The transgender trend and the pressure on frontline clergy to affirm it

Oct 10, 2018 by

By Julian Mann, Anglican Mainstream.

With affirmative counselling increasingly becoming a requirement for doctors, psychologists and social workers over the current transgender trend, frontline clergy are bound to come under pressure to affirm individuals’ life-style choices in pastoral conservations.

The Christian Institute recently reported a child protection officer as saying: “If I have concerns about a child who says they identify as transgender, I can’t pass it on, as I could be labelled a bigot. But I have spoken off the record to GPs, education psychologists and social workers, and many of us are questioning why so many young women are doing this to their bodies. We should at least be allowed to ask: ‘Are you sure?’ It is a growing issue that needs to be addressed in a fair and balanced way.”

Unfortunately, the winds of fashion from the secular world have a habit of blowing through the established Church through some of its broken spiritual and moral windows in high places.

By God’s grace, however, the Ordinal of the Book of Common Prayer – its liturgy ordering the admission of deacons, priests and bishops – remains authoritative for Church of England clergy in the conduct of pastoral care because it is enshrined in Canon Law. According to the Ordinal, proper pastoral care cannot be mere passive listening or automatic affirmation. To quote the Bishop’s Charge to those being ordained as presbyters:

‘And now again we exhort you, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you have in remembrance, into how high a dignity, and to how weighty an office and charge ye are called: that is to say, to be messengers, watchmen, stewards of the Lord; to teach and to premonish, to feed and provide for the Lord’s family; to seek for Christ’s sheep that are scattered abroad…And seeing that you cannot by other means compass the doing of so weighty a work, pertaining to the salvation of man, but with doctrine and exhortation taken out of the holy Scriptures, and with a life agreeable to the same; consider how studious ye ought to be in reading and learning the Scriptures…’

So, according to the Ordinal, the ordained minister must seek to bring the Bible’s authoritative teaching to bear on human experience in public preaching and in pastoral conversations.

That does not of course preclude the minister encouraging individuals to seek specialist expertise in a particular part of human experience.  The Bible teaches that God in his common grace to mankind gives competence, training and insight to individuals made in his image who can help other individuals experiencing various difficulties. I should therefore realise the limits of my own expertise and help individuals with particular issues to find the specialist therapy they need.

But a right humility on the part of the minister cannot, according to the Ordinal, involve moral neutrality on matters on which the Bible presents a clear view. For example, given that the Bible teaches that ‘God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female he created them’ (Genesis 1v27 – Authorised Version), should not the faithful minister of Christ point out that the sex a person was born with is intrinsic to God’s good and loving purpose for them?

How can a loving pastor fail to point that out? How can it be loving to pander to a politically correct, culturally Marxist trend that is becoming extremely divisive in British society, with many feminists being opposed to the Government’s plan for easy transgender self-declaration, and call such cowardice pastoral care?

If I am to be faithful minister of Christ, surely I should follow the Word and not the world in my pastoral care of men and women made in the image of God?

Julian Mann is vicar of the Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge in Sheffield Diocese –

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