Transgenderism, culture, and the Church

By May 3, 2016

USA (MNN) – The U.S. Department of Education recently released a list detailing Christian schools who’ve applied for a Title IX exemption. Why? Because these schools disagree with transgenderism.

(Photo Courtesy InterVarsity via Facebook)

(Photo Courtesy InterVarsity via Facebook)

But this public shaming of Christians is reaching into secular college campuses as well. Greg Jao with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship says,

“InterVarsity has increasingly found that University’s are de-recognizing Intervarsity chapters because we require our student leaders to be Christians, and they claim that this discriminates on the basis of religion. Which is ironic since we’re actually trying to protect our religious character.”

Yet, for some student leaders, this shutdown is strengthening their faith. For some, keeping true to the beliefs Christians have held for 2,000 years is much more important than agreeing with an ever-shifting culture.

It’s also pushing the Church to articulate its beliefs better to the current culture, even if it doesn’t win anyone over. What the Church can do though is speak Christ’s truth in love and grace.

Furthermore, the Church can call on the American country to be true to the values which founded this country. Except, this truth of freedom for all needs to be for all. Not just for transgender individuals and Christians, but for Muslims and others whose religious freedom – or freedom in general – has been compromised.

It also means it’s time for some Christians to ask themselves, “Am I pursuing this because I’m convicted or because I’m judging?” If it is for conviction, then it’s time do a better job at understanding the views of others with whom we don’t necessarily agree.

“I think Christians should, perhaps for the first time, think hard about what gender dysphoria looks like. The people who actually struggle with gender identity, not because it’s sexually titillating to them or because it’s a way of confronting culture . . . but actually because of a deep internal dissonance. And you have to understand the actual pain and dislocation that they’re feeling so that we can actually be church to them,” Jao explains.

(Photo Courtesy InterVarsity via Facebook)

(Photo Courtesy InterVarsity via Facebook)

As Christians, let’s extend the grace and love of God, Christ’s welcome and the invitation for transformation. “You have to do a little soul searching and then, we have to actually be the missional community that we claim to be,” Jao expresses.

How do Christians engage with the topic of transgenderism then?

  1. Engage in authentic relationships with transgender people. Don’t be afraid to say hello and genuinely build a relationship with someone.
  2. Be open to the Holy Spirit’s work – both in yourself and in others.
  3. Talking about transgenderism and transgender individuals without scorn or disgust in your voice or actions can go a long way. It might be happening unintentionally, so just be careful and watchful for when such a mannerism might creep up.

To help, Jao recommends talking to these individuals the same way one would talk to a church member about unbiblical behavior. Through clarity and love simultaneously.

“Every cultural challenge is not just a challenge of the culture, but its actually an invitation to the Church to examine its own patterns, and behaviors, and biases. And simultaneously to commit more deeply and strongly to what scripture teaches,” Jao says. “What a great opportunity for the church to clarify what it means to be the Church.”

On a separate note, maybe it’s time for the Church to re-examine how it defines gender. Not in the sense of transgenderism, but in the sense that some girls have a tomboy likeness and some boys are more gentle and kind. Yet, it doesn’t change their roles as a boy and girl. Woman and man. Just provokes the thought that maybe neither society’s nor the Church’s definitions of gender actually encompass how God created the two roles.

To learn more about InterVarsity’s Campus Access Concerns, click here!


  • Master says:

    God should be with you all where ever the ministry is done

  • Thank you so much for engaging in this much need discussion for Christians.

  • JT says:

    I was happy until the last paragraph. It is possible to interpret the last paragraph to broadly.

  • Ruth Kramer says:

    I see your point. The idea behind that last paragraph was not to get locked into the ‘blue means boy’ and ‘pink means girl’ ideal, appreciating that sometimes there are characteristics and strengths that are misinterpreted or suppressed unfairly.

  • Sylvia Arena says:

    I have seen how criticism can push people away from God, where as loving unconditionally people are drawn towards God. LOVE is the way towards transformation and change. Let’s leave God to do the healing and changing, He is really good at it!

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