Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Remonstrance Against Resolution #9

Some hours ago, as I write this, the Southern Baptist Convention,  in 2014 annual meeting, adopted a resolution specifically condemning transgender individuals and advocating against laws and policies which would protect their equality. The resolution was written and submitted by an associate professor at an SBC institution named Denny Burk (along with a co-author Andrew Walker). As a lifelong member of the Southern Baptist Convention as well as a lifelong transsexual (howbeit only about six years self accepting) I felt both qualified and compelled to weigh in with a rebuttal.

Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to present my thoughts in any form which would be accessible to voting members before the convention since Burk and Walker seem to have made a point of not publicizing the resolution until the last minute before the convention convened. In light of that I'm left with remonstrating against it in the past tense fully aware of that my arguments will be futile for a generation or more and that the convention has yet again embarrassed itself by standing on the traditions of men (rather than the word of God) in light of new scientific information. I do not presume to live to see them rectify their error.

The complete text of the resolution can be found on Burk's blog. I've decided to reply to the ill-informed resolution in the same format in which it was originally presented. Sadly it will never come to a vote.

WHEREAS, the Southern Baptist Convention considered a resolution on transgender identity at their 2014 meeting, and

WHEREAS, this resolution was intended to express the mind of the convention regarding transgender identity and the legal standing of transgender persons, and

WHEREAS, this resolution was overwhelmingly passed with few if any dissenting votes, and

WHEREAS, the resolution was made public knowledge only in the last few days preceding the meeting thus forestalling critical contrary opinion, and

WHEREAS, the resolution acknowledges the existence of certain biological conditions collectively known as intersex conditions which represent an imperfection present from birth which results in an atypical arrangement of gender specific biological characteristics, and

WHEREAS, these atypical birth conditions are doctrinally understood to be results of the Fall (as mentioned in the aforementioned resolution) which corrupted God's perfect creation (Genesis 3:1–24; Romans 8:20), and

WHEREAS, there are other atypical birth conditions which affect the human brain (e.g. autism et al), and

WHEREAS, science has well-established the human brain is physically and functionally different in the female and in the male thus making the biology of the brain sex specific in the same way that the gonads are, and

WHEREAS, the implication of the foregoing is inescapably that it is not only possible but logically inevitable that certain individuals will be born with atypical birth conditions which produce conflict between the sex specific characteristics of the brain and the sex specific characteristics of the gonads, and

WHEREAS, the resolution does not acknowledge this logic but rather proceeds from the flawed assumption that gender dysphoria represents a condition which is "psychologically ambiguous" rather than biologically ambiguous, and

WHEREAS, the resolution fails to acknowledge the distinction between gender dysphoria and other gender nonconforming behavior (e.g. drag queens et al) in that the former is biologically driven and the latter is a lifestyle choice, and

WHEREAS, neither the authors of the resolution, the resolution committee, nor the messengers to the convention sought or received the wise counsel of those professionally trained in transgender issues nor that of those Christian brothers and sisters who've dealt with and are dealing with gender dysphoria, and

WHEREAS, the Bible says that in the multitude of counselors is found safety (Proverbs 11:14), and

WHEREAS, the Bible nowhere directly condemns or strongly implies the condemnation of transsexual transition, and

WHEREAS, the Bible mandates genital altering surgery by God's command for his people Israel (Genesis 21:4, etc.), and

WHEREAS, the Bible mentions eunuchs in both Old and New Testament passages, none in a negative light (Isaiah 54:3-5, etc), and

WHEREAS, while eunuchs are not transgender in the modern sense, they are widely understood to fall outside of the distinctly masculine and feminine roles as ordained by God as part of the created order (Genesis 2:18, 21–24; 1 Corinthians 11:7–9; Ephesians 5:22–33; 1 Timothy 2:12–14 ), and

WHEREAS, Jesus Christ stated that some eunuchs are made by men (Matthew 19:12), and

WHEREAS, neither Christ or any other passage in the Bible condemns that practice, and

WHEREAS, the Bible mentions God's goodwill toward eunuchs (Isaiah 3-5, Matt. 19:12 and

WHEREAS, the American Medical Association strongly supports prescription of transition supporting treatment for individual suffering from gender dysphoria as a medical and biological necessity, and

WHEREAS, the exclusive support for condemnation of an transsexual transition flows from human tradition, and

WHEREAS, Jesus Christ condemned the human failing of substituting the traditions of men in place of the word of God, and

WHEREAS, the word of God throughout the New Testament counsels loving compassion for hurting people, and

WHEREAS, due to the severe condemnation of transsexual persons by the traditions of our culture transsexual people suffer high degrees of disabling depression such that 41% of self- identified transgender persons have attempted suicide, and

WHEREAS, there is no way to account for the number of souls lost to successful suicide attempts over the centuries because transgender people realized they would face the wrath of condemnation by even those closest to them, and

WHEREAS, religious people, particularly conservative religious people, were at the forefront of that condemnation, and encouraged that reaction by others, and

WHEREAS, this distress was further escalated by lacking legal protections against discrimination in employment and housing among other critical concerns, and

WHEREAS, the aforementioned resolution serve to encourage further societal condemnation of transgender individuals and to call for the continuation of policies which allowed discrimination against these individuals, now therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the convention acted hastily, unwisely, and without the benefit of a wide range of counsel in the passing of said resolution, and be it further

RESOLVED, that it will reflect well upon God's church for the resolution to be rescinded and for Christians everywhere to acquaint themselves with an the facts concerning this condition and extend a loving hand towards those individuals inside and outside the church who are struggling in with this condition, and be at further

RESOLVED, that transgender people who conduct themselves otherwise in a manner consistent with biblical sexual morality are not at odds with that morality by the virtue of transsexual transition, and be it further

RESOLVED, that in the spirit of equality, and having learned the lessons of history that the convention fully support laws and policies, including and especially in Baptist run institutions churches and schools, which prevent unfair discrimination against these struggling people.