Back at you Chris! Another Response to Crazyqueerclassicist

By Scott Fowler

This is a response to a response that was written in response . . . and so it goes . I genuinely value the dialogue

 

Thanks for the response. I agree wholeheartedly that one should put out the fire, fix the safety regulations, and deal with the burn victims. My desire to know “why?” does not stem from a “dispassionate” need to simply get the facts but not care about the solution. My passion is being shown by entering into an honest dialogue with you, (which I genuinely appreciate, by the way). And I think I expressed the sentiment you are looking for in one of the last paragraphs of my response article when I wrote,

I respect Chris’s strong assertion that gender is not a choice; that trying to change one’s “crippling sex-gender incongruence” does not work. I care about the word crippling. And in spite of those evangelical Christians who seem to preach about hell like they want you to go there (we all know the type), I think we all are concerned about the word crippling.But our approach is to ask “What can we do to change the situation?” rather than to simply try and make the world more accepting. It’s like the difference between radical surgery and hospice. One you do because you want to fix it. The other you do because nothing else worked and you resign yourself to what doctors say is inevitable. Genuine, Bible-believing Christians want to fix it. I understand that we have not expressed that in love, and I understand that even when we do, those words may still be heard as offensive to the segment of society who is experiencing life as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender person. But we want to fix it.

But if I did not go far enough, I will now: Of course I would like to understand the transgender person has arrived at his or her status (not presuming that every story is the same). But, I am moved more by the difficulty they are walking through with their families, their daily lives, their understanding of who they are before God; difficulty that I am only just now beginning to understand at an admittedly naive level.

As far as my “quibbling” over semantic differences, sometimes quibbling brings about needed investigation. I would think that if a genuine effort is to be made at helping people understand transgenderism (still not sure of that word), then some understanding that a concept with its requisite terminology (namely that gender and sex are two different things), which only began to be clearly enunciated among professionals and scholars officially since 2001, and postulated as late as 1978 may not have had time to make it into Popular Mechanics or Good Housekeeping.  Nevertheless, your answer to my quibbling validated my concern, that being that something so counterintuitive to the average person should be declared with such authority based on a fairly recent body of knowledge at least deserves a little patience while people catch up. I am convinced that, at least among Evangelicals (and we have to work on your very wide definition of Evangelicals), that people are frequently found to be twenty to forty years behind the times. Some Christians are just now figuring out that Christendom is dead you know?!

 

In response to a response from crazyqueerclassicist:

By Scott Fowler

I am writing this article in response to one written by Chris Delmore who took exception to Roger Erdvig’s Boys will be boys . . . or will they? post of a couple weeks ago. By Chris’s own admission he intended to write an article that would be unexpected and annoying. It was unexpected (though not the ideas within, but the time taken to articulately respond to my challenge and Roger’s article), but it was not annoying.

It is not my intention to respond for Roger. Perhaps he will do that at a later date. But I do have some thoughts and questions for Chris.

Definitions

Chris immediately took exception to Roger’s dismissal of the transgender claims of children referred to in his article, demanding respect for their assertions. I would plead for understanding and patience on Chris’s part as far as we evangelical’s1 are concerned in even understanding where our language would be offensive in these issues. Your average Christian is unaware of the intricacies of transgenderism2 and all that it entails. But, I can say that we do not, and should not, say what we say in an effort to disrespect. But one must understand that evangelical Christians come at this issue with a different worldview; one that is less interested in making people comfortable in their choices or situations and more interested in addressing what to us seems like a tragic condition. It seems strange to simply accept that a little girl has begun to identify as a little boy and not try and find reasons for it. Why? Because our worldview says that God has not made people this way. So, since that is what we firmly believe, we look for solutions; for answers. The idea that gender is “by definition . . . a psychological concept” is a strange idea to us and one we cannot accept, and one that, in spite of the sources cited in Chris’s article, is one that probably has not been accepted by anyone for very long. In 1828 gender simply meant “a sex, male or female. . . . a difference in words to express distinction of sex.”3 The American Heritage Dictionary still retains this definition, though it opens the door for a distinction between “sex” and “gender” by defining gender as “sexual identity, especially in relation to society or culture” as well. So, the idea that gender is a psychological concept and that it and sex are “entirely separate concepts” is not one that we accept, in spite of Stryker and Butler and the massive intellectual fire power Chris wheeled out in order to make this point. It is hard however to reconcile the idea that gender is a psychological concept and yet see it defended as something that cannot be changed and, by implication as something that is not chosen or at least engendered by one’s familial environment, etc.

Clashing Worldviews

As for using God as support for our arguments, it is simply inadequate to say that such reference points are meaningless for those that do not believe in “a single, omnipotent, creationist God.” I assume that Chris embraces a postmodern philosophy that does not allow for absolute truth (in contrast I love the simplicity of Aquinas who asserts, “The existence of truth is self-evident. For whoever denies the existence of truth grants that truth does not exist: and, if truth does not exist, then the proposition ‘Truth does not exist’ is true: and if there is anything true, there must be truth.”), though in one place Chris expresses agreement with Roger about truth. And I am unaware of Chris’s religious beliefs. In any case, just because there are individuals who have decided that God does not exist, does not mean He doesn’t exist. And there is no clause that allows for each of us to choose our own universe or our own eschatological destinies based on preference (i.e., the idea that since I don’t believe in God I won’t have to answer to God). Either there is a God or there is not. Either it is the God of the Bible, the Christian God, or it is not. Either the tenets of Scripture (the Bible) are true or they are not. This is the issue.

Do we find certain situations in the world that we cannot explain? Yes. Are there actually people who, as far as they know, are gay or lesbian or identify as being of a gender opposite to what the transgender literature describes as their “assigned sex”? Yes. But human experience does not define the Bible. The Bible defines human experience. Any Christian who sincerely thinks that every person involved in the LGBT community is simply, consciously trying to rebel against God should do some deeper thinking and investigation (though there certainly are those in the LGBT community who seem to be doing just that). But just because there are good-hearted, kind, well-meaning, even god-fearing individuals out there in the wide world who are attracted to the same sex or who identify opposite to their “assigned sex,” that does not make it acceptable. It does not, in and of itself, mean that those realities should be normalized or canonized into the list of normal human experience. The question here is which standard of truth will we adhere to?

Bottom-up Subjectivity4

I found interesting the four explanations to Roger’s rhetorical, “How did we get here so fast?” particularly, number three: the idea that acceptance comes to the LGBT community because people do not want to hurt their loved ones who have come out as LGBT. Of course, it is laudable when people love their friends and families and don’t want to hurt them. Any other intention would not make sense. But from an evangelical Christian standpoint, our commitment to God and to truth trumps our sentimentalities and even our staunch devotion to our loved ones. In fact, changing the truth in order not to hurt someone’s feelings is like a doctor not revealing a potentially fatal disease to a patient because he or she does not want to hurt the patient’s feelings. When we stop valuing and pursuing truth, all other ills find a home where truth once lived.

I respect Chris’s strong assertion that gender is not a choice; that trying to change one’s “crippling sex-gender incongruence” does not work. I care about the word crippling. And in spite of those evangelical Christians who seem to preach about hell like they want you to go there (we all know the type), I think we all are concerned about the word crippling. But our approach is to ask “What can we do to change the situation?” rather than to simply try and make the world more accepting. It’s like the difference between radical surgery and hospice. One you do because you want to fix it. The other you do because nothing else worked and you resign yourself to what doctors say is inevitable. Genuine, Bible-believing Christians want to fix it. I understand that we have not expressed that in love, and I understand that even when we do, those words may still be heard as offensive to the segment of society who is experiencing life as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender person. But we want to fix it.

Unfortunate Disconnects

Finally, I think Chris’s last paragraph asserting an improper fixation on children’s genitals is unfair and is as unnecessary as is the implication that any of us would ever condone violence against transgender individuals (or anyone in the LGBT community). That’s not who we are. And I guess I want to address the concept of “homophobia” or “transphobia,” though not here and not yet, except to say that I don’t identify with the idea that we are afraid of homosexuality or transgenderism, etc. in the sense that we are concerned that it may hinder our quality of life or that we are necessarily afraid that we ourselves will become homosexual or transgender (though since we largely see these as being in the realm of choice or at least being environmentally influenced some of that may play a part). Ours is a pursuit of truth and a desire to fulfill the Great Commission, and a genuine concern for people.

I do have some questions:

-What was the earliest point that behavioral scientists or psychologists began to make a distinction between sex and gender?

-How much influence does environment play in gender identity?

– Are there transgender individuals who are happy to be transgender?

-Do transgender individuals claim that there is absolutely no reason to think that the elevation of transgenderism, etc. will ever have an effect on children who are what you refer to as cisgendered but who are bullied for other reasons, thereby leaving them vulnerable to suggestion?

1 I use the word “evangelical” with more and more reserve since I can no longer be confident that everyone is reads the same meaning into it any more. But the word “Christian” is worse since even more heresy is found under that rubric than the word evangelical.

2 Not sure is transgenderism is a fair way to reference here.

3 American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster 1828, (New York: S. Converse, 1828), gender.

4 The concept of “bottom-up” or “top down” applies here in that a growing number of people want to choose truth based on what humans experience or desire rather than from a perspective of what God desires.

 

Scott Fowler is the founder of the Christ and Culture Initiative. He is a pastor/theologian living in New York. You can learn more about him at:  http://scottythinks.wordpress.com/about/

Boys will be boys . . . or will they?

By Roger Erdvig

“Boys will be boys,” the old saying goes. But did you know that boys in Massachusetts’ schools who consider themselves to be girls have the protected right to use the girl’s bathroom, and girls who self-identify as boys enjoy the same right?

Apparently, the truth about reality is not important anymore. How a child identifies his or her gender has become the only reliable way to actually determine gender. God’s design for male and female anatomical and physiological distinctives are beside the point.

In July of last year, New York State approved guidelines that protect transgender individuals from harassment, which is defined, in part, as “repeated, deliberate use of pronouns and names that are inconsistent with a student’s gender identity.” Read that last sentence again. Harassment– which is punishable by law– includes using pronouns that fit a person’s physical reality.

What’s happened, and how did we get here so fast? As you’ve heard many Christian leaders say, ideas have consequences. There is such a thing as cause and effect: when you remove the capital “T” from the word Truth, nothing makes sense anymore. Up becomes down, wrong becomes right, and gender is a choice. And there you have postmodernism in a nutshell.

Postmodernism is a way of thinking that is a catastrophic transition away from the Biblical standard of Truth. In its place, a new standard is enthroned—the individual’s right to choose their own truth, regardless of how that truth matches up with reality. This same standard of truth drives the gay marriage and abortion-rights crusades. But it hits even closer to home for all of us who are raising children in this upside-down world… Not only are students confronted with books like “Heather Has Two Mommies” in their local libraries and public schools, now, Holly is forced to share the girls’ bathroom with “Hope,” who recently decided that he is a she. (Ooops… I better get my pronouns right.)

When Smithtown Christian School talks about developing students with a mind for Truth, this kind of calamity is exactly why we’re so passionate about this. Our children are inheriting a bog-like mess, and only strong leaders with a heart for God, a mind for Truth, and a passion to change the world will be equipped to lead the way out. This kind of leader will navigate the bog with grace, truth, and a Christlike compassion for individuals.

Roger Erdvig is the Superintendent Smithtown Christian School in Smithtown, NY. Learn more about Roger or check out his blog here:  Roger Erdvig.