July 11, 2012

A Transgendered Episcopal Church

The Episcopal Church’s ratification of same sex marriage at its General Convention in Indianapolis on Tuesday is the almost logical outcome of its decades long trajectory away from theological orthodoxy. It reveals a heterodox understanding of the universal church, of the Scriptures, of human nature, and of the full identity and mission of Jesus Christ. The Episcopal Church joins the even more liberal United Church of Christ in redefining marriage. Both denominations are among the fastest declining in America. That decline will continue indefinitely and maybe even accelerate.

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Even more troubling is the Episcopal Church’s official embrace of transgenderism. Here is essentially a Gnostic faith that mental and emotional self-realization trumps physical reality. Each self-actualized individual can in fact perpetually reinvent himself or herself into endlessly possible new sexual identities. Male today, female tomorrow, then some yet to be determined new gender next week. The Christian hope and understanding that the human body is called to be a sacred temple of the Holy Spirit that will ultimately resurrect, as Christ resurrected, for all eternity is largely lost or ignored under the transgender ideology.

What is the ultimate ceiling or floor of this strange new course upon which the Episcopal Church is launched? Only God knows. But certainly the denomination will become even more so the preserve of largely upper income, white, liberal urbanites who have the luxury to indulge in utopian fads. The Episcopal Church was once derided as the Republican Party at prayer. Now what is it? MSNBC at prayer?

Meanwhile, the global Anglican Communion, now perhaps over 80 million strong, is thriving in most places. Once a leader in that communion, the Episcopal Church, at 1.9 million members and fast falling, absent a massive influx of cross dressing spiritual seekers, faces a sad. cloudy future, mostly dependent on the endowments bequeathed by the long deceased. Yet the Holy Spirit still lives on this earth, and He may yet reclaim what others consider hopelessly lost.


17 Responses to A Transgendered Episcopal Church

  1. Gabe says:

    Eventually, those who truly believe in the heterodox views of this church will come to realize that they can get the same religious experience sleeping in on Sunday morning as they would listening to much of what is preached in the modern Episcopal Church. Once the church has fully lined up with the views of this fallen world and no longer offers the life-changing, redemptive gospel of Jesus Christ, there will be simply no reason to attend.

  2. […] Indianapolis, while also approving the right of transgendered people to be ordained. Rod Dreher and Mark Tooley offer their […]

  3. Dr. John G. Rumple says:

    This analysis of The Episcopal Church and it’s theology is woefully inadequate on so many levels, and makes the false claim that episcopalians have left “orthodoxy.” What is most disturbing is the way you lable and steretype the members of this church – white, urban, liberal. Have you actually visited this church in its various expressions in our country? Clearly not. Nor are you in touch with what is practiced and believed about God and human nature. The Episcopal Church does stand against something – exactly the kind of sloppy, prejudiced, and uninformed analysis of people’s spirituality that this article represents.

    • Carol O. says:

      Very well said, Dr. Rumple. I am frankly aghast at some of the comments I have read, which predict the ultimate demise of The Episcopal Church, and how far the church has ‘strayed.’ For full disclosure, I have not attended a church of any denomination other than Episcopalian for many years, so I will not engage in minute and uninformed scrutiny of other mainline, Protestant churches. However, the Episcopal Church I attend has quite a cross sampling of economic classes, sexual orientation, age and even political affiliation (despite being located in San Francisco 😉 It seems to me, and call me naive, that The Episcopal Church, far from veering off course, has itself firmly grounded in the reality of our complex, nuanced, challenging world, and offers the non-judgmental, inclusive love of Christ for any who choose to open their hearts.

      • mrskbw says:

        What you fail to see is that no man is passing judgement on you the Scriptures do that and they have been judging the hearts and motives of men from the beginning of time.

  4. Being transgender is neither a “gnostic faith” nor some ideology, and I find the author’s ignorance and assumptions insulting.

    As a born again Christian who happens to be transgendered (transsexual, to be more specific), I can tell you that it’s a misalignment of my sex and gender, and Christ pours a Niagara Falls of grace over me daily to endure the resulting dysphoria.

    Nobody awakes to say, I think I’ll be transgendered today: It’s not fun; it’s not cool; it’s grossly misunderstood; it’s agony. Quite simply, it’s one of the most difficult things in the world to be. About a third of transsexuals take their own lives because it’s so hard to endure; half of the survivors either try to suicide or otherwise self-hurt (I’m in this half). (I should also point-out that there are a few million of us scattered around the world, from all societies and walks of life.)

    After years of walking with Christ, submitting my gender issues to Him, I’ve learned quite a lot. One of the most important things I’ve learned is that God has a lot less problem with this than most of his children. For this life, I have to live in a body that does not match my soul, but Jesus knows how difficult it is to bear such a mismatch: He is infinite God clothed with the finite limitations of a human being.

    God gives me the grace to be who I am, expressing my gender just as He permits everyone of His human creations. My self-expression is no more “rebellious” or “strange” or “sinful” than anyone else of similar gender.

    He uses me to help others of His children practice the difficult task of loving people who are very different from themselves. He also uses me to help other transgendered people understand that Jesus loves even them, despite the obvious fact that much of the Church despises them (regardless of what these Christians say).

    But some day, when I cross into eternity proper, God will give me a new body, one that matches who I really am. I don’t know what kind of body I’ll have, or what I’ll look like, or what it will be like, but it will be *right* and it will glorify Him whom I love, who calls me Beloved.

  5. Dan Trabue says:

    God bless you, Brett. A very grace-full response to a grossly uninformed and grace-less post.

    Your brother in Christ,

    Dan

  6. Marco Bell says:

    Hallelujah, to the comments from: Dr. Rumple,Carol O, Brett, and Dan!!!!
    This is the kind of discussion and disclosure that will set the ‘Church’ free from centuries of patriarchal prejudice and perversion.

    If Mark Tooley’s position holds any weight, (regarding the decline of some denomination’s membership roles), it would only be a blessing to see the decline of such prejudice in power. Let a NEW Church evolve with the Love and Grace that is center to living a Christ-like life.

    I also wish to nominate/elevate, Brett, as a beacon of hope to those millions of LGBT people who have been ‘shunned’ by the overbearing bigotry of so many denominations. The short summary of your life is so well written, and so sincerely appreciated, I can only hope that everyone reads it…Thank you!

  7. Gabe says:

    Mark, this is the logical outworking of a faith that has replaced Biblical truth with human experience. Rather than constantly call each believer to measure his or her feelings, beliefs, and experiences against the plain truth of the Bible, the Episcopal Church advocates that says, “if you feel it and like it, it must be right!” Yet God’s Word says “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” — Jeremiah 17:9

    God never changes, His Word never changes, it is we who must bend to His reality, not water His word down to our own emotionalism.

    • Joan Sibbald says:

      It is both sad and horrifying to hear so many people redefine and distort Scripture to suit themselves. Scripture calls same sex sexual conduct unnatural, despicable, perversion and an abomination. That is God’s truth for every generation until Jesus returns.
      A retired Episcopal bishop was quoted as saying that after homosexuality is accepted, and it will, next will come the elimination of the Deity of Christ. A feminist writer and lecturer called God an abusive father for allowing Jesus to die on a cross.
      It’s a wide path these people are on. It does not lead to Jesus and salvation but rather Satan and destruction.

      • What is more sad and is a more urgent problem among professed believers is that they mistake *faith in their faith* for *faith in Christ*:

        For example, some elevate their interpretations of scripture and/or their denominations traditions above God Himself. This is a form of idolatry. Simply *reading* a translation of scripture in ones language is not sufficient for spiritual understanding nor application (to oneself or others): such requires the illumination of God’s Spirit (and God may require us to understand the context, the underlying language and culture of the time as part of this process for more difficult passages).

        Before I connect this with the homosexual controversy (where this thread seems determined to go), I should point-out that transgenderism/transsexuality is NOT synonymous with homosexuality. They are independent dimensions of core parts of our humanity. The former concerns our gender identity, our built-in sense of who we are along male-androgynous-female continuum. The later, sexual orientation, concerns who we are sexually attracted to, who we wish to form romantic attachments, who we want to mate. They both connect with our sexuality, but they are very different things.

        Another point: there is an important difference between the homosexual controversy and the divinity of Christ: one is not a salvation issue, the other is. Too many Christians treat non-essential things with Heaven & Hell urgency.

        With all this in mind…

        Contrary to what some believes assume, there is more than one legitimate way to interpret the scriptures where the homosexual controversy is concerned. I say “assume” because, like me in the past, they assume that the traditional view must be right and they believe their leaders who summarily dismiss any other way of looking at the Scriptures

        It was when I began to answer God’s call to minister to other trans-people, that His Spirit made it clear that to be honest with myself, others and Him, I had to consider the alternative views of this controversy first-hand, because it was going to come-up and I needed to know how to address this (existential, to gays) issue…

        …It was a humbling experience, and it was not easy: it was very much a “Peter being told to ‘kill and eat'” kind of experience for me. I realized that the alternative view has merit, casting enough doubt on the traditional view that I simply could not be dogmatic about the issue anymore and be honest. What I could say at that time was that there is more than one view of homosexuality, and it’s not my place to tell others which one is correct: God’s Spirit will to this in God’s timing and way.

        Then I came to know gay Christians who had an obvious, unmistakable connection with Christ and were manifesting the fruits of His Spirit. Such people have clearly come to a peace with God about their sexual orientation, just as I’ve come to a peace with Him about my gender identity and its expression.

        Many traditionalists assume that can’t happen; many assume that such people simply couldn’t be Christians. Yet you can be a Christian, fully in-love with Christ and be gay or trans. Too many people put God into a small box where this is concerned and do not understand that the power and scope of God’s grace envelopes and redeems all things (save our sin nature itself, which is no longer *us*, merely in us, as believers). Why is this? If judgement were more important to God than love, then we would ALL already be destroyed and Jesus would never have come and died for us, and then resurrected to show us that we can follow Him there also!

        Further prayerful study of scripture and science, knowing gays and trans folks as people, consulting with other believers: through these and to my spirit herself, God’s Spirit has given me faith to believe that He is okay with loving, committed, monogamous homosexual relationships (what we would call marriages, for heterosexual people). God’s convinced me that concessions have been made by Him for consequences of The Fall that humanity must endure: in a perfect world, homosexuality wouldn’t exist, nor transsexuality, but that perfect world does not exist, and we do and we’ve been affected by it, and that’s what grace is for. So, for me, it’s a bit like this:

        “In a perfect world, I would have been an “orange,” but instead I was created a “plum.” It seems unlikely that I will transformed into an “orange,” instead I am experiencing God remaking me into an attractive, delicious “plum pie,” for His glory, the blessing of others, and my astonished and overwhelming joy.”

        God does His work through our weakness, and as with anything else, *especially* those great, difficult things in our lives, when we surrender them to Him, He will glorify Himself! He takes whatever mars, disfigures, distorts us and He transforms these into works art. It is in His character to redeem rather than ruin…

        I have great confidence that God will sweep into and through the LGBTQ community, and will work in and through them in such a way that they will become the “weakness” that God uses to bring healing to the far more numerous straight population. AND rather than abandoning these people as “objects of His special wrath,” I am convinced He will work blessing in and through them and fill them with the love they so need and crave, confounding the “wisdom” of the religiously stiff and proud…

        For we are all God’s poetry, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He planned in advance for us to do!

    • What about allowing transgendered believers into pastoral and other leadership positions denies Scriptural orthodoxy?

      Scripture teaches that believers are indwelt by God’s Spirit, and are endowed by Christ with gifts, and placed into their ordained positions within the Body of Christ. This is something God does, not man. The reality is the each believer is ordained by God to do the good works prepared for them before the foundation of the world; this ordination happens when they are adopted into the family of God through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus. This ordination is equally independent of the opinions of denominations, leadership, bloggers & commenters and even ourselves.

      As a major part of working through my gender issues with God, I had to prayerfully consider scripture as it applies to people like me. In fact, Scripture does not comment on transgender or transgender people, though a couple of versus can be twisted into condemning us.

      I have faced many people who have condemned me and my self-expression in the name of Christ. Each time, I have prayerfully opened myself to examination, baring myself before God and my accusers, asking again: “Abba? Have I misunderstood You? Am I wrong about my understanding, what I believe I heard from You before? Am I sinning? Am I displeasing to You?” Each of these many times of prayer, study, reflection and consultation have confirmed to me that He is fine with me as I am: we will continue this (my gender journey) together, this journey is not yet over, and He will bless others through this process and through my being transgender (among some other wonderful things). Rather than His Spirit convicting me of sin, God confirmed these things to me, in my spirit and through other mature believers…

      …I am His sheep and I know His voice, and I abandon myself to what He says. As a result, I no longer go through the agonizing process of total self-examination and self-baring, trusting that when (at times) I receive condemnation or criticism for being as God made me (or allowed me to be made), His Spirit is capable of convicting me of sin. I am freed to manifest the fruits of His Spirit in great peace and joy…

      With awe and trembling, I do those good works He has set before me, and it is true that I am unworthy of the responsibilities I carry and the leadership I exercise. I have not sought these, but I cooperate with His Spirit as He directs. This too is an example of His *extravagant* grace. There are an uncounted number of LBGTQ believers who live likewise, moving *with Christ*, against the flow some of their fellow believers who assume they know all the mind of Christ in these tender and complex matters: There is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, and we will all be made Christlike who are in His family, and the work of God is to believe (trust) in the one He sent, that is: Jesus.

      Abandon yourself to God: He has your back, and when in doubt, do the kind thing.

  8. anndria Lattomus says:

    I think of these times we are living in today and how people are living “What ever feels right in my own eyes” This is how God made me some say! As I read the word I see that God really made us in his image but that all changed as Adam and Eve believed the Lie told to them. In Revelations 3 messages are given to the churches. We the church are for sure the last church-the Lord says we are neither hot nor cold but luke warm. We have been luke warm for years now- to let this kind of messages from the pit of hell to enter into the church. We are believeing the lie again. Look up for Our redeemer is drawing close to this evil world- Only this time it is to take us out not to give us time to change into his image.

    • Brett Blatchley says:

      Anndria?

      From your post above where you write: “this kind of messages from the pit of hell” ? I’m not sure how that applies here.

      Are you suggesting that allowing Christians, who are gay or transsgendered, that excercise their God-given gifts in their God-ordained place in the Body is “from the pit of hell?” Or are you writing this of something I’ve posted somewhere here in this thread? Or are you speaking generally of the times?

      I can see your post applying where Christians are departing from the essential parts of the Gospel, but that’s not what’s happened where the topic of this blog post or my comments are concerned. Because some Christians don’t agree with something other Christians say or do doesn’t make the issue ungodly or demonic. The Church had (and continues) to experience *many* controversies, some of which are far more serious that the question of LGBTQ people.

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