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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.
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.