Archives For gender

The Briefing

NY Times op-ed spurs discussion of race & the SBC
A black Oklahoma minister’s New York Times op-ed “renouncing [his] ordination in the Southern Baptist Convention” has drawn responses from a range of African Americans who say they will continue to cooperate with the convention as it pursues racial reconciliation. Meanwhile, the op-ed’s author, Lawrence Ware, explained his views in an interview with Baptist Press, noting he does not believe Southern Baptists by and large are intentionally racist. He also said he likely would have “softened” some of his language against the SBC if given an opportunity to rewrite the op-ed.

Bible studies at the White House
Some of the most powerful people in America have been gathering weekly to learn more about God’s Word, and this Trump Cabinet Bible study is making history. They’ve been called the most evangelical Cabinet in history – men and women who don’t mince words when it comes to where they stand on God and the Bible. They’re all handpicked by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Democrat boss says no abortion litmus test
Democrats will not withhold campaign funds from pro-life candidates running for elected office, Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., chairman of the Democrats’ House campaign arm, told The Hill. “There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates,” Luján said. “As we look at candidates across the country, you need to make sure you have candidates that fit the district, that can win in these districts across America.”

Toy makers blurring gender line
Like wildfire, the transgender revolution appears to be consuming, changing and confusing everything in life as people used to know it. Now the confusion has extended to the choice of toys for children. Hasbro, one of the biggest U.S. toy-makers, has announced that it has changed its thinking regarding certain toys being geared toward particular genders. In a recent interview, Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner said his company has found that a significant percentage of boys are interested in My Little Pony, traditionally more popular with girls. Conversely, girls are taking a liking for Star Wars products marketed more at boys.

Christians & non-Christians Agree: College is about getting a job
Despite the abundance of Christian learning institutions and campus ministries in the U.S., American Christian adults, including evangelicals, are no more likely than the religiously unaffiliated — or religious “nones” — to list spiritual growth as one of the reasons for going to college (9%). And evangelicals are less likely than both religious “nones” and the general population to include moral character development among the reasons for seeking a postsecondary education (10% vs. roughly 14%).

Sources: Baptist Press, CBN, World Magazine, Christian Post, Influence Magazine

The Briefing

Immigration raids target Iraqi-American Christians
Chicago’s Iraqi immigrant community is bracing for raids by U.S. immigration officers after witnessing a sweep in Detroit, where federal agents rounded up more than 100 Iraqis, most of them Christians, and sent them to a detention center in Ohio, pending deportation. Federal agents took Detroit’s Iraqi-American community by surprise, showing up at a Chaldean church during Mass, at restaurants frequented by the Iraqi Chaldean community, and at homes bearing orders to arrest and deport residents.

Baptists deny CSB translation is ‘gender neutral’
Conservative Christian groups and intellectuals are rejecting a recent claim that the latest version of the Christian Standard Bible has been edited to be more “gender neutral.” The Atlantic published a piece on Sunday that claimed that the theologically conservative Southern Baptist Convention was embracing a more gender-neutral version of the Bible.

SBC Phoenix wrap-up: Alt-right resolution & evangelism draw focus
Appointment of a task force to study how Southern Baptists can be more effective in evangelism and a resolution decrying “alt-right white supremacy” were among highlights of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 13-14 in Phoenix. Attendees of the SBC Pastors’ Conference preceding the annual meeting elected Florida pastor H.B. Charles as the conference’s first black president.

Chicago records 300th homicide
Chicago recorded its 300th homicide over the Father’s Day weekend, just like it did last year. The somber milestone was reached around 2:30 a.m. Monday when a 33-year-old man was gunned down during a burst of violence that saw four people killed and 13 others wounded over just five hours Sunday evening through early Monday, according to data kept by the Tribune.

Catholics launch conversation about female deacons
Several progressive Catholic groups are launching an initiative aimed at giving lay Catholics and clergy across the U.S. a direct say on whether the church should ordain women deacons. Their actions follow the appointment of a panel of experts set up by Pope Francis to consider the controversial question.

Sources: World Magazine, Christian Post, Illinois Baptist, Religion News, Chicago Tribune

The BriefingBill would to legalize marijuana
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, Chicago, filed an amendment to House Bill 2353 on March 22 that revises the state’s Cannabis Control Act, making a number of sweeping changes “[i]n the interest of allowing law enforcement to focus on violent and property crimes, generating revenue for education and other purposes, and individual freedom.” These changes allowing the recreational use of marijuana include regulating it the same as alcohol and  legalizing the possession of 28 grams of the substance.

Bill would simplify changing gender on birth certificates
A proposal that would make it easier for transgender people to change their birth certificates to reflect their gender identity has cleared an initial hurdle. House Bill 1785 approved by the House Human Services Committee, says a birth certificate could be changed if a medical or mental health provider confirms someone has received “clinically appropriate” treatment. Current Illinois law says transgender people can only change the sex listed on their birth certificates if a doctor transition surgery has been performed.

Student sues school over girl in boys’ locker room
A high school junior is suing his Boyertown, Pa., school district after administrators told him he could either “tolerate” having a biological female share his locker room or withdraw and be homeschooled. The lawsuit filed in federal court calls on the district to rescind its secretly implemented policy granting transgender students access to the private facilities of their choice.

Princeton Seminary reverses decision to honor Keller
Princeton Seminary, the flagship institution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), had announced Tim Keller, bestselling author and pastor of New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church, as the recipient of its Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Witness, a $10,000 award. But in a March 22 letter to the seminary community, President Craig Barnes said the decision had been reversed in order to “not imply any endorsement” of Keller’s “belief that women and [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] persons should not be ordained.”

President Trump to give commencement address at Liberty University
President Donald Trump will give his first commencement address as president at Liberty University, the evangelical college led Jerry Falwell Jr. Falwell, the son of the prominent televangelist, was one of Trump’s most vocal supporters among evangelical Protestant leaders during the 2016 presidential campaign. At Liberty, student reaction to the announcement was mixed.

Sources: Illinois Policy, Chicago Tribune, World Magazine, Baptist Press, Washington Post

The BriefingHouston votes on ‘the bathroom ordinance’

Today (Nov. 3), voters in Houston, TX go to the polls to cast their ballots for or against Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) —a proposed sexual orientation, gender identity, nondiscrimination law that includes regulations for the use of restrooms and locker rooms in the city limits.


The real reason China is ditching its ‘one-child policy’

After 35 years, China has announced that it will abandon its “one-child policy,” but not because the Chinese leadership has become prolife. According to the Washington Post, “The decision appears to have been driven by concerns that the country’s low fertility rate would create a crisis that eventually could threaten the legitimacy of Communist Party rule.”


University of California seeks to ban free speech

A new campus policy has been proposed at the University of California that seeks to limit freedom of speech so that students and faculty have the “right” to study or work “free from acts and expressions of intolerance.”


Baptist care for Syrian refugees

Southern Baptists have poured nearly $3 million dollars through BGR into relief efforts for Syrian refugees. These resources have helped fund projects in several countries and have been used for things like distributions of food, blankets, clothing and more.


KY Baptist university rekindles gender role debate

Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, Ky., hosted the inaugural Christians for Biblical Equality lectures, named for an organization that advocates equal authority and leadership roles for men and women in families and churches.

Sources: BPnews.net, Christian Post, ERLC.com, Washington Post

COMMENTARY | Eric Reed

When we first heard that Bruce Jenner was in multi-year gender reassignment,

I thought the doubtable story must be some tabloid concoction. Then when the legitimate news outlets reported it as true, I knew I wasn’t ready for this. Whenever the thought crossed my mind, my jaw dropped. Literally. A boyhood hero was becoming a girl. More or less. I wondered, Am I ready for this?

When the adult son of a character in a popular book series showed up at his mother’s house in a tasteful sweater and skirt set—and set the small town on its collective ear—I thought, That’s fiction.

When a female Sunday school teacher told me about the man who attended the ladies class in women’s clothes and calling himself Jackie*, I thought, That’s Chicago.

Then recently a pastor showed me a photo of bearded fellow and said, “When we were in college, we used to sing together and lead revivals. This is Shane. Shane used to be Sharon.” I thought, That’s it. It’s here. And I’m not ready.

In a February meeting with Baptist editors, Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said the issue of ministry to transgender people has arrived on the church doorstep, but not at the sanctuary or the church office. Instead, it’s showing up first in the youth department. Moore mentioned assisting a church that had a transgender teenager attend their youth meetings.

While everyone else is concerned about same-sex marriage issues, I’ve added transgender teens to the checklist. Issues similar to those faced by a few public schools could be headed to church:

• If a boy presents himself as a girl, does he get to use the girls’ room?
• If there are any gender-segregated classes left in the world, which one is the transgender teen to attend?
• Is this the end of the overnight lock-in, the Acteens slumber party, or the RA’s camp out?
• And the deeper issue: How do we tell a genuinely hurting, confused person who is desperately seeking acceptance that God doesn’t make mistakes—boys are boys and girls are girls—with enough compassion that we don’t drive them from the
only hope they have?

At one time, it was enough to know three forms of “trans”—transvestite (wearing clothes of the opposite sex), transgender (identifying psychologically with the opposite sex), and transsexual (having hormone treatment and surgery for gender reassignment). But the sexual identity landscape has gotten more complicated. And teens especially are trying a variety of labels, if they choose any label at all.

How can we help?

Yes, there is clear biblical teaching to be shared, starting in Genesis: God made people male and female (1:27). We are all made in God’s image, but we have distinct assignments (2:21-23). Paul’s criticisms of the culture in which he lived included the abandonment of one’s own sexual role for that of the opposite sex (Rom. 1:26-28, 1 Cor. 6:9).

And yes, there are practical issues to consider: Will “questioning” or “trans” youth be allowed to crossdress at church, even in limited ways such as wearing earrings and nail polish? The Old Testament forbade wearing the other sex’s clothing (Deut. 22:5). And there’s that restroom question.

But more to the point, can such a struggling person be loved and made welcome without endorsing their behavior, or confusing other adolescents whose stage of life is already confused enough?

The Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution on transgender identity in June 2014. The resolution urges churches to “extend love and compassion to those whose sexual self-understanding is shaped by a distressing conflict between their biological sex and their gender identity.” Further it encourages churches to “welcome them to our churches and, as they repent and believe in Christ, receive them into church membership (2 Cor. 5:18–20; Gal. 5:14),” all the while opposing public and government efforts “to validate transgender identity as morally praiseworthy (Isa. 5:20).”

Messengers to IBSA’s 2014 Annual Meeting adopted the same resolution six months later.

Perhaps these examples teach us something: That Chicago Sunday school class took Jackie in for a year until he emerged one Sunday in a suit and tie and went to the men’s class under his birth name, Willie. And Shane’s Christian friend, a pastor, maintains a Facebook friendship as a reminder of how much we all need the gospel.

Ministry in the face of sexual pain and confusion, now including the needs of transgender people, will be required of all church leaders eventually. Also required is the call for faithfulness to biblical truth without driving hurting people from the only
hope they have in Jesus Christ.

I hope we’re ready for this.

Eric Reed is editor of the Illinois Baptist.

*This class’s story was told in our May 26, 2014, issue. You can read it online at http://ibonline.IBSA.org.