Is the C of E’s ‘Living in Love and Faith’ project coherent?


‘Andrew MacFarlane’ writes: This is a short précis of a longer piece that included many references to current literature on the issues contained within Living in Love and Faith (LLF). This précis is not exhaustive but provides some key discussion points.  

The ‘LGBT+’ grouping

The singular grouping of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-sexual, intersexual, and others (LGBTI+) is an increasingly problematic term that elides a number of different issues. LGB refers to a grouping based on the attraction to specific sexed bodies; trans-sexuals are a grouping based on gender identity that typically differs from their natal sex. Intersex peoples are a group comprised of specific medical conditions, often with chromosomal abnormalities or androgen insensitivity, based on differences of sexual development (DSD). LLF assumes that LGBTI+ is a meaningful and accepted umbrella term, but that term is actually fracturing.

There is clear and sustained pushback from the ‘gender-critical‘ feminist and lesbian communities (whose views are not discussed in LLF at all) against the invasion of male-sexed women into female-only spaces. Lesbians, for whom biological sex is the only thing that matters to their sexual identities, report the sustained pressure that they face to have sex with heterosexual transwomen who retain a penis, as trans activists assume that gender identity equates to sexual phenotype. Despite reports otherwise, this is not a settled area of cultural debate (something not discussed in LLF). There is also no discussion of professionals who are unsettled by practices within gender dysphoria clinics, that rapid-onset gender dysphoria can have social components, that some children are coerced into transitioning, or that the risk of suicide in trans people is no higher than for other mental health conditions (p 96).

Indeed LLF focuses on the often-misreported harm faced by transgender people in Britain (for this is a highly nuanced issue), but fails to focus Christian concern on the 6000 Christians martyred in Nigeria this year alone. Transgender people do not face anywhere near this level of persecution anywhere in modern Britain and that is something that should temper the assertions of LLF. The lack of balanced discussion in LLF tacitly supports ‘trans’ ideology – without explanation as to what that means – at the expense of biological reality. 

Whilst the topics it covers are broad, LLF fails to address theologically whether transwomen are women. If they are, could Jesus have been born of a transwomen? If yes, what does that mean for the biological basis of the Incarnation? Relatedly, consider the spaces into which transgendered persons might be stepping. Would the Church of England (CoE) envision women-only spaces and how will it react if there is pressure for transwomen to enter those spaces and environments? What reassurances can natal women have from the CoE that their space will be respected and defended even if trans activist pressure mounts? How do we encourage the (relatively) greater number of lesbians into church, if they perceive it as a place of misogyny due to trans activism?

If the LGBTI+ positions are not well-nuanced with focus on pastoral implications for the majority of those (i.e. natal women) who need refuge within single-sex spaces within the church, then that will create difficulties for the social mission of the future church. The issues surrounding sex and gender are clearly intellectually and socially fluid: the CoE may be wise to adopt a stance of watchful waiting and let society play these controversies out, especially in light of the Keira Bell case and recent Cass report into the Tavistock NHS Trust. 

Biological Diversity

LLF argues that, given variations in biological sex exist, we should ‘widen our understanding of the natural variability of human bodies’ (pp 336, 339), but this presents a scientifically and medically illiterate view of biology.

First, the assertion that science shows the multiplicity of gender is philosophically incorrect. The traditional frequentist approach to science attempts to understand whether some experimental intervention is more likely to have produced our acquired results or not. Leaving aside that there is no experimental intervention when describing a gender and sexuality ‘spectrum’, science requires that the null hypothesis here is that transgenderism does not exist within our study population. Given how rare gender dysphoria and DSD (differences in sex development) is, ‘science’ will be unable to reject this null hypothesis so we would have to say there is no such thing, for example, as transgenderism.

We know that transgenderism does exist and so the science appealed to here is either descriptive epidemiology or social science. The social sciences are significantly influenced by activism, driving not only theories but also data collection and interpretation (interestingly, queer hermeneutics is one of the largest offenders). These are not benign ‘scientific’ processes, but ideological positions that often look for theoretical and empirical data to support their position. Alastair McIntyre devotes two chapters to the problems with social sciences and their generalizability within After Virtue (as relevant today as it was when published in 1981). It might be preferable to avoid appeals to ‘science’ when constructing reasons for changing established church doctrine.

Secondly, DSD is an abnormality of physiology (requiring extensive medical and social input) and so cannot be considered ‘normal’. Much of LLF is founded on the assumption that gender identity is a social construct, chosen according to first-person experience and belief. Yet here LLF attempts to justify gender identity in general from the specific case of biological variation – this is not a logical transition. LLF also co-opts the dignity of those with intersex conditions in order to support transgenderism by appealing to biology, a contradictory ideological position that is pastorally careless and not supported by any first-person accounts from intersex Christians. It may be beneficial in the future to separate the sex-based, gender-based, and DSD groupings with sensitive discussion of both how these differences could interact and the pastoral needs of each.

The Question of Identity

Identity is central to the arguments proposed in LLF. The overwhelming emphasis is that identity is psychological – it is who we feel we are. This stress on self-declaration and self-expression is recognizable as an atheist, utilitarian stance (see, for instance, Derek Parfit), which views identity as a series of unconnected, self-defined psychological states and rejects permanence. As many of us can attest, our subjective identity fluctuates according to many things: age, education, peers, and so on. How I feel today will not be how I feel tomorrow, yet I still have an abiding identity across time.

One important Christian concept missing entirely from LLF is the hypostasis, a term that speaks to an eternal identity given to us by God. Christian orthodoxy emphasizes this eternal identity and, if we believe in salvation and final judgment, then we have to believe that our identity is beyond psychological (despite p 200). As we exist in God’s image, the hypostasis speaks to an ontological truth about each person. It is from this identity that our nature (in a psychological sense) arises. God’s love is not dependent on my self-constructed identity; he loves my eternal identity that he created.

The primacy of hypostatic identity over psychological identity is easily demonstrable by considering on what basis a newborn baby is loved: babies have no capacity for self-derived psychological identity yet we love and care for them simply because they exist and have an irreplaceable position within humanity. The utilitarian position is that babies do not matter, placing LLF in a position whereby it denies the importance of physical existence. It is caveated in LLF that identity is more wide-ranging than just the subjective aspect of human experience but the absence of anything approaching hypostasis in LLF is saddening. The case of Keira Bell demonstrates powerfully what can happen when we fail to take into account the hypostasis, instead focusing on psychological and emotional identities.

LLF questions whether the CoE should bless or baptize someone after gender transition. Aside from the theological implications of contradicting the Nicene Creed (also not discussed), do proponents feel that they would be the baptizing/blessing an eternal or psychological identity? Is it presumed that God would not know all of our psychological identities across time? What if someone transitioned, was blessed/baptised by the CoE, and then detransitioned—what would that mean for their rejected identity? The CoE would be complicit in the false identification of that individual’s gender transition and thereby a co-author of their pain. These are likely to be rare occurrences but they could cause great harm to the person and the church community involved.

Finally, can Christians truly believe that the infallible God has created people who exist in the wrong body? Does our God make mistakes, or could gender dysphoria be part of the theodicy surrounding evil and disease in this world? The CoE celebrating those who transition gender implicitly reject the design God has ordained for his Creation. The lack of discussion about the Transfiguration in LLF is also disheartening, given it demonstrates the importance of the hypostasis for our eternal heavenly identities.

Interpreting Scripture on marriage

Whilst it is always necessary to reinterpret the Bible into modern contexts, there is very fine balance between exegesis and eisegesis. Examples of eisegesis within LLF include speculating that biblical writers may not have seen ‘committed, loving same-sex sexual relationships that we encounter today’ (p 279); that when Paul speaks of ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ relationships (p 290), he was simply unaware of ‘covenantal’ same-sex relationships that could be ‘natural’; and, that Jonathan and David shared a homosexual relationship.

The Biblical writers lived within the licentious Greek and Roman worlds, so speculating that loving same-sex relationships were conceptually unknown to the Biblical writers is not credible. Implicitly, these sections of LLF suggest that despite God’s omniscient and immutable nature and over 5,000 years of his direct revelation, somehow God failed to make it clear that marriage did not just have to be between a natal man and a natal woman. These interpretations are entirely modern and Freudian in how they distill relationships to sex and emotion.

The reduction of marriage to a ‘solemnization of a covenantal relationship’ not only diminishes marriage as a sacrament, but will also create more pastoral problems. How will the CoE react when heterosexual civil partners want to be blessed but not married (as many view marriage as patriarchal) or when the polyamorous couple, who have no wish to honour the call to monogamy, request to have their relationship nevertheless solemnized?

The Freudian view of marriage predominantly presented in LLF fails to capture the fact that Christian marriage is a spiritual category; there is no mention of marriage as being the union of Christ and his Church. It may not be ‘fair’ that same sex couples cannot marry but this is how God has revealed the institution of marriage to us; our call is to celebrate the ‘otherness’ of Christian marriage and that it is so much more than a ‘covenantal relationship’. 

Identitarianism

There can be little doubt that the over-zealous application of orthodoxy has been used as an excuse for the abuse of sexual and identity minorities throughout church history. LLF’s assertion is that this is because we in Britain assume that normality is ‘white, or middle-class, or educated, or male’ (WMCEM; p.199) and WMCEM fuel ‘stigmatization, marginalization and exclusion’. These ahistorical assertions are not presented as conjecture, but rather as fact. LLF fails to engage with more ancient denominations not under the influence of WMCEM (e.g., the Coptic, Yazidi, and Ethiopian churches), and fails to demonstrate how, if ‘sound interpretation’ or ‘good theology’ is founded on 5000 years of Judeo-Christian orthodoxy, such ‘sound interpretation’ and ‘good theology’ can be shown to be ‘white, male, middle-class, affluent, and Western interpretation [of] theology’ (p 328).

Relatedly, LLF introduces abstract statements such as ‘demands for discipline and self-denial have too often been used to reinforce uneven distributions of power within communities… they have been used to keep people in the place assigned to them in culture’s hierarchies’ (p 237). The focus on WMCEM and the modes and patterns of power and hierarchy in LLF has an intellectual lineage arising from a worldview founded in Marxist and post-modern thought, summarized as ‘identitarianism’. This worldview asserts that society is formed by culturally constructed systems of power and hierarchies. Identitarians deny objective Truth, believing that there is truth available only through ‘lived experience’ and usually in the terms they employ; we are all aware of the resulting concept of ‘lived experience’.

One problem with Marxism was that its usually middle-class acolytes could not readily identify with the ‘oppressed’, and so they developed a grievance society of oppressed peoples based on specific identities, such as race, sexuality, and gender. It is no coincidence that this pseudo-class war emerged from mainly white, middle-class, and educated university settings using ideas from WMCEM (like Karl Marx, Michel Foucault, and the Frankfurt School). Ultimately, the identitarian views espoused in LLF are not theological, philosophical or ethical; they are political and inherently divisive.

One concern for LLF should be the effect of trying to replace Christian orthodoxy with actual WMCEM university-based concepts (such as white privilege, systemic racism, power distribution, gender separated from biology, etc.). Moreover, LLF does not mention the overseas Anglican community who are more likely to support an orthodox position on many of the issues raised. Given LLF is likely to have been written largely by WMCEM people, this non-engagement with Anglicans overseas could be interpreted as ‘classically racist’ especially if the reason for non-engagement was because it was known what answers these other communities might provide.

There is also increasing evidence that views such as those suggested here are ‘high status opinions’, shared by only a narrow cadre of highly educated and wealthy proponents that actually widens inequality, typically to the advantage of WMCEM (the ‘kneeling bishops’ are good examples of this phenomena—not one of them has given their seat up for a vicar from an under-represented minority). The majority of the populace does not share these opinions; for example, we see the term ‘woke’ being increasingly used as a term of derision. Will the CoE’s evangelical and social mission be met by appealing to this narrow section of society and alienating, for instance, the socially-conservative working class (who inhabit those parishes that continue to experience the greatest decline in church attendance)? 

‘New Narratives’

LLF presents a series of stories to tell ‘new narratives’, and paints modern non-Christian understandings of identity and sexuality as benign and affirming. There are plenty of stories of harm and LLF makes no attempt to discuss these ‘problematic’ stories, simply implying that this area of ‘science and society’ is overwhelmingly positive. Can the lack of discussion of the deleterious consequences of modern identity—including the pastoral examples offered here—really be considered pastorally responsible?

Fundamentally, the CoE might find itself better served by distancing itself from modern social ideologies—though not necessarily through public opposition—that are already losing social traction. Church attendance will not swell because the CoE blesses same-sex marriage or baptizes new gender identities; the spread of Christianity worldwide simply reflects the truth of the Gospel and a face-to-face encounter with Jesus. There are many circles in LLF that cannot be squared: imposing top-down change will almost certainly alienate many dedicated Christians who may feel dismissed over issues that are niche when considered as a societal whole.

Pastoral Strengths

The absolute strength of LLF is the call to pastoral care and it should make all Christians consider our approach to those with different sexualities and identities. These sections are tremendously important and are written sensitively. The CoE needs to serve all those made in the image of God, but without resorting to concepts distanced from Christian orthodoxy. LLF says that church is not always a ‘safe space’, but safety is often interpreted as the absence of challenge. This is inherently solipsistic given Christianity is not a singular but a community pursuit. Church should be open and welcoming to all, but we should not place gender, sexuality, etc. ahead of being a Christian. The CoE should not seek to impose change in articles of faith as this will only widen what fissures already exist.

What LLF made me ultimately turn to and reflect on was Job. He suffered much when his worldly identity was taken from him. But God kept and knew Job through to his hypostatic identity that reciprocally loved God back; Job was loved when no other human would love him. The best thing that Job’s friends did was just sit in silence, let the gravity of his grief pull them into his orbit, and mourn with him. That was a true act of love. It is notable that things go wrong for the friends when they try to offer explanations and solutions to Job. What difference this position would have made to Keira Bell and others like her? This approach will help those who genuinely struggle with all types of problems to dwell within a church community and to let their encounter with God heal their wounds. 


Andrew MacFarlane‘ is a widely published clinician scientist. He has to write under a pseudonym as his academic context does not permit him to ask critical questions publicly in the area of sexuality. He is not Alasdair Coles, Professor of Clinical Neuroimmunology at Addenbrookes in Cambridge—and it is a tragic sign of our intolerant and illiberal times that Alasdair has had formal complaints raised against him on the assumption that he was the author.


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318 thoughts on “Is the C of E’s ‘Living in Love and Faith’ project coherent?”

  1. “Lesbians… the sustained pressure that they face to have sex with heterosexual transwomen who retain a penis.”

    Sorry Andrew, but I regard that as absolute balderdash!

    Lesbian women *choose* who they are attracted to, and who they want sex with.

    There may be some isolated incident you are referring to (and weaponising into a criticism of trans women) but seriously: do you think a lesbian woman says: “Oh! Alas! You have a penis! You are pressurising me to have sex with you!”

    It’s absolute nonsense.

    Reply
    • Lesbian women *choose* who they are attracted to

      Wait what? I thought that it was settled that in fact being a lesbian is not a choice.

      Are you saying people choose to be lesbians?

      Because if true that would change everything.

      Reply
      • Nope, never said that, S.

        While knowing they are lesbian, they choose WHICH female they are attracted to. They are not pressured to choose someone with a penis. Ugh! I wouldn’t go near one!

        I adore your logical sharpness, but you must be sleepy this pm! get with the program, S!

        Reply
        • While knowing they are lesbian, they choose WHICH female they are attracted to. They are not pressured to choose someone with a penis.

          But if a woman is attracted to people with a penis she isn’t a lesbian, is she? She’s bisexual.

          So if you’re saying a woman can choose to be attracted to someone with a penis or not, you’re saying she can choose whether she is a lesbian or a bisexual.

          And as above, I thought that it was a settled idea that nobody can choose whether they are heterosexual, gay, lesbian or bisexual.

          But you’re saying women can choose between being lesbians or bisexual.

          See my confusion? Can they choose to be bisexual or can’t they?

          (And if they can choose, does that mean every lesbian is a potential bisexual — they just haven’t necessarily met the right person-with-a-penis yet?)

          Reply
          • “But you’re saying women can choose between being lesbians or bisexual.”

            Nope.

            A bisexual woman can choose between sex with a woman or sex with a man or sex with a trans woman who has a penis. Not because they choose to be bisexual, but because they ARE bisexual.

            If they’re not (I’m not) then there is no choice to choose to be bisexual. It’s not something you choose. You choose an individual person within a category, but the parameters are that you make a choice within that category because you ARE bisexual or you ARE lesbian.

            I have never been with a man. I’m lesbian. I wouldn’t choose to be with anyone with a penis. Even if they were a trans woman. The penis thing doesn’t work for me. So I am very much stuck for choice within a rather narrow category. Well not that narrow. 5 billion narrow I guess.

            I can’t be “pressured to choose someone with a penis” because within my identity category I have choice. Outside of it, I feel revolt and my mind goes Ugh! There’s nothing that would pressure me, and the same applies to most sane lesbians anyway, because they are not sex slaves. They make their own choices.

            Did you have a late night last night or something? Shape up!!

            (By the way, rightly or wrongly, I have always assumed you are female and when I type to you, subconsciously I assume that. I can’t explain that, but I do. You choose to be anonymous, so no apologies if I misgender you! If I knew, then I wouldn’t. I’m probably savvy enough to use ‘they’ if I ever allude to you, because I could be wrong, and you may be a great hairy guy!)

          • . I’m lesbian. I wouldn’t choose to be with anyone with a penis.

            Ah right. So we agree that a lesbian cannot choose to be attracted to someone with a penis, and if she is attracted to someone with a penis it means she’s not a lesbian, she’s bisexual. Great. Thought it might be something like that, just wanted to clarify that is what you think.

          • I don’t think homosexual identity is as fixed as was once claimed, Some who claimed it was in the past are now stepping back. Matthew Parris for example,

          • S: ” if she is attracted to someone with a penis it means she’s not a lesbian, she’s bisexual.”

            No I wouldn’t go that far. I was stating my own feelings. I wouldn’t want to generalise.

            It’s possible for a lesbian female to ‘see past’ the penis to the person, and think ‘she’s female and really lovely’ etc – it’s just that I don’t think I would.

            But the key word is “pressurised”. Whether a lesbian person was attracted to a woman with a penis or not, I just don’t think they’re being pressurised to do so.

            I suspect that 95%+ of lesbian women would find it ‘not their thing’ to have a sexual relationship with a pre-op trans woman. But some might, and that wouldn’t make them bisexual if they truly see the other person as female.

            I just don’t like dicks.

          • No I wouldn’t go that far. I was stating my own feelings. I wouldn’t want to generalise.

            And yet generalise you did:

            ‘Lesbian women *choose* who they are attracted to, and who they want sex with.’

            That’s a general statement about lesbian women.

            So actually you are perfectly happy to generalise, so don’t pretend you aren’t. You made, unprompted, a general statement and you have to either clarify, defend or retract it.

            It’s possible for a lesbian female to ‘see past’ the penis to the person, and think ‘she’s female and really lovely’ etc – it’s just that I don’t think I would.

            Interesting. How, can I ask, is this lesbian supposed to know whether the penis is attached to a man or a woman?

            But the key word is “pressurised”.

            No, the key word is ‘choose’. Can people choose whether they are attracted to men or to women or to both? You suggested that a lesbian could choose to be attracted to a person with a penis. That means you suggested that a lesbian could choose to be attracted to a man — that is, could choose to be bisexual instead of a lesbian.

            But I thought that everyone nowadays agreed that no one could choose whether to be heterosexual, gay or lesbian, or bisexual.

            So I wanted to get clarification from you. I thought you had been clear but now you’re going back on yourself and muddying the waters again.

            I just don’t like dicks.

            Your personal preferences are irrelevant. The question is whether you think women in general can choose whether to be lesbian or bisexual.

          • Susannah

            I warm to your ability to present yourself graciously. You are clearly intelligent. And I have no doubt your transitioning has been traumatic for you and your family.

            I write as someone who is not in a C of E church who belongs to a conservative Evangelical church. I would want to make any who visits welcome including transgender people and practising homosexual. I am very reluctant to identify either by their sexuality. I don’t think ‘feelings’ are the same as identity. However while I would like to think I would welcome everyone as a visitor, not all who visit could become members.

            The truth is, I see both a homosexual and transgender lifestyle as sinful and defiant of God (please bear with ‘lifestyle’). I believe this is what the Bible teaches. I am not saying to be transgender inclined or homosexual inclined is wrong. I think these are temptations of our disordered humanity that must be resisted. Where they are not resisted but accepted then we put ourself outside the community of the faithful it doesn’t matter what churches accept us.

            Susannah, I do not profess to know the difficulties of resisting inclinations may be. Difficult, I am sure. I’m not underestimating the cost that may be involved. Only you and God know. I can only point to the cost of our redemption that Jesus bore by resisting again and again the easy route. I think of Christians laying down their life in Nigeria and elsewhere for their faith in Christ and ask if it is really so hard to resist sinful inclinations.

            I have listened to people like Becket Cook and Rosaria Butterfield and see the joy they have found in following Christ and rejecting their previous lifestyle. I’m not saying they never have struggles but they seem to triumph in Christ.

            I feel God’s glory is deeply besmirched by churches that support LGBT. He will undoubtedly judge us. The C of S is shaming itself. Society has turned dramatically away from God’s wisdom and the price is there for all to see. Children bear the main brunt. Divorce and short term co- habiting relationships have destroyed the stability and security of childhood. Many other modern patterns contribute of course; lies; greed; the growth of hate; pride etc. Some things that were once vices are now regarded as virtues such is a society that has abandoned God or more accurately such is a society God has abandoned.

            When I was young British society was no paragon but apart from small pockets I do not think it resembled the society of Romans 1; now it does.

            Susannah, I think you need to look at LGBT etc through the eyes of God and that means through the eyes of God. God is lavishly forgiving to all who come to him for life, equally he is a consuming fire to all who turn from him to gods of their own imagining.

            I look at at least some of the discussion and the real issues get lost under a sea of jargon. I think language sometimes becomes an end in itself. Let’s not quibble over an expression, a prejudice, a tone etc… the only issue is where a practising transgender or practising homosexual or practicing adulterer stands etc stands before God. It is this that really matters and this that divides.

            Am I being merely moralistic, misguided, transphobic, conservative etc. I do not believe I am. Were it not the way of the God who has revealed himself and his will in Scripture I would not think as I do. I have no animosity towards LGBT people. My understanding is born out of what I see in the Bible and it may yet lead to my imprisonment,

          • “How, can I ask, is this lesbian supposed to know whether the penis is attached to a man or a woman?”

            That’s up to her to know. I’m just allowing for the possibility that some lesbian women may believe someone is female, even though they have a penis, and be attracted to them. I don’t pretend to feel that myself, but I’m allowing the possibility that it can happen.

            You may as well ask ‘how can you know any trans person is a woman”? Unless you allow that womanhood can be attributed to someone with a dick, you’re simply not going to handle the journey to see through to a female personality. But I’m saying some lesbian women may be able to.

            “You suggested that a lesbian could choose to be attracted to a person with a penis. That means you suggested that a lesbian could choose to be attracted to a man — that is, could choose to be bisexual instead of a lesbian.”

            🙂
            Man, you’re awkward today. Do I have to take your hand at every stage…

            “You suggested that a lesbian could choose to be attracted to a person with a penis.”

            Nope.

            I said a lesbian person could choose to be attracted to a WOMAN with a penis. I was specifying a kind of woman… you switched that to ‘person’, which is kind of logical bad faith.

            At no point did I say that a lesbian woman could be attracted to a MAN.

            You are SO not sharp today! You’re not usually logically crushed this easily.

            You’re creating a false logical trail… IF a lesbian person can be attracted to a person with a penis… and IF some men have penises… THEN Susannah is suggesting that a lesbian women can choose to be bisexual.

            You made all that up… it was not what I said at any step along the way!

            Moving because I CBA to nit pick with you if you’re going to gralloch my language like that…

            “The question is whether you think women in general can choose whether to be lesbian or bisexual.”

            FAIR QUESTION.

            I think that if you are lesbian you are lesbian, and if you are bisexual you are bisexual, and if you’re not sure rightaway, then you might give the bisexual thing a try. But ultimately, in most cases, you are who you are. Is it a “choice” to be lesbian, when it’s built in, and just who you are? I don’t think so.

          • How, can I ask, is this lesbian supposed to know whether the penis is attached to a man or a woman?”

            That’s up to her to know. I’m just allowing for the possibility that some lesbian women may believe someone is female, even though they have a penis, and be attracted to them.

            Oh, they might believe someone is female? So they might believe wrongly? If, say, a man fancied a lesbian so he pretended to be a penised woman in order to have sex with her, and was such a good actor that he convinced her; then after the deed is done, he could reveal to her that in fact he had been a man all along, not a woman with a penis at all!

            Which would mean the woman had been attracted to a man. So she would be bisexual, not a lesbian? Right?

            Or, another thing I was wondering is, say a lesbian sees a naked photograph of a naked person with a penis. How do they know whether this person with a penis is a woman with a penis (so they can choose be attracted to them) or a man with a penis (so they can’t)?

            Unless you allow that womanhood can be attributed to someone with a dick, you’re simply not going to handle the journey to see through to a female personality.

            A ‘female personality’? What’s that? One that likes horses and sparkles and romance novels, and dislikes maths and video games?

            I said a lesbian person could choose to be attracted to a WOMAN with a penis. I was specifying a kind of woman… you switched that to ‘person’, which is kind of logical bad faith.

            As far as I am aware every woman is also a person. So if a lesbian is attracted to a woman with a penis then they are ipso facto attracted to a person with a penis.

            You’re creating a false logical trail… IF a lesbian person can be attracted to a person with a penis… and IF some men have penises…

            That second ‘if’ is doing a lot of work.

          • No. The problem is that lesbians have faced transwomen who claim they are transphobic because they don’t want to sleep with what is, in effect, a full-bodied man.

    • You are wrong Susanna. Have you not seen the “overcoming the cotton ceiling” workshops Stonewall endorses. Ever been on a dating app felon lesbians?? Been to any lesbian clubs/pubs lately (clue, they don’t exist any more). And desire isn’t something you choose, unfortunately, or I’d have been a lesbian back in the second wave!!!

      Reply
  2. Two comments:
    1) I wonder if the Church of England might benefit from revisiting parts of Roman Catholic thinking regarding sexual relations being in essence, though not of course always in practice, linked to procreation. It seems to me that ‘sex’ is now seen as a thing in itself, it has been objectivised and given a life of its own, rather than being contextualised within God’s purposes for humanity, and indeed a common sense consideration of biological science. That does not mean that we should avoid wrestling with difficult and sensitive individual and societal issues, but that the way in to grappling with such things needs to be radically changed. If ‘sex’ is only about individual feelings and preferences, if fear we have lost the plot.
    2) I was horrified to get to the end of this thought provoking article to find that the writer has to be protected by a pseudonym because the academic community will not tolerate freedom of thought. Maybe some parts of our educational system have also lost the the plot.

    Reply
    • Tim, I am also utterly horrified by that.
      He is very far from being the only one. Future generations are going to look back in horror and disbelief. Incredibly, the ‘open-minded’ universities are actually among the institutions which are most closed to discussion. Being closed to discussion typically arises when people know they will lose the discussion, so they prevent it happening.

      Reply
      • IP: this comment is an attempt to ‘out’ the author. Along with numerous of your other comments, it is in breach of the clearly stated comments policy. You don’t seem to be able to engage in reasonable discussion, so I will be deleting a number of your comments, and might not approve future contributions. Sad that this is necessary.

        Reply
    • The first reason given in scripture for relations between the sexes is not procreation but intimate companionship (Genesis 2:18). Procreation is obviously a normal and happy consequence, but corroborating Genesis 2:18 is that God has made the human female sexually receptive at times when she is not fertile; this is in contrast to mammals, which have similar reproductive apparatus. Nothing in the Bible is against the remarriage of a postmenopausal widow.

      Reply
  3. “LLF assumes that LGBTI+ is a meaningful and accepted umbrella term.”

    Well it’s meaningful in the sense that all these categories may face discrimination because of gender-related prejudices or hatred. So it’s an alliance.

    Like all alliances, there may at times be some tensions, but generally speaking members of all these groups know what it is like to face discrimination, or abuse, or marginalisation, or… (in at least all but possibly Intersex) theological vilification.

    Most LGBT+ people have a sense of mutual support, and critics tend to be a minority on the margins, such as trans-excluding radical feminists, who do not reflect the attitudes of most feminists. As the review of trans issues is still continuing in LLF with members of the Next Steps Group, assisted by trans people, it is fair to assure you that these very ‘kickbacks’ are factored in to the work that is still being completed.

    I refer you to my 40 Q&A’s (generated in a collusion with a priest from a well-known evangelical church) – http://www.transition.org.uk – which have been provided as a resource for the Next Steps team in this continuing process.

    Reply
    • “critics tend to be a minority on the margins, such as trans-excluding radical feminists, who do not reflect the attitudes of most feminists.”

      Nah. When the gender recognition proposition is presented reductively (“a trans man is a man”; “a trans woman is a woman”), then the YouGov poll (commissioned by PinkNews) shows that a majority support it.

      However, when the question is more nuanced (“Do you support making it easier to change gender?), then a majority in society reject legal recognition of gender transition without a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

      You can’t highlight majority support as proof that critics as “a minority on the margins”, only to assert transphobia when the majority reject legal gender recognition based on self-identification alone.

      Reply
      • The issue of self-identification is separate to the validity of transition itself. I am speaking for people like myself, who are legally female, have undergone surgical as well as hormonal and social transition, and I speak after 10 years working in healthcare where only one person, male or female… in that one case, a man who had flown in from Israel… has ever had an issue with me as a transgender nurse.

        Personally I favour some process of medical testimony and a minimum time period prior to gender recognition in law, with its social rights and recognitions.

        They are two separate issues.

        My problem with this article is that it conflates all trans people as if they collectively are invalid. It is basically a ‘take down’ of transition itself, not of the self-certification issue you quite reasonably raise, David.

        I have found you fair and reasonable over the years I have read your comments. I hope you can respect that I too want proportionate systems to validate people identifying and living in a gender different to that assigned to them at birth. I hope you can recognise that I am making a fair distinction between two issues in my response to you. I don’t think I mentioned self-identification at all, but I’m mentioning it now as you mentioned it in your final sentence.

        What I struggle with is the carte blanche dismissal of transition itself by the author, and some of the ways he attempts to de-bunk it with emotive terms like ‘invasion’.

        Trans people have a place in the Church. That is not invasion. It is people just living their lives, and God saying ‘Welcome.’

        Reply
        • The author contextualised the use of the word ‘invasion’ with “There is clear and sustained pushback from the ‘gender-critical‘ feminist and lesbian communities (whose views are not discussed in LLF at all)..”

          Furthermore, that paragraph went on to mention: ” heterosexual transwomen who retain a penis”

          How do you interpret that specific context as “a carte blanche dismissal of transition”?

          Reply
          • Fair point. But to be clear: there is no invasion. There are a few reported incidents. These get hyped up. As for the reference to being pressured to have sex with “transwomen who retain a penis”… as I have said elsewhere that is ridiculous, and typical of the alarmist language also conjured up by the term ‘invasion’.

            Gender-critical feminists are a small sub-branch of feminists in general. I myself use feminist methodology in my own theological thinking. Most women are not opposed to people transitioning. But there are fringe groups who see the opportunity with the self-identification issue to smear the principle of transition itself.

            I believe those at extremes, possibly including the author here (you’d have to ask them) are indeed intent on “a carte blanche dismissal of transition.”

            You seem reasonable, and I will try to be reasonable in return, David: I believe there are complexities involved in a range of issues around ‘trans’ which, to repeat, the Next Steps group and their team are trying to address at the moment, in a follow up study and review of resources, because a lot has happened in this subject area in the past two years.

          • The term ‘invasion’ need not connote “a large number of people”. It can simply mean: “entry that violates controls on public access”.

            Now, you may dispute those controls, but ‘invasion’ is not alarmist because it does not have to connote large numbers.

        • Susannah

          The question is whether your transition impressive as it is actually makes you a woman and I’m sorry to say it doesn’t. Every cell in your body is female. I find these things hard to say for I don’t know how vulnerable you are. But even more significantly perhaps, certainly very clear cut is that you now live in a lesbian relationship that God forbids. You should not be a member of the C of E. I guess your time with Dick Lucas and conservative Evangelical churches made this plain.

          Reply
          • John

            “Every cell in your body is female.”

            Is that really what you meant to write? I’m sure it’s not.

            “… you now live in a lesbian relationship…”

            A lesbian relationship is a sexual relationship between two women, But you’ve just said (correctly, in my view) that “transition” does not make Susannah a woman. So it’s not a lesbian relationship, is it?

          • Correction…. Every cell in your body is male. (Thank you William Fisher). I call the relationship ‘lesbian’ for that is what it claims to be.

          • Did you know we each have 68 trillion cells?

            Each one of unimaginable complexity.

            And think of the lack of awe that prevails.

      • Read about it for yourself: http://www.transition.org.uk

        As a Church, we in the Church of England *should* be colluding with one another, listening to one another, trying to show respect for one another. We do not all agree on everything, but I found working on this resource with an evangelical minister profoundly helpful, and respectful, even though we do not share identical views.

        It’s what we should be doing as a Church. Talking, listening, trying to work through things together. That, on paper, is what LLF is supposed to be about. I reserve judgment on whether it will have any productive outcomes, but one thing I know: we need to love and care about those we disagree with. And be able to respect that may hold some different conscientious views in faith.

        Collusion need not be a dirty word. I was dignified by my involvement with this minister – and indeed it helped me renew some of my ardour through the encounter with a very good man.

        Reply
  4. I just can’t even.
    This article manages to be poor or misleading or alarmist or just plain wrong on so many levels.
    It is poor historically, theologically, sociologically and scientifically, and ultimately morally.

    Reply
    • One small example. Keira Bell actually lost her legal case. It was thrown out at the Court of Appeal. Not that you would know it from this article. Or that the percent of transgender people who regret or detransition is well below 2% (& in some recent big studies well below 1%).

      Another small example. The alarmist (& frankly toxic) language of ‘invasion’.

      Susannah has already mentioned the disgraceful ‘whataboutery’. I would add gross insensitivity & dismissal of suicide rates.

      I could go on (and on, and on) but frankly this article isn’t worth it.

      Reply
      • Quite. Like I say, though it is sad when 1 or 2% of people who’ve undergone surgery decide they made a wrong decision and de-transition… it’s like highlighting a car crash as an argument that no-one, anywhere, should be allowed to drive… or cancel all knee-jobs, because in some cases they don’t work.

        Most transsexual women who have undergone surgery find it enhances their lives (often immensely)… and it is wrong in my view to deploy exceptional cases and ‘weaponise’ them against the whole case for transition.

        The term ‘invasion’ was indeed deliberately alarmist. I am a trans woman. I go to church. I am loved by my church community (including lesbian members). I was nursed in convent by nuns for ten weeks after my gender surgery. I did not invade them. At church my priest tells me that I and my wife are a ‘gift’. I appreciate that, although I’m not anything great. If I need a pee, I will go to a cubicle in the women’s loos and pee. Then I come out again, because who wants to stay in a toilet.

        How can the author imply that I am ‘invading’ the Church.

        Once again, it is conceivable that there exists a tiny minority of perverts (as there are in the general population) who might ‘pretend’ to be trans in order to… I don’t know what… but once again, weird exceptions do not prove the norms.

        To portray tarns women as ‘invaders’ in church life is very nearly hateful, in effect if not also in intention. It corrupts the reality of situations in Church. It panders to more hateful extremists such as visceral feminists on the loony fringe of feminism (who don’t speak for all feminists).

        My experience is that almost all women are welcoming to me in church (my only experience of non-welcome was in a bitterly conservative evangelical church in London). We are supposed to welcome people in church. My experience is that the vast majority of women do. So do lesbian couples (I have several lesbian friends).

        Stoking prejudice against ‘invaders’ does seem a bit invidious in my view.

        The Next Steps team are still looking at various issues to do with trans people in the Church. I have collaborated with an evangelical minister myself to explore ways in which churches can support trans people ***and their families*** pastorally. It is important that the Church (and LLF) does this. It is good work. Because there are deep and sensitive pastoral needs… that extends to how church community handles this all as well.

        But please don’t deploy exceptions to justify devaluation of transition for all those it helps. And please don’t use terms like ‘invasion’. That reminds me of the right-wing language some people use about migrants. I don’t think you should feel proud of something like that.

        Reply
      • If a SSM supporter had written a post here advocating that, after LLF, the Church should adopt a more progressive approach “especially in light of the Pemberton case…”, I’d wonder whether you’d be just as eager to remind us that “Jeremy Pemberton actually lost his legal case. It was thrown out at the EAT”.

        Reply
        • Actually David, I lost it at the ET, the EAT and in the High Court. It was never “thrown out” – that is silly tabloid language. It was tested at every round. What was established at every stage was that I had indeed suffered discrimination, but I lost the case because it was held that the Church of England had the right to discriminate against me, because of the exemptions it holds in law.

          Reply
          • If ‘thrown out’ is silly tabloid language, then it was just as ‘silly’ for Jonathan Tallon to have resorted to that phrase in describing the outcome of Keira Bell’s case.

            In your case, there was never a finding that you *suffered* discrimination. Instead, the finding was as LJ Underhill rightly concluded:
            “If you belong to an institution with known, and lawful, rules, it implies no violation of dignity, and is not cause for reasonable offence, that those rules should be applied to you, however wrong you may believe them to be. Not all opposition of interests is hostile or offensive. It would be different if the Bishop had acted in some way which impacted on Canon Pemberton’s dignity, or created an adverse environment for him, beyond what was involved in communicating his decisions; but that was found by the ET not to be the case.”

    • It’s hardly an engaging response to say you just don’t like it! And to effectively name-call the author for his poverty of thought and morality (an indication of some of the reasons he feels the need for anonymity). Surely we can do better. Or else, just don’t comment, please.

      Reply
      • I didn’t name call the (anonymous) author. I only criticised the article. And I am happy to stand by those criticisms.

        Reply
  5. “Indeed LLF focuses on the often-misreported harm faced by transgender people in Britain (for this is a highly nuanced issue), but fails to focus Christian concern on the 6000 Christians martyred in Nigeria this year alone.”

    Glorious ‘whataboutery’. LLF is not about martyred Nigerians. It is about human sexuality and gender. You may as well say: ‘Conservative evangelical Christians should stop fussing about gay sexuality, and put up with it, because of all the starvation and martyrdom in the world.’

    It is possible to be compassionate and concerned about more than one issue at a time, but LLF is addressing what it was commissioned to address, and recognises realities of harm to LGBT+ people that should not just be waved aside as ‘minor’.

    In case you think I am being dismissive about Christians in Africa, I assure you I feel deep concern and interest as my own daughter has been working in Africa as a Christian missionary and co-worker with a community for the past 7 years. I am deeply concerned about poverty, deprivation, and persecution of any kind being suffered, and it forms a built-in part of my prayers and intercessions.

    Nigerian persecution is particularly acute, I would agree.

    None of these things should be ‘weaponised’ to belittle the actual and real suffering of gay or trans people in the UK. Compassion is not selective like that (obviously). You can’t just say to LGBT+ people: “Man up! Just think of the Nigerians!”

    Like I say, on that basis, what are socially-conservative moaning about, when gay Christians upset them with their ‘abominations’?

    Compassion applies to every human being who suffers harm, prejudice, marginalisation. Only right-wing extremists would suggest that LGBT don’t suffer these things in society, and the Church of England clearly recognises it too. So no ‘whataboutery’, please.

    Reply
      • Thank you.

        That said, I feel very distressed at the suffering and persecution many Christians endure for their faith, in so many places. I sometimes don’t know where to start to pray. It’s the same with the pitiful deprivation where my daughter lives and works. Such pitiful needs, and malnourished children dying, and social problems of when people despair… alcohol, domestic abuse. I usually start praying ‘Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us’ and think of an individual she has mentioned. Then I repeat it two more times. The suffering of martyrs should not really be dragged in as ammunition in the LLF discussion. Lord have mercy.

        Reply
  6. “LLF tacitly supports ‘trans’ ideology…”

    You have a ‘trans’ ideology too.

    LLF – and the Next Steps team – have not yet completed their work on trans issues, and you don’t seem to recognise that (or be aware of it?).

    Personally, though I try to explain what being a trans woman means, I do not belong to any activist group, and I believe I have a Christian ideology, but basically (like most trans people) I am simply trying to live my life.

    When I nurse a patient in hospital, no-one has ever asked me ‘Do you have a trans ideology?’

    Trans women are just people trying to live their lives. Very ordinary lives in most cases.

    I think you maybe call our lives an ‘ideology’ because you don’t like the lives we lead. I don’t know. But I do know that you are promoting a ‘trans ideology’ too – very much in line with Christian Concern or ‘The Christian Institute’… set on erasing the validity of what can be life-transforming for plenty of people with gender dysphoria. Your use of the term basically means “I don’t like what they do, it does not fit in with my theology.” In short, while we live our lives, you are the one with the ideological issues, it seems to me. I totally respect your right, incidentally, to disagree with gender transition… but I will challenge aspects of your ‘campaign’ where I disagree with your assertions, or think you are distorting anything. That’s just open conversation.

    Most trans people are ordinary people trying to live ordinary lives. They just have suffering because of gender which they try to resolve. Transition for many leads to greater psychological ease. For a minority of people who fully transition it doesn’t. But ‘exceptions’ do not prove the rule. You wouldn’t say to a person suffering with an agonising hip, ‘Don’t have a hip replacement because sometimes it doesn’t work’… or to a car driver “No! No! Nobody should drive a car because sometimes people die in crashes!”

    For a large % of trans people, transitioning really works. You may begrudge them that on theological/ideological grounds (I don’t know) but I do know first-hand it can empower you, bring happiness, make you more productive… and more able to open to other people’s need for love, because you are freed from your own incongruencies.

    I don’t think that’s a ‘trans ideology’. I think it’s just compassion, kindness and common sense.

    Reply
    • What is your comment on the fact that poor ‘Andrew’ is forced to use a pseudonym, and his academic context is actually antiacademic, disallowing questions/discussion?

      Reply
      • I am opposed to academic censorship and I deplore people who commit hate crimes against people they disagree with. So do most people of decency, whether straight, lesbian, gay, trans. Please don’t associate actions of fringe minorities with the decency of the majority of ordinary people leading ordinary lives. It’s yet another example of ‘whataboutery’.

        To be clear: I think it’s appalling if ‘Andrew’ needs to live under a pseudonym in some of his academic writings. Not that, on the basis of this article, I am won over by what he writes!

        Reply
          • I’m treating it like a title. I meant to do the same with ‘Christian Concern’ but overlooked it. Same as if I titled ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’. I didn’t need to, but that was my train of thought. I had no intention to suggest there were not Christians in that organisation, to be plain. There was no intention to insinuate anything by the quotation marks. If I want to critique ‘The Christian Institute’ I will do so, with or without quotation marks, by citing what I criticise. In this case, as I did: “erasing the validity of what can be life-transforming for plenty of people with gender dysphoria.” There was no hidden message in my use of quotation marks.

            However, my critique here is focussed on the article Ian has published on this page, so let’s focus on that.

  7. “Whilst the topics it covers are broad, LLF fails to address theologically whether transwomen are women.”

    You can’t say that for certain, because once again, can I point out that the trans part of LLF is still in process and further resources are still being generated by the Next Steps group and those assisting them.

    If you want a response to your question sooner, I refer you to: http://transition.org.uk/question37.htm which addresses the question: Is gender just a social construct? What is a ‘woman’?

    Reply
  8. “we would have to say there is no such thing, for example, as transgenderism”

    I don’t even know what you mean by ‘transgenderism’. I’d be grateful if the author in person would define what they actually mean by that term.

    Trans people clearly exist. Many trans people clearly suffer from gender dysphoria. Some transition, and move across ‘gender’ expressions to make their external lives more congruent with who they know and feel themselves inside. Is that transgenderism? Is that what you mean.

    If so, then there most certainly is “such thing”.

    Not only that, but for many of those who transition, their lives are expanded, empowered, set free from dysphoria.

    Why would any compassionate person object to that?

    But please don’t insinuate in any way that there is “no such thing” – please don’t try to erase the reality of our lives by suggesting we have no scientific basis for crossing gender expressions, or trying to put our lives right through changes that help us.

    Some definition from you may help.

    Reply
  9. “It might be preferable to avoid appeals to ‘science’ when constructing reasons for changing established church doctrine.”

    Really? Science needs integrity, I would agree. But science has also transformed so many lives. We no longer live in the Bronze Age. Science is often the pursuit of truth, and as truth-seekers we should not side-step that. We should always allow an interface between science and theology.

    Or should we ignore Darwin, and still believe that Adam had no ancestors? (Don’t let’s de-rail down that discussion again, but my point is: in the real world we live in, and the real people we live with and care about… science should help inform us.)

    Science is *one* reason (not the only one) for reviewing church doctrine.

    Reply
    • The author is arguing against the LLF’s notion that “given variations in biological sex exist, we should ‘widen our understanding of the natural variability of human bodies’.

      So, while intersex is a scientific fact, that biological fact cannot be the launching point for asserting that the multiplicity of asserted genders is consonant with the natural variability of human bodies.

      Variations in Gender identity cannot be predicated upon an appeal to biological variation.

      Reply
      • I agree that Intersex should not be exploited and used as a launching pad. I want integrity of argument, and I think Intersex cases (or whatever term you prefer) raise very real pastoral issues of their own.

        I disagree that gender identity cannot be predicated upon appeal to biological variation. Of course it’s biological. Our sex and gender are a biological system, centred on the brain. I’ve presented my case elsewhere in these threads (or see Q&A 37 in my resource) so I won’t pursue it here.

        Reply
        • You’re welcome to disagree. But simply referring to Q&A37 in support of the notion that ‘sex and gender are a biological system, centred on the brain’ is ‘begging the question’.

          Your materialist proposition remains unproven.

          Reply
    • You’re right Susannah… better not to derail. But you can see I’m sure that your views here link to the bigger question of your approach to Scripture and so to faith and practice. Our faith is entirely Bible based and to apparently with ease dismiss the Bible’s claim of a created Adam reveals the nature of your faith.

      Reply
  10. The Trans issue is about epistemology as well as ontology. A battle for the dictionary is going on. When somebody with genome XY who was born with a penis and testes declares “I am a woman”, what definition of “woman” is that person using?

    Every politician at a hustings should be asked “What is a woman?” and “What is a man?” The response “Anybody who feels like a man/woman” should be met with “Feels like a what? you still haven’t defined these terms.”

    Reply
      • It isn’t about how I would define it, but what definitions I would argue for: those based on genotype and reproductive organs. I accept that a very small number of persons cannot be so categorised as one or the other, and to them my heart goes out.

        Reply
        • I agree.

          If identity is based only only my drives and desires then it is extremely superficial and unstable. I notice one man wants to be a dog and has had a suit made to give him this identity. Another man some time ago wished to be a six year old girl. Both not necessarily opposed. However, when a white man identifies as a black woman that is a different matter. The examples show how ludicrous the notion is and how hypocritical the society that sanctions one but not the other. Identity is written on the cells of our body.

          Reply
          • My question would be why it bothers you so much?

            It actually doesn’t. Anyone should be free to believe themselves whatever sex they wish, as long as they can’t force the rest of us to acquiesce in their delusion.

    • A man who believes he is a woman should be respected (not discriminated against on the basis of that belief) but he isn’t actually a woman. LGB activism isn’t based on anything that is untruthful in the same way the that the T claim is made. That is why the LGB and T are now at odds with each other.

      But this article has parasitical feel to it – delighting in that conflict whilst, presumably, also condemning both the LGB and T. Evangelicals should reject both without ‘falsely’ picking sides in the conflict because it feels good to get the upper hand on one of them.

      Reply
  11. I read nearly half of LLF, skim-read the rest, and took the course. It is obviously the next step in church liberals’ attempts to subvert the Church of England from the position that the Bible takes – which is not half so hard to work out as the liberals pretend.

    Bringing the world into the church will wreck the latter. The only question for believers who are in a particular church system is whether to stand and fight, or bail out to an uncompromised church. I believe that the answer is not blanket and that God gives differing answers to differing individuals at the present time.

    Reply
    • I am the new rector of a multi parish benefice and I feel this keenly. As a curate I would have said I would bail out to something more orthodox. As a rector this might yet happen, but only after I make an almighty splash of resistance.

      The problem is that I feel called to minister where I am; I thank God for the wonderful people he has put under my charge. What to do?

      Reply
    • I hope we can all live together, with our diverse views, within the Church of England. Just love each other, even if we have different views on some things. We are all Christians, and loved by God. I mean that sincerely.

      Reply
      • Do you support the freedom of conscience of a vicar not to officiate if a same-sex couple ask to go through a wedding service?

        Reply
      • ‘I hope we can all live together, with our diverse views, within the Church of England’.

        What you are hoping for is that matters of sexuality and sexual ethics are ‘a think indifferent.’

        But that is precisely what we are debating. Scripture never makes it so; why should we?

        Reply
        • Because there is the possibility that we just have different views in the same Church, Ian. (We do.)

          And pursuant on that reality: I want to live together in co-existence with other Christians, because I believe in a diverse Church with diverse views. A broad church, basically.

          We DO think differently, in the Church of England, but it doesn’t have to be about sides. We can just be loving and agree to disagree. There’s plenty of other things to be getting on with as Christians.

          Also, if we refuse to ‘agree to disagree’… if we refuse ‘Unity in Diversity’… then that way leads to endless rancour and even schism at the edges. If we refuse to live together in the Church of England, I think its a shame, because by insisting everyone else must follow “my” conscious, a person is de-emancipating the consciences of the other people (who are at least half the Church of England today). Apart from which, that won’t even work, because they will carry on trying to follow their consciences.

          So what I think is this:

          I think you know there is a gradual tidal movement towards this ‘Unity in Diversity’ solution, and I think you are sincere, and I like that you are. But maybe your concern is that once two ‘consciences’ are accommodated in the Church of England, it may open the floodgates, and more and more parishes will adopt the (so-called) liberal set of values, and it will end up like women priests (which I know you support). I suspect you may fear a drift… and so you probably feel quite intensely that something needs to be done now, before “the rot” sets in. Once parishes see other parishes marrying gay and lesbian couples, the convention may spread.

          Of course, that’s only my thoughts – you are very welcome, on your own website, to speak for yourself. Personally, as part of a Unity in Diversity approach, I just think all voices should be heard, for balance. Therefore I thank you for the way you have allowed your own website to be a place of discourse and presenting points of view. I respect that.

          I just want the Church of England to be able to accommodate multiple views, because we DO hold multiple views. It’s just the reality and the realpolitik.

          My questions to you would be (no need to reply unless you want):

          If ‘Unity in Diversity’ can be done in Scotland (both the Episcopal Church and CofS) and as seems pretty certain, in Wales… then why not England? Why should England hold out for endless disagreement, which has already distracted the Church for 50 years?

          And finally the ‘cruncher’ I suppose: if the Church of England allowed some priests/ministers to marry gay/lesbian couples, and others to choose not to, would you leave the Church of England?

          You are gifted (imho) and I wouldn’t want that to happen. But I think it’s the direction things may be going. Could you not stay in, and just respect that different people may have different conscientious views on sex within the same Church (which of course they do)?

          Reply
        • Ah, sorry Ian. I misread your post because of a typo ‘think’ for ‘thing’ and somehow got a bit waylaid from your question. You wrote:

          “What you are hoping for is that matters of sexuality and sexual ethics are ‘a thing indifferent.’

          But that is precisely what we are debating. Scripture never makes it so; why should we?”

          If you mean that issues of human sexuality are (to use the kind of argument Bishop Rod probably adopts) ‘first order’ issues of salvation… in other words, you can’t go to heaven if you are in a gay sexual relationship and unrepentant… then I think there are many in the Church of England who would disagree (and arguably over half).

          I’m not “indifferent” to what sex means in a Christian life. But I am very well aware that the church of England is deeply divided on the issue, and I think that while a smaller number would say ‘Gay sex is wrong, this makes salvation impossible, I must leave your Church if it allows it’… most would say, either ‘Gay sex is not wrong’ or ‘Well I don’t agree with it, but let’s carry on, as we’re all Christians who are trying to love God and love our neighbour.’ I suspect you are at a pole of people who (if you do) see it as such a salvation roadblock that you could never accommodate differing views being allowed in the Church of England. I would, with sincere respect, suggest that is a fringe position in the overall Church… one that is conscientious… but not one that I think people will for the most part embrace.

          No, I am not indifferent to issues of human sexuality in the Christian life. I say that, on the back of many years and lessons learned, and understanding hopefully deepened over time. When I was a student in the 1970s I don’t think I even very much coupled sex with long term commitment… or to be more exact I had no Christian concept of what commitment really meant.

          Today I would say that as a Christian we need to learn what commitment in a sexual relationship means, and the sense of covenant to one another, and sacrifice, and working at relationship, and fidelity. Within that framework, intimate expressions of love are deeply precious and tender.

          However, along with many others, I simply don’t think that has to operate only between a man and a woman. Nor do I think the issue of whether it should do necessitates it being a first order issue. You may disagree. The point is that the contrary views can be held with conscience and with theological integrity. We should respect that. I would argue that love, commitment and fidelity really matter, but people will not go to hell if they do or do not have a view on gay and lesbian sexuality.

          I believe in a Church where both views of scripture can respectfully be accommodated.

          What I see scripture saying is that the way we treat people matters, and that sexual union involves constancy, commitment, tenderness and care. And I think that’s lovely. And I think that can be lovely in the context of gay couples and lesbian couples too. It just can.

          Therefore I agree that Scripture is not indifferent to the imperatives of holiness and love, but I disagree that including gay and lesbian people in such relationships and marriage cuts you off from God.

          We just have two sets of views, but we also have all the rest of life in Christ, and the amazing grace of God, and Christian care of those in need (our neighbours)… and we should seek enough grace and kindness towards each other (and respect) to carry on all the life of the Church.

          If we take the Scripture seriously, and look to the underlying appeal for devoted relationships and holiness of living, it’s clear that both groups can be far more than indifferent about sex, while still being mature enough to say “We may disagree, but you follow your conscience and I’ll follow mine, and let’s journey on together.”

          That is my hope.

          Reply
          • Susannah, your entire position is predicated on the centrality of the concept ‘views’.

            This is a worthlessly broad concept, and secondly one that has no concern for even the most basic thing, namely evidence. And thirdly has nothing to distinguish it from ideology, the worst thing possible to any scholar or honest person.

            See my chs 10-11 in What Are They Teaching The Children?

      • Susannah

        I am not in the C of E but it would be impossible for me to do as you ask. I could not agree to your membership. We are not all Christians much as I wish it were otherwise.

        Reply
        • I disagree. I don’t like purity markers so I believe we are all Christians.
          It’s just that some, like Susannah, are so much better Christians!

          Reply
        • Kind, Penny, but I don’t like comparisons of Christians either. Was Mother Teresa a saint? Who knows. My view is we’re all dressed in rags, and sinful in multiple ways, most often in selfishness, neglect, and things like that. It’s not a competition.

          I have done such things in my life, that fill me with regret, and for which no apologies are sufficient. I am confronted by the judgment of God like everyone is.

          But as Paul said, I am also a citizen of no mean city, and my one hope is appeal to Jesus Christ.

          I would always be extremely cautious about saying someone is not a Christian, because surely we are not the Judge. Come to that, I extend that caution to agnostics, atheists, muslims, and people generally.

          Who knows the heart of our being except God?

          I’ve no doubt many people here have their own dark secrets or regrets.

          We are all so much in need of grace and mercy.

          Reply
        • I would always be extremely cautious about saying someone is not a Christian, because surely we are not the Judge.

          This seems a rather fundamental misunderstanding, to whit, a confusion between ‘to be a Christian’ and ‘to be saved’.

          God is the judge of who is saved, yes. But not of who is a Christian. To be a Christian is to profess the Christian faith, just like to be a Communist is to profess Communism, to be a Nazi is to profess Nazism, to be a socialist is to profess socialism, to be a dualist is to profess dualism, to be a Utilitarian is to profess utilitarianism, etc etc etc.

          God is not the judge of who is a true Communist, so neither is He the judge of who is a Christian.

          Reply
        • Sorry Susannah, I didn’t mean to embarrass you. But you display such grace, generosity and love here. It throws a shade on the rest of us!

          Reply
  12. While endorsing Andrew’s critique of LLF in general—there are areas I also disagree with.

    For example, he refers to marriage as a sacrament (I did not think that was the Anglican understanding). But if we believe the sex act forms a sacramental union the discussion becomes all the more heated.

    I am not suggesting that sex equates with any other bodily pleasure—but I do think there is a danger in evangelicals spiritualising such, Ephesians 5:31–32 is surely referring to marriage, not the sex act.

    Reply
    • I’ve never been inclined to argue over whether marriage is a sacrament, before defining terms at least. The biblical definition of it (Malachi 2:14) is a covenant.

      Reply
  13. The more I read revisionist replies on here the more I realise we are engaged with serious pagan entryism in the church. This is an existential battle for the church, not a polite exercise in listening. Romans 1 writ across the comment pages of this blog. I have no interest in llf and if there is any move towards liberalism as an outcome I will happily move to another (growing, orthodox) church.

    Reply
  14. ” LLF attempts to justify gender identity in general from the specific case of biological variation.”

    It is convenient, but simplistic, to limit biological differentiation to genitalia. The body is a system, with reproductive genitalia, hormones, brain structure and development, some integral, some disposed to development and nurture. But sex is not just dicks and vaginas. A person’s overall experience of their sex and gender tends to integrate around a gestalt sense of being, identity and awareness, which is itself operating on a biological platform. In short both sex and gender identity converge in the brain, which is like the sex centre of a person.

    I have written about the *biological* and bodily reality of the trans experience here: http://transition.org.uk/question37.htm

    As I say:

    “As a basic argument, this can sound very persuasive. However… human biology is complex, consciousness and self-awareness is complex, and not all aspects of physical gender (as experienced in the brain) are socially constructed.

    A large number of medical and psychological bodies recognise reality is more complex than this reduction of the term ‘woman’ to womb, ovaries and vagina.

    The very simplistic and basic excluding model of a sub-set of feminists and religious dogmatists – who desperately want clear demarcation of the sexes for ideological reasons – simply does not take account of the far from simple operations of human biology in the interaction of hormones, development of consciousness, and the brain. A woman is not just a vagina or a womb. That is pretty obvious.

    The complexity begins with the reality that human sexuality (let alone gender) includes the brain, and its complex operations, its receptivity to hormones, its origin in foetus, its modelling, its development. The brain itself is very much a major sex organ, or factory of sexual feelings, identity, and its development and consciousness… in short, who you are. Your sexual identity originates and coalesces in the brain. Biological sex is not limited to a vagina. Biology is the whole of how a system operates, and our identity is first and foremost developed – both awareness of sex and sense of our gender – in the brain. Our feelings develop, incline, evolve… but not everyone develops in the same way. A person’s sex is the whole of the biological system.

    In short, neither the sexual reality of a person, nor their gender awareness, are make believe. It is something integral to a person, and a functioning system that originates in the brain, evolves in the brain, and coalesces around a gestalt sense of who someone is as a person, how they feel, how they identify. In fact, biologically, this is very powerful and very real. The person grows to know this consciousness, to recognise it about themselves. It is real, it is true about themselves. It is who they are. In short, sense of gender is not just constructed socially by imitation: it is integral to a person. It is the operation of their biological system.”

    It is very convenient, but also reductive, to only recognise a woman by her vagina. That said, I have my own working vagina and clitoris, that functions sufficient to be congruent with my whole biological system, even if like some other women, I do not have functioning ovaries.

    A trans woman is a woman, not a man. Is my gestalt identity really bothered by invisible chromosomes? Nope. Should it be? I’d rather be a productive human being with psychological ease and decent sexuality which feels congruent to me, and who I am.

    Your mileage may vary, and almost certainly will in some cases.

    My point: who we are, biologically, is a system, and a woman is not just a vagina. Some women are born with vagina, but are biologically men. Why on earth should that get people so het up?

    Reply
      • Fair points that need attention, but not demonisation. My own views: prisons – a legally female woman (with medically recognised gender) should be sent to a female prison; changing rooms with cubicles shouldn’t be an issue, but I’m a goalkeeper who likes women’s football, and in open football changing rooms, I don’t much want to see penises thanks, but I might live and let live if a person is discreet. That said, most trans sportswomen have to wait two years or so after surgery to demonstrate fair hormone levels. Yes, there may still be certain physical advantages (but then tall women have an advantage at high jump but no-one complains). My view is that when sport is just recreational, then inclusion is better than exclusion. But at elite level, I think it’s much more complex and I do think in some sports, there may be residual advantage in having grown up with a body structure driven by testosterone etc. I prefer to distinguish elite from recreational. At elite, I think it needs to be assessed sport by sport.

        None of this invalidates transition itself. And in every way a Church can, it should try to be inclusive.

        Reply
        • XY convicts with penises prefer women’s prisons for two obvious reasons: the regime is gentler and women are in physical proximity. What you then have is not necessarily a women’s prison but a prison for persons who say they are women. What is your definition of a woman?

          Either make sport gender-blind and pick teams on sporting merit, or let there be a distinct category for trans sportspersons.

          Reply
          • If you make it gender blind, the age of the great female athletes will be terminated at a stroke. Is that anything but a backward step?

          • Christopher: I presented that as one option for resolving the present situation. There is another.

          • In my twenties, I was an Assistant Governor in the Prison Service.

            There is no way that a trans woman should be sent to a male prison. I’m sure you would probably agree that is out of the question. You’d have to chuck them on Rule 43 and keep them in isolation like sex offenders. I hope you’d agree that would be outrageous. Even Rule 43 isn’t watertight. It would be an incredibly dodgy situation to be in.

            Yes, a transgender prison could be built… at expense and extra staff… I just don’t see that happening. Some of the challenge lies with how trans women are validated prior to being sent to a woman’s prison. If they are medically validated, and have a record of their condition over several years, it is most likely they are not trying to get into a woman’s establishment for nefarious reasons. If they also have legal confirmation and recognition that they are legally female in the eyes of the State, there should not even be a question – especially if they already have a vagina and not a penis.

            It’s not going to be automatically easy for a trans person in a female prison, but it’s going to be a hell of a lot more brutal in a male prison.

            I guess as Christians, we seek for compassionate resolutions.

            Mostly the concern about prisons has been hyped up by pressure groups with a vested interest in trashing transition and trans people generally. It’s actually quite complex – I will concede that – but there is no great general problem with this if decisions are made on the basis of medical and psychological assessment.

            Of course, there is also the option of ‘don’t do the crime’ 🙂

          • Susannah,

            If I google “trans prison rape” then I get a multiple reports of distinct incidents concerning rapes perpetrated in women’s prisons by inmates who have had penises from birth. Do you believe they should be there? And, to repeat, what is your definition of a woman?

          • Anton,

            I want to be honest and decent with you. What matters in the prison debate is protection.

            Bear in mind, that if I was ever imprisoned, I too would be at risk of rape by a trans woman with a penis, so I by no means take the concern as irrelevant. That said, we should not be naive: women can rape women too, and undoubtedly that will happen in prison as well.

            But you point should not be swept aside.

            My primary concern would be a prisoner with any record of sex offences. To me, that is a real red flag, especially as sex offenders are very often recividists. I know, because I ran a sex offenders unit of over 100 prisoners.

            Note: they’re not ‘bad’ because they are trans. They are ‘bad’ because of their crimes.

            So I have significant concerns about that category of sex offending prisoner. Being honest, I think that should be addressed, and I’m not saying I have the answers. Male prison may not be the right one.

            Any other prisoner, presenting female, but still with a penis (bear in mind the process to surgery generally takes at least 3 years) should in my view be carefully accessed, because of duty of care to female prisoners, but we also have a duty of care to the person as well.

            If a woman has had gender surgery, and has a vagina, there is no other prison where they logically fit, except a woman’s prison (with the proviso that if they have pre-cons as sex offenders, then all bets are off).

            These are only my views, and I’m trying to be honest. To be balanced, probably 98% of trans women in a woman’s prison would just want to do their time, have a quiet life, and are not going to molest another prisoner.

            I think there is a compassionate balance to be struck. I have never been convicted of any offence in my life (not even traffic offences) and I don’t plan ‘going inside’ but there are all sorts of reasons why people get in trouble, and a prison governor has to balance duty of care for the many with duty of care for the individual.

            Definition of a woman: I’m running short of time (I’ve typed a lot this afternoon!) but my preference is to avoid simplistic answers like ‘person with vagina’ (because that excludes people who for whatever reason identify female but haven’t had gender surgery)… and to explore the term more expansively. I think it merits that treatment.

            I’ve done so here:
            http://transition.org.uk/question37.htm

            My experience in 14 years since transition is that most (cis) women don’t care. “If you identify as a woman, just be a woman, and I hope you are happy” is a typical response…. along with really nice ones like “You’re lovely and there’s no question in my mind that you are female”… and the more general solidarity, when (whether right or not) a woman shares a glance with me, looks up to heaven, and sighs “Men!” The generality of my experience these 14 years, on the street, and nursing patients, is that women will primarily accept you as a woman if you are not a dick. I don’t try to appropriate every experience of every woman. I don’t try to act a role. I just live my life. My partner (who is lesbian) loves me as a woman – as her ‘femme’ she would say. I live my daily life, unconsciously after all these years, as a woman. I’m treated that way.

            The term ‘woman’ for a trans woman is sufficient and acceptable to most other women.

            Language develops meaning through usage. Most women regard me as a woman. I know who I am.

          • Susannah,

            I’m afraid I don’t find a definition of ‘woman’ (or ‘female’) in what you say her or at your website, just words about how it is difficult. You have to be very highly educated indeed to find difficult what the best minds of the previous 6000 years didn’t, but secular culture is vastly superior to Christian culture and of course the culmination of human history. No whig history there!

          • “Language develops meaning through usage.”

            That may be so, but it does not follow that the meaning is true.

          • PS The trouble with the yes-it-is-difficult-and-we-need-an-ongoing-debate view is that meanwhile elite women’s sport needs a Yes-or-No decision *now* over trans persons in women’s events and whether persons with penises from birth should be in prisons for women.

    • “In short, neither the sexual reality of a person, nor their gender awareness, are make believe.”

      But, that’s not the point being made. We can all agree that gender identity and sex involves an interplay of body and mind that is complex. Without hard evidence, what we can’t do is to assert that the multiplicity of asserted genders is logically proven by that agreed complexity.

      Reply
    • ‘A trans woman is a woman not a man’.

      Let’s pause to analyse.

      First we are forced to accept a concept when the entire point is that only some do accept it, and through history very few have, and even those who do when it is in vogue may do so only precisely because it is in vogue rather than for a better reason.

      Anatomy is 100% against.
      Chromosomes are 100% against.
      Anatomy and chromosomes are the most scientific and fixed, undeniable levels.
      Less fixed than that are hormones which fluctuate and can be manipulated, and least of all psychology which can vary minute by minute and can be in thrall to circumstance and also culture.

      So we are asked to accept that both of the most fundamental, undeniable, scientific levels, each of them utterly intricate and large scale, are as if they don’t exist.

      That is tyrrany, but more to the point obviously untrue.

      We are then in addition asked to accept that less stable levels somehow do exist in a more fixed and defining manner (!) while simultaneously the more stable levels don’t.

      What do people take us for?

      It won’t become a whit more true by repetition.

      Reply
      • By justifying yourself, no matter how accurately, you have already taken the defensive. Just ask people “What is a man?” and “What is a woman?”, and politely persist when you don’t get an answer. (NB the responses “a woman is anybody who says she is a woman” and “A woman is anybody who feels she is a woman” still fail to define “woman”.)

        Reply
          • Thank you. Exactly, and the Law supports this, as does the NHS which provides the gender services, the BMA, the Army, the Airforce, etc. Like it or not, I am a woman in the eyes of the law.

            And I flourish! Surrounded, accepted, and loved by (cis) women and just getting on with life.

          • This merely defers the question to the definition of “female”. What is your definition of that, please?

          • ‘A woman is an adult female human.
            Definition includes trans women and cis women.’

            As quite a few people point out, that makes no sense medically or biologically. It is an ideological claim, not a point of fact.

            You are seeking unilaterally to redefine the word ‘woman’, and a good number of feminists object to that.

          • Ian and Anton

            As you know there is no definition of female or woman which includes every single cis woman. So defining a cis female (what you would call a natal woman) is impossible.

          • As you know there is no definition of female or woman which includes every single cis woman

            There actually is. ‘Female’ is the sex which, in a species which reproduces sexually, produces the large gametes (eggs). And a female is a member of that sex.

          • S: ‘Female’ is the sex which, in a species which reproduces sexually, produces the large gametes (eggs).

            Correct. Nobody finds it difficult to identify the sex of their cat or dog. But contemporary sophisticates would have you believe that this is a problem with humans – although they are usually the same people who bang on about evolution and “the Science”.

          • Christopher

            I don’t know but I’m pleased you realise that woman is a concept, i.e. a social construct.
            For example, female slaves in the GR empire (and before?) were not accorded the status of womanhood.

          • Every single cis woman

            … is a member of the sex in humans that produces the large gametes (eggs).

          • A concept is nothing like a social construct.

            Is the sun a social construct? Are trees social constructs? Is a bull a social construct?

            You couldn’t make it up.

          • Reply to Mr Shell.
            ‘There is nothing like a social construct’
            I prefer ‘there is nothing like a dame, nothing in this world”
            Scans betterer.

            Prohibitions in the OT point to a loving God.
            Don’t eat pig. They are dangerous and the stink sticks to everything.
            Don’t construct my temple on-site. Construction sites are dangerous.
            Don’t get tattoos. Cross contamination is more than possible.
            Don’t use a man like a woman. Diseases multiply.
            All of these consequences are mitigated in our modern world. But the modern west sets the example for the rest.
            Christianity is unique in that it is cross cultural and needs no special marks or clothing or geographical location to exist.
            Priestcraft within Christianity tries to overturn this freedom by insisting on lists of externals that are necessary. This is why progressives in the church are drawn to priestcraft , they need identity in marks, rituals, clothing and buildings to make themselves feel part of something. Identity is offered in Christ alone.

          • ‘Don’t use a man like a woman. Diseases multiply.’
            You have imported ‘Diseases multiply’ into the text. Which is always illegitimate.
            (And secondly: Aren’t there any other reasons not to act like that?)

          • Reply to Christopher
            I agree with the point you make about not adding to scripture but I am trying to interpret the prohibitions that God does not explain. There seem to be fatherly concerns for people’s welfare. Thus I extrapolate from hindsight. E.g. Medieval cities might have been safer places if the Bible had been used by its governing bodies.
            History seems to validate biblical hygiene.

          • It is unquestionable that there is OT-lawcode concern for hygiene. It is questionable whether hygiene is to the fore in this particular text. ‘Interpretation’ covers a multitude of sins, and people need to be very clear about what exactly it is and why it should be thought to be a good thing. Interpretation can never be one-angled/exclusive, since this breaks rule 101 about reflecting background knowledge which will necessarily be multidimensional.

          • Christopher

            You could, indeed, make it up. Which is what a social construct is.
            Is money a social construct?

          • S

            Nonsense. Not every cis woman produces eggs. Does this make women who don’t produce eggs ‘unwomen’?

          • Nonsense. Not every cis woman produces eggs.

            You need to read more carefully. Read what I actually wrote.

          • OK, i give in. Black is, indeed, white.

            I think you’ll find that, as I was saying, black is black and white is white; or, to put it another way, male is male and female is female.

          • Penelope

            How do you know you are a woman? What characteristic do you have that all women have? It can’t be an inner conviction that you are a woman as some women say they don’t have a gendered ‘soul’.

          • I don’t have any biological attributes that all women have.
            I identify as a woman because I feel comfortable with my birth sex (I am a cis woman).
            I suspect that’s partly because I have been socialised as a woman.

    • “It is very convenient, but also reductive, to only recognise a woman by her vagina.”

      On that, we agree. But, legal recognition is always reductive. It’s reductive for gender and it is reductive for citizenship.

      And, even as a native-born British citizen, I wouldn’t want anyone to be prosecuted for saying that they consider me to be a second-generation immigrant.

      Reply
        • As a British citizen, I consider the phrase to be an offensively segregationist proxy, but I don’t want its use in speech to be criminalised.

          Reply
          • Ah, I misunderstood and apologise, David. I’m being honest here, which I hope you will trust, that I loosely use the term ‘immigrant’ to mean people who used to live in another country (like my wife) who have moved to live in the UK. Like you she is a British citizen. I was not trying to be rude, and I would like to be educated, so I am careful about terminology that’s best to use and welcome advice.

            I can see that the term could indeed be segregated and deployed in campaigns to isolate and ‘other’ part of the population and place blame etc on them.

    • I find the discussion around biology quite interesting as most of the time the genetic component is ignored and reduced down to organs. Gene composition and transcription between men and women can often be very different, particularly when exploring areas like epigenetics. Just as you find the reductive genitalia angle frustrating, I find reducing the body to a ‘system’often glosses over a lot of differences/nuances!

      Reply
    • Sex is a binary though – not every person reproduces (for various reasons) but every person who has ever existed had a female mother and male father going all the way back to (take your pick) Adam and Eve or a male/female pair of a shrew-like animal that are the direct ancestors or you and your cat.

      Reply
    • “Terminate feminism and homosexuality and transgenderism, within the church, die.”

      You are entitled to your view, but I question whether such a comment reflects the ethos of this website.

      Use of words like ‘termination’ and ‘die’ seem rather reckless.

      I don’t agree that we should “attack feminism within the church at every opportunity”. I don’t even identify as feminist myself, but I know wonderful Christians who do. And gay and trans people have a welcome place in the Church of England, and that is a pre-supposition in LLF. We may have different views, many of us here, but we are not advocating terminating the presence of feminists (for example) in the Church. It’s not in touch with reality.

      Even some of our bishops are feminists. I can live with that. Come to that, even some of our bishops are gay.

      LLF (the subject of this thread) is trying to find a way forward, which envisages inclusion of all those categories you cite (well not the feminism), what form that inclusion may take, and how to achieve it.

      In reality, the highest likelihood is that we are likely to move in the same direction as Scotland and Wales, towards a ‘Unity in Diversity’ approach, with protection for people’s conscientious beliefs on these issues.

      I don’t think the dramatic language of ‘termination’ helps one little bit. Gay, trans, and feminist people are not vermin to be eradicated from the Church.

      Reply
      • Look at what happened to family life (which is a high proportion of life in general) as soon as feminism (which is an unbalancing of family-ism and community-ism) came in.

        Reply
      • Susannah

        ‘Mr Singh’s comment is outrageous. If the church is not feminist and if it cannot embrace LGBTIQ+ people then it deserves to die, because it does not shew us Christ.
        I am sorry that you are having to put up with such abominable language and filfthy views.

        Reply
  15. The bottom line is whether LGBT etc is part of the original divine blueprint or arose as a consequence of the Fall. Only God is competent to answer that question. Where can we look to find His answer?

    Reply
    • Well for one thing, we can ask God through the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts and open our hearts. Prayer. Waiting on God.

      God has given us consciences, and God does speak to us through those consciences, and through people we encounter, and through relatives we know, or colleagues, or neighbours. And God also speaks through the Bible: I don’t mean literally, but through reading and reflecting on scripture. and considering its contexts, with an acknowledgment that some things were written within cultures, societies and times, and within the limited knowledge of the human beings (fallibly trying to make sense like ourselves).

      And with all these things, we pray. Sincerely.

      We too ‘try to make sense’ in the life we live, and our neighbours, our relatives, our friends… and if we know gay couples or lesbian couples… ask: ‘do they love each other?’… ‘do they seem like good and kindly people?’… and all these things are worth honestly reflecting upon, and doing so with patience and prayer with God.

      Reply
      • We need the Bible because our innermost convictions are still subject to our flesh (which has a far deeper meaning than lust). And the world ‘literal’ is simplistic. I am happy to discuss any specific passage. Discussing how to discuss it, I find futile!

        Reply
  16. It’s obvious why the liberal authours of LLF ‘but fails to focus Christian concern on the 6000 Christians martyred in Nigeria this year alone’.

    From the liberal perspective (in accord with ‘The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life’) see those people ovrr there as primitive, Bible believing, hate filled ‘coloured’ Christians.

    Reply
  17. “The utilitarian position is that babies do not matter, placing LLF in a position whereby it denies the importance of physical existence.”

    I don’t think LLF does any such thing.

    On hypostasis, I agree that each of us has a soul, and a being that gets activated in life, and that God calls us into our being and becoming. The very fact that there is something integral about our souls and who we are, means we need not ‘package’ everything in biological terms. There are integral aspects in who we are intended to be – including how we grow.

    Though I don’t personally think very young children tend to have much sense of gender – they just live their lives – the testimony of so many trans people is that as far back as the could be conscious of it, they have known themselves with a disposition towards gender, and a recognition in others, that aligns with who they understand themselves and how they feel inside. That’s my own experience too.

    I don’t think it matters to God, what genitals we were born with. We are loved. That’s enough.

    In my view hypostasis speaks of integral aspects to who we are, including our emergent sense of identity.

    Of course, the whole matter of the soul extends far beyond this particular debate on sex and gender. Those who practice contemplation may attest that actually the soul is vast, because it can accommodate God, and share with God. And yet, while God may even share consciousness with us, we also matter as personal, we are treasured, we are loved.

    I do not think ‘hypostasis’ and the existence of the soul necessitate definition by genitals at all. Our being is so much more than that. Indeed, if we consider Jesus’s words, there will be no marrying in ‘heaven’. And yet, the masculine and the feminine within God may find reflection in the integral way we have been created.

    I don’t believe ‘hypostasis’ is an argument against somebody opening to their gender identity at all. All of us have more to us than the first cells in existence at conception. Life does that. It opens us up to be more of the whole of who God calls us to be. And yet it’s still us. When you look at people in a film, or on the street, who do you identify with? who do you recognise a bit of yourself in? That’s what trans people do too. They don’t seek to ‘act’ a part. They recognise certain people through life, who awake recognition in themselves, triggering a recognition of integral self.

    I like that I am female. I like that I feel receptive. I like, that in my relationship with God, God knows that and I relate with God that way. I am not ashamed. I am loved.

    Reply
  18. ‘The lack of balanced discussion in LLF tacitly supports ‘trans’ ideology – without explanation as to what that means – at the expense of biological reality.’

    That is because one of its thematic presuppositions is the same as feminism: the social construction of reality.

    No one can speak about the feminist, lesbian, homosexual, the transgendered unless you presuppose the fantasy of the social construction of reality.

    Reply
      • Penelope – I’m convinced this isn’t a real character. I think he’s made up the character of a ridiculous bigot just to see what sort of reaction he gets.

        Reply
    • Ian, I think you know there is a problem here already because I saw your previous post to this person. I really think that ‘d’ word is appalling.

      Reply
  19. The issue of baptism affirmation upon gender transition is pretty unfair to raise. I accept it’s an issue, but trans Christians did not ask for it. What was initially sought was a service or liturgy within a service so a Church community could acknowledge the start of a person’s transition, and pledge to accompany them and support them through that journey.

    My views, shared with the Next Steps team, are here:
    http://transition.org.uk/question18.htm
    and
    http://transition.org.uk/question39.htm

    However, after the possibility of churches publicly affirming a person’s transition was raised, the Bishops came up with the ‘baptism’ idea for framing it. If you read my link you will see why I have some uncertainty about that. I think Pete Broadbent (he can confirm if he reads here) was involved in the Baptismal framework proposal.

    Whatever the case, it is not something that should negate the very pastorally benevolent case for showing solidarity with a trans person when they transition, and doing it in the presence of a church community. (It should be mentioned, though, that there can be very real pastoral issues if partner or children also attend the church – lower down on http://transition.org.uk/question17.htm )

    As I write:
    “For the church to show public solidarity at the time of greatest vulnerability is potentially communicating the love of God to that person, and demonstrating to them: ‘You are not alone’ and it signals a church community undertaking to journey with the transitioning individual, as they pass through what can often be profound ordeal and crisis.

    I feel very strongly that for a church to publicly acknowledge a trans person, their gender, their name, their journey… is something potentially HUGE and deeply pastoral and benevolent.

    It says: you are safe, you are welcome, we love you for who you are, and even if some people revile you, as God’s community we stand by you in your isolation and vulnerability. We recognise and acknowledge you, and will walk alongside you through your transition journey’.

    Reply
  20. ‘Whilst the topics it covers are broad, LLF fails to address theologically whether transwomen are women.’

    And I bet it fails to discuss the legal status of a wo(man) with a Gender Recognition Certificate issued under the law by the State.

    Whatch ya gonna do Mr Vicar, when next Sunday morning they follow your daughter into the female toilets?

    Watch ya gonna say when your son says he cannot bend his knee to that legal (fiction)?

    Or your mother, a GP who refuses to prescribe a dosage meant for females to a male-female?

    Can you people understand why we working-class blokes have lost all respect for you? Can you people understand our anger?

    And you want to divert us to church from St James’s Park?

    Reply
  21. “It may not be ‘fair’ that same sex couples cannot marry but…”

    Gee thanks!

    Do you want to add the call to stay celibate all my life as well?

    I am perfectly, blissfully happy with my marriage, thanks.

    No, I don’t think the Bible endorses man-man sex. I am always honest about that. Their religious community (and those that precede it) did not seem to say that they were ‘okay’ with it.

    Of lesbian sex there is less said, but enough can be inferred to believe the religious community did not think that was ‘okay’ either.

    That was them. That was the culture of their religious community. They wrote from within the context of their own religious culture, knowledge, and even prejudices.

    But, is the Bible to be always read to be literally true when it’s written within cultures and different times. ‘But male sex together is detailed in a list of abominations…?’

    Yes, it was. But they were essentially writing about holiness, and giving examples of what they thought was ‘unholy’ to make their point.

    They made reference to something which in their time and their group they regarded as unholy.

    What if it isn’t unholy?

    What if covenanted love, and givenness, devotion and sacrifice, caring and sharing, being tender, being patient… what if, actually, that is deeply holy… at least in as far as holiness can inhabit our relationships?

    LLF reflects the thoughts of a range of people and theologies. Quite rightly, in my view, this line of thought is given serious consideration.

    Now to be clear: Ian, and many of you who post here, believe the Bible condemns man-man sex, or indeed any sex outside marriage between a man and a woman. I thoroughly understand that this is a view that can be held and believed in all good conscience and faith. I can understand, because I used to hold those views myself.

    There is a place in the Church of England for those views. I think LLF perfectly well recognises that.

    However, there are now many in the C of E who believe there must be a place too, for those individuals, ministers/preists, and church communities who think otherwise. They deserve right of conscience as well.

    We can’t just dominate each other.

    LLF is a breathing space. Let’s face it, it’s been a ‘convenient’ breathing space, because it has put things on hold until after the Lambeth Conference. But its methodology and direction indicates that as a Church we are moving in the direction of accommodating contrary views on sexuality, both held in conscience. The lesson is respect for other people’s conscience as well as our own. Hasn’t that been a trait through the history of the Church of England… puritans… catholics… male priests… female priests… it’s a trait of our national Church which then necessitates people with different views… TO FIND GRACE AND LOVE to co-exist with brothers and sisters in Christ with different views to our own.

    No, actually, it’s not fair that women cannot marry their girlfriends. No, actually, it’s not either fair, healthy, or sensible to propose lifelong celibacy. In fact, it’s appalling (unless you’re called to be a nun or something similar).

    To say “It’s not fair… but” is dismissive, I fear. It’s the language of theological puritanism and a ‘my way or the highway’ approach that, frankly, the LLF team and the Church of England as a whole cannot possibly accommodate further. The present ‘status quo’ (which does not reflect what people mostly believe) is no longer pastorally sustainable. LLF recognises that.

    The next stage is how to implement change. More on that another time 🙂

    Reply
  22. “There are many circles in LLF that cannot be squared: imposing top-down change will almost certainly alienate many dedicated Christians who may feel dismissed over issues that are niche when considered as a societal whole.”

    The circle that cannot be squared is that the Church of England is divided down the middle (now likely veering to a majority acceptance of gay sexuality)… and that logjam has gone on for over 50 years… a circle of divided opinions that cannot be squared. But as more of the public have come to accept gay sex as alright, the pressure has grown, not diminished.

    I do not buy the politics section of this article. The whole ‘cultural Marxism’ thing is hogwash. Gay and lesbian people come in all shades of politics. I have loads of gay friends who are Conservative (with a capital C), an others who are socialist (myself included). And just as many who are not interested in politics very much at all. It’s a shame to try to politicise (or hatch a kind of conspiracy theme) around the simple reality that gay people live their lives, are productive members of society… AND in the Church of England we have diverse views on sex.

    It overlooks the reality that the clear majority of the English public (and especially the young, who are appalled by the Church on this issue) are fine with gay sex and partnerships, because we’re in their families, their workplaces, their neighbourhoods. That’s the reality of the position. The Church of England is not trying to impose some minority position. That’s balderdash.

    It’s not about “imposing top-down” anyway. That’s the whole thing. The restrictive ‘status quo’ – “all gay and lesbian people must stay celibate all their lives” – THAT is top down.

    But the direction of travel is towards acknowledgment of different conscientious views and beliefs, and towards respecting and accommodating those diverse views within the Church, and far from being top-down, ‘allowing’ priests/ministers, and PCCs, and church communities to seek the conscience on which to pastor their communities. This will vary, and no priest (for example) should be forced to marry a gay couple. Conscience both ways should be respected.

    But what is not acceptable is for one half of the Church of England to impose their conscience “top down” on the other half’s consciences… especially as the present status quo is now being imposed by a group that is likely now a minority group in the Church of England.

    So – far from the threat of ‘top down imposition – actually, that’s what we already have and what we’re trying to get away from.

    With love, with grace, it is possible for us to co-exist, to care about each other’s churches, and to be a Church that seeks grace and respect, in a ‘Unity in Diversity’.

    That, I suggest, is the likely direction after LLF… it may happen in stages… but it’s the direction Wales and Scotland have taken. It’s less top down, not more top down.

    Reply
    • A lot of what you say is probably true Susannah. I suspect your own conservative evangelical experience has given you a greater understanding and sympathy even if you strongly disagree. However, I do think you are being a bit too optimistic. What is implemented with the promise of great freedoms for those who demur is in a short time shorn of these freedoms; you must marry a same-sex couple or leave the church.

      Reply
  23. This is such an egegiously inaccurate article that I am astonished the author is an academic.
    There are too many errors to list on a sunny day, but here a a few:

    Firstly, as Susannah observes, most people are entirely happy with the LGBTIQ+ umbrella which embraces a variety of sexual and gender identities which have, and continue, to be vulnerable becuae of discrimination and outright abuse. A few ‘gender critical people’ – some of them gay men and lesbians are vocally biased against trans inclusion. Most gay people, who rmeebr Section 28 are more inclusive because they can see where this weaponising discrimination againts a particular group will lead. Tales of people being forced to ahve sex with trans women and men are falso narratives deployed to whip up anti trans hysteria. Geneder critical people fail to point out that coerciev sex is always worng and morally unlawful (and that most happens between cis people).

    Second, there is no ‘invasion of male-sexed women into female-only spaces’. The use of the terms ‘invasion’ and ‘male-sexed women’ is both inaccurate and deeply offensive. Furthermore, both the the Gender Recognition Act and the Equality Act permit (in most cases) trans people to use the facilities of the sex/gender with which they identify. In fact, ist was customary ro do so long before either of these Acts, indeed, it was necessary to do so in order to trnasition and/or obtain a Gender Recognition certificate. Until about 2015/2016 this was not an issue and rarely, if at all, mentioned in the media. It has since become an issue merelt becuae of the exitence of a strident GC lobby group (or groups). In brief, trans women have every right to be in (the vast majority of) female-only spaces. And ditto trans men in male spaces.
    Third, ROGD is a myth. It is not recognised by any reputable professional organisation and is based on an online survey of parents on anti transgeneder websites. No trans children nor parents who supported their offspring trnasitioning were surveyed. This is seriously flawed methodology.
    Fourth, the terms ‘transgenderism’ and ‘trans ideology’ are themsleves ideological, weaponised agaisnt the existence of trans people to suggest that they are somehow taking over or subverting the norms of a civilsed society.
    Fifth, DSD/intersex people (many of whom are content to be shelter under this umbrella) do not all require extensive medical and social input, and it is dostressing to see an academic publishing such mishevious and irresponsible untruths. Many intersex people are campaigning againts the entirely unnecessary medical interventions which were undertaken whilst they were still infants and children and, of course, without their consent. Some of these interventions have made their lives (and their relationships) impaired.
    Sixth, I am not straying too far into the theological minefield which follows these egregious inacuracies, but I will point out once again, that because the Greco/Roman empire was licentious, loving same-sex relationships must have been known. The second hardly follows from the first.
    There is much more to say, but, as I wrote, it’s sunny. I’m just rather disturbed that such an irresponsible article should appear on a reputable blog, where vulnerable people might see it.

    Reply
    • Who are these ‘most people’?
      Most people inhabit family-tree cultures.
      Until yesterday, practically everyone did.

      Reply
      • What I think you mean is most people in the UK or western world, as though that was the ‘real’ world and everything else is the second class world?

        Reply
        • People who are not keen on surveys think that small scale (and possibly random/unrepresentative) evidence is *better* than large scale.
          Pause for thought.

          Reply
          • Most people as in the majority of people surveyed.
            No need to pause for thought; it’s quite straightforward

    • ‘ but I will point out once again, that because the Greco/Roman empire was licentious, loving same-sex relationships must have been known. ’

      Are you saying loving same sex relationships are the outcome of a licentious culture?

      Reply
    • Penelope Cowbell Doe

      ‘ I will point out once again, that because the Greco/Roman empire was licentious, loving same-sex relationships must have been known’.

      They were, as a reading of Juvenal’s ‘Satires’ shows.

      It was the Judeo-Christians who excluded such practices as licentiousness and homosexuality from their fellowships.

      To accept now licencitiousness and homosexuality is to turn the clock back to paganism.

      It appears that the orthodox-evangelicals have been the progressives for the last 2,000 years.

      Reply
    • “most people are entirely happy with the LGBTIQ+ umbrella”

      Even if that were true – which I beg leave to doubt – it would tell us only that most people had been deceived into accepting that illogical and spurious construct.

      Reply
  24. There’s a lot here, even before taking into account the comments!

    Some thoughts.

    1. While I think it’s fair to say the LGBTQI+ acronym is ‘increasingly problematic’, I would agree with some of the counter-critique here and argue that while dissent within the rainbow umbrella is growing (and this is very subjective, I concede) it remains a minority voice. There’s safety in numbers of course, and even though there may be important questions being asked about just how ‘friendly’ the different letters are to one another, I think the majority would still agree that a little tension from within is preferable to major tension from without. It does no one any good to pretend something to be true that demonstrably isn’t…

    2. I am far from qualified to comment in detail on biology, but I agree with S’s comments here. Either ‘man’ and ‘woman’ do mean something, in which case we need to define them (however obvious we might think the answer is) or these words can mean whatever we want, in which case using them is rather pointless. It does no one any good to expect the same words to carry different weights and meaning depending on who uses them, and I share S’s desire to challenge those who assume you can (whichever platform they stand on). I don’t know who made the comment about all definitions being reductionist, but I think they are right. We shouldn’t throw away broad categories that everyone used to agree on just because a handful of exceptions have appeared. In regards LLF’s comments about gender diversity, I am not sure I agree with the author of the article that these are of the social-constructivist view: I thought they were relatively neutral and both starting points were offered. I seem to remember reading comments on release where some progressive readers thought the opposite, and complained that the creational anthropology was the one being priviledged. 😉

    3. I think the author is fundamentally correct to stress the importance on identity as the new framework through which this debate happens, and share some of the criticism that the LLF resource does not do enough to recognise and respond to this. Exactly how is does this is a different question, but it does highlight just how slow the process of SC and LLF has been that the material has been often critiqued for moving to slowly and being out of date before it’s published.

    4. Others have posed the question about viewing marriage as sacrament, so I will not ask the same thing. That said, I think the article is right to view this conflict around marriage as the presenting issue of more fundamental debates, as many of us have said before.

    5. I think the critique of LLF on the grounds of identitarianism is really interesting. On the one hand I am inclined to agree with the author here, and say that LLF does indeed view things from only single cultural perspective, but on the other hand I think the sweeping and dismissive comments about privilege and Marxism could do with a little more unpacking, even in a precis, as their inclusion here rather gives the piece the impression of a right-wing rant rather than something from within the academy.

    6. I think you are right that the strength of LLF is it’s desire to meet genuine pastoral need. This is a good critique.

    Lots to chew on
    Mat

    Reply
    • Mat Sheffield

      It’s been a long time since I studied Marx and Antonio Gramsci:

      ‘Marxism could do with a little more unpacking’.

      I hope this assists.

      Marxism can be divided into two main schools: Scientific Marxism and Critical Marxism.

      Scientific Marxism holds to the fundamental notion: Thesis (truth) + Anti-thesis (lie) = Synthesis.

      Marx (following Hegel’s formula located in the metaphysical) turned it upside down and deposited it into the material world: Thesis (working-class) + Anti-thesis (it’s Oppressor – the bourgeoisie) = Synthesis (the dictatorship of the working-class). The history of the world is the struggle between these two classes.

      Gramsci (Critical Marxism) came and argued that this communist revolution is not happening and urged that different factions within the working-class need to form an alliance. The modern: blacks, women, homosexuals – all who are oppressed need to come together and present a united front to their Oppressor. That’s why homosexuals conflate homophobia with racism.

      No one stops to ask: what is the function of race and sex? Should they do so, a major attack would be launched against Critical Marxism.

      I have worked for large public sector organisations – their actors’ presuppositions (particularly when it comes to formulating policy) are based on Critical Marxism.

      The majority of these actors have never read Gramsci’s ‘Prison Notebooks’ – they absorb Gramsci’s thinking from their fellow graduates through various channels and contexts: after work pub gatherings; interpretation of legislation; reading policies; laughing at the jokes of comedians; and listening to the Socialist trades union representative. An example: the child is oppressed. Let’s listen to the child (as opposed to its parent Oppressor). The child is a component part of the working-class. The child must therefore be a bearer of the truth. The child feels trapped in the wrong body. Who has trapped her? The members of the bourgeoisie: they assigned her sex at birth.

      Reply
  25. “The singular grouping of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-sexual, intersexual, and others (LGBTI+) is an increasingly problematic term…”

    It has been problematic all along. It is, in fact, an illogical and fraudulent construct, which has been imposed on the public by sheer, relentless repetition, and has been used to try to con gay, lesbian and bisexual people into believing that they are somehow obliged to support the anti-factual ideology and unreasonable demands of transgender activists. We have absolutely no such obligation – and I need hardly add that intersex people have none either.

    “Living in Love & Faith” uses the LGBT initialism, or one of its equally ridiculous extensions (e.g. LGBTI+), over 100 times. That by itself, in my view, is a sufficient reason not to take it seriously.

    Reply
    • Mr Fisher

      With respect.

      How can they be ‘unreasonable demands of transgender activists’?

      1. The feminists claim that there is essentially no difference between male and female. (That has been the core, undeniable, claim for the last sixty years.)
      2. As there is no difference in sex, then on what grounds are they unreasonable?

      Reply
      • Mr Singh

        With respect.

        “How can they be ‘unreasonable demands of transgender activists’?”
        With no difficulty at all.

        1. “The feminists” doesn’t denote a monolithic category. And even if ALL feminists did claim that there is essentially no difference between male and female – and I don’t for one moment believe that to be the case – I certainly wouldn’t have to agree with that claim, and I don’t.

        2. “As there is no difference in sex…”
        Who said that? I didn’t, nor did I say anything that implied it, nor do I believe it.

        Reply
          • This is a sound point.

            If people can behave against their anatomy, they can also feel a disconnect / disaffection from their anatomy. There is not that much difference. Both are rooted in much the same sort of desire. In fact it could be argued that the former is more extreme than the latter.

          • Mr Singh

            What I reject as illogical and fraudulent is the LGBT initialism (together with all extensions thereof), which conflates lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, as though together they formed a logical category. They do not, since the delusion that one is “really” a member of the other sex is not a sexual orientation. T no more belongs with LGB than, for example, R (reincarnated) does. The more recent addition of I is equally absurd, since it has no logical connection either with LGB or with T.

  26. Mr ‘MacFarlane

    This is most welcome news for my lawyer friends:

    ‘The CoE would be complicit in the false identification of that individual’s gender transition and thereby a co-author of their pain. These are likely to be rare occurrences but they could cause great harm to the person and the church community involved.’

    Reply
  27. The suggestion is made by several commentators above that the LLF material has been produced by ‘liberals’. Even a brief glance at the list of those responsible for producing the material is enough to suggest that such a view is inaccurate. The names can be seen here.

    https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/living-love-and-faith/living-love-and-faith-group-members

    The material is then published by the Archbishops’ Council – meaning that they must take responsibility for what is published in their name. One again, even a brief glance at the names of those on that body is enough to suggest anything but a ‘liberal’ bias. Not least because it includes the author/publisher of this blog. It would be interesting to know if any of the members of that council dissented from the publication of this material or asked not to be associated with it. We can be absolutely certain that the process of publication was discussed by that Council.

    The names of the members and objectives of the work the council undertakes may be found here

    https://www.churchofengland.org/about/leadership-and-governance/archbishops-council

    Reply
  28. The front page of The Times this morning should dispel any myths about trans people being favoured in any way. It’s back to Section 28, as a Christian MP notes.

    Reply
      • It’s media froth.

        Most schools will ignore it anyway.

        The last school I worked at (as a nurse) was brilliant. It gave students time, space, respect, to explore their identities if they wished.

        Four kids doing that were strongly supported by their peers. And the school remained detached and not pushing any agenda.

        The Attorney General says schools ‘don’t have to’… but thousands of schools, with enlightened cultures and compassion, will just ignore that.

        Reply
        • Susannah, this is criminally irresponsible. When people are growing up they are just that – growing up. They are in flux. They are in a melting pot. And somehow the claim is made that they have a fixed ‘identity’ in sexual matters, when they are presexual anyway.

          I know one group of people who do that. It is those men who take advantage of the sexual drive in young men to sleep with them and then insist that the victim’s sexual identity is now ‘fixed’ and ‘set’ (recruitment) – even wanting to *criminalise* the slightest questioning of this.

          Reply
          • There is no recruitment. The very fact that, as you say, young people are ‘in flux’ is exactly why we should allow them space and time and respect to explore and work out who they are.

            Same with politics. I was a teacher for 25 years before I re-trained as a nurse. I never once disclosed my own political views. You just don’t do that. You let them explore things like that for themselves.

            Same, in a state-funded school, should be the case with religion.

            Though I don’t suppose you would agree with that. Yet maybe use your own allusion about paedophiles recruiting youngsters to that issue of religious indoctrination…

            …because what they have in common is trying to take positive steps to recruit.

            That is NOT the case with trans kids in schools.

            You just let them have space to try to understand themselves.

            Incidentally, to be clear, I was nursing 1200 teenagers, aged 12 to 18, and not primary kids.

            I would never say “You ought to be trans”. But our school policy was just to let them work things through, and give them time, space, respect, dignity.

            Anyway, my point is you need to be realistic and clear that practice in schools today is not all Boris Johnson – anti-woke – populist soundbites. It is thoughtful and responsible.

            Young people are indeed ‘in flux’. Give them time, and they generally discover for themselves what actually works for them.

            Transition is not a crime in this country, so the Attorney General cannot forbid it. She has given her opinion. Schools will have theirs.

            Transsexual people – and transsexual kids – are not going away. And they are as good and decent as you or me. It’s sick when they are demonised as ‘threats’.

            We need a more mature and responsible approach than that. The AG is simply posturing along a populist platform. She’s a politician – go figure.

            Likewise (and because we meant to be discussing LLF here) the Church of England is seeking to approach these issues as well, in a measured and mature way. Most people in the Church of England are not followers of ‘Christian Concern’ or ‘The Christian Institute’. These issues of gender and sexuality are complex and challenging, as to how a Church organisation divided down the middle can find a way to move into the future.

            So many Christians in the Church of England simply don’t object to gay sex, lesbian sex, or people transitioning. And we ARE discussing LLF and the Church of England in response to this article.

          • But it is not about ‘opinion’. No way. It is not about ‘views’. No way.

            It is about evidence first and last.

          • I know one group of people who do that. It is those men who take advantage of the sexual drive in young women to sleep with them and then insist that the victim’s sexual identity is now fixed …

        • The Attorney General says schools ‘don’t have to’… but thousands of schools, with enlightened cultures and compassion, will just ignore that.

          The important thing is that schools will not feel pressured to allow boys who claim they are girls to change in the girls’ changing rooms.

          (Of course the school should be compassionate and if the boys who think they are girls would be distressed by changing with the other boys, the school should do its best to provide them somewhere private to change — just not with the actual girls.)

          Reply
        • Susannah

          Being a boy or a girl is entirely a matter of biological sex, which cannot be altered. No matter how much they may explore their “identities”, boys cannot be or become girls and girls cannot be or become boys. Telling them that they can, or even just passively playing along with the delusion that they can, is lying to them.

          Reply
          • A boy can become a trans girl.

            That is a matter of fact.

            And it’s allowed in schools. It continues to be allowed.

          • Susannah

            A so-called trans girl is not a girl; he is a boy. Likewise a so-called trans boy is not a boy; she is a girl.

            That is a matter of fact, and no amount of allowing will ever change it.

          • Well then you are in defiance of the Gender Recognition Act in principle, because you don’t seem to understand that someone can be psychologically female, and that a person’s gender is a whole biological system, not just one part of that biology. That’s recognised in law which recognises some people assigned male at birth are legally recognised as women.

            There are different categories of women (and of girls). The law recognises trans women, and acknowledges they are female. The medical profession – and especially people who have specialised in gender – recognise that transition is a response to incongruency between some aspects of gender (usually reproductive organs) and other aspects of gender (the brain, where gender is experienced, felt, recognised).

            There is such a thing as a trans girl. People know what you’re talking about if you refer to one, or the law refers to one, or the medical specialists refer to one.

            If sexuality and gender are biological (and they are) then it’s clear that many specialists understand that they operate as a whole biological system, with the brain as the platform for the person’s recognition and expression of who they are. It’s simplistic to say that biology stops at a vagina, or that a vagina is all that makes a woman.

            We are complex human beings. The important thing is we flourish as human beings. If a trans girl flourishes better and more freely and functionally that way… then God bless her!

          • That’s recognised in law which recognises some people assigned male at birth are legally recognised as women.

            As a legal fiction, yes, people who have obtained a gender recognition certificate (and only people who have obtained a gender recognition certificate) are treated in law as if they were the opposite sex to the sex they actually are.

            But the law does not define reality. Parliament is supreme — it could pass a law stating that the value of pi is 3, and requiring all calculations to use that value. But that would not change the actual value of pi and if the law were enforced all that would happen is that a lot of bridges would fall down. So you can’t claim the fact that something is written into law proves that it is actually the case; it doesn’t.

            There is such a thing as a trans girl.

            Clearly; but a trans girl is not actually a girl any more than a sea horse is a horse.

          • In defiance of the Gender Recognition Act, Susannah?

            Just as that Act is in defiance of all the 1000s of years of its predecessor acts.

            Law is not reality, it is just a convenient parallel reality.

            If law were reality it would not be constantly changing from one thing to another and thereby contradicting itself.

          • S:
            ” ‘There is such a thing as a trans girl.’

            Clearly; but a trans girl is not actually a girl any more than a sea horse is a horse.”

            🙂

            Very good! Spurious, but I liked it!

            Credit where credit is due.

          • It is not only people who have a GRC. Read the law.

            I have. Gender Recognition Act 2004 section 9:

            ‘ 1)Where a full gender recognition certificate is issued to a person, the person’s gender becomes for all purposes the acquired gender (so that, if the acquired gender is the male gender, the person’s sex becomes that of a man and, if it is the female gender, the person’s sex becomes that of a woman).’

            Note Where a full gender recognition certificate is issued to a person, ie, this only applies to those who have been issued a gender recognition certificate. Have you read the law?

          • Read the EA.

            I have done. Nothing it it suggests that people without a gender recognition certificate are to be legally treated as if they were of the opposite sex. To which exact sections of it are you referring?

            I mean I assume you’ve read it, have you? If you have then you can provide section references. If you can’t provide section references then you obviously haven’t read it, and have no idea what you are talking about and everyone should ignore you.

            So references please.

          • 2.7 (1)

            Reads:

            ‘A person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if the person is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.’

            Note, unlike in the Gender Recognition Act, the utter lack of anything in that section even implying that their sex is to be treated for legal purposes as if it were the opposite of their true sex.

            So we can only conclude that in fact it is you who has not read the law.

          • S

            Exactly.
            nothing there about the necessity for a GRC nor the necessity for ‘physiological’ transition.
            It’s quite clear, but I’m amazed at how many people misunderstand it. Even the Attorney General it seems.

          • nothing there about the necessity for a GRC nor the necessity for ‘physiological’ transition.

            Nothing about being treated for legal purposes as the assumed sex either, is the point. Which is what you were claiming.

          • S

            The protected characteristic of gender reassignment means that where single sex spaces, exist trans men and women are entitled to us the facilities of the sex/gender with which they identify. They do not need a GRC to do so.

          • Hi Susannah, re “the important thing is that we flourish as human beings” (May 28, 2022 at 2:11 pm) – I suggest that much more important is what Christ says to us on the last Day – will it be “Well done, good and faithful servant,” or will it be “Depart from me, I never knew you?” Of people I have known I think of those who have not flourished who I expect to find in group 1, I fear that some who *have* flourished will be in group 2.

          • The protected characteristic of gender reassignment means that where single sex spaces, exist trans men and women are entitled to us the facilities of the sex/gender with which they identify. They do not need a GRC to do so.

            Where does it say that in the legislation?

            Hint: it doesn’t. Anywhere. Not even implicitly. It is quite simply not in the Equality Act anywhere.

            So you mustn’t have read it.

            If you think it does, please provide a reference to the exact section and quote the text just like I did with the Gender Recognition Act.

          • S

            It is stated in the section which you and I both quote.
            Of course it applies to both sexes equally. There is no such thing as women’s sex based rights.
            It is the law and it is correctly interpreted by Stonewall and incorrectly by the EHRC.
            I shall not quibble any longer over this. You are wrong.

          • It is stated in the section which you and I both quote.

            It’s not stated in either of the sections I quoted.

            I shall not quibble any longer over this. You are wrong.

            I have been able to point to and quote the exact laws, to show that I have read them and read them correctly. You have clearly not read them properly at all.

            People can bear that in mind when they make up their own minds which of us is right and which is wrong.

        • Tragically, you’re right. God will need to bring about a sea change in current thinking…. Including the thinking of a younger generation growing up and normally ready to buy into left wing dogmatics.

          Reply
          • It seems to be already happening. Right wing populism in many ways is rejecting standard left/right politics. Putin, champion of Orthodox Christianity; Trump(ism), Evangelicalism; Duarte, Roman Catholicism; China, Communism; Etc etc .. They all look different but are attached by the neck to the Beast. There will be a swing away from Liberalism but the faithful will oppose it to the astonishment of The New Moral Majority.

  29. The author writes: “This approach will help those who genuinely struggle with all types of problems to dwell within a church community and to let their encounter with God heal their wounds.”

    Sounds good, but what to do when after many years of church community membership, those ‘wounds’ over sexual identity become more open and infected and not healed? What to do when the internal pain and pressure and identity dissonance becomes unbearable and the individual suicidal – when the prayer and discipleship and faith and faithfulness and psychological therapy have not healed the wounds – and folk are brought to the end of themselves? What is the church response then? According to some here, it is to say such persons are obviously wilfully sinful, rebellious, violating Scriptural mandates, not Christians or sinister proponents of marxist ideology. The one thing I see too little of here is compassion for people’s hurting condition – I get the impression reading recent threads that many here would show more kindness for a wounded dog than a tortured person with gender dysphoria.

    Reply
    • I get the impression reading recent threads that many here would show more kindness for a wounded dog than a tortured person with gender dysphoria.

      Well, the whole question is, what is kind? If someone has bodily integrity dysmorphia, is it ‘kindness’ to amputate their healthy limb? Or is it ‘kindness’ to help them accept their whole body as it is?

      Reply
      • Indeed.

        Church can involve helping each other to die to self.

        What about someone who is a sex addict? Or a porn addict? Or the example we are not allowed to use… what if someone is a paedophile? Should we accept them because otherwise they will feel rejected? I am not saying these are moral equivalents but I am saying church can accept as members those that are sinning just because they will be bruised if rejected. The whole point of rejection is love. It is to bring them to their senses and see their sin; this is the first step on the road to recovery.

        Reply
        • And these are examples of categories which are not just given. Such addictions proliferate disproportionately in a sexual revolution era; much the same is the case with identification as ‘trans’. People talk about this as though it were a fact of life, but it is (a) ill-defined, which is an impossibly bad start, (b) not medically grounded, more psychologically, and (c) dependant on peer pressure, which town one lives in, whether there are comorbidities, whether the issue is high profile in one’s culture or not. The list just goes on. And (d) It polarises and treats as all or nothing something which is a matter of degree. (e) It is about as wrong as it can be in saying that people who are 100% male in both anatomy and chromosomes are to be regarded as 100% female. 100%, I repeat. It looks like a test case to see how gullible people are to assertions repeated over and over by the self important.

          Reply
          • Trans people have existed in various cultures for centuries.
            Psychology is ‘medically grounded’. The brain is part of our biology.
            So, more egregious sweeping generalisations from you.

          • Psychology is ‘medically grounded’. The brain is part of our biology.

            The brain is, but the mind is not. That’s the hard problem of consciousness; see David Chalmers et al. Hardline monist materialism a la Daniel Dennet just doesn’t work; there’s a reason his book was nicknamed Consciousness Ignored.

      • I appreciate that, Jock, and your post, Simon. Gender dysphoria is a genuine medical condition, and for some people a terrible one, and not only that, it can prompt urgent and challenging pastoral demands on a caring church community.

        Compassion = not just hurling doctrine at a person, but digging deep into the detail, actually listening to an individual (not to mention the needs of their families), and working harder to try to understand the realities of their situations… which are not just ‘cut and paste’ theology.

        It might also be worth people listening harder to the voices of people who have transitioned, who have flourished after transition. That is certainly the case with thousands of post-op transsexual men and women. But that’s evidence and witness some people just don’t want to hear.

        You can be a good, caring and decent person and be in this situation. If some thousands of people can resolve their suffering through transition, why would you begrudge that? Simple voice of compassion would say, “I’m glad you’re in a better place. I’m glad you flourish. I may have reservations [which is perfectly fair] but I wish you well.”

        It was a convent of wonderful nuns who nursed me for 10 weeks after gender surgery. Wonderful Christians. They didn’t regard me as abomination. They nursed me and just cared. In the end I was invited to become a postulant at their convent. That’s how totally they embraced me.

        Sometimes theology, and pastoral situations, are complex.

        Compassion is one thing we should never forget.

        Reply
        • Yet for you Susannah this involved it seems the break up of your marriage and now a lesbian relationship. Transitioning is normally I assume much more than simply transitioning,

          Reply
  30. As it gains ground, the LGBT Christian movement is increasingly unwilling to accept ‘good disagreement’ and demands to be the monopoly position of the Church of England. There are honourable exceptions, but clearly Good Disagreement was for most merely a tactic. It is obvious why: they find it hard to share a church with persons whom they believe view them as unrepentant sinners.

    Reply
    • Good Disagreement is the modus operandi from hell (unless it refers merely to style, in which case it is ok as far as it goes).
      See my analysis in What Are They Teaching The Children?

      Reply
  31. My main concern is that the Church of England as a whole, with many exceptions of course, is failing to preach the terrible warnings to flee from the wrath to come alongside the wonderful promises and sincere invitations to all to repent and submit to Christ in his atoning death and life-giving resurrection.

    That failure includes a failure to believe, teach and preach that we all face God’s condemnation because of Adam’s sin as well as because of our personal sins, that the death of Christ propitiated the wrath of God and that the unsaved face eternal retribution. Even Dr Ian Paul, whose website I admire and who has staunchly defended the orthodox view of marriage and sex, does not believe these things, as he confirmed when I copied him in to a recent email exchange with CEEC council members.

    This failure is more fundamental and important than the LLF disagreement, important though that is. Because the Church as a whole cannot say with the Apostle Paul, ‘Therefore I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God’; and the Church is not taking seriously the solemn warning God gave to Ezekiel that the appointed Watchman who ‘does not blow the trumpet to warn the people’ will be held accountable by God for the blood of the unsaved.

    Do the CEEC as a whole agree with me that this failure is more important than the LLF disagreement? (Surely this, in the words of Dr. Martin Davie, is ‘The Thing that Matters Most – It’s Eternity, Stupid’!) If the answer to that is ‘No’, I have nothing more to say.

    If the answer is ‘Yes’ then I have more to say, as follows.

    I suggest that the CEEC should make it clear to the Church that the greater failure and LLF should be considered together in the Synod debates and persuade and co-ordinate all Synod representatives accordingly. I suggest that if evangelicals are ever going to challenge the rest of the Church about what she believes and preaches about Original Sin, the need to preach the warnings as well as the Good News, about wrath and retribution – this is the decisive moment to do it. Just as the Apostle Paul openly rebuked the Apostle Peter as recorded in Galatians. I doubt there will ever be another opportunity to do this.

    Phil Almond

    Reply
  32. Somewhat unfair I think to keep talking about, “LLF says this” and “LLF says that”. There is no LLF view. It is a collection of views from different wings of the debate – conservative and liberal. My problem with it is that it very easily falls into the false set up that there are two positions – one Biblical and conservative, and one loving and liberal. I take what most would characterise as a more liberal stance, but that is because of my reading of Scripture, not in spite of it. But that’s by the by.

    LGBT is a common umbrella term. Bad luck on the part of LLF to come along just as that umbrella is being placed under huge strain. But I don’t read LLF and see them applying the umbrella. Sure, LLF is considering LGB and T questions, but the trans question are typically discussed separately and as something of an afterthought. When I read through it I thought the discussion was already pretty dated. It was about people with gender dysphoria transitioning from male to female (or vice verse). There was nothing about the phenomenon of non-binary, whether there are trans people who have no gender dysphoria etc..

    It’s very questionable whether the umbrella LGBT is meaningful, and even more so theologically. The starting point of the gay rights debate was gay people being adamant that they were not ill, and there was nothing to treat medically. The theological version of that has been the collapse of the ex-gay movement as it turns out God does not answer prays to take away homosexuality. When gay people are born again in Christ, they aren’t becoming straight. And so we are confronted with what they are to do: be commanded to celibacy, seek to enter in heterosexual marriages, or seek to enter into homosexual marriages.

    By contrast trans rights debates starts from arguing that being trans is not a kink or dressing up for fun, it’s a medical condition of gender dysphoria which requires medical intervention. Some of the most pressing questions are therefore fundamentally questions of medical ethics. The deeper societal questions, that particularly become prominent when you add non-binary people to the mix, are about what we are to think about gender. Whilst sex is real, and Scripture is definitely grounded in material reality (physical bodies and the physical world matters – it’s real) you can see that Scripture is not necessarily so tied up with rigid ideas of gender (most famously there is no male or female as all are one in Christ). It’s also difficult to square a totally patriarchal view the women are confined to a meek and timid feminine expectation with the Scriptural accounts of Mary (who God reveals his plans to), Sarah (quite ferocious), Deborah (married woman who ruled Israel in Judges), Judith (pious widow who saves Israel by seducing and murdering the enemy general), Susanna, Esther etc.. Of course when it comes to trans questions it’s not always clear who has the most rigid and conservative views of gender: those who think people shouldn’t transition, or those who think any behaviour outside your sex’s gender is grounds for believing you’re trans.

    Reply
    • What an interesting post. Thank you.

      I think with the LGBT thing: it’s a coalition, a bit like NATO is a coalition.
      LGB and T are not all the same, but there does tend to be common ground to an extent around the fact that all these groups experience discrimination, and in most cases, that discrimination hinges around what your gender is. Not identically, but sufficient to make many LGBT people believe it’s worth solidarity as a coalition.

      Your final sentence has so much wrapped up in it.

      Your whole post is – and I almost breathe a sigh of relief – intelligent and informed.

      Reply
      • Thanks Susanna,

        I’m not sure the coalition holds together all that well to be honest. Maybe it made sense in previous years where there were a lot of battles for civil rights. And it was probably easier when we (perhaps mistakenly) thought of transgender as simply synonymous with transsexual and the desire to medically transition. Now transgender is more of an umbrella term, with non-binary and other forms of gender self-identification wrapped up in it, much like with woman the rights and perspectives are coming into conflict. Sexuality is objectively defined, whilst gender seems more subjective. Gay people have historically been more gender non-conforming but have always kicked back against the idea that this makes them less than fully men or women. The readacross between the two groups isn’t always clear, especially when you consider Iran which maintains the death penalty for homosexuality is much more relaxed about transgender (to the point where gay men can and do escape the hangman by claiming to be trans).

        Reply
        • Good analysis. The ‘self-identification’ issue has been weaponised against ALL trans people.

          Of course, many who complain about self-identification are against any version of transition in principle. The self-ID debate becomes a lever to subvert ALL trans people, out of either ideological opposition or prejudice (or of course, sometimes both).

          But it’s accurate to say that those who have pressed for the right of self-ID have made life harder for transsexual women who have taken a medical route.

          Nevertheless, we are talking about real issues, real (often desperate) pastoral needs. And to an extent, it IS fair to see gender expressions in different people taking different forms.

          The issue for the Church (since we’re supposed to be talking about LLF here) is how to pastorally support people who are transitioning – and to support their families in quite a lot of cases.

          I’ve explored this challenge of pastoral support in some detail, in conversation with an evangelical minister:
          http://transition.org.uk/question16.htm
          http://transition.org.uk/question17.htm
          http://transition.org.uk/question40.htm

          Of course, time is short, life is busy, and I don’t expect you to read it all!

          I’m enjoying engaging with you, though. Fundamentally, how can churches with various views on transition in the Church of England respond to people who are transitioning, taking into account different attitudes, but prioritising compassion and pastoral need? That is what LLF is continuing to grapple with.

          Reply
          • I suspect we need to do a couple of things.

            Firstly, to sort out the theology of gender. That isn’t a debate with two sides. In the secular world you have those who believe gender is real but dictated entirely by sex, and you have those who believe gender is bogus (or at least greatly exaggerated) compared the material reality of sex, and you have those who believe gender is real and is what matters to the point of trumping sex as a characteristic. Where does Scripture and the Church stand on this? I suspect the answer has become more tricky now we have less distinction between men and women in Church life. But unpacking this would equip us to handle the trans questions more thoughtfully and coherently.

            Secondly, recognise the trans umbrella is an umbrella and they different people, challenges and questions deserve answers that may not be the same. Your priority for example is people with gender dysphoria who are diagnosed as such and transitioning in some way. Even within that group the ethical questions for an older person with an existing family might be quite different from an 18 year old starting out in life. My concerns centre on those who display little if any gender dysphoria, and the non-binary, and to what extent they are consciously trying to reject gender (and possibly sex) and where they may be errors and dangers in this. There’s a lot to deal with for a small group, but we ought to take it seriously.

          • ‘Firstly, to sort out the theology of gender’. Why? Is ‘gender’ a thing? It started out its use in the 1960s to refer to social roles of the sexes, and somehow from there was given an ontology.

            What if ‘gender’ isn’t actually a thing at all?

            I am happy to talk about the social roles and self perception of men and women. I think scripture sees sex as a clear binary—or better, alterity—and in this agrees with science. What I find interesting in scripture is that, in the context of a fairly conservative culture, Scripture allows for diverse social roles for men and women.

          • Gender became a more polite synomyn for sex a couple of decades ago – presumably because the word sex also refers to sexual activity. From that point on the bait and switch to gender identity being the more significant factor was made possible. But activists will now even make the claim that transwomen are female – a word that, until last year, was only understood to refer to sex.

          • Ian (can’t reply directly this far down the thread),

            That’s exactly my point, although maybe expressed badly in haste. We have to work out, theologically, what we think of gender. Is it real or bogus? Does it vary from sex or not? Is it actually important?

      • LGBT, which is irrational to start with, has already had enough letters added to it to excite understandable derision. If you are going to make a coalition of groups who have been discriminated against, you could go on adding letters and symbols indefinitely. The discrimination which gay, lesbian and bisexual people have suffered in the past has not been on account of their “gender” [sic] but on account of their sexual orientation.

        When I first became aware of the increasing use of the LGBT initialism earlier this century, I regarded it as a rather foolish and tiresome but fairly harmless fad, which would soon disappear. I was wrong, of course. It was about ten years ago that its real purpose hit me: it is an indoctrination device. As another commenter elsewhere has put it, it is not a description of an actual people group, but a sham ideological construct, used to draft LGB people into the service of trans activism. I have long refused to use it, except to draw attention to its absurdity and its insidious purpose.

        Reply
    • On your ““LLF says this” and “LLF says that”. There is no LLF view. It is a collection of views from different wings of the debate…”

      Very true. Also, LLF has not completed the gathering of resources yet. The Next Steps group have initiated a further study of trans issues which is ongoing.

      It all boils down to: in the Church of England we have a problem. We have divided views on human sexuality.

      1. How can we respond pastorally at a personal level?

      2. What should we do as the Church of England in the light of this recognised diversity of deeply-held views on these subjects.

      LLF is basically a platform from which to take the next steps that follow.

      LLF does not set out to ‘take sides’ as such.

      Reply
      • It all boils down to: in the Church of England we have a problem. We have divided views on human sexuality.

        No. You have different views on the Bible, on human nature, and on salvation. What you have in the Church of England is (at least) two entirely different religions trying to occupy the same space.

        The sexuality stuff is just a sideshow. It matters not.

        Reply
        • “What you have in the Church of England is (at least) two entirely different religions trying to occupy the same space.”

          Where have you been for the last 500 years? ! It’s always been that way. It’s part of the DNA of the CofE

          Reply
          • Where have you been for the last 500 years? ! It’s always been that way.

            Well, no; it was several different emphases of the same religion. They may have disagreed on what to wear or where to stand, but they agreed on the basics of what the Bible was, want human beings are, and the need for salvation.

            (And even then many thousands were driven out of the Church of England, even though they believed in the same basic religion, just because they disagreed on superficial matters — whereas now hundreds who disagree on basic matters are allowed to stay).

            But you’re probably right that the roots of the present problem go back to the nineteenth century and the unwillingness to cut out the Oxford cancer. That set a precedent which has led directly to the current situation where a full split is the only remaining possibility.

          • That’s a very selective reading of history – but I’m not surprised by that. You ignore the whole turmoil of the Elizabethan era and the settlement that resulted,
            Worth reading a decent history of it – Stephen Neill is still excellent.

          • Dear S, re May 28, 2022 at 10:16 pm – Andrew didn’t mention the “Oxford cancer,” you did. And what is or was the Oxford cancer? – I am mystified.

          • And what is or was the Oxford cancer?

            Well, nothing good has ever come from Oxford — they burnt Latimer and Ridley, remember — but I was referring to Newman and his cronies.

        • S

          ‘What you have in the Church of England is (at least) two entirely different religions trying to occupy the same space.’

          Outstanding!

          One side is dragging us back to the sniggering in Juvenal’s ‘Satires’, priestesses and pre-Christian paganism; and the Believers are reasoning with us to return to St Paul’s summary of the gospel: Jesus and the Resurrection.

          That settles it: Jesus or Juvenal?

          Reply
          • Jesus or Juvenal?

            Well, I actually think the two main ones are Christianity and Moral Therapeutic Deism, rather than anything so exotic as Juvenal.

    • AJ Bell

      No collapse in the ex-homosexualist movement. They are growing in strength, admiration and joy! The truth has set them free!

      Unashamed | Come & Meet Us
      by X-Out-Loud

      Central London today, conference!

      Reply
      • There has been a profound collapse. Go look for Exodus International or Courage. X-Out-Loud are curiously reluctant to say that they believe you can change your sexuality and become straight, don’t you think?

        Reply
        • I agree with your first point. TFT is one of the remaining ‘ex-gay’ organisations that still maintains that gay sexual relationships are inappropriate. However genuine change from gay to straight sexuality rarely happens, and when feelings change to some extent, invariably the individual can still identify with gay sexual attraction even if they become married for example.

          So I am not surprised that organisations do not peddle the ‘change your sexuality’ line as it simply does not reflect reality, and in many cases probably does cause harm.

          Peter

          Reply
          • And that is why the debate has become so pressing now. For a very large number of the Church the hope that gay people could become straight (or “return” to being straight) was a key underpinning of how they approached this issue. You can go back all the way to St John Chrysostom preaching on Romans 1 and declaring that “no one can say that it was by being hindered of legitimate intercourse that they came to this pass, or that it was from having no means to fulfil their desire”. For St John Chrysostom the key to the condemnation is that this was about people who had happy heterosexual relationships that they left and could return to. In the Church today, there are very few people who are really prepared to tell 16 year olds that they are commanded to a life of celibacy, in effect to be monks and nuns without holy orders or communities of others to support them, and with their vows already made on their behalf. And this is not least because we don’t actually allow 16 year olds to become actual monks and nuns(!)

          • I think it is really helpful to point out, as you do, that as long ago as the fathers, some Christians thought that gay people needed to become straight—and I think that has been the view until recently.

            But it is worth noting that this forms no part of Scripture’s agenda, as it is concerned primarily with acts, not with ‘orientation’. This has been obscured by poor choices in English translation, but I think there is an emerging consensus between radicals and conservatives that we need to translate better.

          • “In the Church today, there are very few people who are really prepared to tell 16 year olds that they are commanded to a life of celibacy.”

            I believe this ‘status quo’ assertion should be put to the test with a vote in General Synod.

            The proposal, that all gay and lesbian people should remain celibate all their lives, is so outrageous and cruel (not to mention repressive and deeply harmful) that I believe Synod would no longer endorse it.

            Therefore I am pressing for a motion in Synod:

            “This Synod reaffirms the position of the Church of England that gay and lesbian Christians should remain celibate all their lives.”

            I believe such a vote would fail, and create justification for bishops (recognising the majority view in the Church of England) to withhold discipline on priests that affirm gay and lesbian relationships.

            Further to that, it might support later justification for a proposal in Parliament to reverse its legal ban on same-sex marriage in the Church of England, so that people can be ‘allowed’ to be married, though priests would not be compelled to marry them.

            If the Church is not willing to re-affirm the lifelong celibacy position, then change becomes far more persuasive.

            ‘Lifelong celibacy’ is the nasty bit… the ‘bad news’ bit… which most kindly Christians really don’t like to voice. It’s no brutal, and so obviously insulting and offensive (not least to people looking in on the Church).

            So let’s vote on it in Synod.

            I believe that vote would offer pretext for the bishops to initiate change, even if to start with that change was a loosening and an allowing without disciplining.

            An opening up for people to hold to their own consciences, without demanding they are imposed on others. Unity in diversity.

            No, I simply don’t believe most people in the Church of England believe that lifelong celibacy should be required of gay and lesbian people. A vote in Synod to re-affirm that cruel position would demonstrate that fact.

          • “This Synod reaffirms the position of the Church of England that gay and lesbian Christians should remain celibate all their lives.”

            Wrong way round. The burden of proving the necessity for change is on those proposing the change; the status quo is the default. That’s why the Speaker’s casting vote is always cast for the status quo in the event of a tie, because of the principle that change should only happen if there is a positive mandate for it.

            So the motion needs to be:

            ‘This Synod finds the position of the Church of England that gay and lesbian Christians should remain celibate all their lives unacceptable and calls for a change in doctrine.’

            Then if that passes you have established that there is a positive mandate for change and can proceed to looking at what the new doctrine should be.

          • S,

            I’m not proposing a vote about changing doctrine, because doctrinal change requires a higher % vote in Synod to initiate that way.

            I’m simply proposing Synod re-affirm the teaching of lifelong celibacy, so as to see if there is still majority (50%) support for that position.

            If less than 50% support for lifelong celibacy, then that can be used as demonstration that it’s a minority view, and Parliament (which is democratic and largely supportive of gay marriage) could be invited to initiate review.

            Likewise, if lifelong celibacy is not endorsed my a majority in Synod, that becomes a basis for the bishops to take a looser approach on disciplining the majority view, and paves the way for episcopal ‘de facto’ accommodation of diverse conscience in the Church when it comes to affirming or celebrating gay and lesbian marriages and relationships (even if in the interim, acts of legal marriage are not quite there yet).

            I suspect there is insufficient necessary % majority support in Synod for substantial doctrinal change to be implemented, but sufficient support (50%) to decline to reaffirm this unacceptable status quo on celibacy.

            We shall see (working on it).

          • I’m not proposing a vote about changing doctrine, because doctrinal change requires a higher % vote in Synod to initiate that way.

            Yes, I got that. The thing is that it looks a lot like you’re trying to abuse the process to get the result you want established de facto because you know you have no chance of getting what you want de jure by following the proper process.

            Which is, I hardly need to spell out, Bad.

          • Thank you for understanding, S.

            I’d prefer to say, it’s a circuitous route.

            But it’s very innocent to want to find out, democratically, whether the majority of people think it’s okay that gay and lesbian people must stay celibate all their lives. If so, they will have no problem re-affirming that.

            Do *you* affirm that?

            I do not think most people in the Church of England do. It’s not what they believe. We should find out, and then it’s down to the bishops if they want to enforce a minority view on a majority, or whether they just ‘allow’ two different approaches, and withdraw disciplinary restrictions.

            Same with Parliament, which handles its legislation on the basis of democratic 50%+ vote. They will have their own views on whether discrimination over who can get married in the National Church should be maintained when only a minority in that Church think gay and lesbian people should stay celibate all their lives.

          • I’d prefer to say, it’s a circuitous route.

            Don’t be disingenuous. Call it what it is. What it is is an attempt at a peaceful coup d’etat via abuse of process.

            Do *you* affirm that?

            I affirm that the only correct context for sexual activity is in a lifelong faithful monogamous marriage between one man and one woman.

            We should find out, and then it’s down to the bishops if they want to enforce a minority view on a majority, or whether they just ‘allow’ two different approaches, and withdraw disciplinary restrictions.

            No, what you should do, if you want the Church of England to change its doctrine — and you clearly do — is use the established procedures for doing that. The procedures exist for a reason.

            What you should not do is try to get bishops to tacitly set aside the doctrine of the denomination that they are appointed to lead.

            Same with Parliament, which handles its legislation on the basis of democratic 50%+ vote.

            What you are talking about though — a change of doctrine — is more like making an amendment to a written constitution, and places which have written constitutions have procedures for changing them, like the Church of England does, which often involves multiple super-majorities in multiple houses / assemblies.

            What you are suggesting bears a lot of resemblance to the tactics often used by revolutionary groups when they realise that their positions would not win public support: try quietly to get people doing the things they want to happen even though it is against the rules, and then at some point later claim that the rules should be changed because people are already disobeying them.

            It’s dishonest, disreputable and disgusting.

          • “when they realise that their positions would not win public support”

            The whole point is that there probably IS public support both inside and outside the Church of England for an end to lifelong celibacy for gay and lesbian Christians.

            You can’t have 35% of the Church indefinitely imposing a teaching on 65% of the Church. The contrary of what you say: such changes *would* win public support.

            Anyway, don’t blame me for asking: “What do people in the Church of England believe?”

            It’s up to Synod and the Bishops what they do.

            I don’t think I’m being disingenuous – I’m being up front and blatant.

            The reason is: people in the Church are being harmed by this teaching NOW.

            It’s not an academic game. It’s a pastoral emergency.

          • The whole point is that there probably IS public support both inside and outside the Church of England for an end to lifelong celibacy for gay and lesbian Christians.

            Then use the correct procedures. Don’t try to launch a procedural coup.

            You can’t have 35% of the Church indefinitely imposing a teaching on 65% of the Church. The contrary of what you say: such changes *would* win public support.

            Then use the correct procedures. Don’t try to launch a procedural coup.

            When procedures require supermajorities for change there is usually a good reason for it.

            Anyway, don’t blame me for asking: “What do people in the Church of England believe?”

            I don’t. I blame you for, as I wrote above, ‘ trying to abuse the process to get the result you want established de facto because you know you have no chance of getting what you want de jure by following the proper process.’

            It’s up to Synod and the Bishops what they do.

            As long as they follow the proper procedure.

          • Susannah,

            I’m not sure that lifelong celibacy is the doctrine. There’s actually nothing. What we have is doctrine around sex in heterosexual marriage, and everything for gay people is inferred from that. There is no positive (i.e. you should be celibate) only a doctrine of no (don’t do this).

            That is why this keeps flaring up. What we think of as the status quo (commandment to celibacy from 16) is actually very new. The truly traditional stance – stop having gay relations and go back to your wife – has already disappeared from even the most conservative Churches. And so we actually have nothing. Some people think the proper inference is celibacy. Others think that some form of covenanted partnership or friendship is ok too, as a kind of sexless marriage, but that requires you to work out when something crosses the line to “sex”. Some think that the warnings of St Paul against embracing celibacy mean that gay people, like anyone not called to celibacy, ought to be seeking marriage (ie gay marriage).

    • AJ Bell

      ‘(most famously there is no male or female as all are one in Christ)’

      That is to do with salvation for all – no erasure of male and female He made them.

      Reply
      • Again, it is written:

        Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

        Reply
    • AJ Bell

      ‘My problem with it is that it very easily falls into the false set up that there are two positions – one Biblical and conservative, and one loving and liberal.’

      False dichotomy.

      It was the Bible believing Christians who established schools for the poor; built hospitals; fought for the abolition of slavery; factory health and safety legislation; prison reform.

      Indeed in the penultimate hearing of Dried Scott v. Sanford it was Mr Justice McLean who argued that the slave should be freed as he bore the impress of God (US Supreme Court, 1856).

      Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

      Reply
      • D Singh

        If you don’t mind me saying so you can be really helpful when you write a thoughtful considered response like this. You spoil it by your last sentence. Do you think a flippant comment like that is likely to win AJ Bell or anyone else who reads.

        I personally believe there are occasions when righteous anger may be appropriate but if used, it has to be used sparingly or it will not work,

        I think you are a very intelligent person but you must marry this to emotional intelligence. Now let me say I fail to take my own advice too often. Remember as I try to do that the glory the disciples saw in Christ was ‘grace and truth’. I aim to emulate that.

        Reply
        • I have found you kind several times. I recognise your good intent. I appreciate your courtesy. I agree that grace matters and how we conduct ourselves with others, and I find you firm, sincere, straight-talking, but gracious. That is not flattery. You know we hold very different views. But grace always matters. I see that in you.

          Reply
        • John Thomson

          Mr Thomson

          I can’t be like Almond, S, Shell, Anton, Fisher, Sheffield Steve nor Thomson – and type with neatly manicured nails.

          You see I was brought up in the West-end of Newcastle – where fightin’ was the order of the day. Rough.

          During lockdowns I read much about the Church of England and fell in love with her beauty and elegance.

          She lies in ruins.

          They have destroyed her. Just look at them. Men ruled by women and children. Men in women’s attire. Men who are ‘married’ but cannot consummate their ‘marriage’. Men who have made vows to God and under the doctrines of Machiavelli lie, cheat and deceive God, colleagues and the poor, poor people.

          How can you tolerate this?

          For God’s sake man how? In the church; at the altar?

          I sense the despair of the men I name above – they know more; they care more; they love more.

          Mr Thomson – now and again a point in history arrives – where someone has to throw tea bags in Boston harbour.

          Nevertheless, my dear brother, I shall try and heed your advice.

          Reply
          • Keep going Mr Singh!

            Our CofE has become a swamp lately and very few of us seem prepared to get stuck in and dig a channel to drain it. If you step in with your size 12s and a big shovel, you’ll get little thanks but it’s exactly what we need.

            But we do need keepers who’ll stick with the job – perhaps God’s calling you to be one of those guys? We are indeed seriously sickly and white fingered at the moment, so be a bit gentle or we’ll scream a bit and call you rude names.

            In truth it’s only God who can rescue our church and you can hardly read the Bible without realising that he very often used the toughest people to get things done. So be tough, but kind with it if you can!

  33. The idea that LLF is the work of liberals is quite ridiculous. One simple look at the LLF website will tell you the names of those involved in the authorship of the various resources.

    And the resources are published by the Archbishops’ Council. They therefore have to take responsibility for what is written. Again, a glance at the membership of that body will tell you it is by no means a liberal body. It even includes the author of this blog. It would be helpful to know whether there were any dissenting voices complaining that it was too liberal.

    Reply
  34. Mr Don Benson

    I think it was Mark Twain who once said: I can live on one good and sincere compliment for two months.

    Reply
  35. S

    ‘Well, I actually think the two main ones are Christianity and Moral Therapeutic Deism, rather than anything so exotic as Juvenal.’

    That made me laugh!

    All right, as General Patton would say: ‘I’ll settle for that.’

    Reply
  36. Susannah

    Thank you for your comment above.

    I’ve a question. If identity is largely a state of mind and not really biological then why is it necessary to have physical transitioning?

    Reply
    • Thank you for your question, John.

      My view is that states of mind ARE biological. The whole system of our being is physical. The brain is physical. It responds to hormones (as I know well). A kind of gestalt sense of identity accrues around how you feel, and how you recognise and understand yourself. But it’s all a chemical and biological operation.

      With regard to physical transitioning: well, if you feel and recognise and understand yourself in female terms, clearly you are unlikely to feel comfortable with a male genital organ, are you? Of course, you can try to repress that incongruency, and many people try to, but to be honest that can lead to terrible self-harm and psychological distress.

      Physical transition can transform all that, and that is the experience of countless trans men and women. With the change of hormone regime, and the physical transitioning, along with just being able to be live socially and openly… many people find the self-harm and distress stops, there is psychological ease.

      Now of course I don’t expect you to agree with all that – and you may be surprised to know that I respect your right to disagree – but I hope I have somewhat explained the perspective and experience of many people who have transitioned.

      I hope you have a restful weekend, and grace of God be with you.

      Reply
      • What are the the roots of dysphoria? Theological, scriptural, body, mind, will and emotions, spiritual, social, secular?
        Certainly an appeal to gestalt is an appeal to the secular justification. And self-harm is well known in the mental health sphere, in wide ranging categories of disphoria. It is not confined to gender. Indeed, my mother, who had periods of in-patient treatment including ECT, self-harmed as did some others I’ve known, personally and through working in secondary mental health settings.
        They would all have been welcomed in church, but not to change doctrines of a Holy Triune God and of humanity, male and female, in the image of God.
        They may have represented broken humanity in some of the most acute instances but as such they were substantial outliers from mainstream humanity. As are those representing and presenting as trans.
        I’d suggest non of this is a reason to change church doctrine no matter how emotive and, for some with a vested interest, personal it has become.

        (How does a male know what it is like to be female? Vice -versa?)

        Reply
        • Gender dysphoria is not a mental health condition.
          There is no need to change doctrine. CoE already marries and ordains trans people.

          Reply
          • Gender dysphoria is not a mental health condition.

            Yes, it is.

            There is no need to change doctrine. CoE already marries and ordains trans people.

            That doesn’t necessarily mean that the doctrine allows it; it may just mean that, because this is all quite a new area, those things happened before the incompatibility with doctrine was noticed or brought to anyone’s attention.

          • S

            Not according to the NHS.

            Ordaining and marrying people is CoE doctrine. They don’t, as you may have observed in the debate about equal marriage, take these things lightly.

          • Not according to the NHS.

            The NHS has been captured by ideological activists.

            Ordaining and marrying people is CoE doctrine. They don’t, as you may have observed in the debate about equal marriage, take these things lightly

            They certainly take divorce lightly. But the point is, again, that this, being such a new area, may have happened before the implications for doctrine were fully appreciated.

            Plus, the Church of England is in an invidious position being an established church where they cannot legally refuse to marry someone who can be married according to the secular law — even when that is against the church’s doctrine. So the mere fact of the Church of England marrying someone doesn’t prove that that marriage is valid according to doctrine: the church may have been compelled by law to conduct a marriage against its doctrine due to being the established church.)

            (Also, I’m not sure why ordaining a person with gender dysphoria is supposed to prove anything, as the Church of England ordains both men and women anyway, so ordaining someone is no statement at all as to what sex they really are. If the Roman denomination were to ordain a woman who had declared the selves to be a man then that would certainly have big doctrinal implications; but the similar situation in the Church of England has no doctrinal implications whatsoever because the woman-claiming-to-be-a-man might have been ordained qua woman rather than qua man.)

          • Susannah above states that it is a * medical condition* and that includes a mental condition, unless you are going full scale, whole-hog, totalitarian, Cartesian. Somewhat of the * magic realism*, genre, I’d say, even as it is pressed, extrapolated, into alphabet identities.
            If this isn’t about Christian doctrine, what is it all about, why all the fuss, why the church?

          • S

            Good argument. Ah evidence. Well, I don’t agree with that evidence, so I’ll dismiss it!
            You really aren’t worth engaging with.

          • Good argument. Ah evidence. Well, I don’t agree with that evidence, so I’ll dismiss it!

            If you call a detailed explanation of why the evidence doesn’t mean what you are claiming it does ‘dismissing’, I suppose. I hope you are not a barrister; responding to a defence’s detailed explanation of how in fact the paint flecks found at the crime scene don’t prove that the defendant’s car was there because there are hundreds of cars with the same paint in the area by exclaiming ‘Ah well I don’t agree with that evidence so I’ll dismiss it!’ is highly unlikely to impress a jury and secure a conviction.

            You really aren’t worth engaging with.

            We’ll let the jury decide which of us is presenting detailed arguments and evidence and which of us is resorting to bluster and baseless assertion, shall we?

          • Yes, S, let’s do that. I’ll get a barrister to explain to you what a protected characteristic means, and a theologian to explain how Anglican doctrine is expressed in prayer and liturgy. And someone sensible to explain why saying I don’t approve of the NHS isn’t really an argument:-)
            And a good person to explain why saying trans people aren’t real is both untrue and offensive.

          • Yes, S, let’s do that. I’ll get a barrister to explain to you what a protected characteristic means,

            You don’t have to, you could just point out the bit in the legislation (it’s all online) that says what you claim it does. You can’t do that because it doesn’t say what you claim it does.

            and a theologian to explain how Anglican doctrine is expressed in prayer and liturgy.

            I never claimed it wasn’t.

            And someone sensible to explain why saying I don’t approve of the NHS isn’t really an argument:-)

            And I never said I don’t approve of the NHS, though now you come to mention it its record on clinical outcomes is truly abysmal when compared against all other developed countries.

            And a good person to explain why saying trans people aren’t real is both untrue and offensive.

            I’ve never claimed such people aren’t real. Of course they are real. They are not correct about which sex they are. But they are absolutely real.

            Mostly you seem now to be claiming I wrote things which anyone reading can see I never did. Again, the jury can decide.

          • S

            You simply don’t understand the concept of protected characteristics within the Equality Act (say, gender, disability, race) you cannot discriminate against them because of that characteristic, unless it can be proved to be a legitimate means of achieving a proportionate aim. And even then, discrimination is on a case by case basis and is permitted not mandated.
            Thus, trans people can legitimately use single sex facilities which accord with the sex with which they identify (because gender reassignment is a protected characteristic). There may be occasional cases, for example, a single-sex ward, where trans people may sometimes not have access.

          • S
            And if you claim someone is deluded about their sex you are challenging their reality by contending that they are not really the gender they say they are. Quibble all you like, this is what you are claiming. You are entitled to believe it. I am entitled to regard your belief as wrong and offensive.

          • “There may be occasional cases, for example, a single-sex ward, where trans people may sometimes not have access.”

            Even that’s tenuous!

            I nursed on hospital wards over a 10-year period, on men’s wards and women’s ward. I washed the genitals of both, catheterised both, cared for both, loved both. (Obviously a % of those patients were trans as well.)

            At no stage – ever – did anyone have a problem with me, as a trans person, carrying out intimate nursing and care.

            The one exception was an Israeli gentleman who was visiting the country. When I went to nurse him, he started laughing with his wife (who was visiting) and a point came when the ward sister took me aside. I thought they were just being cheerful, in their own language, but she said, no, they were mocking you.

            I burst into tears.

            She told me to go back and just be a nurse. She told me that she had been a migrant from Zaire in France as a child, and had then been adopted, and the other children in the village had mocked her for who she was. She said you must not give in.

            I nursed the man for another 2 days, and at one stage he had vomited in the loo and the cleaners would not clean it up, and I said, you get into bed, I will clear it up myself. After that he didn’t mock me.

            About a week after he left, I was called to see one of the hospital seniors. I wondered if I’d done something wrong. He told me he had received a letter from that gentleman from Israel, complaining about the cleaners, but thanking the trans nurse for all the care I had given him.

            The point I’m making is that in hospital, people just want to be cared for. They don’t care if you’re male, female, or trans. They don’t care if a person in a bed in the ward is a trans woman. And in women’s wards there are far more men visiting their relatives and moving around, than trans women in a bed. Why would the trans patient be any harm to them?

            On the stupid toilets issue. I transitioned 14 years ago. I’ve routinely used public toilets and toilets in church. Why? Because people need to pee. I’ve used women’s toilets because…well… go figure… I have a vagina and I wear a dress… I’m not exactly going in the men’s am I? And in all those 14 years, I have never even once had any issue made. People just go into toilets to pee.

            Or else they are criminals.

            There are as many cis women who are criminals as trans women. But your typical trans woman is not a criminal. She just wants to pee. Women do not seem to have a problem with that, or at least not in my 14 years of experience.

            People opposed to the very principle of transition tend to be the ones who problematise this issue. The fanatics. The idealogues.

            I just carry on living my life.

          • Penelope

            Always provided that they are not committing criminal fraud, people are free to make any claims about themselves that they choose, e.g. that they’re women (even though their immutable sex is male), that they’re men (even though their immutable sex is female), or that they’re Julius Caesar or Marie Antoinette reincarnated.

            No-one else has any obligation whatever either to believe their claim or to pretend to believe it. On the contrary, they are fully entitled to disbelieve it, and to say so if they wish, and if they do they are not challenging any reality. Yes, you’re entitled to regard their disbelief as wrong and offensive, but that isn’t going to change anything.

          • You simply don’t understand the concept of protected characteristics within the Equality Act (say, gender, disability, race) you cannot discriminate against them because of that characteristic, unless it can be proved to be a legitimate means of achieving a proportionate aim.

            No, you don’t understand what a ‘protected characteristic’ is and what ‘discrimination’ is. Which is odd as you claim to have read the legislation, which spells it all out quite clearly.

            ‘Discrimination’ is defined in the Equality Act section 13:

            ‘A person (A) discriminates against another (B) if, because of a protected characteristic, A treats B less favourably than A treats or would treat others.’

            So you can’t treat someone less favourably because they have a protected characteristic.

            The protected characteristic in question is defined in section 7:

            ‘A person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if the person is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.’

            So in other words, you cannot treat someone less favourably because they are proposing to undergo, is undergoing, or has undergone a process for reassigning the person’s sex.

            What that means is that you cannot treat a man who is proposing to undergo a process for the purpose of reassigning their sex less favourably than another man.

            An example would be that if two people applied for a job, and one was more qualified than the other but the other was a man who was proposing to undergo a process of reassigning their sex, I couldn’t say, ‘I don’t want that freak working here’ and hire the less-qualified applicant instead. If I did that the law would, quite rightly, come down on me like a tonne of bricks.

            But what it does not mean — and what it does not say — is that someone who is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex is to be treated for legal purposes as a member of the target sex.

            It’s all there is plain English if you just bothered to read it.


And if you claim someone is deluded about their sex you are challenging their reality by contending that they are not really the gender they say they are.

            There is no such thing as ‘their reality’. Reality is reality, we don’t each have our own reality. Reality, as the man said, is whatever doesn’t go away when you stop believing in it.

            What I am challenging is their view of reality. Totally different.

          • S

            Actually, it does
            Try excluding a trans person from a single sex facility and I won’t be paying into your crowd funder.

          • William

            You are lawfully allowed to have protected beliefs and express them without abuse. You are not lawfully entitled to own a shop and exclude trans men from the mens’ changing rooms.

          • Susannah

            Yes, I knew the single sex ward example was tenuous but I was trying to think of a case where a legitimate claim might be made.
            As for toilets/changing rooms, yes it’s another silly argument. Every loo/ changing room I have been in has separate stalls. And, like most cis women, I couldn’t care less about sharing with trans women. Indeed, why should I even notice.
            The irony is that, like prisons,
            women are far more vulnerable to cis males and females than to trans people. I see another cis woman has just been convicted of rape.
            Another irony is that trans people have been using single sex facilities for generations, before the GRA and the EA. And no one noticed!

          • S

            That’s not true either. The CoE is not required to marry a divorced person. Even an heir to the throne.

          • You are not lawfully entitled to own a shop and exclude trans men from the mens’ changing rooms.

            If that is true (and it’s never been tested in court so we don’t know whether it is or not) it’s not because the Equality Act says that anyone who claims to be the opposite sex from the sex they actually are is treated in law as the sex they claim to be. Because nothing in the Equality Act says that. I keep asking you to quote the bit that says that and you keep not being able to, because it isn’t there.

            It is the case that anyone with a gender recognition certificate is treated in law as they were the opposite sex to the sex they actually are — because it says that in the relevant Act, in so many words, and I quoted the bit where it says that.

            But there is not such bit in the Equality Act, or you would be able to quote it. You cannot quote it, because it is not there. How many different ways do I have to write it? There, it is not. It is absent. Its presence is not felt. The number of occurrences of it is zero. It does not exist.

            If you disagree you have only to quote it.

          • Penelope

            I don’t know how it is decided whether a belief falls into the protected or the unprotected category, but yes, people are allowed to have beliefs and to express them without abuse – even if they are sheer nonsense. As to whether the owner of a shop is lawfully entitled to exclude “trans men” from the men’s changing rooms, I have no expertise in legal matters, but I suspect that the correct answer is that he/she is fully entitled to do so, since “trans men” are not actually men.

          • William

            I’m afraid that, according to the Equality Act, you couldn’t, whatever your belief. Gender reassignment is a protected characteristic.

          • I don’t know how it is decided whether a belief falls into the protected or the unprotected category, but yes, people are allowed to have beliefs and to express them without abuse – even if they are sheer nonsense.

            Absolutely. No one should ever be abused for thinking they are the opposite sex from what they actually are, and it is absolutely right that the law protects them from discrimination.

          • I’m afraid that, according to the Equality Act, you couldn’t, whatever your belief. Gender reassignment is a protected characteristic.

            You still seem not to have read what that actually means; I suggest you do so before making a greater fool of yourself.

          • Penelope

            As S has already pointed out, there is nothing in the Equality Act which says that anyone who claims to be the opposite sex to their actual one must be treated in law as the sex they claim to be.

          • there is nothing in the Equality Act which says that anyone who claims to be the opposite sex to their actual one must be treated in law as the sex they claim to be.

            Indeed. What it does say is that they must not be discriminated against because of their belief, and quite right too.

          • William

            S is simply wrong. He doesn’t know what a protected characteristic signifies and has clearly never read any of the guidance on the law.
            Sadly, he persists in his misunderstandings, although I have tried to explain to him how the law works.

          • S is simply wrong. He doesn’t know what a protected characteristic signifies and has clearly never read any of the guidance on the law.

            I have, however, read the law, which you apparently haven’t.

            Sadly, he persists in his misunderstandings, although I have tried to explain to him how the law works.

            So quote the bit from the Equality Act that says that people with the protected characteristic of gender reassignment must be treated for legal purposes as if they were the opposite sex to what they actually are. If it’s there, you should be able to quote it, quite easily, like I did with the bit in the Gender Recognition Act that says that.

            You can’t quote it, though, can you? And there’s only explanation for that: you can’t quote it because it isn’t there.

          • Penelope

            So quote the part of the Equality Act that S keeps inviting you to quote – if it’s there. Go on, take the wind out of his sails.

          • William

            I have. I have also explained what a ‘protected charscteristic’ is and why it enables people with that characteristic not to be discriminated against (unless it’s a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, which is decided on a case by case basis), and which includes access to single-sex spaces (where such exist).

            S persists in not understanding. I can do no more.

          • I have. I have also explained what a ‘protected charscteristic’ is and why it enables people with that characteristic not to be discriminated against (unless it’s a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, which is decided on a case by case basis), and which includes access to single-sex spaces (where such exist).

            The Equality Act defines discrimination in section 13. I will quote it for you again:

            ‘ A person (A) discriminates against another (B) if, because of a protected characteristic, A treats B less favourably than A treats or would treat others.’

            There is nothing there about being legally required to treat people as if they were the sex they claim to be rather than the sex they actually are.

            This stands in contrast to the Gender Recognition Act, which does explicitly include such a requirement.

            Asking a man to use the men’s changing rooms is not treating them less favourably than other men — it is treating them exactly the same as other men. This is true even if the man possesses the protected characteristic of gender reassignment, because unless they have a gender recognition certificate they are still for legal purposes a man and therefore the Equality Act specifies they should not be discriminated against by being treated less favourably than other men who do not possess that protected characteristic. It does not say that they have to be treated as if they were a woman.

            If you think differently, please do quote the bit of the Equality Act which says so.

      • Why would it be surprising that someone respected another’s right to disagree?
        The alternative would, after all, be thought policing.
        Nay, self-appointed thought policing.
        And since people cannot help what they think, thought policing forces people to lie.
        What I cannot understand is why people say ‘I respect your right to disagree.’.
        Not only is this a cliche, which is not a promising start, but (together with the points I just made above) it suggests (a) that people’s positions and stances are fixed – which honest people’s are not, in principle; and (b) that it can be taken as read that the speaker’s stance is the default one! Regardless of supporting evidence.
        One is always tempted to respond ‘That’s big of you.’. You get the point I’m making, anyway.
        To speak in this way is to suggest that the world is comprised of camps or tribes of people who hold something called ‘views’ which are pretty unchangeable and are polarised in a way that would be impossible if they were based on evidence. But if they are not based on evidence, then why would anyone waste their time on them? In the real world, the only people worth listening to are the people who have most studied a given topic, and these are precisely the people whose stances, though they may at times be fixed, are *least* likely to be fixed *in principle*.

        Reply
  37. I’m only here to say a big thank you to Susannah Clark for offering her critique of this article and for the way she engages with other views here – always taking trouble to respond with honesty and grace. For me she always models a way forward in this conflicted terrain. I am not alone in my gratitude.

    Reply
    • Indeed David thank you for saying that. Susannah’s contributions are indeed a model. I have always believed that the only way forward in this particular debate is to reach some kind of ‘settlement’ and I believe Susannah gives us indicators of how that could happen.

      Reply
  38. One needs only to read the first paragraph of this homophobic article to realise that there are still plenty of unregenrate male chauvinists being quote by Psephizo. Hardly worth reading!

    Reply
    • All this article really says is that there are some bad people (which is no fault of typical law-abiding trans people)… and that many lesbian females are attracted to (cis) women, but fewer are attracted to (trans) women.

      That’s their right. People should be allowed to choose the sexual partner they themselves are attracted to and want.

      I’m not attracted to men. I therefore don’t choose them as my partner. It doesn’t mean that men are bad.

      Trans women aren’t bad either.

      This article just seems to take the cases of a handful of individuals who have acted criminally, and then used that to vilify or invalidate trans women.

      No-one is ‘pressured’ to love and have sex with a trans woman. If there are a few vociferous activists who yell ‘Meh! That’s not fair!” then I’m sorry, but that’s life. People have freedom to choose the partner they want.

      The vast majority of trans women would agree with what I say, which is just common sense.

      The sad bit is how people against us altogether use a few criminal examples to smear trans women.

      That’s like me saying, ‘Some men rape women’ therefore all men are bad.

      Some lesbians can ‘see through’ to the female in a trans woman and find her attractive. Others prefer someone without that trans history. What’s the problem?

      Just be a big grown up girl and choose. But watch out for criminals whether cis male rapists or deceivers like the handful mentioned. Maybe keep the light on the first time you have sex, or fumble a bit first to inspect the cargo.

      Common sense. Nothing to do with the validity of trans women or trans men.

      Reply

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