LONDON — The House of Bishops for the Church of England is urging its churches to affirm those who have gender dysphoria and says that “everyone’s Christian journey—like the journey to find one’s true identity—is unique.” The development has raised concern among evangelical groups, which state that the notion is an affront to the Creator and the gospel.
William Nye, the secretary for the House of Bishops, released a document this past week that provides an update on talks among Anglican leaders regarding the welcoming of “transgenders” into the assembly.
As previously reported, last July, the General Synod voted to approve a motion that “recognizing the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call[ed] on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.”
Chris Newlands from Blackburn, Lancashire proposed the motion, stating, “I hope that we can make a powerful statement to say that we believe that trans people are cherished and loved by God, who created them, and is present through all the twists and turns of their lives.”
In 2015, Newlands told reporters that he concocted the idea after being approached by a girl who identifies as a boy, who wished to be baptized again under her male name.
“I said, ‘Once you’ve been baptized, you’re baptized,’” Newlands recalled to the Guardian at that time. “[But] he said, ‘But I was baptized as a girl, under a different name.’”
“I said, ‘Let me have a think about it.’ So we did, and then we created a service, which was an affirmation of baptismal vows where we could introduce him to God with his new name and his new identity,” he said.
In this month’s guidance, the House of Bishops noted that a number of synod members agreed with Newlands, and pointed to the words of member Lucy Gorman, who asserted that the matter is ultimately about “having a church that is eager to make sure you feel safe and accepted.”
“The House of Bishops welcomes and encourages the unconditional affirmation of trans people, equally with all people, within the Church, the body of Christ, and rejoices in the diversity of that one body, into which all Christians have been baptized by one Spirit,” Nye wrote in all bold to emphasize the statement.
He also noted, in light of discussions as to whether a person’s “new identity” should be marked or recognized in any way in worship, that it had been decided by the House that individual ministers can use the existing Affirmation of Baptismal Faith, which it called “an ideal liturgical rite which trans people can use to mark this moment of personal renewal.”
“The Affirmation … gives priority to the original and authentic baptism of the individual, and the sacramental change it has effected, allowing someone who has undergone a serious and lasting change to re-dedicate their life and identity to Christ,” Nye stated.
“In inviting ministers to use this rite, the House wishes to point out that everyone’s Christian journey—like the journey to find one’s true identity—is unique and encourages ministers to treat these possible pastoral encounters accordingly,” he also asserted. “This approach, familiar to all who care for people during other major life events, takes into account each person’s unique experiences.”
However, the release of the update from the synod drew concern from evangelical groups in the UK, including the organization Christian Concern, which opined that Nye’s words were an affront to the gospel.
“This is collusion with the blasphemous notion that someone can be ‘born in the wrong body.’ It is blasphemous because it claims that God gave a person ‘the wrong body,’ when the bodies of people suffering with gender dysphoria are usually perfectly healthy. Rather, it is their minds and souls that are the site of suffering and confusion,” it said in a statement.
“It is also collusion with hatred and resentment of the male or female body, something that goes directly against what God said when He created everything, namely that it was ‘very good’ (Genesis 1: 31),” the group also noted. “It is therefore an attack on the triune God as Creator of all things. The Christian faith makes no sense at all without the history of creation and fall.”
“Gender transition is actually a moment of personal rebellion against the way the person has been made by God. It is therefore a moment of personal rebellion against God. This should not be celebrated or marked by the church at all, let alone described as a ‘moment of personal renewal,'” it lamented.
Gavin Ashenden also wrote for Anglican Ink in July that the Church of England has presented a false Jesus to the world in matters of both homosexuality and transgenderism—which is especially dangerous and damning to those who are perishing.
“Where the real Jesus saves us from our sins and offers us renewal in the image and furthers the likeness of God, the fake Jesus offers to make us comfortable in our skins, cozy with our sexual appetites and untroubled by having the central areas of who we are off limits to the interference of God,” he outlined.
“This comes under the historic categories of both blasphemy and heresy,” Ashendon continued. “It interferes with peoples’ salvation. It replaces faith in the Living Christ with pseudo-therapy. It is an abandonment of the heart of the gospel; and this is done by people who when they use the words ‘Jesus, holy, love and acceptance,’ have twisted the words to mean very different things from what the Church has always intended.”
God’s law reads in Deuteronomy 22:5, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.”