Camille Paglia on the Transgender Movement: “Liberals who posture as defenders of science when it comes to global warming . . . flee all reference to biology when it comes to gender”

camilleCamille Paglia is right.

As a former editor for JBMW, the Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, I have not cited too many feminists on my blog. Nor have I unconditionally quoted many. But when it comes to the topic of transgender, I believe Camille Paglia is right and worthy of quotation.

Now, it goes without saying I disagree with Paglia on a host of things, but in a world that keeps buying the next philosophical and cultural fad, I deeply appreciate the way she is willing to expose contradictions and oppose false beliefs. And with regards to the “current transgender wave” (her words), I believe her comments expose something many others are unwilling to say, or unwilling to see.

In an interview with Jonathan V. Last at The Weekly Standard, here is what she said.

JVL:I keep waiting for the showdown between feminism and transgenderism, but it always keeps slipping beneath the horizon. I’ve been looking at how the La Leche League—which stood at the crossroads of feminism once upon a time—has in the last couple years bowed completely to the transgender project. Their central text is (for now)The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding,but they’ve officially changed their stance to include men and fathers who breastfeed. The actual wording of their policy is wonderful: “It is now recognized that some men are able to breastfeed.” Left unsaid is the corollary that some women are biologically unable to breastfeed. Though this would go against the League’s founding principles, one supposes. What does one make of all of this?

CP: Feminists have clashed with transgender activists much more publicly in the United Kingdom than here. For example, two years ago there was an acrimonious organized campaign, including a petition with 3,000 claimed signatures, to cancel a lecture by Germaine Greer at Cardiff University because of her “offensive” views of transgenderism. Greer, a literary scholar who was one of the great pioneers of second-wave feminism, has always denied that men who have undergone sex-reassignment surgery are actually “women.” Her Cardiff lecture (on “Women and Power” in the twentieth century) eventually went forward, under heavy security.

And in 2014, Gender Hurts, a book by radical Australian feminist Sheila Jeffreys, created a heated controversy in the United Kingdom. Jeffreys identifies transsexualism with misogyny and describes it as a form of “mutilation.” She and her feminist allies encountered prolonged difficulties in securing a London speaking venue because of threats and agitation by transgender activists. Finally, Conway Hall was made available: Jeffrey’s forceful, detailed lecture there in July of last year is fully available on YouTube. In it she argues among other things, that the pharmaceutical industry, having lost income when routine estrogen therapy for menopausal women was abandoned because of its health risks, has been promoting the relatively new idea of transgenderism in order to create a permanent class of customers who will need to take prescribed hormones for life.

Although I describe myself as transgender (I was donning flamboyant male costumes from early childhood on), I am highly skeptical about the current transgender wave, which I think has been produced by far more complicated psychological and sociological factors than current gender discourse allows. Furthermore, I condemn the escalating prescription of puberty blockers (whose long-term effects are unknown) for children. I regard this practice as a criminal violation of human rights.

It is certainly ironic how liberals who posture as defenders of science when it comes to global warming (a sentimental myth unsupported by evidence) flee all reference to biology when it comes to gender. Biology has been programmatically excluded from women’s studies and gender studies programs for almost 50 years now. Thus very few current gender studies professors and theorists, here and abroad, are intellectually or scientifically prepared to teach their subjects.

The cold biological truth is that sex changes are impossible. Every single cell of the human body remains coded with one’s birth gender for life. Intersex ambiguities can occur, but they are developmental anomalies that represent a tiny proportion of all human births.

In a democracy, everyone, no matter how nonconformist or eccentric, should be free from harassment and abuse. But at the same time, no one deserves special rights, protections, or privileges on the basis of their eccentricity. The categories “trans-man” and “trans-woman” are highly accurate and deserving of respect. But like Germaine Greer and Sheila Jeffreys, I reject state-sponsored coercion to call someone a “woman” or a “man” simply on the basis of his or her subjective feeling about it. We may well take the path of good will and defer to courtesy on such occasions, but it is our choice alone.

As for the La Leche League, they are hardly prepared to take up the cudgels in the bruising culture wars. Awash with the milk of human kindness, they are probably stuck in nurturance mode. Naturally, they snap to attention at the sound of squalling babies, no matter what their age. It’s up to literature professors and writers to defend the integrity of English, which like all languages changes slowly and organically over time. But with so many humanities departments swallowed up in the poststructuralist tar pit, the glorious medium of English may have to fight the gender commissars on its own.

I am not sure I could say it better. And I certainly could not say it from the position of this erudite feminist. Therefore, I leave her answer without comment, save one.

Her insights are a reminder that it is not only Christians and conservatives who take issue with the inconsistencies of modern gender studies. Feminists who take science and grammar seriously do as well. Therefore, let us consider well her words and seek to press for common sense in the public square. 

Soli Deo Gloria, ds

On the Transgender Movement in Public Schools: Video and Written Resources

malefemaleThe Prince William County School Board is set to vote again on Proposal 060, the measure postponed last fall. This policy change would add sexual orientation and gender identity language to the non-discrimination policy of the public schools. Since last fall churches in our county have sought to speak with grace and truth in the public square.

Such speaking is not often easy, because it is often perceived that opposition to transgender policies is unloving towards those struggling with gender dysphoria. Yet, the most unloving thing we can do is permit falsehood to reign and children to be deceived by the messaging of the transgender movement. (See there agenda here).

In what follows, you can find a number of video resources about the transgender movement. Below that are written resources that can also be read and disseminated. Continue reading

Rightly Dividing the Cultural Background to 1 Corinthians 11

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The Corinth Channel

There are a lot of cultural challenges to 1 Corinthians 11:2–16, a passage that invites discussion about the trinity, gender roles, the use of head coverings, and the role of angels in public worship. Tomorrow I will preach on this passage, but today I share a number of quotations from various commentaries related to various cultural and theological challenges in this passage. These quotes provide some background to this enigmatic passage.

Dress

In the context of prayer and prophesy, it makes sense that dress would be considered. For prophets often had a particular dress. Moreover, they often symbolized in their appearance various biblical truths. So for instance, John the Baptist appearance is given as wearing “a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist” (Matthew 3:4). Importantly, this outward dress identified him as a prophet in the manner of Elijah (2 Kings 1:8: “They answered him, ‘He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist.’ And he said, ‘It is Elijah the Tishbite.’)

Likewise Isaiah 20 records how God commanded Isaiah to walk through Israel naked for three years to indicate God’s coming judgment on Egypt and on those who trusted in that foreign power. This outward expression of God’s will fits other examples too. For instance, the high priest wore garments of beauty and glory to reflect the presence of God’s holiness with Israel (Exodus 28:2); Nazirites did not cut their hair in order to express devotion to the Lord (Numbers 6); and many grieving saints tore their clothing or wore sackclothe and ash in order to express their contrition. So, throughout Scripture, clothing and hair did play a part in expressing worship to God.

Moving from Old Testament to Greco-Roman culture, the same attention to dress is found.

The Greeks’ self-identity arose most from their speech and education, while our Roman often distinguished himself by what he wore. It was not the Greeks eschewed head apparel. Rather it was clear to them and Romans that the habitual propensity of Romans to wear head apparel in liturgical settings stood in sharp contrast to the practice of others. (R.E. Oster, “When Men Wore Veils to Worship: The Historical Context of 1 Corinthians 11.4,” NTS 34 (1988): 494; cited by Ben Witherington, Conflict and Communion in Corinth24) Continue reading

The Good News About Gender: From Genesis 1:27 to Revelation 19:6–9

malefemale

The Good News about Gender (Sermon Audio)

Not a week goes by but what a new story emerges about sexual orientation, gender identity, or the implementation of some new SOGI policy. In our county, the Prince William County School Board will be voting on a proposed change to the school non-discrimination policy.

With so much discussion about sex and gender going on, our church considered on Sunday what Scripture says about gender and how the gospel speaks to those facing gender dysphoria (defined by Mark Yarhouse as “the experience of distress associated with the incongruence where in one’s psychological and emotional gender does not match one’s biological sex”). This biblical inquiry requires us to consider how creation, fall, the law, the gospel, and the new creation inform our understanding and stir our affections. What results is a sevenfold approach to answering the question: What does the Bible say about gender?

You can find the audio here and Scripture references, discussion questions, and resources below. Continue reading

What is Evangelical Feminism? And Where Did It Come From?

rolesEach week, I write a bulletin insert for our church. The topics have ranged from the structure of Genesis 1–11 to assisted suicide to discerning types in the Bible. They usually relate to the sermon or a hot topic in the culture. And though they do not exhaust the biblical, theological, or ethical considerations of any subject, they do help our church members “think Christianly” about many matters of faith.

This blog post is no different. It broaches a subject that requires far more historical, cultural, and ecclesial attention than I am able to give here. But it is a start. Addressing the matter of evangelical feminism is meant to remind us that none of live in a cultural vacuum, and that even most stalwart “bliblicist” inhabits a world where feminism is the norm.

As Robert Samuelson noted this week in the Washington Post, birth control pills, radical feminism as advocated by Betty Friedan (The Feminist Mystique, 1963), and no-fault divorce have changed the way Americans think about marriage. Family life has been radically altered by these three phenomena, and in many ways they have each contributed to the other. Therefore, witnesses for Christ must be aware of how their thinking has been (explicitly and/or implicitly) shaped by feminism and from where those presuppositions originate.

What is evangelical feminism? And where did it come from?

Feminism can be defined as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” Evangelical feminism is the related belief that men and women can and should exercise the same offices in the church (e.g., pastor, preaching) and that husbands and wives should mutually submit to one another in the home. Such a view is common among Christians today, but it wasn’t always that way. (This view has been defended in the book Discovering Biblical Equality; it is has been opposed by Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth). Continue reading

Sermon Audio: Deviation from God’s Design (Romans 1:16-32)

Because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

— Romans 1:25-27 —

After four weeks of considering God’s design for marriage, sex, and gender, I turned to the subject of homosexuality today—a subject that has and is dividing our nation, and one that Scripture addresses with candor and the message of grace.

In today’s message, I argue from Romans 1 that the great problem is not homosexuality but humanity. All who are born ‘in Adam’ are sexual sinners. Idolatry is the chief sin and as a result of this inward deviation, all men and women experience various kinds and degrees of illicit sexual desires.

I fear some Christians have been to quick to dismiss people who experience same sex attraction. Too much of the message has been, “Just change.” To support our cause, many Christians have cherry picked verses to contest homosexuals instead of sharing the full doctrine of humanity and sin, which tells us that all of us have us have sinned, and none of us have natural (read: true and righteous) sexual desires according to the flesh.

As Paul argues in Romans 1, humanity has exchanged the glory of God for the glory created things, therefore God has given the human race over to the lusts of their flesh. As Romans 3:23 concludes, “all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.” This is the great problem. Man has suppressed the truth in unrighteousness, because their natural state is not good or righteous. Sexual deviation is the ‘natural’ result of a fallen human condition. Homosexuality—like pornography, fornication, adultery, and divorce—is but one outward expression of this deeper deviation.

I am still grappling with how to state these things, but I pray this message will help you avoid some traps and give you light to better understand what God has said about humanity’s fallen condition. As I state at the front, the message is directed at Christians, but it is also applicable to those non-Christians who are willing to hear how all of us have sinned and how God has provided salvation in Jesus Christ.

Deviation from God’s Design (Romans 1:16-32)

For the rest of the sermons in this series (‘God’s Design for Marriage and Sex’), go to Sermon Audio.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

Noonday Light: Thoughts on Sex

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Not a week goes by but what the news channels are filled with conversation and debate about sex. On top of the societal changes that swirl around us, legal changes are happening here and abroad. For instance, Germans now have the legal option of putting ‘other’ down as the gender of their ‘intersex’ baby. The Atlantic reports

A new law in Germany creates a third sex category on birth records. It could seem like an obvious solution to some problems of intersex: If some babies are born with bodies that are neither clearly male nor female, then it seems there should be some category beside “male” or “female.”

This is just one more example of why Christians need to have a deeply biblical understanding of sex, marriage, and gender. It is not enough anymore to believe in ‘traditional marriage’ or gender based on simple biology. In a fallen world, biology is not simple! We must have a deeply theological answer for why God’s image is only male and female, how the Fall can explain the phenomenon of intersex, and how gender is not a social construct but determined by the God who makes us in his image.

These examples are but the tip of the iceberg. To help us get a handle on some of these things, we need to take time to read, think, and study the Scriptures. To help you process some of these things, take a look at the following articles, audio, and video. They are reliable guides to help you walk in the light.

Christianity and Homosexuality: A Review of BooksTim Keller, in his October newsletter to his church reviewed and commended two important books on the subject of homosexuality. The first was Sam Allberry’s Is God Anti-Gayalso reviewed by CBMW. The second was Wesley Hill’s Washed and Waiting

Here We Stand: Midwestern Seminary & Same-Sex Marriage. Dr. Jason Allen, President of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, writes why he and his school will hold fast to the biblical view of marriage.

It’s About Scripture, Not Sex. Here are three quotations for Denny Burk’s What is the Meaning of Sex? that represent three divergent views in evangelicalism today. They expose that the divide between Christians who oppose same-sex marriage and those who support it has to do with biblical interpretation, not sexual preference. The latter is always downstream from the former.

What Does He Really Want? Aileen Challies (the wife of Tim Challies) kicks off a series of blogs on the subject of sex at CBMW’s women’s channel. She seeks to deconstruct some of wrong views of sex that Christian women bring into marriage.

Holiness and Sexual PurityDenny Burk preached a message on 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 last week. Take forty minutes to hear his exposition.

Kids and Sex. Pure Hope Ministries reminds parents that is never too young to begin addressing ‘age-appropriate’ discussions about sex.

Parenting Booklet. PureHope Ministries also has a forty-page booklet for parents on how to address the subject of sex with their children. This booklet has an appendix with “age appropriate teaching points.” If you are not familiar with Pure Hope, you should be.

If you have specific questions on this subject, please drop a note in the comments. I’d be happy to put you in touch with appropriate resources.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

Marriage: An Evangelistic Conversation Starter

A good friend of mine, Jedidiah Coppenger, who happens to be the new basketball coach at Boyce College, and who blogs with some quality brothers at Baptist21, recently posted a reflection on trends in evangelism that he has experienced as a cell phone salesman.  Throughout more than two years of work three things stood out as counter-cultural evangelistic conversation starters: family, work, and marriage.  His thoughts on marriage correspond with many of the things I have reflected on over the last couple months.  Listen to what he says:

First, a biblical view of marriage seems to be a significant place for evangelistic conversations. Sadly, it seems like most Christians look at marriage the same way that they look at the American Post Office. They don’t care how the Post Office orders itself, just as long as it delivers. Likewise, they don’t care how the marriage is ordered, just as long as it lasts. There is something attractive about this approach in light of the divorce-ridden culture in which we live. After all, some say, with as much divorce as there is, do whatever you can! This type of attitude will be well accepted by your lost coworkers and the culture at large.

But cultural accommodation isn’t the goal. After all, you won’t find a Bible verse saying, “Marriage is so hard that you should do whatever works best for you personally. The ordering that works best your marriage may or may not work for another. Just make what you can of it. Good luck.” Instead, you’ll find very clear directions from the Apostle Paul on the most volatile part of marriage, how the couple should relate to one another. The Apostle says that “the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church” (Eph. 5:23) and that wife should submit to her husband as the church does to Christ (Eph. 5:24). So the husband is placed in a position of authority and the wife in a place of support. Both, of course, stand before God as equals (1 Pet. 3:7), but they serve distinctly.

Will this solve all of the marital problems? Of course not. We are all sinners. But with more Christian husbands seeking conformity to the headship displayed by Jesus as he gave his life for the good of his bride on the cross, the role of the husband as leader will look less like a privilege and more like a glorious burden. And if more Christian wives joyfully submit to their husband’s leadership like the church does to her husband, Jesus, then the role of a submissive wife will look less like a prison and more like a place of freedom and joy. Marriages like this won’t make you popular, but they will be used of God to make you holy. And, by God’s grace, as more Christian marriages conform to the Christ-church picture in the midst of a culture that will continue to glorify christ figures (husbands) who forsake their brides, the curiosity of more unbelieving coworkers and neighbors will be awakened. Hopefully, through consciences that know something has been lost, these friends will ask us for the reason for the order in our homes. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to point them to the order in the household of God.

I wholeheartedly agree.   May we who love the gospel order our homes and our marriages in such a way that our lives confront disinterested family members, co-workers, and neighbors with a kind of marriage that does not fit the 21st Western mold.  By ordering our marriages and conducting ourselves according to a heavenly logic, we can better tell the world of the Christ-church mystery that they were created to enjoy.  As Jed asserts, this won’t make us popular, but perhaps for those who have eyes to see it will make the gospel persuasive–which is far more important.  Lets pray and work towards that end!

You can read the rest of his post here.

Sola Deo Gloria, dss

Gender-Specificity and the Gospel of Jesus Christ

When Paul speaks in Titus 2:1 about sound doctrine, he immediately turns to relationships. Rather than expatiating a systematic theology, Paul says that theology is worked out in the context of distinctly masculine and feminine roles, in youthful and elderly stages of life, and in varying spheres of leadership and influence (i.e. masters and slaves).  Clearly theology that is genuine is incarnated in the daily life of Christians.  In regards to husband and wife relations, Christopher Ash in his book Marriage: Sex in the Service of God  picks up this same idea– theologically-infused living– when he comments on another Pauline passage in 1 Corinthians 11.  He writes:

Paul’s teaching here (1 Cor. 11:2-16) seems to be conditioned by women (perhaps reacting against the abuses of patriarchy) behaving as if they can ‘go it alone’ in their behaviour, whether by ceasing to be gladly feminine or by reluctance to cooperate in the marriage partnership. By their contentious and disorderly behaviour they bring disrepute on the gospel. In the absence of proper order (which includes Christian subordination of the wife to the husband, and headship as sacrificial serving authority) there will be rivalry rather than partnership between the sexes. Perhaps in Corinth the women needed reminding both of their interdependence with the men and that they were made ‘for the sake of’ man, as partners in a shared God-given task. Disorder (and in particular a wrong attitude of subordination) leads to rivalry in which the weakest go to the wall; the task will be neglected. Proper order will promote sexual relations in the service of God (302).

Ash does not only address women but men as well.  Writing later in his book, he furthers his argument of gender-specific gospel living by saying:

The love of husband for wife is to be modelled on the cross. It is to be self-sacrificial love and not the self-serving enjoyment of some misguided privilege. Christian headship in marriage is marriage in the shape of cross; most contemporary debate misses this central point. For Christ to be head of the church was not a cheap or comfortable calling; it involved crucifixion (322).

The purpose of marriage then, says Ash, is that “the husband takes upon himself the goal of being such a husband whose love will lead his wife into growth in personal and spiritual maturity (for there is not dichotomy between these two), so that his greatest aim in marriage is not his self-fulfillment but the blossoming of his wife. ‘Husbands should be utterly committed to the total well-being, especially the spiritual welfare, of their wives’ (Peter O’Brien 1999:422-424). This might sound a little self-righteous, as if he from his Olympian spiritual height can raise up his wife to his level; it is in fact deeply humbling. No husband can take responsibility seriously without himself being deeply conscious of his own need for cleansing, holiness and growth in grace” (324).

Both headship (expressed in sacrifice) and submissiveness (to unjust authority) are expressions of the way of the cross (327).

In these bold and counter-cultural statements, Christopher Ash is saying something twenty-first century Christians need to hear.  Both expressions of headship and submissiveness adorn the gospel of God and manifest, in part, the inner workings of the Trinity. In fleshing out male and female roles, husbands and wives, become more like the men and women God created them to be.  In other words, they more accurately display the gospel of Jesus Christ when they bear the fruits of biblical masculinity and feminity in the roles of head and helpmate.  Just as Jesus came as the perfect second Adam, so too married men and women, when they gladly take on their biblical roles, dignify humanity and call men and women living outside of God’s moral order to return to the truth. 

Realistically, the world’s response may not be commendation and praise, but rejection of the gospel light reflected in these godly marriages.  Nevertheless, when the world encounters a gracious patriarch willing to lay down his life for the care and protection of his family and gentle feminine companion unwilling to usurp his authority or combat his leadership, the world encounters something different, perhaps even transcedent.  When the world encounters a 1 Corinthians 11 woman or an Ephesians 5 man, it encounters a picture of Christ and the church! This is a powerful testimony and one the world can only hate. It cannot deny its Spirit-wrought reality!

May who claim the name of Christ all grow in grace and godliness, not as androgynous saints, but as brothers and sisters manifesting distinctly masculine and feminine godliness in the marriages God has given to us.

Sola Deo Gloria, dss