I was at an excellent conference today organised by the London Seminary in Finchley on the issue of transgender. The day was structured so that four specialists gave a different angle on a matter that has quickly climbed to the top of the agenda in terms of social issues facing the church at the present time. Dr Sharon James kicked us off with an introduction to the social, cultural and historical background. This was very helpful though quite disturbing in parts. Dr Peter Saunders of CMF then dealt with the medical issues. This was a more difficult paper and I was not entirely happy with everything that was said although this is possibly because of the need to use broad brushstrokes in addressing such a vast subject. His paper on Gender dysphoria was recommended (you can find that here). He himself recommended a resource (especially the conclusions) which I think is here.
After an excellent sandwich lunch the 70 or so present had another three sessions crammed between 1.45 and 4.40 pm. Simon Calvert from the Christian Institute took us through the laws on this matter, which are partly bad news and partly good. Then Durham based Dr Alastair Roberts gave us a helpful biblical theological session. We finished off with a pastoral session from Ulsterman David Magowan from Reading. He gave us a useful six point plan:
1. Understand the culture
2. Access Christian resources (Vaughan Roberts, etc)
3. Teach and preach a biblical understanding of gender
4. Discuss transgenderism with your church leadership team
5. Give advice to your welcome teams and leaders of church ministries
6. Provide compassionate pastoral care and biblical counselling
Throughout the day we had time for questions after each session and this added to the value of the day.
The messages were all recorded and can be obtained from the seminary (website here).
Friends in Wales will be interested to know that something similar will take place in Cardiff on March 25, 2017. I believe on the same day there will also be something like it going on in Stirling too.
One more useful resource is a statement of Christian ethical standards here at the Grace Assembly website. It includes all manner of items including this
A Christian must not adopt a sex other than his biological sex, for example by wearing clothes appropriate only to the opposite sex; by using pronouns applicable only to the opposite sex; by using a given name associated exclusively with the opposite sex. A Christian must not use hormonal blockers, surgical alteration, or any other means in an attempt to take on the physical characteristics of the opposite sex. A Christian must not encourage any other person to relate to him or to address him as if he were a member of the opposite sex.
Gen 1:27; Deuteronomy 22:5; Psalm 139:13-16.