By Ken Camp
Biology, not psychology, determines gender identity, according to the Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board.
At its Feb. 23-24 meeting in Dallas, the board approved without any dissenting votes a resolution on transgender issues, declaring the Bible the authority for faith and practice for the BGCT and its institutions and asserting “in the Bible, gender is based on biological attributes and is seen as a gift from God and immutable.”
The board considered the resolution at the request of some BGCT-affiliated university presidents in an effort to provide the schools grounds to apply for a Title IX exemption from the U.S. Department of Education regarding accommodations for transgender students.
The board resolution expresses “great concern with the emergence of the transgender agenda and the notion that one’s gender is determined psychologically, not biologically.”
The statement observes “some people today are expressing a desire to identify themselves with the gender which differs from their biological gender” and some of those individuals “are seeking to function in the broader society as if they are members of the gender that differs from their biological gender.”
The resolution affirms belief that “in creation God made male and female as biological gender assignment.”
The resolution asserts the BGCT desires “for all people, including those who consider themselves transgender, to be treated with love and respect but that such love and respect not be construed as approval for every behavior.” It also states the group resolves “to seek to minister to all persons, including those who consider themselves transgender.”
Wesley Shotwell, pastor of Ash Creek Baptist Church in Azle, Texas, noted he understood the legal reasons why the institutional leaders requested the resolution, but he expressed concern about how it would be perceived.
“I have known transgendered people. They are torn, hurting and in pain. They are ‘the least of these’ and the kind of people Jesus hung out with,” Shotwell said.
“I hope we will not do as some Baptists have done over the last several years and rush to offend people who need Jesus. … I hope that anything we say and any resolution we make will not be construed by any group of people that we are against them or that Jesus is against them.”
In other business, BGCT Executive Director David Hardage announced a reorganization of the Executive Board staff, effective by May 1. The reorganization is based on two priorities, he said — to help local congregations be and do church in their communities and to do collectively what no single church can do alone.
The past year has produced big changes in the BGCT, as the Executive Board agreed last May to sell the Baptist Building in Dallas, signed a lease on new office space last December and finalized the sale of the building in January 2015.