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Cover of "Transgender" by Vaughan RobertsContinuing to look at this much-talked-about subject, below is a short synopsis of Chapter 3 of the book "Transgender" by Vaughan Roberts, published by thegoodbook company, ISBN 978-1-78498-195-2 which can be obtained from your local Christian bookshop or by going to the website. The cost is just less than £3. Summaries of the remaining three chapters will follow in subsequent blog posts.

Chapter 3:

In chapters 3-5 Roberts presents a Christian perspective on transgender, based on biblical revelation. He begins, in this third chapter, where the Bible begins, with the story of creation by a loving God and he argues that the fact that we are creatures, not machines, ‘has a huge impact on how we think about our liberty.’ ‘True freedom,’ he suggests, ‘is found not in asserting our radical independence and trying to be who we’re not made to be’ but ‘in embracing and being who we are.’

Roberts goes on to argue that who we are has been affected by the ‘fall’ – more of this in chapter 4 – so that human beings are presently flawed masterpieces, but we are God’s masterpieces nevertheless, who need to be restored in much the same way as a damaged masterpiece would be dealt with by an art restorer, in order ‘to bring out the artist’s original intention … so that people can see the original in all its glory’.

Consequently, argues Roberts, our ‘identity is not for us to create.’ It is already given, though it needs to be restored. ‘It’s wonderfully freeing to know that we live in a world made by a loving God, where identity is not something we’ve sometimes got to create for ourselves.’

Roberts then goes on to show that, in the Bible’s understanding, the body, in common with the whole material world, is very, very good. ‘Our bodies are an essential part of our true selves. So what I feel about myself can never be the whole picture, because God made us embodied souls.’ Consequently, ‘we should resist all the influences that lead so many to have a low body image and, rather than wishing we had been made differently, we should thank God for the body he has given us.’ This, however, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to try and correct what’s wrong with our bodies and seek to bring healing. But as we do so we should follow the ‘art restoration principle’, whose aim is ‘to restore the Creator’s intention … and that will certainly mean accepting the sex that he has given me.’  

For not only has God made us embodied creatures, he has also made us sexual creatures as the creation story teaches us: ‘male and female he created them’ (Gen 1:27). In the Bible’s understanding, then, ‘our sex is fundamental to who we are.’ ‘If we submit to the Creator we’re to accept our bodies and accept our biological sex as good gifts from him and seek to live accordingly.’

Having set out the Bible’s clear teaching on our identity, Roberts closes this chapter by warning us against pushing the Bible further than it goes. ‘What you don’t find in the Bible,’ he writes, ‘are lots of rigid rules about what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman.’ However, different cultures often develop such ‘rigid rules’, inflexible social codes which have little or nothing to do with biblical teaching. In this regard Roberts also reminds us helpfully that while there are fundamental differences between men and women, ‘there are also many differences between men and men and between women and women.’

The basic message of creation, however, is this (argues Roberts): ‘each person’s biologically-determined sex is a good gift of God’s creation. We should accept it and live within it.’

‘A proper understanding of creation has to be the first building block if we are to understand the Christian perspective on transgender.’

Summary prepared by Rev Hector Morrison