Life has big questions. What is reality? What is the nature of the world around us? Is it possible to know anything at all? (39). Why did the Flintstones celebrate Christmas? Why does Hawaii have an interstate highway? As Andrew Walker writes in his updated God and the Transgender Debate, the Bible, and specifically Genesis 1–2, give a true account of reality for the whole world. God created humanity in his image—we represent God. He created humanity male and female, and he created them for one another. Rejecting that male and female are “concrete, stable categories” denies the purpose of creation. We need each other, not only for reproduction, but even through the characteristics each gender “showcases.”
However, the western world we live in is post-Christian, radically individualist (“What is best for me?”), heavily influenced by the sexual revolution (my body is my own to enjoy however I want), and gnostic (“a person’s self-awareness is different than and more important than their physical body”—p. 28). As a result, today many see gender as being unattached to sex. Some feel their gender is different from their biological sex (this is gender dysphoria), which has led to a new term: gender identity (34).
Walker affirms that gender dysphoria is not sinful (76). Gender dysphoria is “the mental distress that an individual experiences as a result of feeling misalignment between their biological sex and so-called ‘gender identity’” (76). There is a difference between having an unwanted feeling and acting upon it. It is estimated that 0.06% (or 1,400,000 people) of the population is transgender. While that is an extremely small amount, Walker emphasizes that these people are “real people” who need to be shown “care and compassion” (35).
As a side note, Walker emphasizes the Bible’s teaching on man-woman relations in marriage and reproduction, but he is careful not to downplay the significance of singles and couples without children. Even though God made man and woman to come together and reproduce children through monogamous, life-long relationships, singles are not less than married couples, and married couples without children are not less than those who her them.
Back to gender identity: to transition is only a sin, not the sin. No one is too far gone to repent. The offer God holds out to us though, is that through knowing Jesus Christ we can be new creations through the redemption Jesus brought (2 Cor 5:17). The world we live in is under sin’s curse, and in the new creation all struggles—including gender dysphoria—will be abolished. Walker walks the read through what it might look like for a transgender person to repent.
Throughout his book, Walker is careful to note how the church has gone too far. It is wrong to disown your transgender son or daughter (148). Like society, the church has put forth unhelpful gender stereotypes that confuse those who don’t fit into them (62). We can’t imagine ourselves as “better than” just because we don’t do these sins. We need to “avoid pouncing on others while ignoring the log in our own eye” (85). Instead, we should love our neighbor. Transgender people are made in God’s image, and are due honor and respect. We should reject mocking humor and speak up in their defense, even while we disagree with their lifestyle. We should be able to listen to them and their story, even taking on their struggles as you walk by their side. We must speak the truth in love.
In chapter 9, Walker discusses how a transgender person might go about living after becoming a Christian. That is, what does repentance look like here? In Chapter 10, Walker challenges the church to be a compassionate community who both listens and is committed to biblical truth. Chapter 11 covers how to speak to children and teens about this, as well as if they one day say they experience these feelings. Chapter 12 presents tough questions (and their answers) that come up (such as on pronouns, intersex, bathrooms, etc.).
Chapter 13 presents philosophical and practical problems that result from transgenderism, such as the undermining of womanhood and motherhood, fairness and equality, parental rights, and religious liberty and conscience rights. Chapter 14, though a short chapter, ends on a note of the significance of hands—hidden hands, the Creator’s hands, and the scarred hands of the One who reaches out to us.
Walker ends with two appendices. Appendix One offers a good discussion on the pronoun debate. Walker acknowledges that Christians will and do differ in opinion, but I appreciate his explanation and care and agree with Walker in what he writes. Pronouns are not insignificant for they communicate how a person understands him- or herself “at their deepest, most intimate level” (186). While critics throw the Golden Rule in the faces of Christians, to love our neighbor means advancing their good (187). As best as you can, if a transgender man or woman wants you to use their preferred pronouns, just don’t use pronouns at all. Don’t go against your conscience. Also know that easy resolutions aren’t available. You will have to make a stand for what you believe. Appendix Two is a glossary of gender identity terms used throughout the book.
Being the second edition, here is what has been updated:
– The section “Should we expect non-Christians to agree with us?” added to chapter 5;
– A section in chapter 6 looking at gender dysphoria;
– A new chapter (13), “Challenging the Transgender Movement”;
– More detail on what the creation account shows us about being male and female;
– Guidance on thinking through the usage of pronouns.
This is a helpful book on a difficult topic. Walker is both convictional, committed to biblical truth, and compassionate. Transgender people (and all people) are created in the image of God and should be spoken to and about with dignity and care. We need to both listen without speaking too hastily, bearing with one another in love (Eph 4).
- Author: Andrew T. Walker
- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: The Good Book Company (February 1, 2022)
- Read the first chapter
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Disclosure: I received this book free from The Good Book Company. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.