John vs. Joan recap

Before the upgrade to SI 3.0, an important Filing was posted regarding Gender Re-assignment Surgeries and Christian Ethics. It was by Dr. Russell Moore. There were two replies – mine, and another by Alex Guggenheim.

The “problem” he was responding to was how we would respond to a new convert who confesses that he/she was at some point in the past surgically altered to the opposite gender.

In my opinion, the generally reliable and admirable Dr. Moore oversimplified the physical, mental, theological, and ethical matters involved in such surgeries.

I believe this Filing and the discussion that was started is far more important than the infrequent nature of these situations would suggest. While many of us have been in ministry for years and not seen one case of a person surgically altering their gender, the number of these cases is increasing, and will almost certainly continue to increase.

We need to think this through.

You can catch Dr. Moore’s original articles here...
Part one
Part two
Part three

And my post in response, followed by Alex’s, here…
Archived Thread

I would really like to continue this conversation.

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CharlesChurchill's picture

Mike,
I thought your write-up was very thoughtful. The things that I have been thinking about for quite some time now involve the circular nature of the spiritual/physical cause and effect relationship. For instance, there have been a number of studies that have identified gene patterns that associate strongly with (or as some even assert, cause) homosexuality. A lot of Christians I know have dismissed this is an impossibility. But I ask myself, why should I be so determined that this can not be true? If there was a gene that caused tendencies toward theft, would I find that impossible as well? The truth is, we have almost no way of determining the cause for many things. There are spiritual conditions with physical consequences and physical conditions with spiritual consequences and we have no idea in many cases which came first or if there was even a way of knowing. I'm reminded of the blind man and the disciple's question of "who sinned". Their culture and expectation were the reverse of ours. They saw all things as the the direct result of specific spiritual actions, while we run to the material world for our causes. And so, Christ's answer of "No one" threw them for a bit of a loop.
This is what makes me cautious about 'scientific' (or perhaps I should say, purely materialistic) answers to the question of gender. (And I think you clearly make this point, so don't think I'm trying to call you out or anything). I think in many of these cases of gender ambiguity, the correct answer is very specific to the situation. It is tied up in the person's culture, the available technology, the wisdom of parents and elders, and the careful seeking of the Word and will of God. (I've been playing with a name for my view of scriptural decision making, and the best I've been able to come up with is, "Love literally takes everything into account.")

Thanks for pointing me to the discussion,
Charles

Mike Durning's picture

CharlesChurchill wrote:
The things that I have been thinking about for quite some time now involve the circular nature of the spiritual/physical cause and effect relationship. For instance, there have been a number of studies that have identified gene patterns that associate strongly with (or as some even assert, cause) homosexuality. A lot of Christians I know have dismissed this is an impossibility. But I ask myself, why should I be so determined that this can not be true? If there was a gene that caused tendencies toward theft, would I find that impossible as well? The truth is, we have almost no way of determining the cause for many things.

Charles,

Thanks for your kind words.

I have no problem with saying that some people have a tendency toward homosexual activity due to genetics. After all, the rest of the human race seems to have a propensity for heterosexual activity.
We run from this stuff because we're afraid it will excuse sin. How? I don't let an adulterer in my church who slept with his secretary off the hook because he was fulfilling an in-built desire. Why would I let a person guilty of homosexual sin off the hook then?
While I remain skeptical of a 100% genetic correlation, I do not fear what it would do to the faith or our ability to declare what God says if one were found. God has the right to demand of me that I move contrary to my human nature (whatever form my human nature takes). In fact, he demands it of me on a regular basis. By the Spirit, I sometimes rise into the bright sunlight of fulfilling His will. It's maintaining that altitude that eludes me. Learning to do so more frequently and fully is part of the Sanctification process.

Regarding your observations on the interlinking nature of spiritual and physical, this is played out all the time when I deal with the spiritual problems of people diagnosed with psychological ailments such as depression or bi-polar disorders. Calling it complex is an understatement.

Mike D