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God and the Transgender Debate Perfect Paperback – August 15, 2017
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This is an extremely important book, not just in Andrew Walker's practical treatment of the tricky and confusing topic of transgenderism, but in the very truthful and compassionate way he deals with it. This is really a book about how we love the gender-dysphoric person with the full grace and glorious truth of the gospel itself. It is a uniquely beautiful and very practical book. Absolutely 'Must-Read' material.
--Glenn T. Stanton, Director of Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family
Andrew Walker is one of the young bright lights in the Evangelical church. In God and the Transgender Debate he helps the church both understand and compassionately respond to today's challenges on gender identity.
--Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and author of Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom and When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment
Gender-identity questions are among the most radical of our time and the church is not prepared. Andrew T. Walker has thought deeply about these things, and is an invaluable guide for faithful Christians walking through the heat and confusion of this debate.
--Rod Dreher, Author of The Benedict Option
This book resonates with gospel clarity and gospel compassion. It will empower you to share the good news of Jesus with those who grapple with gender-identity issues. The book is smart, wise, persuasive, and practical.
--Russell Moore, President, The Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Andrew Walker offers overdue clarity, compassion, and practical wisdom on one of the most difficult questions of our day. Along the way he demonstrates not only that we need not choose between truth and love, as we are often told, but that especially on these issues of human identity, we cannot. This is such an important book.
--John Stonestreet, President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview
I have been waiting for a resource that would provide me with a clear, loving, and gospel-centered analysis on the topic of gender dysphoria, and I have finally found it. This resource will be incredibly helpful in assisting the body of Christ to be a light in today's cultural climate.
--Jackie Hill Perry, Writer and artist
This book puts the hand of the suffering into the hands of the Savior, and therefore, this is the book that I will put into the hands of parents struggling to know how God's word speaks into loving a child who struggles with gender-identity issues. In addition to its loving pastoral care and biblical family guidance, this book models how to discern the times, and to respond with Christian hope.
--Rosaria Butterfield, Author of Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert
What should Christians think and say about those who feel their gender is out of line with their biological sex? Should we accept that or silently acquiesce? Andrew Walker rightly says no, but in a compassionate manner that recognizes the psychological struggles and the suffering of people who experience alienation from themselves as God made them.
--Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University
Christians must begin to think and speak biblically, in truth and love, about this issue. Andrew Walker has provided a steady foundation from which the church can begin to grapple with this cultural shift.
--Karen Swallow Prior, Author of Fierce Convictions The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More: Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist
Andrew Walker writes on a tough subject with courage and compassion. This is the book Christians need to read to cut through the politically-correct noise and get to the heart of one of the most contentious issues of our time.
--David French, Senior Fellow, National Review Institute
The post-Christian West says that we are what we think we are, not what our bodies reveal us to be and this is one of the chief challenges to Christianity today. That is why God and the Transgender Debate is so important. It is a countercultural, compassionate, must-read book.
--Denny Burk, President, the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
The Bible says to love your neighbor and to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. How can Christians love our transgender neighbors compassionately, without compromising our faith? Andrew Walker puts us on the right path.
--Erick Erickson, Editor of The Resurgent
Andrew Walker has given us a much-needed resource for understanding the questions around transgender issues. With clarity and gentleness, he calls us back to a biblical vision of humanity, creation, and gender, and invites us to see fidelity to that vision as the most loving way we can engage with a confused world.
--Mike Cosper, Founder of Harbor Media; Author of The Stories we Tell
Walker has done what many could not. He has not only given the church a tool for greater understanding of this area, but has done so with grace, conviction, careful study and thought, and deep love for others. This is not only a timely book; it's a timeless resource for anyone desiring to serve and love their neighbor as themselves.
--Trillia Newbell, Author of Enjoy and Fear and Faith
Andrew Walker brings a sharp mind and pastoral heart to a complex and often painful issue, and the result is a hugely helpful resource for the church today, full of wisdom, grace and truth. I recommend it highly.
--Sam Allberry, Speaker with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries; Editor at The Gospel Coalition
One of evangelicalism's brightest young stars helps us understand how the gospel can be good news, and how the church can be a faithful community, for somebody experiencing gender dysphoria. If you are looking for a one-stop resource for responding biblically to questions about transgender and gender fluidity, look no further.
--Bruce Riley Ashford, Provost and Professor of Theology and Culture, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Author of Every Square Inch
Christians will need an extra measure of wisdom and an extra measure of compassion in walking with people who struggle with their gender identity. Andrew Walker demonstrates the kind of wisdom and compassion we will need in the days ahead. God and the Transgender Debate sets current debates over identity within a biblical worldview and offers counsel on tough questions.
--Trevin Wax, Bible and Reference Publisher for B&H, author of This Is Our Time: Everyday Myths In Light of the Gospel
About the Author
Andrew T. Walker (@andrewtwalk) is Director of Policy Studies for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
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I will try to summarize Walker's argument in chapters five:
1. God designed humans as male and female.
2. God's design establishes authoritative boundaries for our sex.
3. If God has designed us with a male body, we have a duty to live according to our maleness (and vice versa fore being designed with a female body).
Chapter six addresses the issue of the results of sin upon our psychology. Gender dysphoria is a non-sinful result of the fall. Transgenderism (choosing to live according to one's disordered desires or feelings) is a sinful response to gender dysphoria.
One obvious response to this argument that Walker never really addresses is this: just as our psychology can be disordered as a result of the fall, so too can our bodies be disordered. So maybe it's not my psychology that is disordered, but my body. Walker does touch on this, or on a related point, briefly in chapter six. He addresses the "brain-sex theory" (the idea that people with gender dysphoria have a "female" brain or a brain that has female characteristics) by saying that (1) there is no good evidence for this theory and (2) our bodies are broken. Point (1) is good, but point (2) doesn't really address the issue that the person's body is wrong rather than their brain.
Nevertheless, Walker does give us the seeds for how we might respond. At one point in the same chapter Walker quotes psychiatrist Paul McHugh, who notes that gender dysphoria is similar to other "disordered assumptions about the body" like anorexia or body dysmorphic disorder.
We could apply a sort of reductio ad absurdum to the person who takes this line of argument: if your assumption is that the body is wrong rather than the psychology, then on what basis do we decide that the anorexic's psychology is wrong rather than the body having the wrong weight? Our answer to the anorexic is that it is a matter of empirical fact that the body is a perfectly healthy and normal weight (sans the effects of anorexia). Likewise, it's a matter of empirical fact that the body of the transgender person is perfectly healthy and normal in regards to its sex. We already know that humans sometimes suffer from psychological disorders in which they believe their body is somehow wrong (either having the wrong limb, the wrong weight, the wrong color (Rachel Dolezal) or the wrong species (Dennis Avner)). It seems much more plausible, given the health or normalcy of the body, that gender dysphoria is just another one of these types of psychological problems.
Furthermore, the claims of the transgender person (that it is their body that is wrong, not their psychology) has no empirical parallel. Some people are born with bodily defects (a missing or deformed hand, for instance). But in these cases it's obvious that the limb is not healthy or whole. It's never been the case that a person was born with a perfectly healthy and functioning hand that wasn't his hand. A transgender person's body is perfectly healthy and whole.
The question of people who are intersex often comes up at this point. Walker addresses this on pp. 157-159. He correctly points out that the narrative (my term) of transgenderism is not analogous to cases of intersex. In the case of people who are intersex, the sex of their body is unclear. In the case of transgender people, the sex of their body is clear. As Walker notes: "Transgender identities are built on the assumption that biological sex is known and clear--and then rejected" (p. 158). Intersex people have an empirically verifiable ambiguity in their sex, transgenders do not.
Another area that Walker could have fleshed out more is the relationship between gender and sex. According to Walker, gender is the culturally appropriate expression of our sex. He acknowledges the cultural subjectivity here but he also maintains that gender should follow sex. Thus, there are boundaries. But what are those boundaries? Walker doesn't really touch on these except to say that leadership and protection are appropriate for men and nurturing and mothering are appropriate for women. But we should probably cut Walker some slack for a difficult issue. There are clear physical differences between men and women, but for any specific man and woman the differences will not match up the same as for a different pair. Likewise, the gender boundaries are going to be somewhat fuzzy.
Regarding the rest of the book: The pastoral advice hits all the points one would expect (don't make fun of transgender people, be loving, humble, etc.). But the fact that most people could already guess all the main points that Walker is going to hit here doesn't make it worthless. His framing of the issue is impactful and he moves beyond generalities to give concrete particulars of, say, what it should look like to love our transgender neighbors.
I thought I might have a lot to say in disagreement with what he writes in chapter 11, regarding children and public schooling. The chapter makes it sound as though he is characterizing the decision to not put your child in public school as "panic." What he says on page 134 sounds as though we should let transgender activists (and others) dictate when we have a conversation with our kids about issues which they surely can't understand.
For instance, after saying "Will you panic, withdraw your child from school, and then aim to shield them from this--and everything else that is wrong 'out there' in the world? ... You can't avoid your child having this conversation, sooner or later. ... The temptation to shield our children from such topics is understandable, but it is not acceptable." These paragraphs had me vigorously scribbling notes of disagreement: Withdrawing your kids isn't "panic" but the reasonable response to schools seeking to train up our children in counter-biblical worldviews. Sure, we should eventually discuss gender issues with our kids. But why should we be forced to have this conversation with our five year olds just because trans activists have infiltrated my kids kindergarten class? Why do they get to dictate the time-table? Why does my kid have to be in public school to broach these issues? etc.
But reading into chapter 12 assuaged my concern here. Perhaps what Walker is trying to critique in this section could be more clearly written, because what he states regarding schooling in chapter 12 falls in line with everything I was thinking as I read this section in chapter 11.
Over all this is a great book. I would be interested in seeing a more robust case against the transgender narrative situated in our contemporary political and legal context (hopefully Ryan Anderson's forthcoming book will address that). As I stated, the focus of this book is on the pastoral side. That's a needed perspective that if we neglect can easily lead to adopting unloving and adversarial attitudes towards our transgender neighbors.
A much better choice if you wish to learn is, Retreating Forward a Spiritual Practice with Transgender Persons by David Elias Weekly
Retreating Forward: A Spiritual Practice with Transgender Persons
At the top of the list of problems with this book, is that it is self-contradictory saying on page 67 that being transgender is not a sin and on page 146 that he feels you can not be transgender and a Christian. The Bible is a product of its time and culture and contains the inherent limitations of its writers. This isn’t an attack , it is simply being honest with our understanding of sacred text. Even fundamentalists and Conservatives understand this. This, using a handful of parsed out lines of Scripture taken out of context, to justify trying to answer very complex questions concerning gender and sexuality are an abuse of those verses.
Missing entirely is an understanding of current science regarding gender and identity, Andrew quoting Paul McHugh from a non-peer reviewed magazine article and who has been denounced by his fellows at Johns Hopkins.
My process was to look up the verses quoted, put them back into context with the verses before and after and looking at the Hebrew and Greek when appropriate. Looking up the non-biblical citations and where from whom they came from.
Couched in very loving terms this is book judge mental and the “speaking truth” meme comes up more than once. This more than anything brought me to, what hubris presuming to know Gods will in his creation.
This fits in with the Southern Baptist Convention Nashville statement.