Blog | Topic: Homosexuality
Jun 21, 2017
Going straight to the source, I read Jonathan V. Last’s interview with Paglia. I’ve been tracking with a wide-spectrum of opinions on transgenderism as I seek to understand and respond to this emerging cultural reality in ways that bring honor and glory to God. And so today, I’m simply passing on this exchange between Last and Paglia. . . (you can read the full article here). . .
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.
Jun 7, 2017
If you’ve been paying attention at all to those elements of the rapidly changing culture soup that have been talked about online over the course of the last week, you’ve probably heard some rumblings regarding the latest venture from long-time science educator, Bill Nye. From 1993 until 1998, Nye was a PBS staple with his popular kids’ show, Bill Nye the Science Guy. Nye never disappeared from television, making numerous appearances over the years in an effort to promote his view and theories. He now has a new venture. . . which we’ll get back to in a minute. . .
Interlude. . . for a little bit of social science reality. As we say and teach here all the time at CPYU, culture is both a map (directive) and a mirror (reflective). As a map, it tells us what to believe and how to live. It’s especially powerful in the lives of kids since they are at a very vulnerable and formative stage of life developmentally. Consequently, we need to know what the cultural maps are and where they’re leading our kids. When they lead them in the right direction, we can celebrate and affirm those maps. But when they lead in a direction away from God’s order and design, we are called to issue challenges and correctives in an effort to lead our kids onto the narrow road that leads to life. As a mirror, culture helps us see who we are, the choices we’ve made, and the course we are on.
So, back to Bill Nye and his latest venture that’s been getting so much press over the last few days. . .
Ironically, on the same day that our CPYU family gathered for our annual Celebration Banquet of our mission and ministry to know ulture (April 21), Bill Nye was making culture and mapping life through the debut of his new Netflix series, Bill Nye Saves the World. While the show’s moniker is telling in and of itself, a peek into Nye’s beliefs and the show’s mapping message can be found in Episode #9, titled “The Sexual Spectrum.” During the show, Nye introduces a performance by Rachel Bloom as a “cool little segment” that’s “very special.” Bloom’s performance of the song “My Sex Junk” clearly maps and mirrors emerging societal attitudes on gender, promoting the idea of behavioral relativism, personal choice, a sexual/gender spectrum, and fluidity. . . or as Bloom sings, “there’s nothing taboo about a sex stew.”
I want to encourage you watch Bloom’s performance. I want to encourage you to quietly ponder and digest how her performance serves as a map and a mirror. And, I want to push you to view the performance and the beliefs at its’ core through the framework of a biblical sexual ethic. Then, talk to the kids you know and love. The Scriptures must shape our view and practice of God’s good and glorious gift of sexuality. Our transitory feelings and shifting opinions on sexuality should never be used as the foundation from which to develop a view of Scripture. Overall, we need to be speaking up and framing the issue in God-honoring ways with our kids.
The culture is speaking. We must be speaking even louder.
Sep 1, 2016
Last week, the folks at Campus Pride, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a safer college environment for LGBTQ students, released its 2016 Shame List of the absolute worst campuses for LBGTQ youth. As I scrolled through the list of colleges and universities, I began to feel like I was scrolling through one of those old Campus Life guides to Christian colleges that we used to make available to youth group kids and their families. It was not at all surprising that the list was overwhelmingly populated by religiously-affiliated schools. Included on the list was my own alma mater, Geneva College.
The Campus Pride site includes these words about the list from Executive Director, Shane Windmeyer: “Religion-based bigotry is careless and life-threatening. LGBTQ young people face high rates of harassment and violence, especially our trans youth and LGBTQ youth of color. The schools on this list openly discriminate against LGBTQ youth and many of these schools have requested or received Title IX exemptions for no other purpose than to discriminate, expel and ban LGBTQ youth from campus. It is shameful and wrong. . . Families and young people deserve to know that this list of schools are the worst for LGBTQ youth. They are not loving, welcoming, safe spaces to live, learn and grow – and nobody wants to got to a college that openly discriminates against anyone.”
I’ve been thinking about Shane Windmeyer’s words for several days. While my thoughts are still in process and therefore incomplete, here are some initial reflections. . .
Perhaps most troubling to me as I pondered the list is that fact that I know a small handful of the schools listed and believe that Shane Windmeyer’s characterization of those schools is a bit unfair. Granted, I can’t speak for all of the schools on the list. Most are schools I only know by name. Nor can I speak for the far-too-many people associated with many Christian colleges (and other institutions, for that matter) who horribly misrepresent Christ and Christianity when it comes to matters of sexuality. . . either through their own arrogant behavioral hypocrisy and failure to recognize that hypocrisy, and/or through hate-filled approaches to issues of sexuality that would be more like those crazy messed-up folks who show up at military funerals and pride events screaming, yelling, and condemning. The fact is, these people do not represent me, and their actions shouldn’t lead to hasty judgments regarding Christ, Christianity, and all Christians.
But what also left me troubled regarding the list and Shane Windmeyer’s comments is the all-or-nothing nature of his words that I believe unfairly box those of us in who are truly working hard to listen, to understand, and to respond in ways that reflect a humble attitude of repentance (where and when we’ve been wrong. . . and we have been), along with a clear Christ-like approach that oozes grace, while maintaining a proper perspective on God’s order and design for his created gift of sex and sexuality. My own college, Geneva College, unapologetically expects and strives to nurture all students to embrace a consistent Christian faith that is integrated into all of life. . . academics, relationships, play, work, sexuality, etc. Every faculty member and student who is honest will readily admit that to do so is, in fact, a daily struggle. This mission is rooted in the transformative message of the Gospel. In Geneva’s case, the whole of Biblical history and two-thousand years of Christian history continue to come together to shape an understanding and approach to all matters of life in ways that challenge every student on a personal level, while reflecting the way and will of God as revealed in the Scriptures. For me personally, I have struggled, worked, and at times failed miserably to see how the Scriptures do in fact speak to every nook and cranny of my life. . . including sex and sexuality. While it has been a difficult venture that usually challenges my beliefs and behaviors to the point of great discomfort, it has always been a journey that is life-giving and transformative.
To all those who would come to blanket conclusions based on the Shame List, I would simply ask that you understand that in the case of what I believe is true of most Christians, is that we endeavor to be people who represent love, welcome, and safety. This is who God has been to us. We endeavor to be those kind of people because we endeavor to be faithful to God and his revelation of himself in the Bible, which is why we believe that God’s good gift of sex and sexuality are given for a clear purpose and place. I would hope that as we endeavor to serve God and show grace, that you would not openly discriminate against us as we endeavor to follow and serve the God who has revealed himself to humanity in the Scriptures and called us to “come and follow me.” For me, to walk away from a Biblical sexual ethic would require me to turn my back on all that Christ has done in my life, and to jettison everything I’ve believed about everything. To do so would be a clear denial of Jesus Christ. . . which is not an option for me. Likewise, to stand on a corner and scream “God hates fags!” would be a denial of Jesus Christ as well. And in the midst of all of this, I continue to pray that I would be open to understanding where I have been in error in both beliefs and behaviors.
To my fellow followers of Christ, I highly recommend this short little conversation about how to speak to our culture about sex:
Nov 23, 2015
Over the course of the last few months, I’ve had a handful of phone calls and emails from people soliciting advice on how to respond to an invitation they’ve received to a same-sex wedding. Some have received the invitations from friends and co-workers. Others, from a sibling or relative. And, I’ve had two conversations with parents trying to sort out how to best respond to invitations from a deeply loved son or daughter.
These are not easy issues for the follower of Christ who believes beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Scriptures communicate a divine design for marriage. . . one that clearly defines marriage as a life-long, covenantal, monogamous commitment between one man and one woman. The more I study, pray, read, and think about these tender and difficult matters, I see the aforementioned as God’s clear order and design for His gift of marriage.
Holding to this increasingly counter-cultural view of marriage is setting the table for difficult decisions that have to be handled prayerfully, carefully, and with tenderness. As I’ve chatted with people seeking advice, I realize how difficult it is to navigate these things. . . especially when I put myself in their place. What if it was my child?
Last week, my good friends at Harvest USA published an article by John Freeman and Nicholas Black, “What to Do? Responding to an Invitation to a Same-Sex Wedding.” I love the way the folks at Harvest USA address these new cultural realities with two-feet planted firmly in the Scriptures, while thinking with compassion about how to best engage with a rapidly changing culture. As I read the article, I realized that it offers a good starting point that can help us think through these things. I contacted them and asked if I could pass the article (from the 2015 print edition of the Harvest USA newsletter) in its entirety on to you. I hope you’ll find it helpful. . .
With the legalization of gay marriage, Christians more often find themselves invited to same-sex marriage ceremonies. This poses a dilemma for believers of whether to attend an event that celebrates a life-union that God nowhere approves of in Scripture.
Declining to attend seems like an easy solution. But because it involves friendships or family connections, the matter can be quite complex. The issue is more difficult if the wedding involves a child or other close family member (for additional insights, read our mini book: Your Gay Child Says “I Do”).
Reaching a decision will involve careful theological reflection, an understanding of your relationship with the one(s) getting married, and earnest prayer. Here are some things to think about that we hope can help you make a wise decision.
The space for this article is not sufficient to adequately examine the scope of Scripture on this matter, but here are three Scriptural principles that should guide you.
- Be in the world but not of it. Knowing how to engage with the world is important for Christians. Being set apart from the world (who we are and how our lives reflect who we live for) is demonstrated by our living in the world. Loving and investing (time) in our neighbor is the means by which the world comes to know God.
- Freedom in Christ. 1 Corinthians 8 and 10, and Romans 14, are key passages where Paul argues for the freedom of the believer to engage with others in society, centered around the contentious issue of that day: eating meat from an idol’s temple. For Paul, (Christian) freedom involves examining issues of motivation, concern for the impact on other believers, and the context of the situation (see 1 Cor. 10: 23-33 and Romans 14:20-23). Freedom in Christ enables us to think through how our actions affect others.
- Faith/conscience. Paul’s conclusion in Romans 14 is that we decide on issues such as these based on conscience, and that if one remains unsettled, then it is wiser to not participate, because it “is not from faith.” Christians can stand on both sides of difficult issues, so the freedom we have in Christ to discern how to live strategically in the world should move us to extend grace to those who decide differently.
After examining Scripture (which must be the basis for all decisions), here are some relationship issues that can guide you in making a decision.
- What is your current relationship to the person getting married?Are they a casual co-worker, friend or distant relative, or someone you have a closer relationship with (like a family member)? Has the invitation been given to everyone in your office, department or family? Or, has it been given to you because you have a closer relationship? These factors can help you determine how best to respond. For example, if the person is someone you have a good friendship with, then you are in a position to speak directly to him or her about the issue of attending. If your friend knows you are a Christian, then this becomes another opportunity (or maybe the first!) to discuss your faith and how that influences your decision.
- What would you be trying to convey by your attendance? Some people make the distinction between supporting the person, whom they love and care about, and supporting the event, of which they don’t approve. In making this distinction, it can communicate that attendance is not an implicit approval of their marriage. This is a meaningful distinction. We do this constantly in our other relationships, communicating our differences but remaining involved in each other’s lives. This distinction may depend on how vocal you have been about your faith. What kinds of conversations have you had? Do they know you are a Christian? Do they know your views about homosexuality? If so, your presence could actually “stun” them or really mess up the categories they may have about “Christians” like you. Christians, living intentionally by the gospel, can sometimes be confusing to people, causing them to rethink their positions and perhaps see new and bigger realities. That’s a good thing. If you feel that attending would lend weight to your Christian witness, then you might go. Your attendance would be in line with your desire to pursue a relationship because you care for them, and you want to keep the relationship open to have further opportunities to share the gospel with them.
- What are you concerned about if you decide to attend? Are you afraid that your attendance would communicate your approval? Or, are you afraid of explaining why you feel you cannot attend? Are you afraid you would not know how to act or how to talk with other guests, most who would support the marriage? There can be lots of fear involved in making this decision. Ask the Lord to guide you regarding all these issues. Fear or anxiety about disappointing someone is never a good motivator to make a decision. A better question is this: What response might cause further openness to the gospel?
- If you decide you cannot attend, could you substitute something else? If you reach the conclusion that you cannot attend, you might consider an alternative response. For instance, giving a card or gift would still show your care for them and acknowledge that this was an important day for them (it was, but you don’t necessarily have to join in on the celebration). If you are close to the person or couple, but still conclude that you cannot attend, then consider taking them out to lunch or dinner. Of course, this may be an uncomfortable get-together, especially if the person will feel hurt by your absence. But a quick follow-up may go a long way toward bringing understanding and another opportunity for you to share your faith. Another decision some people make is to not attend the wedding (because of the nature of wedding vows) but to attend the reception (if this is, of course, agreed upon by the wedding couple).
- Do one or both parties claim to be Christians? Someone once said, “We shouldn’t expect Christian behavior from non-Christian people.” If the person or persons getting married are unbelievers, this doesn’t mean you have an unhindered green light to attend—but if someone claims to be a Christian and yet is in rebellion to God’s design and intention for how his people should live, and is celebrating it and inviting others to join in, then that is another matter. Many would argue that even if one of the parties is a confessing Christian, attending would be entering into their delusion that the marriage union is fine with God and is sanctioned by him. But some will make the distinction that attending is not the same as approving.
As you can see, these are hard issues! Your decision must come from wrestling with Scripture, drenched in prayer, and talked through with close friends or family members. But know this: that your wrestling with this is itself evidence of your heart wanting to do the right thing to honor Christ and to open doors for the gospel. Realize that there is no ONE answer to this, but there isone thing you can count on: like Jesus, you’ll probably be misunderstood regarding the implications of any choice you make. So, when you make your decision, know that you have made it on the basis of what will honor God, and be at peace on that basis.