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Notebook Religion

Transgender eschatology?

(Krieg Barrie)

Transgenderism

Transgender eschatology?

Biola scholar raises controversy at ETS conference

Andy Draycott’s theology is the evangelical equivalent of vanilla ice cream—conservative and widely palatable—but his presentation on transgenderism at the annual Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) conference in November left listeners wondering if Draycott was promoting more exotic flavors.

ETS is a society of theologians and Biblical scholars committed to Biblical inerrancy and a belief in the Trinity. Some listeners were therefore surprised to hear Draycott, who teaches at the Talbot School of Theology of Biola University, propose that churches might view “the transgender Christian” as “dying to that old conformity to self and living in newness, without the church being desperately concerned with … genitalia.”

Draycott argued that Christians must “prophetically test each other’s word and testimony,” urging churches to welcome those who identify as transgender Christians but also to challenge their testimony. Nevertheless, he left several questions unanswered. Is transgenderism a legitimate identity for a Christian? Is gender dysphoria a result of fallenness? Where do repentance and obedience stand in the life of a self-identifying transgender Christian?

Draycott’s 2017 ETS presentation explored similar themes, asking if a person who currently identifies as transgender might receive, at the resurrection, a differently sexed body, such that the sex of the body conforms to the perceived identity of the soul.

Biola has fielded questions from theologians and reporters. Draycott recently issued an apology and explanation: “I wish to publicly apologize for the lack of clarity with which I expressed my thinking. … By its nature this eschatological speculation is unverifiable.” Draycott reaffirmed basic evangelical convictions, including “the goodness of created humans as male and female,” while maintaining that “gender dysphoria or transgender identification are a manifestation of human fallenness.”

Draycott acknowledged that repentance and obedience must mark the life of every Christian: “The burden of the paper was on what it must mean for the church to bear with the transgender identifying or gender dysphoric person who turns to or belongs to Christ.” But speculation is not theology, and the Bible does not answer every question a theologian might ask.

Handout

John and Aventer Gray; a Lamborghini Urus (Handout)

Prosperity gospel cars

John Gray, recently installed as pastor of a 22,000-member megachurch in South Carolina, bought his wife a $200,000 Lamborghini Urus SUV for their eighth anniversary. After drawing criticism, Gray defended the purchase, claiming that “not a nickel” of his church salary contributed to the vehicle.

Gray, who continues to serve as associate pastor at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, insisted that his most recent book deal, along with earnings from his Oprah Winfrey Network reality-TV show, financed the purchase. Gray’s wife, Aventer, took to Instagram to defend her husband, writing, “I don’t see anyone screaming about how basketball players drive what they do while you paying $$$ to see them play in arenas and on fields.” Pastor Gray added, “God helped me to make my wife’s dream come true,” asking, “Why not?”

Gray said that as long as he behaves in “honorable, ethical and not illegal” ways, no one has the right to question how he chooses to express his love for his wife. But does that reduce Jesus’ ethical teachings to “Don’t do anything illegal”? And, since not everything that is legal is moral, shouldn’t those who serve in ministry stand “above reproach”?

Where your Lamborghini is, there your heart will be also. —R.S.J.

Comments

  • AlanE
    Posted: Wed, 01/09/2019 01:42 pm

    I'm replacing my original post speculating that the California environment in which Draycott lives and works may be influencing his theological leanings with something that may be more helpful to the greater discussion.

    The Bible doesn't exactly say gender is a matter of indifference in the resurrection, but it does say we neither marry or are given in marriage in the resurrection. We may safely infer, then, that sexual activity isn't something we'll find in the new heavens and new earth. Given that, Draycott's musing about whether the resurrection body suits a person's particular gender dysphoria seems to miss the point of the resurrection, no? If it misses the big picture, we may be reasonably sure we don't want to follow it other places it leads as well.

    Further, I would be inclined to take issue with Draycott that it is the church that is desperately concerned about genitalia. Genitalia is an outward manifestation of sex. God made us one sex or the other. If you are male, then you have the outward manifestation of maleness, but I don't see the church getting particularly twisted about that. Until 10 or so years ago, almost nobody took issue with that statement, least of all anyone in the church. Those who are desperately concerned about genitalia seem to be those who insist that genitalia has nothing to do with gender. It is easy to be "desperately concerned" when you're arguing against what is transparently obvious to thought not held captive to an agenda.

    In regard to the author's question about gender dysphoria being a result of the fall, I hope that was a rhetorical question. If Draycott is taking issue with that, then I would hope Talbot School of Theology will soon be looking for someone with a more orthodox perspective to be replacing Draycott if he persists in such belief and teaching. 

    I will pray for Draycott, however. This situation seems to suggest that the gender dysphoria issue is hitting somewhere near and dear to Draycott.

  • AlanE
    Posted: Wed, 01/09/2019 05:41 pm

    A full statement from Biola/Talbot and Draycott is found here: https://www.biola.edu/talbot/news-events/statement-andy-draycott-ets-pre...

    For those interested or concerned by this topic, this statement should be read. 

    The biggest remaining question is how Draycott got to the point of making such a presentation to the ETS. What roadblocks and cautions had to be disregarded to get to this point? Draycott states a pastoral concern of how to respond to the gender dysphoric person who turns to Christ as his motivation for exploring the topic. But, how he gets from a valid pastoral concern to writing a paper for the ETS suggesting the possibility of the dysphoria (potentially) being resolved in the resurrection body is an unexplained leap. He explains that recent conversations have shown him this train of thought was wrong, but why did none of those conversations happen before the presentation of the paper?

  • Minivan Man's picture
    Minivan Man
    Posted: Wed, 01/09/2019 12:38 pm

    Regarding the Lamborghini:

    It's ridiculous to judge the man for this without judging all of us.  Who has spent thousands of dollars on vacations?  And to what end, a memory?  Who bought a $500,000 home, when a $300,000 home would do?  Who spent thousands of dollars on clear rocks (diamonds) for his wife?  Who buys the tasty expensive food every day when simple healthy food would suffice?  Add up all the "waste" and we all should be on trial. 

    We'll all have our day of accounting.  Live your life in such a way that you motivate others to change.  

  • Bob R
    Posted: Wed, 01/09/2019 02:31 pm

    I believe Mr (Dr?) Draycott would do well to consider the words of Christ in Mark 12:25, "When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven."  What possible purpose would "sexual identity" serve in such an existence?  

    My personal understanding (for what it's worth) is that there will be far more intimacy between all believers and Lord Himself, such that what we experience in earthly marriage will pale by comparison.  

    I believe also that marriage is given so that we might understand the intimacy we are invited to enjoy in our relationship with God in Christ, having experienced it with our spouse.  The "oneness" of the marriage bond helps us understand the depth of relationship Jesus offers everyone who comes to Him.

    In fact, the very nature of our salvation depends upon this oneness; Christ’s sacrifice on my behalf can ONLY be just if He and I are one.  Just as in marriage, the debt of one spouse become the responsibility of the other, so in our relationship in Christ, He can justly take ownership of our debt of sin because we are one with Him.

     

     

  • JerryM
    Posted: Wed, 01/09/2019 06:39 pm

    John Gray may consider Billy Graham's example.  He lived modestly.  His lifestyle and actions, not just words, suggested his heart was on things above.  

    John Gray is, of course, not alone (how many jets does Kenneth Copeland own?).  Many of our leaders appear to use worldly wealth to bless themselves more than the Kingdom (or, as mini van man, also suggests many of us congregants live well beyond our needs).  Their actions suggest they see their reward as more for the here and now and a lack of understanding of what they may gain eternally if they used their worldly wealth differently or understood the deep value that may be found in simplicity.