association still includes it in it most recent DSM-5 manual) is not a psychological disorder as much as it is the result of a person's chromosome makeup. Many transgenders have expressed a desire to have gender dysphoria removed from the DSM manual altogether as its inclusion suggests that it is a psychological disorder even if it is not therein described as such. So what is being put before us is that transgenders become transgenders not as a result of any mental or psychological (or spiritual) problem but because that is what they were destined to do and to be.
Up until as recently 2017 Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, refused to perform any sexual reassignment surgeries as they remained unconvinced of the suggested genetic factors involved in gender dysphoria. But they have had a change of mind and now are doing "sexual realignment" surgeries (the change in terminology reflects their change in attitude).
So where does this leave the church? What are we to think of this?
I have many things to say here and this will take many weeks to cover.
1) Sexual behavior issues, very honestly, muddy the waters in connection with how we view our salvation. I recall, many years ago now, telling a man that there are few things that are theologically required of us in becoming a Christian. Those things are:
a. A belief in God
b. A belief that God rewards those who seek him (i.e., that there is a judgment to come; Hebrews 11:6)
c. A confession that Jesus is Lord, and
d. A belief that God raised Jesus from the dead (Roman 10:9-10).
Should a Christian believe that Jesus walked on water? Yes. But must they believe that Jesus walked on water in order to be saved? Not from what I can see in scripture. Or, should a Christian believe in the physical return of Jesus? Yes. Must a Christian believe in the physical return of Jesus in order to be saved? Not from what I can see in scripture.
All that to say that the "essential" beliefs for salvation as laid out in the scriptures are fairly short or cryptic. Beyond these theological beliefs, the scriptures also are fairly clear in stating three things that are asked of those coming to faith in Christ: 1. Repentance from sin (Acts 2:38), 2. Belief in Jesus, trusting that he truly has become our fully adequate sin bearer (Acts 16:31) and 3. Baptism (Acts 2:38; Matthew 28:19). Reading the Bible, going to church, giving to the needs of others – these and countless other good works are asked of the believer but none are viewed as necessary for salvation.
Next week we will go into this further…