A contribution to the work of the new Next Steps working group

Jun 1, 2021 by

by Martin Davie:

According to a Church of England press release giving details of the meeting of the House of Bishops on 17 and 18 May, the bishops ‘agreed in principle to the formation of a working group on gender identity and transition under the auspices of the LLF Next Steps Group.’ [1]

The purpose of this article is to offer a contribution to the thinking of this new group from a traditional Anglican perspective.

Why the traditional Christian view of sexual identity is being challenged.

Underlying the current debate in the Church and in wider society about gender identity and gender transition is a challenge to the traditional Christian view of human sexual identity.

The traditional Christian view, which has also traditionally been accepted by Western society as a whole, is that human beings have been created by God as embodied creatures who are either male or female (Genesis 1:26-28, 5:1-2, Matthew 19:4) Today, however, this premise is being challenged on two grounds.

First, it is being challenged on the grounds that the evidence we have tells that the human race is not neatly divided into those who are male and those who are female. There are also, it is argued, intersex people who don’t fit into either of these two categories, and our thinking about what it means to be human has to be expanded to take this fact into account. Instead of thinking in terms of a ‘gender binary’ in which humanity is divided into males and females, we should accept that there are a whole spectrum of different form of human sexual identity, of which being male and female are only two.

Secondly, it is being challenged on the grounds that there are transgender people whose personal identity or ‘gender’ does not accord with the sex of their bodies. There are, it is claimed, people with male bodies whose true gender is female and vice versa and there are also people with male and female bodies whose gender is neither male nor female but comes under some other category such as intergender, gender fluid or pangender.

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