The Tidal Wave of Transgenderism

June 6, 2014

Author’s note: I wish I could read this article to you. I feel hearing my voice as I discuss the topic of transgenderism would be a clearer and more precise representation of my heart for these people. Words on a page lack the strength of empathy. They have no intonation. Moreover, they come across a little distant and somewhat academic. You are, however, in your cubicle or at the kitchen table or in a coffee shop. Therefore, it is what it is, but please know, there is much heart behind these words and much for us to learn. What follows is an attempt to inform you about this growing type of people in the United States and how they are in desperate need of first, biblical love, and then, biblical evangelism.   

A new civil rights movement is beginning to ripple into a public tidal wave according to TIME magazine’s latest cover story, “The Transgender Tipping Point.” The article highlights actor, transgender, and burgeoning advocate for the transgender movement, Laverne Cox. Cox stars in Netflix’s comedic drama, Orange Is the New Black. Cox is only one of a growing group of transgenders who are sharing publicly about their transgenderism and advocating cultural acceptance. In January, Fallon Fox shared with GQ about his current struggle to become an established fighter in MMA Fighting as a woman. Fox underwent physical, re-constructive surgery in 2006 to “become” a woman and takes estrogen supplements daily.

No longer are transgenders only portrayed on the silver screen in films like Boys Don’t Cryand the recent Oscar-winning Dallas Buyers Club. They are a growing segment of America’s population. They are faculty members at Christian universities. They are involved in shaping public policy. They are in kindergarten. And they are in the pews of evangelical churches. To the point, transgendered people have been empowered to come out and live in the open what, in the years past, they have hidden in their hearts.

In September 2013, at a Christian university in California, theology and philosophy chair Heather Clements informed Azusa Pacific University officials of her decision to become a transgendered man. As a result, the school dismissed her. In the same state, the state assembly passed a measure “to let transgender students participate in school programs and use school facilities, such as bathrooms and locker rooms, based on their gender identity instead of their biological sex,” according to the LA Times. In healthcare, transgender issues are being taken into consideration. The Affordable Care Act mandates insurance companies can no longer classify transgenderism as a pre-existing condition. Colleges are wrestling with whether or not their health plans should cover treatments connected to transgendered people. Treatments include hormone medication, breast augmentation or reduction, and genital surgeries.

Change is also happening at the high school-level. In Virginia, this year, the Virginia High School League has decided to allow transgender high school athletes to play on teams of their gender identity, not their God-given, biological sex. Also, at area-high schools in Oakland, California, teachers are being taught a “gender-neutral” vocabulary.

Transgendered students are also coming out at younger ages. The New York Timesreports “children as young as five who display predispositions to dress like the opposite sex are being supported by a growing number of young parents, educators and mental health professionals.”  At Children’s Hospital in Boston, transgendered children, 10 to 13 usually, are being treated with puberty blockers. If upon suspension of the puberty blocking treatment, the teen elects to take supplemental hormones, in order to obtain the gender’s body one desires, dangerous consequences can follow. One such consequence is sterility.

One final example of the cultural spreading of transgenderism is Facebook. In February, the giant, social media site added the option in the profile section, which enables users to select from more than fifty sexual identity options. This is in addition to the traditional selections of ‘male’ and ‘female.’  Users can also select the set of pronouns they wish to use: he/his, she/her, or the gender-neutral they/their. Facebook said on its Diversity page, “We want you to feel comfortable being your true, authentic self.”

By now, as the reader, you might be thinking, “I get it. Just like homosexuality, transgendered people are taking over the media, our schools, our government. Why the endless examples? Are you just stirring up emotional bluster and fears about the unfamiliar?” No, not in the least. I wish not to create a fear mentality rather demonstrate to you these hurting people more than likely live in your region. They are not in specific geographical, socio-economic and cultural pockets around our country. In fact, on The Gospel Coalition website, in 2010, Bob Thune told his story of discipling a transgender in Omaha. My prayer is that knowledge of their existence and their struggles will be used by the Spirit to move more of us to be Bob Thunes.

In the US, there are nearly 700,000 transgendered people according to UCLA’s The Williams Institute. Transgender is an umbrella term for those who find their gender identity different from their biological sex. It includes transsexuals and crossdressers. Identifying as a transgender by an individual may or may not involve surgery or hormonal supplements.

Press reports relate how transgendered individuals feel adrift in their biological sex beginning at a young age, sensing something is “wrong.”  They feel as if their internal, gender yearnings do not match the external marks of their biological gender. Some have married and had children. Only later have they come out as transgendered. Divorce may follow while some spouses accept the new gender identity. Nearly half of all transgendered people, however, continue to conceal their true identity according to the Rankin and Beemyn study. Also, 44% of transgender college students have experienced harassment. Derogatory remarks and pressure to be silent are the most common forms of harassment.

The psychological toll on almost half of transgenders has become too much. According to a National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 41% of transgendered people have attempted suicide. This is nearly nine times the national average. The study also shows nearly two-thirds of those who attempted suicide also had experienced domestic violence committed by a family member.

In an interview with Christianity Today, Grove City College psychology professor Warren Throckmorton commented that of the transgendered people he has advised they are “in absolute agony over their state . . . and desperately in search of hope and acceptance.”

Hope is exactly what all of mankind needs for all of mankind has the same Father. We are all created in His image and beautifully assigned to be either male or female. These precious people need the Great Physician and the “hope of glory,” Jesus Christ, (Col. 1:27) to remove the soul-rot destroying their lives and creating such debilitating hopelessness. I believe there is room for Christian psychologists to help transgendered individuals untie the mental tangle that is deceiving them into thinking they are not their biological sex. Ultimately though, the heart needs to be restored by faith in the redemptive work of Christ. They, along with the rest of humanity, need the gospel.

As Bob Thune explained, the act of being transgendered is fueled by core sins in the heart. In the instance of his transgendered friend, his friend was evidencing selfishness and control in the form of a transgenderism. Other people may exercise selfishness and control in the form of greed or self-pity. Some may not agree with this, but the most significant issue for the transgendered person as well as all other peoples is the need of a new heart. The mind may be broken to a certain degree, but it can be renewed (Romans 12:2). The heart is the place from which all of life flows (Prov. 4:23). It is the seat of our will, emotions, and desires. It must be changed by the gospel first and then the mind can be saved.

Recently, a friend of mine preached on Jesus’ command to be salt and light. As I listened to his sermon, I thought how apt these two metaphors are as they relate to evangelizing transgendered individuals. Their lives are decaying because of the violent rebellion they are exercising against their God-given nature. As salt, God can use us to preserve a life for His glory. Their minds are darkened with great deception. As light, we have the unbelievable privilege of radiating the love of the Savior into the darkness with “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (II Cor. 4:4). By His strength, may we do so.

Tim Scheiderer

Tim Scheiderer (M.Div, Southern Seminary) is a freelance writer living in metro Washington, D.C., with his wife and daughter. His other writings can be found at TPScheiderer.com. He is also a founding board member of The Augustine Center, a Christian Study Center at Georgetown University. Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24