An Anglican diocese in England is turning a lot of heads after publishing a document calling for transgender individuals to enter the priesthood, in addition to telling its members that it’s “almost always inappropriate” to ask about an individual’s sexual preferences or desires.
The document, which was issued by the Diocese of Lichfield in Staffordshire on May 9, notes that “(w)ork is underway at the level of the Church of England nationally on a major new Teaching Document” intended “to set out a framework for what it means to be human and sexual.”
Apparently, what this document is going to do is throw out pretty much every area of the Bible that contradicts popular currents of thought regarding LGBT individuals and open every area of the church to homosexuals and transgenders — including serving as priests.
“We wish to affirm that LGBT+ people can be called to roles of leadership and service in the local church,” the document reads.
“We very much hope that they, like everyone else, feel encouraged to serve on PCCs (parochial church councils), or as churchwardens and worship leaders, for instance, and are supported in exploring vocations to licensed lay and ordained ministries. Nobody should be told that their sexual or gender identity in itself makes them an unsuitable candidate for leadership in the Church.”
The document acknowledges that “there is considerable, sometimes passionate, disagreement about the theological and ethical issues involved in these matters” and that “(t)his disagreement is naturally to be found in our own diocese too, and as bishops we are committed to encouraging people with differing views to meet, pray and talk together.”
Just so long as they come to the Right Conclusion, of course.
“Intrusive questioning about someone’s sexual practices or desires, or their experience of gender, is almost always inappropriate,” the document reads. “It is also unacceptable to tell or insinuate to people that sexual orientation or gender identity will be changed by faith, or that homosexuality or gender difference is a sign of immaturity or a lack of faith.”
This inability to intrusively question would, one assumes, extend to those in the priesthood as well, given that the Diocese of Lichfield is enthusiastically calling transgender individuals to leadership positions. So in other words, while they say there can be “disagreement about the theological and ethical issues involved in these matters,” it just can’t be disagreement that actually matters at any real level.
And by the way, this is hardly a theoretical thing. In Australia, the Anglican Church already has a transgender priest, Jo Inkpin. Now, apparently, that kind of diversity is coming to the home of the Anglican Church, England.
I don’t think I need to repeat the Bible’s prohibitions against homosexuality, although those have been done away with long ago by the Anglican communion, anyhow. In addition to those, however, here are a number of passages that deal with transgender issues:
- “He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created.” — Genesis 5:2
- “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.” — Psalm 139:13-16
- “He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.’” — Matthew 19:4-6
- “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” — Deuteronomy 22:5
So, why ignore these passages? Some sort of divine revelation? A new, revolutionary interpretation of the Bible that hath been bequeathed upon the Diocese of Lichfield from regions above?
“As Archbishop Justin has made clear, the perception that the Church is homophobic and transphobic is harming our mission, especially to young people,” the diocese says. “We need to challenge this perception by reaching out to LGBT+ people with the good news of God’s love, modelling God’s welcome and care for all people.”
I suppose the fact that this would make the Anglican Church more happening to young people is a revelation of sorts, although not of the type we usually associate with the empyrean.
Look, firstly, let’s stop pretending that God’s primary concern is church attendance. This isn’t a concert tour. But don’t believe me, believe Jesus: “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” That doesn’t exactly sound like someone who wanted His church to exchange His message for earthly popularity.
Secondly, let’s please stop this false dichotomy where you’re either “homophobic and transphobic” for following Jesus’ word or “reaching out to LGBT+ people with the good news of God’s love” by more or less ignoring it. You can love somebody at the same time you recognize they’re a sinner. In fact, we’re all sinners. We can also say that there are certain types of sin that make you an inappropriate candidate for leadership within the church community.
As the saying goes, God loves you too much to leave you as you are. This is not hatred, this is simply teaching the Bible. If the Anglican Church wants to ignore this, I suppose one can simply avoid the church. This all being said, they shouldn’t pretend that those who stay away are “homophobic and transphobic” for their beliefs.
If there was anything more to this than just the popularity point, one could let it slide as just being a symptom of the modern liberal church. However, this is just a naked plea for society at large to like the church more.
We’ll change for you, this says. Please like us! Add the diocese to your Facebook feed. Don’t take all of that piffle in the Bible the wrong way. That was written, like, thousands of years ago! We can water it down, if you so desire. You don’t want to be the gender God made you? Sure, you can’t change your chromosomes, but change everything else. God made you that way, except for the part where He didn’t. But we can ignore that, just so long as you’re in the pews.
I have the utmost sympathy for any individual struggling with gender dysphoria, and I think every Christian is called to do so. But sympathy is not sanction.
I’m not sure what the spiritual solution is, but I’m almost certain that the Diocese of Lichfield hasn’t found it.
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