By Bob Allen
The transgender movement offers people “a secular and physically initiated conversion experience” that promises transformation without relying on Jesus Christ as savior, the opening speaker at a Monday morning event billed as the first-ever conference by evangelicals on the subject of transgenderism.
“You become your true self when you transition,” Owen Strachan, executive director of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood summarized the theology behind the “publicly supported ideology” of transgenderism at the Oct. 5 conference on the campus of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
“Transgenderism is offering people a way to be fully human and to become fully alive,” Strachan said at the “Transgender Confusion and Transformational Christianity” preconference to the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors annual conference Oct. 5-7.
Strachan, associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., said people in the church need to “hear that desire behind embracing transgenderism” and “recognize that people are going through a tremendous process all out of a desire to be transformed.”
“We and transgender folks actually have a similar desire to see people transformed but in radically different ways of approaching what this transformation is,” Strachan said.
The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood co-sponsored the conference with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors on the front end of the ACBC annual conference: “Homosexuality: Compassion, Care, and Counsel for Struggling People.”
“We believe that Jesus Christ loves people who struggle with the problems of gender identity,” said Heath Lambert, ACBC executive director. “We do believe that is a struggle, and we do believe that Jesus wants to help.”
“We want to have this conference to speak truth in love into a problem that so many people are talking about,” said Lambert, assistant professor of biblical counseling at Southern Seminary. “We want to be salt and light in the midst of a culture that is really full of sexual darkness and decay.”
Strachan said the public fascination with former Olympian Bruce Jenner’s transition to a transgender woman indicates “we are in a context that celebrates an identity that previously has been considered an effect of the fall.”
While modern Christians may struggle with how to respond to changing public opinion about LGBTQ issues, Strachan said God is not confused about sexual orientation or gender identity.
“This has actually been suggested in print that the Apostle Paul did not understand sexual orientation, and so we should reframe our understanding of homosexuality and transgenderism.”
“The Apostle Paul isn’t behind his times,” Strachan said. “The Apostle Paul doesn’t need education. The Apostle Paul was a living apostle of Jesus Christ who died in the name of Christ. I will trust a slain apostle before I will trust a blogger any time.”
“You give me a choice between a millennial with lots of neat new ideas about sexuality and somebody who was crucified upside down for the name of Jesus Christ, I’m going to go with the latter,” Strachan said.
Strachan pointed out a “clear category for what we would call cross-dressing or gender bending” long predating the Apostle Paul in Deuteronomy 22:5: “A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.”
Strachan described “gender dysmorphia” as both an “effect” and “actualization” of the fall of man in Genesis 3.
“Even if we have never intended to choose a transgender identity, if we embrace this impulse, we are following, chasing a sinful instinct,” Strachan said. “We are in fact sinning against God.”
Robin Knauerhase, a board member of the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, said her organization “intensely disagrees” with positions of the conference sponsors.
“We remain very disappointed with the segment of Baptists who choose to demonstrate hate rather than love, who use shallow exegetical reading of Scripture to exclude fellow Christians based simply on who they are, who disregard accepted expert medical practice, and who misrepresent Baptist principles in their intolerance of alternate viewpoints,” Knauerhase said in the AWAB’s email newsletter.