Sex, gender and marriage in the C of E

Near the beginning of each meeting of General Synod, there is a session called Questions, where any member can put any question to any part of the Church. It is often interesting, and sometimes controversial, as it allows members to ask the awkward questions that some might wish to avoid. It is also something of a bellwether, indicating what the tone of the following days will be like. Initial answers to the questions, which are submitted ahead of the Synod, are given in writing, so the really interesting part is the ‘supplementary’ questions that the person who asked the question is allowed to put in the chamber. Because there are so many question (usually more than a hundred), not all get covered in the Synod session, so not all have the chance to ask their supplementary questions—which, for Synod old hands, is where they ask the really awkward things.

In this Synod, the question that caught the headlines is one that we never got on to:

Miss Prudence Dailey (Oxford) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q86 Given that the Church of England’s teaching about marriage is that it is a lifelong and exclusive union between one man and one woman, if one person in a couple undergoes gender transition, has consideration been given as to whether they are still married according to the teaching of the Church of England?

The Bishop of Newcastle to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of Bishops:
A The Pastoral Advisory Group considered this question in the context of one specific case and I cannot comment here on the personal circumstances involved or draw a general theological principle from a single instance. However, we noted two important points. When a couple marry in church they promise before God to be faithful to each other for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health – come what may, although we preach compassion if they find this too much to bear. Secondly, never in the history of the church has divorce been actively recommended as the way to resolve a problem. We have always prioritised fidelity, reconciliation and forgiveness, with divorce as a concession when staying together proves humanly unbearable. In the light of those two points, if a couple wish to remain married after one partner has transitioned, who are we to put them asunder?

The question arose in the context of the House of Bishops’ guidance on welcoming people who have undergone gender transition last December, which led to an open letter signed by well over 3,000 people raising some serious practical, theological and pastoral questions. It was claimed that there had been careful consideration of the pastoral issues around welcoming trans people, but one of the most obvious pastoral questions to explore is the impact of the process on the relationships of that person with other members of the family, and in the case of married people, the impact on the spouse. It seems remarkable that that question still has been given no clear thought.

The question and its answer received coverage in the Daily Telegraph, the Times, the Mail, Metro, Christian Today, Pink News, Breitbart News, and other outlets online—though most appear to have lifted their own copy from the Telegraph. The reaction of some was mild horror at the continuing slide of the liberal Church of England.

The ruling should hardly come as a surprise to those watching the mother church of England becoming increasingly progressive and anti-Biblical in recent years. The Church of England already allows marriages in its churches for two people born the same gender if one person has had their gender legally changed, so that whilst the Church maintains that its position is that marriage is between a man and a woman, it is in reality between what the State rules to be a man and a woman — not a man and woman as God had originally made them.

But, on the other side of the debate, those in support of trans people reacted with greater horror that the Church has just reinforced its transphobia:

Not progress. They’re saying trans women are men. Trans men are women. This is a highly conservative position on gender…They think they’re saying that trans people don’t exist. (posted on Facebook)

In the Telegraph report, there was a more considered response, but still highlighting what is perceived as a serious problem:

Responding to the announcement, Dr Jane Hamlin, President of the Beaumont Society, a national self help body run by and for the transgender community, said: “It is encouraging that the Church of England seems to recognise that people do transition and remain happily married.

“However, it is clear that because this only applies to couples who married before the transition the Bishops do not really accept the transition at all. They still see the trans man or trans woman as he/she was appearing at the time of the wedding. This is disappointing.”

How could a statement attract such attention, and be greeted with horror by both sides? It is quite something to manage to offend everyone in a contentious debate—and it shows the problems with trying to please all, in that you end up pleasing no-one.


Part of the problem here is that this statement appears to contradict previous statements on the question of transgender people and marriage, as is pointed out in another Facebook comment:

For all the C of E’s flaws, for a decade-and-a-half it has allowed clergy to celebrate weddings between a man and a woman if either is transgender. A couple of years ago, it more strongly recognised the need for pastoral support when people transition. Yet some are now claiming that it does not accept the reality of transitioning. Please can someone explain why? Of course there is a lot further to go but it is important to know where things are, if progress is to be made.

This refers to a decision made 15 years ago, in 2004 (which of course is more than a lifetime ago in the current rate of change in our culture on this subject) that the Church could allow a couple to marry who are opposite sexes in law, even if one of them has transitioned. Part of the issue here is that Church weddings are combining two different aspects of marriage—the Christian, theological understanding of marriage, and the understanding in civil law. When these two were well aligned, then there were fewer problems, but since the 2013 Equal (Same sex) Marriage Act, they have moved apart.

This practice, agreed prior to the recent and escalating controversy about issues of gender identity, was confirmed in October 2018 in a statement relating to Government consultation on simplifying the issuing of Gender Recognition Certificates.

After consulting the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Rev Dr Malcolm Brown, the church’s director of mission and public affairs, said: “Trans people with gender recognition are already able to marry in our churches. Being transgender does not prevent someone offering themselves for ordained ministry and we have transgender clergy as well as laity.”

He added: “We can say with some confidence that excessive bureaucracy in the process of gaining a gender recognition certificate is neither welcoming nor affirming of transgender people in relation to the structures of the law and society at large, but we do not have a settled view in the Church of England about precisely which aspects of the legal process are necessary.”

It seems extraordinary that the main issue that is focussed on is ‘excessive bureaucracy’ rather than the massive scientific, psychological, social and theological questions raised by the claims of ‘gender transition’. But pertinent to this current discussion is that the response appears to be entirely ad hoc; the answer is given after consultation with the Archbishops, rather than in reference to the Church’s theological understanding of sex, gender and marriage. This has resulted in a bizarrely anomalous situation: two people of the same biological sex cannot marry according to the Church’s understanding, unless one of them undergoes gender transition, so that marriage is always between opposite genders; but a couple who are biologically male and female, and who marry, remain married when one transitions, even though in law they are now of the same gender. As one website put it:

Somehow, they’re against same-sex marriage and don’t recognize transgender people… yet when you blend those together, it becomes accidental acceptance of both. Their bigotry stretched so far that it snapped and became progress.

Moral: If you keep making ad hoc decisions in this area, you get into a mess. The decision made in 2004, when no-one knew that this question would become so significant, wasn’t even made with serious theological reflection, and it was never scrutinised by Synod.


Underlying the problems arising from contradictory statements, and the difference between civil and Church understandings of marriage, is the difference between biological sex and gender. The Church of England’s view of marriage as being between ‘one man and one women’ has usually been understood as a reference to biological sex—hence Christine Hardman’s answer to the question seems to assume that, since biological sex has not been changed by gender transition, the marriage is still believed to be valid. But the previous decision in 2004—that the notion of man and woman is understood with reference to the legal definition of gender—takes the opposite view. That was similar to the Government’s approach, in that prior to the 2013 Equal (Same-sex) Marriage Act, gender transition would lead to the dissolving of a marriage, since it was not possible in law for two people of the same gender in law to be married to each other—but it is worth noting that the Government here was only concerned with status in law, rather than questions of ontology and theology that the Church is more interested in.

In fact, the question was explicitly raised in the law around gender recognition. It is only possible to obtain a GRC for married people if they have obtained ‘spousal consent’; without this, the person would first have to get a divorce prior to applying for a certificate. (The Liberal Democrats opposed this idea, which would have meant that the spouse of someone undergoing gender transition would be forced into a same-sex marriage against their will.)

The term ‘gender’ with reference to the social manifestation of sex identity is relatively recent, having been coined in the 1950s by sexologist John Money. The term was taken up by feminists as a way of detaching biological sex from the (often rigid) expectations of social roles of the sexes. But with the rise of transgender ideology, the term has now been turned inward and used to refer to an ‘inner’ sense of sex identity—though without any real evidential basis in biological or psychological study. And this inward turn has ill-served feminists, since biological males who claim an ‘inner’ sense of being female can, under the legal mechanism of gender recognition, now enter social contexts that are limited to women only.

The Church of England is seeking to explore these complex questions around sexuality in a process called Living in Love and Faith (LLF). It is becoming ever clearer that this exploration will have to come to a view on the status of ‘gender’ in relation to biological sex: is it really a thing? how is it understood? how does it relate to biological sex as part of bodily human existence? does it have any theological status? And until that is done, I think the Church would be wise not to make any more ad hoc pronouncements about transgender issues.


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343 thoughts on “Sex, gender and marriage in the C of E”

  1. Quote:
    “But with the rise of transgender ideology, the term has now been turned inward and used to refer to an ‘inner’ sense of sex identity—though without any real evidential basis in biological or psychological study.”

    Setting aside the disparaging word ‘ideology’, this statement is false. Studies show, for example, that there is a genetic component to gender identity. In other words, gender identity is at least partly biological.

    See Diamond, M. (2013). Transsexuality Among Twins: Identity Concordance, Transition, Rearing, and Orientation. International Journal of Transgenderism, 14, 24-38. https://doi.org/10.1080/15532739.2013.750222

    You (and others) also seem to be reading a lot into Christine Hardman’s answer, which seems to me to say very little about recognition or otherwise of trans identities, and focuses on whether it would ever be appropriate to encourage divorce when a couple wish to remain married, and can do so legally (and sensibly says no).

    The CofE recognises trans identities in ways that is both positive (a trans man can marry a cis woman in church) and negative (a trans man cannot marry a cis man in church). At the point of getting married, the CofE is consistent, and treats trans and cis identities the same.

    • Thank you Jonathan. I completely agree. I note that at the same synod the evangelical group (‘EGGS’) voted to change their basis of faith so that you now have to agree with a particular definition of marriage to be a member. Belonging now requires assent to this: ‘We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married.” The wagons are circled even more tightly. And only those who agree are left in the room.

    • focuses on whether it would ever be appropriate to encourage divorce when a couple wish to remain married, and can do so legally (and sensibly says no)

      But that’s not the question. The question is not, ‘Should the couple be encouraged to divorce?’ but ‘Is the marriage ontologically and theologically valid?’

      Whatever the answer, the wishes of the couple, and the legal status of the marriage, are entirely irrelevant to that question.

      The spokesperson has not answere dthe question they were asked, but answered an entirely different question that they wished they had been asked instead.

      Of course one expects politicians to do that, but it would be nice if people representing the Church did not lower themselves to the standard of what we would expect form politicians.

      • Quote: “The question is not, ‘Should the couple be encouraged to divorce?’ but ‘Is the marriage ontologically and theologically valid?’”

        That was not the question. The question was ‘has consideration been given as to whether they are still married according to the teaching of the Church of England?’.

        • Okay, if you’re going to be pedantic, it was.

          In which case the pedantically correct answer must surely be a simple ‘No’ as it is clear that no such consideration has been given (as the written answer doesn’t address the issue of ‘whether they are still married according to the teaching of the Church of England’ at all, but instead answers as if the question had been, ‘has consideration been given as to whether they should be encouraged to divorce?’)

          In any case, the answer still totally ignores what the questioner actually asked.

    • Gender identity (if there is any reality that corresponds to that description) ‘is’ not ‘at least partly biological’. *On average* it is (how could things be otherwise? – for all things harmful or helpful will come more naturally to certain make-ups than to others), but not necessarily in any given instance. Puberty blockers, breast binders, psychological mucking up of precious children, infertility, and incontinence etc are, obviously, not a good price to pay for something of dubious reality and even more dubious benefit.

      To jump straight to saying that this is a genuine ‘identity’ is to prejudge the whole question before we even start. It is a claimed identity.

      • Let me rephrase this to make it clearer. 20% of the variance in whether or not someone identifies as trans rather than cis comes from a genetic component.,

        Surely the best people to decide whether or not the things you identify (and malign) are a ‘good price’ are the people who identify as trans. Given the remarkably low regret rate amongst those who transition, the people who are in the best position to judge this think you are wrong.

        To start saying this is not a ‘genuine’ identity is just a rehash of the same arguments over sexual orientation. I just note that conversion attempts for both are abject failures which have caused much harm over the years.

        • Let me rephrase this to make it clearer. 20% of the variance in whether or not someone identifies as trans rather than cis comes from a genetic component.,

          And possibly 80% of whether someone suffers from schizophrenia, and therefore experiences hallucinations, comes from a genetic component.

          The fact there is a genetic component which makes you more likely to hear voices is of no relevance when the question is, ‘Are the voices really there or are they delusions?’

          • It’s a shame you go to schizophrenia as a parallel – it’s not really a good or fair comparison, is it?

            The genetic component illustrates that the divide between ‘biological sex’ and ‘gender identity’ is, at best, misleading, when gender identity is itself partly biological. This is before we even get into the variety of markers of ‘biological sex’ which may or may not line up neatly as male or female.

          • The point about schizophrenia is inaccurate, Jonathan.

            There was only one point of comparison: are the genetic chances of having condition X entirely the same for all sorts of people? That’s why schizophrena is a suitable example – but then, any other condition is also a suitable example that illustrates and demonstrates the same point. Schizophrenia is a particularly good example because it makes the point: ‘If you are simply saying that anything is ok provided it is partly genetically determined – on average! – then *everything* must be ok. Even including things like schizophrenia. That is obviously an incorrect conclusion – because faulty premises will lead to incorrect conclusions.’

            Are you saying that anything cited in an example must be the same in *every* respect as the thing it is compared to?

            If it were the same in *every* respect, it would be the same thing.

          • It’s a shame you go to schizophrenia as a parallel – it’s not really a good or fair comparison, is it?

            Why not?

            The genetic component illustrates that the divide between ‘biological sex’ and ‘gender identity’ is, at best, misleading, when gender identity is itself partly biological.

            No, it doesn’t. It indicates that there is a biological component to whether soeone expreiences gender dysphoria.

            It most certainly does not indicate whether the sense of ‘gender identity’ which characterises gender dysphoria equates to anything ontologically real.

          • Schizophrenia is a particularly good example because it makes the point: If you are simply saying that anything is ok provided it is partly genetically determined – on average! – then *everything* must be ok. Even including things like schizophrenia.[…]’

            No, that is not the point of comparison with schizophrenia at all. The point of comparison with schizophrenia is that it shows that simply because there is a genectic component to whether someone has the propensity to perceive something — auditory hallucinations in the one case, ‘gender identity’ in the other — has absolutely zero bearing on whether what is perceived is actually real.

            Not everything we perceive is real.

          • In fact, both are true, I think, S. Schizophrenia (like anything else) is partly genetically ‘determined’ on average. But that does not in *any* way mean either that (a) it is beneficial nor that (b) its perceptions correspond with reality. (a) and (b) also overlap, since the common denominator is whether schizophrenia will provide evidence for a correct theory of nature or not.

          • Oh course to be fair one must point out that there are things, the perception of which is tied to genetic factors, which are real. For example some people have a genetic flaw which means they perceive light of different wavelengths identically. People without this flaw therefore perceive two different colours where the flawed individuals perceive only one.

            So it’s not the case that all genetically-caused perceptions are incorec,t or for that matter correct; simply that finding a genetic cause, or (weaker) a genetic correlation, provides no evidence either way; evidence over whether something perceived is real or not must come from other sources than genetics.

        • That makes more sense. But they do not identify as ‘trans’ (meaningless word) at all. They only do so when that is presented to them as one of the live options. Which in most societies it is not.

          Why use the *cosy* abbreviation ‘trans’ for something lethal (cf. ‘porn’, ‘E’ tablets) – let alone something whose very reality is in question?

          And secondly why use such an ill-defined term? Trans-what? -Vestite? -Sexual? -Itioning? – Itioned? Not only are these not all the same thing, they are not even close. Consequently they cannot all be given the same (chic or otherwise) adjective.

          Do clear thinkers use ill-defined terms?

          Are they ill-defined for Trojan horse reasons, so that something dodgy may get smuggled through as though it were the same phenomenon as something unexceptionable?

          • The only thing ‘lethal’ here is the prevalence of attitudes such as the ones demonstrated above, by creating a toxic environment for anyone who is transgender.

          • How many of Cornell’s cited studies had a long-term basis?

            Nor can you say ‘the only thing lethal’. That is an example of the well known fallacy that actually makes 2 mistakes in one:
            1-the inaccurate claim there can only ever be precisely one lethal thing, never none or two-plus (er – no);
            2-the idea that because A is lethal ”therefore” B is not (er – no again): non sequitur.

          • I don’t know about ‘most societies’, but trans identities and gender fluidity is not confined yonwhitecwestern societies. It has an honourable tradition amongst native Americans and some Indian peoples. And Judaism recognises 7 genders.

          • I don’t know about ‘most societies’, but trans identities and gender fluidity is not confined yonwhitecwestern societies. It has an honourable tradition amongst native Americans and some Indian peoples.

            I do love it when the same people who say, ‘People in Biblical times didn’t have our modern conceptions of sexuality and gender so nothing they say on the subject can be relevant because they din’t knwo what they were talking about’ also say ‘ancient native American and Indian peoples had exactly the same ideas about the ontology of sex and gender as the most woke of millennials, which proves they must be right.’

            And Judaism recognises 7 genders.

            Their declensions must be absolute Hell.

          • S
            I fear you are confusing gender and sexuality. Besides, no one mentioned ‘biblical times’ whateverctyat means

          • I fear you are confusing gender and sexuality

            Is the liberal side’s argument not that same-sex couples as we know them were not known in the society in which, for example, Paul wrote his letters, and therefore anything he wrote about same-sex behaviour cannot be taken as applying to what we understand by that concept today?

            Whereas — according to you — ‘native Americans and some Indian peoples’ had exactly the same understanding of ‘gender identity’ as Twitter.

            It’s just the blatant inconsistency I find amusing — on the one side we can’t listen to anything any society before ours said because they clearly had a primitive understanding compared to us, on the other previous societies were obviously much wiser than us and we must learn from their ideas which are much more advanced than ours.

            (Oh and the naked oikophobia, because obviously it’s always exotic societies which are held up as noble and wonderful, and the societies from which our own descends which are depicted as primitive and backward).

          • S
            You are still confusing sexuality and gender. I wrote that several societies had a more fluid concept of gender. I did not state that these understandings corresponded to the hundreds of years in which the bible was written, nor that they corresponded to what Twitter thinks of gender fluidity (whatever that might mean). Those are your inferences.
            That some societies have and had different understandings of gender has no bearing on contested sexual identities. A society could have very fluid concepts of gender without having any concept of sexual orientation.

          • You are still confusing sexuality and gender. I wrote that several societies had a more fluid concept of gender.

            Yes, exactly. With one breath you praise exotic past societies for being better than us in their understanding of ‘gender fluidity’, with the next you dismiss all a past society has to say about sexuality because they didn’t understand it.

            Incoherent selective reading of modern mores back onto societies which would in all likelihood have found them totally alien, combined with fetishisation of the exotic. I find it hilarious.

          • Two-spirited people so called are defined in terms of something prior and more basic: namely, male and female. In all of these systems, you will find that nothing else is on the same fundamental level as ‘male’ and ‘female’. Instead, other supposed options are defined *in terms of* ‘male’ and ‘female’ – they presuppose ‘male’ and ‘female’. But if that is so, then male and female cannot be options on the same level as all the other options, since they are something prior. So it remains the case that at the deepest level there are precisely 2.

            Why would all the others be defined in terms of male and female unless there was indeed (as any 4 year old could tell you) an essentially binary system?

            Same applies to Judaism’s 7 genders – news to me, but I bet they can make sense only within a prior understanding that there is male and there is female.

          • S
            I neither fetishise nor dismiss. It is your neo colonial contention that non western societies are ‘exotic’. And your inference that I ‘dismiss’ Paul’s understanding of sexuality. I do no such thing.

          • Penny,
            The use of term ‘gender’ in relation to personal male/female, or masculine/feminine (as opposed to grammatical gender) is very recent., as Ian points out. So, any use of the term to describe the understanding of any culture or religion prior to the middle of the 20th century needs to be justified.

            You say that people confuse ‘sex’ and ‘gender’. Please explain in detail what you understand by these terms, and also which you consider to be primary and why.

            I am interested that you present cases of multiple ‘genders’. This is precisely contrary to those promoting transition, for whom there are just two. I.e. they seem to hold that you are either a man or a woman, except that this is not determined from biological sex, but by some other criterion.

            For my part, I consider physical sex – i.e. the attributes of a human body directed towards procreation – to be primary. This is pretty well unambiguous, binary apart from a small number of individuals for whom genetic or developmental issues present ambiguity.

          • Hi David
            Yes, the use of gender as an analogue of sex is quite recent. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with new concepts!
            I do not know how the rabbis framed the idea of 7 genders without the concept of gender. I will have to find out what terms they use(d).

            My reply to S was that he (?) was confusing sexuality (not sex) and gender.

          • That’s an interesting point Christopher. Though I do not know enough about 2 spirit people, or other variations to know if they invariably default to a male/female binary. Certainly some of the gender variations in Judaism do.
            But, interesting too, that we now know that sex isn’t binary. And that some people identify as non binary.

          • But, interesting too, that we now know that sex isn’t binary

            Actually sex is binary; it’s just that we now understand better some of the ways in which the development of embryos can go wrong, leading to sexual characteristics developing incorrectly.

            And that some people identify as non binary

            Some people identify as Napoleon, too, but they haven’t actually conquered Europe.

          • Actually sex isn’t binary S, unless uoubregard non pathological variations as something going wrong. Geneticists and endocrinologists don’t.
            Which is probably why they recognise that some people may be non binary.
            As do some theologians when speaking of God, Gen 1.27.

          • Actually sex isn’t binary S, unless uoubregard non pathological variations as something going wrong.

            There are no ‘non-pathological variations’ of sexual development. They all end up in varying pathologies, such as infertility.

            As do some theologians when speaking of God, Gen 1.27.

            It makes no sense to speak of sex in relation to God, except in a metaphorical sense. Sex is to do with reproduction, and God does not reproduce. God is not male, female, or non-binary, any more than jealosy is heavy, or granite is kind, or nostalgia is wet.

          • But sex *is* binary. There are those who carry babies and those who provide the sperm. As in everything, there will be mutations. How could there not be, when mutations occur everywhere else?

        • As for the lack of regret – there are no figures on this because we have no longterm sample. Everyone likes their latest ‘new’ partner/hairdo/possession. It is the flush or zing of novelty.

          It would be good if you’d address the point that harmful things have a genetic component no more and no less than helpful things.

          Everything has a genetic component.

          None of those genetic components are on average precisely evenly spread between all groups of people.

          • Quote: “As for the lack of regret – there are no figures on this because we have no longterm sample. Everyone likes their latest ‘new’ partner/hairdo/possession. It is the flush or zing of novelty.”

            This is just rubbish. We have figures that go back before 1972. The regret rates after transition vary between about 3% to about 0.3%. The higher figure tends to come from those who transitioned in the 1970s, when the surgical procedures, medicine and support services were less well developed. The lower figure applies to those who have transitioned in more recent years.

          • Yes, I have read that. But it is only in very recent times that noticeable numbers have transitioned at all. Earlier samples will therefore be on the small side, and will date from a time when only those with more extreme dysphoria would have pressed through. Significant samples are now going to be forthcoming, as transitioned individuals aim to cope with their infertility, incontinence, and in general with now having a body which is not actually ‘theirs’, is in part a late arrival. What does that do for their integrity and sense of identity?

            To affirm such a procedure is to affirm the things listed above, which all mess with natural and healthy development (which is something that is normally disapproved of, as in the areas of diet and drugs) – puberty blockers, breast binders, infertility, incontinence. But why should we affirm harmful things like that? Of course we will not: the very opposite. These are precious young children we are speaking of. Boo to the ideologues who want to capture them.

            Psychologically, people need one thing above all – to be at peace with their roots, their origins. This procedure snatches that from them irrevocably. (But for Christ.)

            I do not know what the latest improbable theory is of why things like ‘living in Brighton’ and ‘having other trans-identified individuals in one’s friendship group’ should be such significant factors. From my point of view those 2 correlations are easy to explain. What about from yours?

          • Added to which – they learn about all these confused things *before* they ever get basic Sunday School catechesis, which till recently 70% of children would have had. (What do we call people who introduce children to sexual matters prematurely?) I do pray with all my heart that people will wake up.

          • The ideologues are those who ignore or misrepresent the scientific evidence. I invite others to go and read the evidence for themselves.

          • Jonathan, you committed the same fallacy in saying ‘*the* idologues are’. For some reason you persist in thinking that there have logically to be exactly one set of ideologues. Why would that be more likely than there being zero, 2 or 3?

            As for following the scientific evidence, as you know that is exactly what I always urge. There are always several dimensions to it, each with several relevant studies. And I too urge that people read it first and then comment.

        • Jonathan

          ‘Studies show, for example, that there is a genetic component to gender identity. In other words, gender identity is at least partly biological.’

          I suspect, in reality, we simply do not have enough research to come to such a strong conclusion. Perhaps a genetic or other physical component may play a part (when it comes to human beings it probably always does in every area), but I wonder if the most important factors that lead to gender identity issues (for want of a better word) are in fact psychosexual developmental and social?

          And you seem to be assuming that simply because there may be a genetic/physical component to gender identity means that it is therefore ‘normal’ and natural and therefore perfectly good. I find that an odd argument. Who is to say such a genetic variation from the norm is not in fact an abnormality?

          As Ive said in another post, there is also a contradiction between on the one hand saying that sexual orientation is ‘in-born’ (ie fixed from birth) and should not be attempted to change (per your comment above), but on the other saying that gender identity originates from birth but people are free to choose their own gender, and at any time of their life.

          Regards

          Peter

          • Hi Peter,

            The evidence that gender identity is partly genetic looks pretty strong to me. It’s based on twin studies (comparing identical to non-identical twins). This is a standard way in psychology of getting a grasp on the component that comes from genetics rather than from other factors. Have a look at the study that I cited yourself, if you can (I appreciate that it is behind an academic paywall). There are other studies with similar (or stronger) results. As a rough summary, if one male identical twin transitions, they found that there was a 33% chance that their brother also transitioned. If one female identical twin transitioned, there was a 23% chance that their twin also transitioned. In contrast, the figures for non-identical twins were 5% for male and 0% for female.
            (This also suggests that the figure I gave earlier, of 20%, is too low. It appears that the abstract may have used the wrong figure, combining all twin types). Some of the identical twins who both transitioned were separated from birth. The authors also note that, given the massive social cost to transitioning (fear of being sacked from work, family disapproval) and that some twins were relatively young, the actual figure presented is likely to be an underestimate.

            I do not assume that because it is genetic it is therefore ‘normal’. But when people throw around the phrase ‘biological sex’ it ought to be acknowledged that gender identity is also partly biological. Just as there is variation in chromosomes, hormone levels, potentially brain structure, external appearance, internal organs, so there is variation in gender identity. It is for this reason that the author of the study I cite suggests that having a trans identity will in time be recognised as an intersex variation of the brain/nervous system.

            My comments on not attempting to change sexual orientation are because it doesn’t work and has been incredibly harmful for many. I think the same about gender identity. Comments that people are ‘free to choose their own gender’ should be seen as parallel to people are ‘free to choose their own orientation’. What it usually means in practice is that the person has the freedom to express what they already experience. Given the rampant transphobia that exists in Britain (and I am aware that it is still better than many other places) there is a large cost to coming out. Those who do transition do not do it lightly or frivolously.

          • Jonathan that study does not use a representative sample so its results cannot be generalised to the population as a whole. Here is the abstract:

            The relative contributions of genetic and environmental factors to the development of gender identity have been debated. Twins were studied that are concordant or discordant for gender identity status in order to provide clarification of this issue. An extensive library search yielded reports of 27 male and 16 female sets concordant or discordant for transsexuality. An Internet bulletin board search and clinical contact requests for participants in a survey of twins in which one or both transitioned located 69 new twin pairs. In addition to asking about matters associated with gender, these new twins were asked about their transition, rearing, and sexual practices. Combining data from the present survey with those from past-published reports, 20% of all male and female monozygotic twin pairs were found concordant for transsexual identity. This was more frequently the case for males (33%) than for females (23%). The responses of our twins relative to their rearing, along with our findings regarding some of their experiences during childhood and adolescence show their identity was much more influenced by their genetics than their rearing.

            I’d need to read the paper to be able to assess these claims properly, but the abstract is very vague. The way the sample is obtained does not instil confidence – how were the clinical practitioners selected, what selection biases are at work overall? While there may well be a genetic component to the propensity to transgenderism, this study cannot demonstrate the likelihood of that or its effect size and it is misleading to cite it in a way that suggests it can or does.

          • Will,
            I haven’t the time or energy to go fully into why your statement is wrong. Try asking Peter Ould – he is the only conservative commentator on who who I respect regarding understanding and presenting scientific papers fairly.

            But in brief – they found a large number of twins, at least one of whom was transgender. They then found, that out of these twins, identical twins (ie, same DNA) had much, much higher rates when the other twin had also transitioned than the non-identical twins (not same DNA – though still more similar than strangers).

            The rates aren’t even a little bit close. What can explain identical twins (same DNA) being so different from non-identical twins (different DNA)? (And yes, they compared twins from the same gender assigned at birth along the way).

            If you want to understand more about twin studies generally, as usual you could start with Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin_study

            TL;DR gender identity is partly genetic

          • gender identity is partly genetic

            I think you mean ‘propensity to suffer from gender dysphoria is partly genetic’.

            But that’s hardly surprising. The same is true of, for example, anorexia. And it tells us nothing about the reality or otherwise of ‘gender identity’.

          • Jonathan,
            you say:

            TL;DR gender identity is partly genetic

            I would say that this study might show that susceptibility to gender dysphoria could be partly genetic. I would say that ‘gender identity’ is a social construct.

            You point to the wikipedia article on twin studies. I note this sentence:

            “The methodological assumptions on which twin studies are based, however, have been criticized as untenable.”

            I would suggest that for this kind of study into a very subjective issue, the difference in experience between monozygotic twins and fraternal twins (I presume the study used fraternal twins of the same sex) could be significant. After all, identical twins can be readily confused and frequently use this for their own amusement.

          • Jonathan sorry to hear you are short of time and energy to debate with people you do not respect and see fit to insult. And here was I filled with deep reverence for your clearly towering intellect. But now I see you are correct: a first class maths degree and PhD in politics have evidently combined to render me incapable of understanding scientific papers. Fortunately you’re here to set all us benighted conservatives straight.

            Yet for all that you appear unable to grasp the concept of sample bias and the difference between a representative and non-representative sample. You ask what could explain the difference between identical and fraternal twins other than genes. Well – whatever biases are inherent in the sampling process. This is statistics 101.

            I don’t doubt that genes may well play a role in a propensity to transgenderism – they play a role in most things. But this study does not and cannot tell us how much that might be for the simple reason that it uses a non-representative and therefore biased sample.

          • Of course identical twins will act in ways that manifest a closer identity than nonidentical ones do! By definition alone. What else would one expect? It is not only their genetics that are closer, it is also their appearance, their general similarity, and also all the many things that geneticmake-up will impact on within post-birth experiences.

            It is also the case that 89% of self-decribed homosexual identical twins do not have a self-described homosexual twin.

            Surely it is a sweeping statement to say Peter Ould alone on the face of the earth gains your respect among the said group. What about people who happen through free unbiased independent enquiry to come to what you call ‘conservative’ (in reality: commonsensical) conclusions some of the time? There is no-one who can avoid coming to such conclusions at least *some* of the time. That would be pretty difficult.
            It would mean that your conclusions on thousands of matters never ever once agreed with any consensus that held in pre-2019 years. Now, that is a tall order.

    • Hi Jonathan,

      What, according to your understanding, are the objective properties of gender? If a person is to be classified as ‘man’ or ‘woman’ according to these criteria, how clear is the division between these two sets?

    • Jonathan,
      I have only read the abstract, but there is no indication in that abstract that the twins in this study were brought up in different households. That has always been the touchstone for a study which is designed to separate genetics and upbringing. It also seems to be the case that those in this sample were self-selecting, another no-no for rigour. That the paper was published in a journal whose name would appear to have some bias towards transgenderism is also a potential issue for me.

      • Hi David,
        Twins brought up in separate households is not the touchstone for studies, as in practice there are remarkably few such cases. The only large scale study that used separated twins was that by Cyril Burt, who was subsequently found to have falsified his data, apparently inventing twins.
        Comparing identical with non-identical twins is the normal practice, as you have as close to the same rearing/social environment as practically possible, reducing the major variable to genetic closeness.
        The twins were found in two ways. One, through a trawl of existing studies where twins had participated. Two, through a general call out. The results in the paper are presented both separately and combined.
        The results are also consistent with those of other studies using twins.
        The journal is a peer reviewed scientific journal.

        As it happens, four sets of the identical twins were brought up in separate households:
        ‘Notably among our responding twins were three sets who had been reared apart and were concordant in transitioning. One was a male set within which the brothers were separated at birth, another was a set of males separated at age 4, and the third was a female pair separated at 14. Each had independently and unknowingly transitioned and found out about each other’s switch as adults after the gender shift.’ p.27-8.

        This type of study is standard for investigating a range of factors and seeing if there is a genetic component.

  2. If M(ale) marries F(emale), biological and M becomes T(f+m) is this bigamy or polygamy if there is no divorce.
    If there were a divorce, would the CoE marry F to M2? Or would the act of M becoming T be recognised as a death of M thereby permitting F to remarry?

  3. Thanks Ian.

    Out of interest why do you refer to the Equal (Same sex) Marriage Act 2013? The proper name of the act is the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. Equal marriage is what progressives call it but it is a misnomer as same sex marriage is not an equality issue – even the European Court of Human Rights doesn’t consider it necessary under human rights and equality legislation because marriage refers historically to relationships ‘geared to the fundamental possibility of parenthood’ and same sex relationships are ‘of a different kind’.

    You didn’t mention Valuing all God’s Children on this occasion, but of course that is another place where the CofE has displayed its confusions around these things, unaccountably outsourcing its national schools LGBT policy to Stonewall and ending up with something that promotes unbiblical ideology to those in its care. I am aware that the diocese of Winchester has advised one school at least that it may not have a well known Christian charity in to teach sex ed because it does not comply with VAGC – the resources section somehow managing to list a load of liberal resources and not a single bible-based one. And then there are vicars like John Parker being shamed and forced to resign merely for asking serious questions, getting no backing from the diocese because, well, VAGC. It is an appalling document.

    I’ve written a bit on the dangerous and unscientific nature of transgender ideology here https://faith-and-politics.com/2019/06/17/zero-scientific-basis-for-gender-fluidity-says-noted-paediatrician/.

    • The American College of Pediatricians, to which Von Meter seems to belong is a conservative advocacy group who oppose same-sex adoption and advocate conversion therapy. They are not be confused with the respectable American Academy of Pediatrics.
      In a multi cultural society there is no need for relationship education to be ‘biblically based’ whatever that means. Spare the rod and spoil the child?
      Parker’s conduct was shameful because he outed a school, a child and their family, and made a covert recording., against all safeguarding guidelines. He was not asking serious questions and he was not ‘forced’ to resign.

          • You identify it and all its pupils and teachers

            This school, its pupils, and teachers were previously all operating in some sort of stealth mode?!

            What excuse did they use for why they were all going to the same buildings in uniform from 9 to 3:30 every day? Just a very big, highly-organised scout troop?

            [PS at least you correctly identify them as ‘pupils’ and don’t say ‘students’; I hate that particular Americanism]

          • Have you heard of safeguarding?

            I have, but I’m still baffled by how one ‘outs’ a school. What did people think it was before it was revealed that it was in fact a school?

          • I replied that you identify it. As I think you know

            Yeah but identifying someone (or something) is not ‘outing’. To ‘out’ someone means to reveal something about them (originally that they were homosexual, but in expanded use, pretty much any charactistic).

            You say: ‘Mr X has been outed as the leaker of the Foreign Office cables’.

            You do not say: ‘The leaker of the foreign office cables has been outed as Mr X’. You’d say, in that case, ‘The leaker of the foreign office cables has been identified as Mr X.’

            So, what was revealed about the school that it was ‘outed’? Was it ‘outed’ as allowing ideologically-driven lobby groups like Mermaids to give training to its teachers without having their contentious ideologyquestioned?

          • Parker outed the school by identifying it through his shameless publicity.

            Yes yes yes but what did he out it as? What did he reveal about it?

            To ‘out’ someone or something is to reveal something about it that was not previously known, especially something that the person was trying to keep secret. So someone could be ‘outed’ as a homosexual, or ‘outed’ as a Nazi sympathiser, or ‘outed’ as trans.

            What did he ‘out’ the school as? What did he reveal about the school, that it was trying to keep secret?

        • He outed the child concerned by making it trivially easy to find out the school concerned & the year the child was in.

          • He outed the child concerned by making it trivially easy to find out the school concerned & the year the child was in.

            Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, but the claim was that he ‘outed the school’. As what?

          • Quote: ‘Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t,’

            No. He did. Please don’t try to airbrush just how shamefully he acted in this process.

          • No. He did. Please don’t try to airbrush just how shamefully he acted in this process.

            I haven’t followed the case so I don’t know the details; you clearly are not impartial so I can hardly take your word as settling the matter on a contended question, I’d have to look into the reporting myself, and I haven’t time.

            But again, the question was: what did he out the school as?

      • What a marvellous scientific peer review, Penelope and a weighty scholarly, consideration of Will’s article, read through the lens of your a priori queer theory ideology, as is your wont, along with ad hom categorisations and dismissals.
        Espoused theory has produced public policy and has resulted in confused, inconsistent, and conflicting legal fictions in the CoE.

        • Geoff
          Suggest you read up on the two organisations to discover which one is ideological and which conforms to best scientific practice.
          No queer theory here, but interesting that you disparage queer theory as a hermeneutical tool.
          Would you also disparage the conservative, western, heteropatriarchal lens through which Will reads what he called ‘transgenderism’?

          • Hermeneutic “tool” of “queer theory”.
            Is this not a “Western Tool” of a secular liberal elite, imported through the open doors policy of philosophical migration into the CoE training in deconstruction theology as are the rest of your characterisations?
            Wills and Testamentary Dispositions are to be read, interpreted through the lens, the “spectacles of the testator” primarily from the words used. Similarly the OT and NT.
            But you are more than aware that this “tool” is not the the starting point, aware that it is grounded in Western sub-Christian secular philosophy (ies) and aetiology.

          • Geoff

            Most of our hermeneutical tools are those of a white, western, mainly male elite. All lenses are ideological; there is no way of reading the Bible apart from reading it in our own context(s) and that results in diverse readings. Some black Africans may read scripture very differently, but, then, one mustn’t generalise; it’s not my field but there must be wide diversity there too.
            If you do not realise how ideologically driven Will’s blog is, I suggest you read Jonathan’s comment below, also on the distinction between the American College of Pediatricians and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

          • All lenses are ideological

            Right, so will you stop claiming that one side (eg Transgender Trend) are ‘ideologically driven’ and the other (eg Mermaids) aren’t?

            As ‘All lenses are ideological’, that means that the lens through which Mermaids interpret things is just as ideological as the one through which Transgender Trend do. Both are ideologically-driven lobby groups who are trying to push their particular view of the world.

            But only one is given access to children by the Church of England.

          • Context.
            How about reading scripture in the context it was written, through the lens of the testator, God, through the lens of Jesus, the Jew, non white Middle Eastern not white westerm philosophy, rather than reader subjective context.
            Penelope you are not very woke in your interpretation, as western philosophy is on the rack in the academy, so if you are dismissed as being western in your queer philosophy, it will not stand outside the west.
            But, again as S shows you are extremely selective and do what you accuse others of doing, without a hint of a blush.

          • S
            No. Because Mermaids is a registered charity and TT is a dodgy group run by a woman who calls herself an expert, but is a sculptor. TT advocates conversion therapy.
            They both have an ideology of course, but one is informed by experts, the other by misinformation.

          • Geoffrey
            I have no pretensions to being woke.
            All Christians of course hope to read scripture through the lens of Christ, but if you hope to recover entirely the original ANE context without refracting this through your (post)modern, male, western, whie, theological lens, I fear you may be disappointed.

          • Because Mermaids is a registered charity

            You keep saying this but why do you think it’s relevant? All being a registered charity means is that the organisation has been registered with the charity commission and has its accounts audited. Nothing more nor less than that. It certainly doesn’t imply anything about the correctness of its world-view. Why do you keep bringing it up?

            and TT is a dodgy group run by a woman who calls herself an expert, but is a sculptor.

            I don’t understand this. Is it well known that sculptors cannot be experts in anything? Otherwise I’m at a loss as to what the relevance is.

            TT advocates conversion therapy.

            So does Mermaids of course (conversion of boys into girls and vice versa).

            They both have an ideology of course, but one is informed by experts, the other by misinformation.

            That’s the thing about ideologies, everyone thinks the one they agree with is the one that’s informed by experts and the other one is the one driven by misinformation.

          • All being a registered charity means is that the organisation has been registered with the charity commission and has its accounts audited

            In fact I note that the Christian Institute — which I assume you loathe — is also a registered charity and therefore, if that status is to be considered a mark of legitimacy, just as legitimate as Mermaids.

          • S
            Stephanie Davies Arai is not an expert. She runs a dodgy outfit (there’s a reason why charity accounts are audited) which, as I said, advocates conversion therapy. Conversion therapy has been shown to be both harmful and ineffective.
            A child realising that they are not the gender assigned them at birth is not ‘conversion’. Mermaids helps such children access appropriate care. I do not agree with all their aims, any more than I agree with those of the Christian Institute, as you point out. But at least there is accountability.
            Judging ideologies depends on the evidence provided by experts: paediatricians, endocrinologists, lawyers etc. The evidence is on the side of Mermaids advocacy, not Transgender Trend’s.

          • Stephanie Davies Arai is not an expert.

            She may or she may not be, but why is her being a sculptor relevant? You brought it up as if it were some kind of rhetorical flourish — she’s nto an expert, she’s a sculptor! Why?

            She runs a dodgy outfit (there’s a reason why charity accounts are audited)

            Are you accusing Transgender Trend of financial improriety? Not that that would necessary have any bearing on the correctness or otherwise of their ideology, but just to be clear, that is what you’re implying, right? That they don’t want their accounts audited because they are financially ‘dodgy’ in some way?

            which, as I said, advocates conversion therapy. Conversion therapy has been shown to be both harmful and ineffective.

            I thought most children who display signs of gender dysphoria eventually desist and go on to be reconciled to their actual sex, is that not true? In which case, how can therapy aimed at helping them do that be bad?

            A child realising that they are not the gender assigned them at birth is not ‘conversion’.

            There’s a lot of very controversial ideological baggage in that statement. It rests on many premises which are extremely tendentious.

            Judging ideologies depends on the evidence provided by experts: paediatricians, endocrinologists, lawyers etc. The evidence is on the side of Mermaids advocacy, not Transgender Trend’s.

            Do these ‘experts’ have a device which can tell the difference between a male soul and a female soul, then, that they can tell which someone has and if it matches the sex of their physical body? How does it work?

          • TT advocates conversion therapy.

            I would be most interested to know on what evidence, if any, that assertion is based.

          • William
            TT advocates the work of Zucker (see their schools pack). Zucker’s methods of conversion therapy includes punishing boys for playing with Barbies and other aversion therapy

          • Penelope
            Conversion therapy refers to attempts to change people’s sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual (or in theory vice versa, although such attempts must be uncommon), and Transgender Trend most definitely does not support it. To call other procedures, whether you approve or disapprove of them, “conversion therapy” is misleading.

          • William
            In this context conversion therapy is used to describe those who wish to convert trans children to their natal sex/gender, denying the reality of the trans experience.

          • Penelope
            If the phrase is being used in this context with that meaning, then it is being used inappropriately and deceptively. And one can’t, even in theory, “convert” children – or anyone else – to their natal sex (or so-called “gender”), since it is the sex that they already have and always have had, having been born with it.

            Conversion therapy in the original sense of the term, i.e. “therapy” which attempts or purports to change people’s sexual orientation, is not supported by Transgender Trend.

          • S
            The desistance rates for transgender children are very low.
            GNC children do desist.

          • William
            Language is plastic. People use conversion therapy to describe therapy which aims to convince people that they are not trans. As an analogue to LGB conversion therapy.

          • The desistance rates for transgender children are very low

            Only because of confirmation bias (those who do turn out okay are dropped from the statistics, lowering the denominator).

          • Penelope
            Saying that language is plastic is not a valid excuse for misusing it. Therapy which aims to convince people that they are not members of the other sex – which they are not and cannot be – and to help them to accept the sex in which they were born is NOT analogous to attempts to alter people’s sexual orientation. It should not therefore be referred to as “conversion therapy”.

          • Sorry, William, that ship has sailed. People are using the term conversion therapy.
            Since trans people know that they are trans, trying to convince them that they must conform to another gender is, to say the least, distressing.
            Trans people who have been treated in this way report both harm and inefficacy, as do those who have suffered attempted sexuality conversion

          • Sorry, Penelope, saying “that ship has sailed” will not do.

            Misapplying the term “conversion therapy” is a dishonest trick – a piece of verbal card-sharping. It is a way of trying to manipulate people by sneaking across to them the implied message, “Are you opposed to conversion therapy? Well then, in that case you’ve got to oppose the view that people do best to accept their biological sex, even if it’s not what they would have chosen, because that’s conversion therapy too, and you’ve got to support the notion that people who are dissatisfied with their sex (aka “gender”) can change it.” That deceptive use of language was behind your deceptive claim that TT advocates conversion therapy. It doesn’t.

            Let’s be clear. No, it is NOT conversion therapy, and no, people who oppose conversion therapy have NOT got to do any such thing.

          • William
            It doesn’t ‘do’ for you. It does, adequately for others who use this term to describe attempts to convince people that they are not trans, often through aversion therapy.

          • Penelope
            All the more reason to point out that such misuse of the term is a deceitful piece of verbal conjuring, and to warn people against attempts to by-pass their critical faculties in this way.

          • Penelope, it is controlling to say ‘that ship has sailed’. You believe that things that are fashionable, that reflect the ideological narrative that is being pushed, are always right? I would like to see the logical justification for that , as I imagine we all would.

            Ships having sailed says nothing about what is justified or warranted, only about what is now happening. Well, plenty of things are now happening. Good things and bad things. That much is obvious.

            When ex-gay counsellors of people whom homosexual activity makes unhappy (much like many habitual addictions do) appear on TV< they always say 'conversion therapy' is not what they do, or envisage, or understand to be the reality. But the controlling interlocutors give the message: No, you are only allowed to be involved in conversion therapy because that is the narrative we want to push. We also want to lump together diverse practices from diverse times and pretend that they are effectively all still going on and are common – e.g. electric shock treatment. You are not allowed to dissent from our narrative. Plus more 1984 stuff of that ilk.

            How horrible that someone who feels bad should be compelled to keep within the behaviour patterns that made them feel that bad.

          • Christopher
            There is nothing ‘controlling’ in stating that ship has sailed. I am merely acknowledging that people are using the term conversion therapy in the way I describe. There are unlikely to desist because you or William disapproves.
            Conversion therapy is never warranted because a) it is ineffective, b) it is often harmful and abusive.
            Homosexualmactivity is not contra your assertion, an ‘addiction’. This is a thoroughly offensive notion. Though the idea of sex addiction has become fashionable. Usually for promiscuous heterosexual males.
            The main (or only?) reason gay people seek conversion therapy is because religion or culture tells them that they are disordered.

          • Penelope
            Yes, you are merely acknowledging that people are using the term “conversion therapy” in the way that you describe. And I am merely pointing out that, when used in that way – as it was by you, in an effort to discredit Transgender Trend – it is being used incorrectly and deceptively. I agree that those who so misuse it are unlikely to desist, but that does not deter me from alerting people to the crooked verbal trick which is being played in an attempt to short-circuit their ability to think critically and intelligently on the issue.

          • Penelope

            You say that people use ‘conversion therapy’ in the way described. Er – yes. That is what I already said. So what if they do use it in that way?
            _It suits their narrative to do so.
            -They are not about to give up doing so, because (like most dishonest people) they want to press that one narrative and (like most people exercising less intelligence)they show no awareness of more than one possibility or configuration. Nor (worse) any wish to think about any more than one theory. By coincidence (or not) that one theory which they show themselves capable of thinking about is precisely the one that suits their purposes.

            So the ship has sailed if that group of people uses a phrase and repeatedly ‘jams’ that phrase on the rest of us. However if my group uses a phrase, no ship is deemed to have sailed. Explain that? Some are more equal than others. Ought not people to be asking not whether they are using the phrase (which proves nothing) but whether they are justified in doing so. Does their preferred phrase fit the facts?

            For the nth time WIlliam and I do not ‘disapprove’, which would be an emotional matter. Rather we point out incoherences, which is a rational matter. Quite different.

            All the above is simply a disentangling of the misunderstandings and/or hasty jumpings to conclusions within your one shortish comment.
            Having established that only one of us thinks that something called ‘conversion therapy’ is the topic under discussion, you then proceed to treat it as the topic under discussion!

            As soon as your next para begins, we get a new misreading. I did not say that homosexual activity was an addiction but that it functioned that way for those who sought help, much as they might if they disliked smoking but could not stop themselves doing it. (I do in fact think that any habitual activity other than things like eating or breathing – or even including those two – is likely to be something one is addicted to in the crucial sense that not doing it would bring withdrawal pangs.)

            Many things can be called ‘offensive’ but can you explain how being offensive, or perceived as such, has any relation to the central question of whether the thing is true and accurate or not. This is another degeneration from rational to emotional.

          • Christopher

            Language changes: gay, queer, nice, heterosexual, wicked, silly, property.

            “Ye knowe ek that in forme of speeche is chaunge
            Withinne a thousand yeer, and wordes tho
            That hadden pris, now wonder nyce and straunge
            Us thinketh hem, and yet thei spake hem so,
            And spedde as wel in love as men now do;”

        • Quote: “Dr Quentin van Meter is the president of the ACP”

          I knew someone who, back in the late 80s or early 90s, as a medical student, was president of the student body’s chess club. Her friend was the secretary. However, they were the only two members. They made up the club in an effort to get Stephen Fry to become their patron (and succeeded – he was very kind and gracious).

          The ACP is not the official pediatric body in America. That body is the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

          Being president of a made up club whose primary focus is preventing gay and lesbian couples from adopting children (and which advocates conversion therapy) is not a qualification I respect.

          • Jonathan
            It is so good to hear a voice of reason (and proper citations) on here. Thank you.

      • Penelope

        It’s “van Meter” and given that AAP is now pushing polygamy and adultery heavily the ACP is rather more respectable than the AAP as the ACP actually CARE about children and their well-being.

        I admire S’s tenacity as your arguments are slipping it the more and more absurd zone.

        • Sorry Clive, how could I have confused van and von.
          I had no idea the AAP is pushing polygamy adultery. Gosh. Well that’s their science debunked then.

          You really are a very rude and offensive man.

          • Dear Penelope

            I have never once called you names or actually been rude. In reality I give straight-forward answers and you calling me “rude” is a vain attempt to silence me …. Well that isn’t going to work at all.

          • Being called wrong and disgraceful and accused of lying is rude. As is your patronising command to kindly stop.
            I have no desire to silence you but you won’t be getting any further responses from me.

          • Dear Penelope

            Your comment implying that TERFS are responsible when they are nothing of the sort is truly irresponsible of you and disgraceful behaviour. I will NOT accept such dishonesty from you – ever.

            https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/julie-bindel-attack-feminist-trans-activist-women-rights-talk-edinburgh-university-a8947351.html

            The link above isn’t the only case by any means at all. Claiming that an LGBT (T being trans even if it contradicts B) activist was beaten does NOT make either right or ever excuse physical but your claiming the TERFS are responsible is a disgrace – an absolute disgrace. You should apologise.

          • Clive

            You have driven me to reply
            The article – which I had seen before, I am well aware of this incident – says that Bindel ‘alleges’ that she was physically attacked. It appears that she was not. She was shouted at. I don’t condone the being shouted at, but it is a good deal less harmful than the physical violence directed towards trans women.
            Nor am I claiming that terfs are responsible for physical violence (and I don’t think i implied that, though their behaviour is certainly enabling). The example I quoted was the harassment of a trans women in the States by ‘Posie Parker’ and Julia Long. ‘Parker’ also mixes with holocaust deniers, basically anyone who will fund or publicise her dangerous cult. She is a disgrace.
            So, no I won’t be apologising to you, to her, or to the rest of the terven.
            What on earth makes you think you have the right to make such a demand is beyond me.
            Now, go away, I have a sermon to write.

          • terven

            You do realise, don’t you, that ‘terven’ doesn’t even make sense as the juvenile insult which you obviously intend it to be?

            Forming a plural using ‘-en’ is for words ending in ‘x’, like ‘oxen’, and it’s that which leads some would-be wags to think (wrongly) that they are funny to say ‘boxen’ instead of ‘boxes’.

            This ‘terven’ is presumably formed by analogy with ‘dwarven’. But ‘dwarven’ is an adjective, not a plural. The correct plural, if you want to analogise ‘terf’ with ‘dwarf’, would be ‘terves’.

            Using ‘terven’ just makes you looks uneducated as well as childish.

          • S

            Thank your for mansplaining archaic plurals. So words ending in x have the-en ending? Like foxen?
            Should I femsplain playfulness?

          • Penelope

            Tara Wolf, 26, was convicted of striking Maria Maclachlan on the back and shoulder during a protest at Speakers’ Corner in September last year.
            Tara Wolf was fined by the Court.
            She was attacking a “TERF” as she called Maria. So regardless of what you write the Court has examined this case and convicted one of the assailants. it is only a shame they didn’t catch more.

            Here’s an interview with her:
            https://www.feministcurrent.com/2018/06/21/interview-maria-maclauchlan-gra-aftermath-assault-speakers-corner/

            …and there are many, many more cases of TERFs being attacked by transgender-activists and yet you bizarrely think TERFs are the aggressors.
            That’s disgraceful

          • Clive
            Much as I deplore the few attacks on terfs by trans women, and believe that it prejudices their cause, it is small compared with the number of trans women who are killed , attacked and abused every year.
            In 2018, 26 trans women were murdered in the US, 11 already in 2019. And this is just one country, and a record of deaths, not attacks and abuse. A couple of weeks ago a trans woman was killed in a South American country. Transphobia is still rife, even in westernised, liberal secular societies.
            And it is utterly disgraceful that many terfs legitimise this kind of hatred through their campaigning and rhetoric.

          • Hi Clive,

            Speaking as the only trans woman present on these threads (as far as I know) I can assure you that TERFs (as they are labelled) are completely irrelevant to my life, to my marriage, to my nursing, to my church. You are talking about a cult. Just a small group, a tiny minority and sub-group of radical feminists. Their transphobia is pitiful, but as I say, they’re not even relevant to my life.

            Now that doesn’t mean, as a Christian, that I condone any violence whatsoever against them. But that doesn’t give them relevance. One should also add, that by far the most trans people in this country are not activists at all. We are just people getting on with living our decent and private lives.

            The narrative of this cult is framed in exclusion. I think that’s sad. My experience of the overwhelming majority of women I have met, befriended, worked alongside, nursed is that they JUST DON’T CARE if I have transitioned, and they have been great and welcoming and decent. In 10 years since transition, regularly using public loos as any one does *because everyone needs to pee* not a single woman has complained, or even really bothered to notice. I live as just another woman, I nurse as just another woman, I shop as just another woman.

            What is your problem, or the problem of that fringe cult?

            I don’t know, but it’s irrelevant to my day to day happiness. The ‘Trans Exclusionary Radical feminists’ are frankly pitiful apologies for women. They do not represent most women. They represent an embittered cult within feminism. I know plenty of feminists (I’m not one myself, I’m a communist) and they welcome me as a woman who happens to have a trans history. They are proportionate and mature about it. And they are embarrassed by the cult who – I assure you – does not speak for most women.

            As a society we have moved on. We are diverse. We can value that diversity. Biologically my body teams with oestrogen. My oestrogen receptors lap it up. It wells up, floods and flows as only oestrogen can. My brain interacts with the hormones. My body responds. My breasts are so nice. My genitalia (though lacking ovaries) work perfectly well to lead a good and decent and happy life. My clitoris works particularly well 🙂

            As well as all this, I draw such joy from my deepening spiritual life. I was nursed and supported for 10 weeks after surgery by Anglican nuns for goodness sake. The transition brought me great well-being and I live a productive life, loved, understood, valued.

            And I should take note of a small cult that hates my existence?

            What I am very eager for, is that our Church of England never becomes a cult like that. It won’t. The trajectory is going the other way. I am glad for voices like Penelope Cowell Doe’s which reflect so many ordinary Anglicans and just want to get on with life and loving. My church is an inclusive Anglican church. Some of the views expressed in some quarters – such as some of the comments on Christian Concern – would just be regarded as weird and sad at my church. We accept diversity.

            So do most women in this country today. These TERF individuals do not speak for most women. They are exclusionary. They seem to concern you, possibly to mandate your own dogma and beliefs. They don’t concern me. Move on. Nothing to see. Get on with life. Hope yours is as happy as mine, I really do. God be with you.

        • It may not be their science debunked, but it pretty much is because it is their moorings debunked, and science depends on being grounded in an accurate view of reality. The things that give children instability and prevent adults from either reaching maturity or establishing stable marriages they call good. Presumably if they call bad things good, that must also make the good things bad for their worldview to be coherent (if mistaken).

      • Rev John Parker’s concerns have proved to be true.
        I am aware that it is reported that Rev John Parker, who resigned as a school governor because of training the staff received after a child’s gender transition, says he left the Church of England because of their ‘unequivocal’ support for a child’s gender transition when it was not clear that the parents, those actually responsible, had been properly informed or consulted.

        Now we get this just this weekend and his concerns have connected with even the Scottish Government’s concerns and pressure is now coming upon the English government and Welsh Government’s matching system. The Scottish government have WITHDRAWN their guidance for immediate review for the damage and hurt they are doing.

        https://www.transgendertrend.com/scotland-u-turn-transgender-schools-guidance-england-and-wales/

        • Clive
          None of this is true.
          Psrker covertly recorded a training session and then publicly identified the school, the child, their peers and the teachers,. This has safeguarding implications.
          There is no ‘after’ the child’s transition. They are in the process of socially transitioning.
          Of course the child’s parents know about their child and support them. The question was if other parents needed to know.
          Parker’s behaviour was shameful and shameless. Far from protecting a child he has made them more vulnerable and raised safeguarding issues.

          • Of course the child’s parents know about their child and support them. The question was if other parents needed to know.

            How on Earth could the other parents not know? Surely their children would mention to them that they had been ordered to treat one of their classmates as if they were the opposite sex to what they had been last year.

            Parker’s behaviour was shameful and shameless.

            But was it also the only way for people to find out what was going on in these secretive ‘training sessions’?

          • What is ‘secretive’ about Mermaids training sessions?

            If there’s nothing secret, what’s wrong with recording them?

          • Do you understand the concept of privacy and the difference between privacy and secrecy? Do you understand the ethics of covert recording?
            I’m involved in training sessions all the time. They are not secret, but no one records them because they are private. They would not, I hope, record them covertly.

          • I’m involved in training sessions all the time. They are not secret, but no one records them because they are private. They would not, I hope, record them covertly.

            What could possibly be private about training? Are the principles of first aid, say, that people might get trained in, private?

            This sounds a lot like you have something to hide. What is it?

          • S

            You are most definitely having problems distinguishing secrecy and privacy. If I am training, say, ordinands or members of a PCC, the training isn’t secret: lots of people know about it and some will know the content. But it is private. People can’t just walk in willy nilly; and, if I record it, which I sometimes do, I ask permission and do not record covertly. Similarly, if I take a photograph of course participants, I ask permission before posting it on social media.

          • If I am training, say, ordinands or members of a PCC, the training isn’t secret: lots of people know about it and some will know the content

            Right. So if the content isn’t secret, and covert recording is the only way for those not present to find out the content of this training, isn’t that a legitimate recourse?

            After all, if the content is controversial, then people have a right to know what that content is, don’t they? It’s a matter of public interest. Controversially if the content isn’t controversial, then there’s no problem with the recording, is there? Nobody will be interested in it.

            Perhaps he ought to have asked permission, but perhaps he had reason to suspect that if he asked permission would not have been given, so in order to get the recording (a legitimate aim on public interest grounds) he had to do it covertly.

          • S
            Utter nonsense. Covert recording isn’t the only way to ‘find out’ the content of Mermaids training. Just go to their website and look at their schools’ pack.
            I assume, though I may well be wrong, that Parker recorded the session either because he believed the content to be controversial or to include his ill-advised comments at the end, which he may have thought made him look like a martyr to ‘political correctness’. It didn’t. He merely looked like an ideologue trying to sabotage the training. He was offered another opportunity to air his ideology.
            He was trying to pose as a whistleblower. Fortunately, he made a fool of himself. Unfortunately, he identified vulnerable people.

          • Utter nonsense. Covert recording isn’t the only way to ‘find out’ the content of Mermaids training. Just go to their website and look at their schools’ pack.

            So if it’s all public and open, what was the problem with him recording it? If the recording reveals nothing more than what they have already made publicly available, why do you object so vociferously to it?

            He merely looked like an ideologue trying to sabotage the training.

            The training which was itself, remember, ideological. You have already admitted that Mermaids is just as much an ideological lobby group as Transgender Trend or that other registered charity the Christian Institute.

          • S

            I have just told you what the problem with covert recording is. And, as has been pointed out before, Parker identified the school, the teachers and the pupil.

            I am not scrolling back to look but I think I observed that all POVs and institutions have an ideology, that is, they are not disinterested. However some like Mermaids and the AAP are widely recognised as reputable bodies, the latter as authoritative. TT and the ACP, on the other hand are anti LGBT lobby groups.

            The Government, Schools and the CoE have chosen Mermaids as an advisor, as has been pointed out before. You may choose to disagree with Mermaids guidance. You may direct others to their website to demonstrate why and how you disagree with it. You would not, I hope, covertly record a training session which identifies potentially vulnerable people and then make it public.

          • I have just told you what the problem with covert recording is.

            You really haven’t. You’ve just repeated over and over again that it’s wrong without giving any actual argument.

            And, as has been pointed out before, Parker identified the school, the teachers and the pupil.

            That’s a separate issue to the recording.

            I am not scrolling back to look but I think I observed that all POVs and institutions have an ideology, that is, they are not disinterested. However some like Mermaids and the AAP are widely recognised as reputable bodies, the latter as authoritative. TT and the ACP, on the other hand are anti LGBT lobby groups.

            The people who ‘recognise’ them, of course, are also not disinterested and also are pushing an ideology. So the fact they are ‘recognised’ is in this context meaningless. Everyone with an ideological axe to grind is obviously going to be ‘recognised’ by those who share that axe, or who are in fear of those who do share it.

    • Anyone reading the linked article should know that the person is presented as president of the American College of Pediatricians. This is not a professional body, and has been described as ‘a fringe anti-LGBT hate group that masquerades as the premier U.S. association of pediatricians to push anti-LGBT junk science, primarily via far-right conservative media’. (See https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/american-college-pediatricians).

      The actual professional body in America is the American Academy of Pediatrics, which supports gender affirming care (see https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/142/4/e20182162).

      It is ironic that complaints about ‘unscientific nature of transgender ideology’ so frequently need to resort to junk science and ignore the professional bodies.

      John Parker was shamed because he did a shameful thing. He lied to the staff at the training event and the trainer, breaking their trust and creating safeguarding concerns for the child and family. There is also a discrepancy between what he claimed Bishop Stephen Cottrell said to him and Stephen Cottrell’s response, which was an explicit and firm denial of this. I see no evidence that he was ‘forced to resign’, but I think it appropriate that he did.

      • So what are people supposed to do when people with no academic credentials come in and say that everybody *has* to agree with them, *has* to become an honorary Mermaid, and *has* no time to discuss or make their own points despite being better qualified?

        People are driven to record things. That is because they believe in accuracy. Otherwise it is a case of ‘he said / she said’ – ‘did they really say that?’ Is that what you’d want?

      • Dr Quentin van Meter is the president of the ACP and a paediatric endocrinologist with decades of experience. The SPLC is a notorious anti- conservative smear group who label as hate groups anyone who doesn’t share their narrow radical progressive worldview, including feminist opponents of transgender ideology and Islamic reformers such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali. See eg https://thefederalist.com/2019/03/20/long-will-media-use-splcs-garbage-hate-designation-smear-people/.

        • The ACP is not the official professional body, but a group dedicated primarily to preventing gay and lesbian couples from adopting. They also advocate conversion therapy.

          • The ACP is not the official professional body

            The ACP are official but so are the AAP

            What does ‘official’ mean in this context? Is one registered with the US equivalent of the GMC and the other not? Is there such a thing as the US equivalent of the GMC? If a group of consultants in the USA decide to set up aprofessional organisation, what steps to the have to go through to make it ‘official’?

          • The AAP is no more official than the ACP as a professional association, though it is much larger and older. The AAP itself began as a breakaway from another professional association the AMA in the 1920s. The ACP was founded by a former president of the AAP, a measure of how mainstream it is. All the paediatricians that belong to it are fully trained and qualified in their field. You may disagree with it but it does your own credibility no favours trying to discredit it – a standard progressive tactic against conservatives now they control most social institutions.

    • (To add to what you say Will, it is worth adding that the law is specifically non-equal in some areas, specficially in the area of grounds for divorce and for the definition of voidable marriages.)

  4. Thank you for this! Where can one (especially a somewhat shaky ‘searcher’) read, online, the details of the “previous decision in 2004” (hitherto unknown to me, so far as I recall – in contrast to the Rev Dr Malcolm Brown’s (sadly footnote-free) statement)?

    And for that matter, the various details re. “the law around gender recognition” you mention in your antepenultimate paragraph (also new to me)?

    (By the way, something went amiss in your penultimate sentence in the phrase “becoming every clearer” – ‘every day’, or ‘hour’, or ‘moment’, or should it be ‘ever’?)

  5. Thanks Ian
    Two things. Not all feminists are anxious about trans women in women’s spaces, a) because they are transwomen , not men, and b) because this has been going on since 2004, with no one noticing, until the TERFS jumped on the bandwagon.
    Secondly, I think it will be unwise to wait for LLF to ‘settle’ this issue. There are indications that the process is seriously flawed, not least Tina Beardsley’s resignation and I fear that the outcome will be inaccurate or inept.

    • because this has been going on since 2004, with no one noticing, until the TERFS jumped on the bandwagon

      Or, has it been happening since 2004 with no one noticing because the emphasis was on everyone just getting on with their lives and trying not to bother anyone else, and only now become such a big issue becuase there has been a push to claim that it validates nonsense like ‘transwomen [are] not men’ (by the way, you left out the space in ‘trans women’: woke Twitter will flay you alive for that)?

      Personally, it seems to me that prior to the last couple of years nobody much minded if men who think they are women used the women’s toilets as long as they minded their own business, didn’t threaten anyone, and didn’t insist that doing so meant that they were ‘really’ women.

      It’s only in the last year or three that the mantra ‘trans women are women and if you disagree with this statement of fact you’re a transphobe which basically means you’re Hitler’.

      People don’t like being told they must believe things that are blatantly untrue, so the backlash was entirely predictable.

      I fear that the outcome will be inaccurate or inept.

      By ‘innacurate or inept’ do you mean you think it might reach a conclusion other than the one you agree with?

      • No, I mean it might reach a conclusion which has not been informed by the voices of lived experience and the voices of theologians who have worked in this area.
        But I am glad you recognise that trans women [sic] are not a threat in women’s spaces.

        • No, I mean it might reach a conclusion which has not been informed by the voices of lived experience and the voices of theologians who have worked in this area.

          What if it reaches a conclusion which is informed by those things but does not agree with their conclusions? Or do you think it is not possible to be informed by something and yet ultimately to disagree with it?

          But I am glad you recognise that trans women [sic] are not a threat in women’s spaces.

          Indeed. The threat is the redefinition of ‘woman’ to mean ‘anyone who claims to be a woman’. That redefinition of reality is what has provoked the backlash, and will continue to do so.

          • Since 2004 S. That’s fifteen years.

            What since 2004? Certainly there hasn’t been the massive push in the media that ‘trans women are women’ is an article of faith that everyone must believe since 2004 — that’s something that the mainstream media have only picked up on in the last few years (the Great Jenner Coming-Out was 2015, and it postdates that).

          • Trans women have been sharing our facilities since (at least) 2004. No one noticed or cared until a few TERFS started making a big fuss. And they are few.

          • Trans women have been sharing our facilities since (at least) 2004. No one noticed or cared until a few TERFS started making a big fuss. And they are few.

            The ‘fuss’ isn’t about toilets, though. It’s a backlash to the promotion of the idea that ‘trans women are women’ and ‘trans men are men’ are facts, and anyone who disagrees — for example by ‘misgendering’ — is guilty of a hate crime. That hasn’t been going on since 2004, it’s a very recent development.

            If we could go back to the old days when men who thought they were women used the ladies in peace, but didn’t try to intimidate people into agreeing with the idea that they are actually women, then I think you would find the fuss would disappear.

            I don’t suppose we can go back to those days, though. Things have gone too far and the pendulum is going to swing back.

          • I do not have much experience of trans people (at least, that I know of). However, around 1998 someone came for a second interview for a job where I worked. This involved them doing tasks for a day related to the job for which they had applied. I was to be the contact person duing these tasks, and the manager said, “Er, X may not always have been a woman.” The height, width of shoulders and size of hands did seem to indicate this. But also the rather bouffant hair and the tight and short back dress did not quite fit the normal image of a woman applying for a technical role in a software company. In the end X was not up to the job. The reaction of people interested me. Men were, as far as I could see, indifferent to X. However, I heard one female member of staff say to another, “I’m not having that in the ladies.”

            Nowadays that would be described as ‘transphobic’. However, I would ask why it is not a valid viewpoint. After all, does one have to accept that Rachel Dozeal is black?

          • David
            The reason why that is not a valid viewpoint is would you say of David Lammy, I am not having ‘that’ in the toilets.

          • Gosh S you have a lurid imagination. I have never been intimidated in a loo by anyone, tryingvto make me agree with how they identify their gender. We wash our hands, re apply lipstick and get on with our lives.
            I think you’ll find it’s the terven with the strident voices.

          • Gosh S you have a lurid imagination. I have never been intimidated in a loo by anyone, tryingvto make me agree with how they identify their gender. We wash our hands, re apply lipstick and get on with our lives.

            The intimidation doesn’t happen in the toilets, of course. It happens when the police call someone to try to bully them because they have expressed the view that trans women are not women. It happens when an employer is harassed with the aim of getting them to fire an employee who has ‘misgendered’ someone.

            Those are the things people object to, and they are relatively recent. They are what has caused the backlash.

            Anyway. I think it would be best if we went back to when men who think they are women used whichever toilet they felt most comfortable in, and in return nobody was asked to pretend to believe that they were really women. Would that be okay?

          • Actually S, according to the terven, it’s all about the danger of having trans women in loos and changing rooms. Despite both having cubicles.
            And, no I wouldn’t be happy with the idea that trans women are only pretending to be women. I think that idea is offensive and ignorant and doesn’t belong on a Christian blog.

          • Actually S, according to the terven, it’s all about the danger of having trans women in loos and changing rooms

            You don’t find it at all interesting that, as you note, nobody had a problem with what as going on in toilets until after the attempts to hound people out of their jobs, or setting the police on them, for holding the wrong ontological opinions, or for, for example, suggesting that there might be something wrong with a Labour Party women’s Officer not being an actual woman?

            It’s not really about the toilets, as I’m sure you realise. It’s about the definition of ‘a woman’ and ‘a man’.

          • S
            I didn’t note that people were being arrested for having the wrong ontological opinions. I noted that the terven suddenly got all antsy.

          • I didn’t note that people were being arrested for having the wrong ontological opinions

            People have certainly had the police bully them, and have been fired fomr their jobs, for having the wrong ontological opinions (eg, Maya Forstater).

            I don’t know if anyone has actually been arrested… yet.

            And people have certainly been told not to object to things like, for example, Women’s Officers who aren’t actually women, or people who are biologically men being put on all-women shortlists.

            Is it any surprise that people who have, for example, fought long and hard for the introduction of such things as all-women shortlists, might get ‘antsy’ when they are told they are not allowed to object to spaces on those shortlists being taken up by people who are biologically men?

          • Penny,

            One point of my story was to illustrate that twenty years ago an encounter between ordinary women and what we seem to call these days a trans-woman resulted in the former having an issue with women’s toilets being used by the latter.

            The use of the word ‘that’ is certainly not kind. However, it does reflect an ordinary person’s instinct in recognising the ontological issue of transgenderism.

            There is no ontological issue with David Lamy. However, there is with Rachel Dolezal. What is your view on her nature? Is it legitimate to identify as a race when you have no physical inheritance from that race?

          • Is it legitimate to identify as a race when you have no physical inheritance from that race?

            ‘Race’ is not really a well-defined enough concept for that to be a meaningful question. You can’t tell someone’s ‘race’ from their DNA, for example.

            ‘Sex’ however is a well-defined concept (despite the efforts by some in recent times to muddy the waters) and so there is an ontological issue there.

          • Yes, David I understand that. My point is that this is no more acceptable than an ordinary person refusing to share facilities with a black man or woman (or, indeed, someone who identifies as black, though Dolzeal is something of a red herring). Bigotry is not acceptable because it comes from ‘ordinary’ people.

          • My point is that this is no more acceptable than an ordinary person refusing to share facilities with a black man or woman

            Why? Skin colour is obviously irrelevant to which toilet one uses, which is why we don’t have ‘whites toilets’ as if we were apartheid South Africa; but sex isn’t: that’s why we do have male and female toilets.

            So why is it not acceptable to want someone to use the correct toilet for their sex, given that separate toilets are provided for just that purpose?

          • S
            Forstater was contracted for a limited period for a specific piece of work
            Her contract was voluntary
            There was no indication that it would be renewed
            She has scammed perhaps 60k for her ‘legal challenge’. My understanding is that it is illegal to crowd fund for legal costs.
            She is ignorant about VSC as well as transgender people.

          • S
            Quite. Except that colour was seen as significant in south Africa and the southern states of the US. Gor the same spurious reason trans women are seen as a ‘significant’ problem by terven

          • Forstater was contracted for a limited period for a specific piece of work
            Her contract was voluntary
            There was no indication that it would be renewed

            So you’re saying there was no connection between her views and the decision not the renew; that her contract wasn’t going to be renewed in any case? That she’s lying about being called to HR and told off for expressing her views?

            My understanding is that it is illegal to crowd fund for legal costs.

            I can’t imagine why you would think that. Why on Earth would it be illegal?

            Lots of high-profile cases these days have been funded by donations, such as R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.

            She is ignorant about VSC as well as transgender people

            I don’t know that acronym, what is ‘VSC’?

          • <i.Except that colour was seen as significant in south Africa and the southern states of the US

            So you’re saying that we are wrong to see sex as significant in toilet facilities? That having separate provision for male and female toilets is equivalent to apartheid and we should abolish them and go full Ally McBeal everywhere?

            Well… I do like a bit of Barry White…

          • S
            VSC = variation in sexual characteristics, which some intersex people prefer.

            Actually, I would make loos unisex (without urinals). But that wasn’t my point. Banning trans women from women’s loos is as discriminatory as banning POC from White loos.

          • S
            Well, she could be lying. But she seems to have had no right to have un unpaid contract renewed.
            You are right about crowd funding. Ot was GoFundMe which banned fund raising for legal costs.

          • Actually, I would make loos unisex (without urinals).

            You’re my first… my last… my everything!

            Banning trans women from women’s loos is as discriminatory as banning POC from White loos.

            But it’s not, is it? The reason having whites-only toilets is is wrong is that skin colour is irrelevant to toilet use. Sex, on the other hand, is relevant. If we’re going to have sex-segregated toilet facilities (and I concede you would prefer not to, but in the present world where they are), then it’s not wrong to ask people to use the correct ones based on their sex.

            (Note that discrimination is not per se wrong. Universities discriminate based on exam results. The Olympic Games discriminates based on athletic performance. I discriminate on where to buy things based on price. Discrimination is only wrong when it’s based on an irrelevant characteristic, such as if I refused to buy beans from a shop run even though they were cheaper there, because I didn’t like the skin colour of the proprietor.)

            Well, she could be lying.

            She could. She could also be telling the truth. Do you have any reason to think one of those is more likely?

            But she seems to have had no right to have un unpaid contract renewed.

            No one’s said did have any such right. The question is, is the reason it was not renewed entirely because of her views? If it was, and she would have been kept on if she had had different views, then I think ‘she was fired because of her ontological views’ is a fair characterisation of the situation. Do you not?

            Do you also not think that such things happening acts as intimidation that discourages people with certain views from speaking them in case they lose their jobs? (Perhaps you think it’s good that people with certain views should be made to shut up about them under threat of losing their jobs).

          • Penelope, I cannot believe you are still resorting to the ‘orientation is equivalent to race’ tack. It has been refuted, from numerous different angles, more times than any of us has had hot dinners.

          • Christopher
            I didn’t bring up the race/gender analogy. I think it was David.
            My point was that just as we don’t, I hope, expect POC to drink from a separate water fountain, we shouldn’t expect trans women to use a separate loo.

          • My point was that just as we don’t, I hope, expect POC to drink from a separate water fountain, we shouldn’t expect trans women to use a separate loo.

            We don’t. We expect them to — like everyone else — use the facilities provided for their sex.

          • No, Penny, it was you with the reference to David Lamy.

            The analogy with drinking fountains, buses etc. is not accurate in that we embrace separation of the sexes [sic] for toilet facilities. If you are proposing the abolition of sex-specific toilets, then there is no problem for trans people, since there is only one kind of facility. However, women I know do not want this. Women I know tell me that in a shared toilet they would not feel safe, rather they would feel vulnerable. The same vulnerability is felt if a trans-women were to be present.

          • S
            Forstater has raised 60k to fight a legal battle to reinstate her to an unpaid, fixed-term contract.
            That seems entirely kosher.

          • Exactly! And they do.

            They don’t if they are biologically male and they use the female facility. That is the whole point.

          • if they are biologically male and they use the female facility

            (or indeed if they are biologically female and use the male facility, though one doesn’t hear as much about that situation. I do sometimes wonder why not.)

          • Yes, they do S and have been since 2004,even when they at ‘biologically male.’.

          • Yes, they do S and have been since 2004,even when they at ‘biologically male.’.

            That’s just nonsensical.

          • Penelope

            It is extremely wrong of you and disgraceful of you to blame TERFS when THEY are the ones who simply tried to speak and got beaten up. Kindly stop your disgraceful behaviors and propagating untruths.

          • Clive

            It is extremely wrong (as in inaccurate) and disgraceful of you to make this assertion. Trans women are beaten up every day. Julie Bindel got shouted at after a transphobic meeting. Posie Parker and Julia Long stormed into a trans woman’s office in the US and harassed her. They are a silly but dangerous cult which attracts some dark money.

          • You might find it nonsensical. But that’s what happens!

            No, what is nonsensical is to say that people who are biologically male are using the correct toilets if they use the toilets which are specifically for those who are biologically female instead of the toilets that are for those who are biologically male, which is what they are.

            Surely you can see that doesn’t make sense.

          • If you have a GRC you can use the facilities of your recognised gender.

            You can’t, because toilet facilities are segregated on the basis of sex, not gender. Unless you have a link to a statute on the https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ web site that says otherwise.

          • S
            You can. Because in law sex and gender are interchangeable terms. There are a few instances where spaces can be ‘sex’ segregated (I.e. by natal sex), but this is on a case by case basis, not a blanket exemption

          • Because in law sex and gender are interchangeable terms.

            Please provide a reference to either case law or statute to back that up.

          • Equality Act section 7

            That says that gender reassignment is a protected characteristic, ie, it is illegal to discriminate against someone based on whether they have had gender reassignment or not. So under section 7 of the Equality Act it would be illegal to refuse to employ someone because they had undergone gender reassignment. You can’t (legally) say, ‘You’ve had your gender reassigned, I don’t like that, you won’t get the job.’

            That is not at all the same thing as ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ being interchangeable under the law. So please provide case law or a reference to statue to back up that claim, or withdraw it.

          • I too busy to give any considered comments at the moment. However the references to the law reminded me of this:

            “If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is a ass — a idiot.”

            Foolish laws are not a new invention!

          • S
            In the section I quoted sex and gender are synonyms.
            And, I repeat, people with a GRC are entitled to use the facilities of their recognised gender.

          • In the section I quoted sex and gender are synonyms.

            If you think that you must have a problem with basic reading comprehension, because they quite specifically are not used as synonyms. The section 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.’

            So note first that this section defines what it means to have the characteristic of gender reassignment in terms of having had one’s sex reassigned. This would be meaningless if the two were synonyms; it would effectively be saying ‘a person has the characteristic of gender reassignment if they have gone through a process for reassigning their gender’. This would be a stupid thing and meaningless thing to write, I’m sure you realise.

            Second, note that the word ‘sex is always used in relationship to the biology: the ‘physiological or other attributes of sex’. There are no ‘physiological or other attributes of gender’ because, as the trans lobby repeatedly points out, ‘gender’ has no physiological component. One’s gender is entirely independent of any physiological attributes.

            Therefore in the section you quoted, ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are not only not used as synonyms but, quite the opposite, they are specifically used to mean completely different things.

            And, I repeat, people with a GRC are entitled to use the facilities of their recognised gender.

            Do you think that you can make something untrue become true by repeating it? The facilities are segregated by sex, not by gender, and sex and gender are not the same thing, either in law or in reality.

          • S
            ‘Re-assigning the person’s sex’ is quite straightforward isn’t it?
            Sex, as in the changing of sex on a birth certificate is synonymous with gender.
            And trans women are ‘allowed’ to use women’s loos and have been since 2004, although you cannot, somehow, recognise this.

          • ‘Re-assigning the person’s sex’ is quite straightforward isn’t it?
            Sex, as in the changing of sex on a birth certificate is synonymous with gender.

            So you do have problems with basic reading comprehension. Okay, good to know, will bear it in mind.

            And trans women are ‘allowed’ to use women’s loos and have been since 2004, although you cannot, somehow, recognise this.

            Anybody is ‘allowed’, legally, to use any toilet. It’s not illegal, per se, for any man,whether they identify as a woman or not, to use a ladies’ loo. Obviously the police can be called if they cause a distrubance while in there, but that’s always true.

            The issue is not whether it is legal but whether it is appropriate.

          • Yes, it’s both legal and appropriate. You may not realise this, but women’s loos have cubicles. We are entirely unaware of the genitalia of the people in the neighbouring cubicles.
            You are quite right to observe that anyone can match in, but it would be easier for a potential rapist to don a janitor’s overalls than to dress as a woman!

          • And, I repeat, since you don’t seem to understand the GRA, anyone with a GRC can use the facilities of their recognised gender.

          • Yes, it’s both legal and appropriate

            If it’s appropriate, why do we have ladies’ toilets at all? Why not just go full Ally McBeal?

            Clearly not everyone thinks it appropriate or all toilets would be unisex.

          • And, I repeat, since you don’t seem to understand the GRA, anyone with a GRC can use the facilities of their recognised gender.

            Anyone with or without a GRC can legally use any facilities, including the ones for the opposite sex, the question is whether it’s appropriate and whether they cause a disturbance, and that has nothing to do with a GRC or the GRA.

  6. The core problem is that whole transgender agenda is incoherent. It is not only Christians who recognise this. For instance, here are articles which address this issue:

    https://medium.com/@s.r.allen/if-transwomen-are-women-what-is-a-woman-d36121bdd926

    https://quillette.com/2019/04/11/ignoring-differences-between-men-and-women-is-the-wrong-way-to-address-gender-dysphoria/

    I can understand why it is women of various backgrounds find transgenderism a problem. Firstly, a trans-man does not seem a threat to men. I’m not sure that a group of blokes would really accept a trans-man as one of them, but the power relationship is in the favour of the (cis-)men. But trans-women do seem a threat to at least some (cis-)women. One obvious example is that of the trans-woman who sexually assulted women in a women’s prison.

    Another reason I suspect (only suspect, because I am a man) is that the experience of being a woman is more closely connected to her body, and particularly what is true about her body as one who could bear and suckle children. That is something which unites women, and a trans-woman by definition does not share that same experience.

  7. Here is how I suggest resolving this issue:

    -no more “mens” and “womens” restrooms. Individual toilets and stalls for individuals.
    -no more “boys’ locker room” or “girls’ locker room”. Individual showers and changing stalls for individuals.
    -no more “husband and wife”, just “spouse and spouse”.

    And what about sports? We just had the (womens’) world cup with all the controversy over equal pay; then there is the controversy of transwomen (biologically male) competing in women’s sports. I say, abolish all male and female categories of sports. Instead, divide sporting divisions by testosterone level.

    One division for persons with testosterone levels above a certain level and another for those below that level regardless of gender.

    What do you think?

      • What are the objective and clear indicators for gender?

        I thought all the work on gender in the ’70s was that gender is a social construct and concerned with stereotypes.

      • If we want to do away with gender based sports but do not use testosterone levels, we are stuck with performance ability as the sole criteria for selection to a sports team. Yes, some biological females will be good enough to be selected to professional sports teams but the majority will not. Testosterone makes men stronger and faster. It is a biological fact.

        How many of the world champion US women’s national soccer team would be picked up by a professional (currently all-male) soccer club?

        • Testosterone makes men stronger and faster

          This is true but — if you watched the recent Martina Navratilova documentary on the BBC* — it’s not that simple. Men’s bodies change during puberty in a way which may give them an advantage even if later they go on drugs which reduce their testosterone levels (eg they are taller, have longer limbs, and more muscle); or which may not (their bodies are heavier). And there’s been next to no research, though some is now being done (as seen in the documentary).

          * available for another couple of weeks: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m00069nr/the-trans-women-athlete-dispute-with-martina-navratilova

          • Ok, so let’s abolish all “male” and “female” sports categories and have everyone compete for the same teams. May the best individual win!

          • S
            Which must be why so many trans female athletes have won Olympic medals. Oh wait….

          • Which must be why so many trans female athletes have won Olympic medals.

            Great for them! I say, let everyone compete in the same sporting events. Stop dividing people by gender. Everyone compete together!

            May the best INDIVIDUAL win!

    • Ah yes Gary – It’s Wimbledon again where every tennis match involving a woman (including mixed doubles) is just “best of 3 sets” whereas all men have to do “best of 5 sets”

      No I will not stand by whilst sportswomen are abused by transwomen competing against when their bodies are medically different.

  8. The idea that it’s okay for two people to be married one day, but that the same two people are not married the next day, because of a surgical procedure, is pretty crazy (and I don’t think God is that crazy).

    For the people involved, if they love each other, they are still those two people who loved each other before one of them transitioned.

    And their love, and their marriage is good, a blessing, and you know what? I don’t think those two lovers care about people’s theological angst over it.

    We seem obsessed with constructing rules around gender. Gender is just gender. It’s the sense of identity everybody has. Get over it.

    Instead of obsessing with gender, why not leave people’s sense of their gender to them (they know themselves best).

    A person is a person is a person.

    In the economy of love, that is sufficient, if two people choose to continue their marriage.

    As so often, it’s about love, stupid.

    You know, that thing which is greater than everything else, because it’s the very flood and flow of God.

    Tiny minds try to box in God, but the Word of God is alive and active, and can’t be tamed. Like love itself, it is wild.

    God keeps on creating. Keeps on calling us into being and becoming. That was clear all along. As the Psalmist said: ‘You send your Spirit, and you renew the face of the earth.’

    I must applaud and thank Jonathan Tallon and Penelope Cowell Doe for being voices of sanity in these threads. As they have noted, for most trans people, as medical professionals recognise, transition is a hugely healthy process. Through surgery it helps synchronise sexual physicalities and internal sense of being, making both feel congruent with each other. It brings psychological ease to many, after years of torment and distress.

    And yet some people begrudge these opportunities to make life more congruent, more productive, more happy. I find that sad.

    What on earth gives any of you the right to ‘police’ the lives of two people if they married years ago, and still love one another, till death?

    Meanwhile, all across the Anglican Communion, in the real world, people suffer pitifully in poverty, ill-health, abandonment, dementia, deprivation.

    And yet some of us need to dance on theological pin heads, and obsess about someone else’s private life, and love, and the privacies and intimacies of decent lives. People just getting on with their lives.

    I’m trans, I’m a registered nurse, I started transition in 2008. I’ve forgotten the tormented head space of what it was like to live as a ‘man’. My life has just got better and better. I lead a productive and caring life. I have fun. I am loved by God. My spiritual life is a source of deep joy.

    This is my only post, so you can reply what you like. Last time I frequented here and tried to join in, I got so blatantly and deliberately misgendered, it was just weird and distressing, so I’ve learnt it can feel quite hostile as a trans person in a few corners of the religious world.

    My own church is inclusive of trans people, gay people, lesbian people, people with physical disabilities, autistic people, people with diverse ethnicities. In short, people are people, all loved and valued by God. The defining issue for every person is love. Do we get on and love? Do we open our hearts to the love and the flow of God?

    And as a trans Christian, I flourish, I prosper in happiness, my life expands. Don’t let yours contract into rigid enclaves of dogma, and moralising against people who may live better lives than you. I’m not saying I’m always unselfish. I know through judgment and my own failings that I can only, ever, come before God as if dressed in rags.

    But God honours me, because God loves me so much. I am honoured by being part of God’s household.

    Some people peddle in myths and misinformation. Trans people are simply people, like you and like your friends, and if their transition helps them (which it often does) why should you police or begrudge them?

    I fear this dogmatism and rigidity withers the church. It certainly appals and disgusts young people. Our youth ‘get’ the alrightness of diversity. They ‘get’ that people are varied and different. And their friends are gay, or trans, and you better not demean them with your prejudice and moral pride.

    That’s all I have to say in this thread. You don’t have to listen. But it’s a shame if you don’t. Because I’m the trans person actually speaking from experience. Rather like trying to understand God in terms of gender, personhood transcends gender, but sense of gender still matters to the person. I’m sure many of you guys here have a sense of your own gender. So do I. But beyond all that, I am a person: a person loved by God.

    Let us open up to love, not close love down in our definitions, and restrictions, and theological cleverness. Let’s love, and journey with God, and discover what God says in the living dynamic of the Word who is more than scripture, and is creating us still.

    Love never ends. God bless you all with grace.

    • Suaannah Not for first time – thank you for your story and your courage – and your challenge to voices on this thread. Very grateful.

    • Hello Susannah
      I am glad to see you here again and to read your contributions
      – we still disagree profoundly but I appreciate you writing from your important perspective.

    • “The idea that it’s okay for two people to be married one day, but that the same two people are not married the next day, because of a surgical procedure, is pretty crazy (and I don’t think God is that crazy).”

      Yep. I absolutely agree with that because neither a surgical procedure nor any legal document can reinforce or effect an essential change of one spouse’s sex to be the same sex as the other spouse.

      As noted gay author, Andrew Sullivan, wrote: ”This is the deeply confusing and incoherent aspect of the entire debate. If you abandon biology in the matter of sex and gender altogether, you may help trans people live fuller, less conflicted lives; but you also undermine the very meaning of homosexuality. If you follow the current ideology of gender as entirely fluid, you actually subvert and undermine core arguments in defense of gay rights. “A gay man loves and desires other men, and a lesbian desires and loves other women,” explains Sky Gilbert, a drag queen. “This defines the existential state of being gay. If there is no such thing as ‘male’ or ‘female,’ the entire self-definition of gay identity, which we have spent generations seeking to validate and protect from bigots, collapses.” Contemporary transgender ideology is not a complement to gay rights; in some ways it is in active opposition to them.

      So, if the Church affirms gender transition as a concrete and objective change from male to female or vice versa, then the prior marriage of anyone who transitions becomes a same-sex marriage.

      Alternatively, if the Church treats gender and sex as socially constructed and not coterminous with biology (as many transgender activists insist), then it must treat sexual orientation as no more than part of that social construct, and not as an irreducible and defining component of human personhood.

      You really can’t have it both ways.

  9. Have read the whole article and most of the comments. My thought is a simple one. The enemy loves confusion.

    • I agree, Gillian.

      At their best, comments BTL can enhance the thinking process and contribute to understanding. But offering the facility to comment has to be done in the knowledge that it can go the other way and become anything but enlightening. Those of us who scroll down to see what others think (usually irresistible) probably find our own point at which to say ‘enough is enough’! Good use of time may well be the deciding factor.

      Regarding comments on matters of Christian teaching and experience, I’d hope to get the sense of a rational and faithful Christian assumption that the Bible means what it says, that there’s an attempt to understand and accept the clear evidence of science and apply it to the issue in question, and (perhaps most importantly) the absence of any intention to subvert language as a way of undermining English comprehension (which has become a serious threat to rational debate in secular social and political discourse). Ideas don’t exist until they are put into words; it’s therefore essential that the meaning of words is not corrupted and that the ability to write and comprehend rational sentences is shared by everyone who is engaged in discussing ideas.

      When these things are not evident, there’s every chance that any discussion is going to end up in confusion.

  10. 1 “Gender is just gender get over it.”
    This is a topic that transcends above personal testimony.
    2 I repeat this comment I made earlier. They are a genuine questions, not flippant, an invitation to plunge into philosophy, law, theology and real lives lived out.
    The second question is in contrast to Suzzanah’s testimony, whereby M, now T renounces and rejects, and pronounces death to M who is no more., who as that person has ceased to exist.
    “If M(ale) marries F(emale), biological and M becomes T(f+m) is this bigamy or polygamy if there is no divorce.
    If there were a divorce, would the CoE marry F to M2? Or would the act of M becoming T be recognised as a death of M thereby permitting F to remarry?
    3 “Gender is just gender”. Don’t agree. Get over it.
    Here are notes of a talk by Peter J Williams I posted over a year ago. They remain relevant and counter the assertion made. Apologies for the repetition. But the constant drip of repetition is part of gender activist strategy and methodology.
    As Alastair Roberts has said, the topic topic is grounded in “..God’s intimate claim on each of our bodies, manifested in the assurance of future resurrection.”

    Peter J Williams: “Sex Gender Sexuality Peter J Williams , Principal, Tyndale House Cambridge

    1 It was a pivotal point around which Peter J Williams, Principal, Tyndale House, Cambridge, built his talks at this months Keswick Convention 2017, under the overall heading “Answering Moral Objections to the Scriptures.”

    2 “Isn’t the bible sexist and Homophobic” was one talk.
    In it he set out
    2.1 two different views of men and women (mostly from his handout and my scribbled notes}
    a) Secular materialist view: mere chemicals; value is socially relative, is assigned to you; different only in reproduction
    b) Christian view: equal and of infinite value (in God’s image)divinely created variety
    Then he considered
    2.2“Inventing Sex”
    He displayed slides constructed from a search of Google Books using the Ngram viewer.
    The word “sex is rare
    “Gender “, use of as a category rockets from 1970’s
    “homophobia” – there is revealed a huge recent change in language
    a)Sex is a recently socially constructed category, grouping diverse physical actions and separating these actions from relational and social contexts in order to create a commodity,. The sex experience is the key thing. It stands alone, separate and apart from covenant and consequences. It become a self fulfilling function.
    b) Once “sex” (as an activity is invented you can invent sexual identity (according to activity) c)Once “gender” and “sex” (identity) are distinguished you can invent , make-up, imagine, gender identity
    d) Once “sexual identity” and “gender identity” are imagined you can make others recognise them
    The word gender has replaced the grammar male and female.
    The word transgender has replaced the word transexual (Ngram slide)

    3 Gender studies is a recent social construct. It imposes a lot. “Heteronormative” is being indoctrinated, imposed on other people. no binary male and female
    THEREFORE, THERE IS A NEED TO THINK BIBLICALLY, as there are no agreed neutral categories . To have a proper dialogue with the secular We NEED TO START FROM A SET OF Christian categories, which contradict secularism.
    That is we NEED TO THINK BIBLICALLY.
    3.1 God’s Good Character and OWNERSHIP OF US.
    Two main categories of humans
    a) Those who contest or ignore it
    b) Those who want and welcome God’s ownership

    God owns all of us, so it not merely a disagreement on sexual activity, or what our bodies are. He decides how we should use them.
    God the Owner may give an identity (male or female) which it is wrong to change
    Some activities are forbidden by the Owner.
    Attraction and visual appreciation of own sex does not create identity. It may lead to temptation to activity forbidden by owner.
    Marriage involves giving sub-ownership, under God to someone else.
    There is only ONE worthy to own, to posses us. He who gave up everything for us Jesus Christ.

  11. Thanks Ian.

    You’re XX or you’re XY. There are a vanishingly small number of genetic exceptions. That’s the science in a nutshell. Everything else is ideology and unicorns.

          • At least as many as have red hair

            Figures I found from a quick inter-net search are:

            Red hair: 1-2% of human population

            Disorder of sexual development: difficult to come up with a precise figure, but estimate of 1 in 2,000 births (which seems high to me but still equates to just 0.05% of the population, or one-twentieth the number as have red hair).

            So are you sure about that?

          • William and S
            There are other VSCs which are recognised by experts in intersex ‘conditions’.
            The lower figure is I think, the one relating to what used to be termed ‘hermaphroditism’.

          • Penny, the Wikipedia page on Intersex has various conditions which are under this term, as slightly lower rates (I don’t think there have been any proven cases of true hermaphroditism, i.e. functioning gonads of both types). What are the parameters which you consider to be sexual characteristics with variations other than the ones listed in that article, namely: chromosomes, nature of gonads and appearance of external genetalia?

            I also note that I think that all of the intersex conditions listed either result in pathologies, i.e. health issues (this is certainly true of the chromosomal abnormalities) , or are themselves a pathology, such as androgen insensitivity.

            You also seem to be equating, or at least confusing, gender and sex. This is unhelpful to the overall discussion about transgenderism, unless it can be shown that some significant fraction of those seeking ‘transition’ have some intersex condition.

            If you want to have my definition of the attribute ‘sex’, it would be the role the person’s body would play in sexual reproduction, or at least the role the body is directed towards. That is why ‘intersex’ conditions arise when the different indicators of this seem to differ.

          • Hi David

            https://ihra.org.au/16601/intersex-numbers/
            gives more accurate figures I think. The smaller proportion comes from a clinician, Sax, who counted only, I think, hermaphroditism (i.e. the appearance of m/f gonads, not necessarily functioning). His approach is not considered accurate or correct by later clinicians.
            There are very few ‘pathologies’ associated with VSC and most infants do not need genital surgery. Indeed, unnecessary surgeries on infants and children often cause further problems such as incontinence, loss of sensation etc. They are also performed, of course, without consent.
            I was reacting, in part, to the vanishingly small comment above.
            a) VSC are not vanishingly small, and
            b) proportion is always a theological red herring. Because there are fewer intersex people, or gay people, or red heads, or left-handed people does not mean that these are not natural and normal variations.
            I am aware, as William has pointed out, that intersex and transgender are not related; I merely responded to the absurd suggestion that humankind is XX or XY and that it is this (and only this) which determines sex.

          • However that may be, if a person’s sex chromosomes are XX, with unambiguously female genitals, she is female, and if a person’s sex chromosomes are XY, with unambiguously male genitals, he is male. Their sex cannot be altered – not even if you play games with language and call it “gender” instead.

          • Legally it can

            So what? Reality is not defined by the law. If Parliament passed a law abolishing gravity on Sundays, could we all fly to church?

          • Penelope
            There is such a thing as a legal fiction, no doubt, but biologically and factually it cannot be.

            A so-called “trans woman” is not in reality a woman, and a so-called “trans man” is not in reality a man.

          • Penelope, are you saying the law (which comes about by the stunning means of nonexperts walking into a lobby) is something more fundamental in determining the way things are than is biology?!

            Laws are different in different countries and times. So how can law per se reflect the way things are?

          • No, Christopher. I am saying that in law trans women are women and trans men are men. They are therefore allowed to share the facilities offered for their sex. This was in answer to S’s understanding that they aren’t.

          • Did we not already know that?

            Given that laws can be good laws or bad laws (as every person agrees) how on earth is it relevant?

          • I am saying that in law trans women are women and trans men are men.

            So are you saying that before 2005 trans women weren’t women and trans men weren’t men?

        • William
          Laws have consequences. You may believe POC or women are inferior, but in most instances you are not allowed to discriminate against them because of sex or colour.

          • Laws have consequences

            Yes, and bad laws have bad consequences.

            But the discussion is about reality, not laws. Why do you bring up the law when it is not relevant?

            After all, the logical conclusion of your argument that someone can change sex because it is allowed for in law is that nobody could change sex before 2005, and I’m sure you don’t believe that, do you?

          • Penelope
            Yes, laws have consequences. Altering objective reality is one consequence that they don’t and can’t have. It is impossible to change one’s sex. No law can make it possible.

          • The reality of most trans people is that they are the sex with which they have always identified, and which their birth certificates reflect.

          • The reality of most trans people is that they are the sex with which they have always identified, and which their birth certificates reflect

            Subjective experience is not reality.

          • S
            I think stating that subjective experience is not reality is one of the craziest responses I have ever read on here.
            Bye, I’m going out into the sun to read some queer trinitarian theology.

          • I think stating that subjective experience is not reality is one of the craziest responses I have ever read on here.

            Apparently up is down now, black is white and the land is washing up and down against the sea.

          • Penelope
            It may be the reality that some people think that their sex is the “wrong” one. It is also the reality that, even if they do, their sex is the one in which they were born and that they can’t change it, no matter what sex they “identify” with.

  12. ‘God owns all of us’. ‘God the owner’. Really? Is this really the way the bible speak of God’s relationship with us? Are we his property? God is love. Is the claim to ‘ownership’ a quality of love?

    • David – not sure God’s ownership and God’s love are mutually exclusive, in God’s case.
      I would not choose the word ‘own’ as I dont think its Biblical, but surely it amounts to much the same as his Lordship of us? Paul was happy to describe himself as God’s slave – pierce my ear o Lord n all that?

    • ‘God owns all of us’. ‘God the owner’. Really? Is this really the way the bible speak of God’s relationship with us? Are we his property?

      Duno about ‘ownership, but He certainly has absolute and total authority over us, presumably you can’t argue with that.

      God is love.

      But love is not God, remember.

      • S ‘He certainly has absolute and total authority over us, presumably you can’t argue with that.’ I do actually. We are clearly not puppets. We are free to make choices. The Son sets us free, he doesn’t imprison us or force his ways on us. And where does the bible say ‘love is not God’?

        • ‘He certainly has absolute and total authority over us, presumably you can’t argue with that.’ I do actually. We are clearly not puppets. We are free to make choices.

          How is that disagreement? We are of course free to make the choice to disobey God. That’s called sin. It’s why Jesus had to die to save us.

          And where does the bible say ‘love is not God’?

          It didn’t have to — no one back then was so stupid as to make the error. That’s a modern trap to fall into.

          • ‘We are of course free to make the choice to disobey God’. Yes. And we are free to love – which is surely more wonderful.

          • And we are free to love – which is surely more wonderful

            No, obeying God is the point. Isasmuch as God commands us to love, that involves loving, yes. But the important point is that we obey, though we are free not to.

            If we love in ways which are against God’s commands, that is bad.

          • Love that is commanded is not love.

            Somebody better tell Jesus then, because he commanded people to love. Said it was the greatest and the second-greatest commandment.

        • So, David, do you not confess Jesus is Lord? Does that not imply authority?
          Jesus said to his disciples: ‘‘You call me “Teacher” and “Lord”, and rightly so, for that is what I am.’
          The great commission tells the eleven to make disciples by baptizing and teaching people to obey everything that Jesus had commanded them.
          To that I would add Paul from Romans 6: “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” The choice is being a slave of sin or a slave of righteousness. As Dylan sang ” you’ve gotta serve somebody”.

          • Thanks David This is a specific discussion about the language of God ‘owning us’. Yes, Jesus is my Lord and yes that implies authority. But God clearly does not enslave this world or you and me does he? This is metaphorical language and it needs using with care. Jesus’s loving self offering radically re-defines earthly concepts of authority, obedience, service and, therefore, ownership.

  13. Hi Simon. I don’t agree. Love in Christ is freely given and received. Paul describes himself as a slave – Christ does not say to him ‘you are my slave’. It is always a mutual response of love to love. Likewise Jesus was clear his Lordship was precisely not like coercive earthly rulers – it is expressed among us as ‘one who serves’.

    • In love I freely give myself to the one who loved me, to be owned entirely by him.

      1Cor6v19-20: ‘you are not your own. You were bought at a price’

      Abraham Kuper ‘There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: “Mine”‘

      Heidelberg Catechism: Question 1: What is your only comfort in life and in death?
      Answer: That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that all things must work together for my salvation. Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live unto Him.

  14. The more I muse, the more comfortable I am with the term:

    He owns me as Lord; he owns me as Redeemer who paid for me; he owns me as Lover to whom I have given myself – I am my Beloved’s….and he is mine.

  15. Thanks Simon. a few thoughts. I do not deny the use of the word but think it needs using with great care. I do not own my wife – my beloved – but I am hers and she is mine. It is the language of love. I strongly disagree with Kuper. I nowhere find the Jesus of the gospels so preoccupied with what he ‘owns’. Rather, he sets free. And ‘bought with a price’ is metaphorical language. The cross is not a purchasing agreement. Stimulating engagement – thank you.

  16. Going back to the particular issue of an existing marriage where one spouse transitions, I have been thinking about it in terms of the civil law. A marriage can be voidable on certain grounds, which means that a procedure can be followed to annul the marriage. Non-consummation is one of those grounds. A marriage can also be void on various grounds, e.g. violation of the consanguinity rules or that one participant is already married. No procedure is needed in these cases, the marriage is automatically annulled.

    Prior to the introduction of same-sex marriage, the participants had to be a man and a woman. What happened in law if, say, the husband transitioned? I suspect the answer is nothing (unless the wife decided to divorce). The reason is simple. The husband has not become a woman in the eyes of the law. If he had, the marriage would have been void – an invalid marriage.

    It cannot be the case that the reason for a marriage being void need to be known at the time of the marriage. An obvious case is that of bigamy. Or a brother and sister brought up separately might marry, and then only later discover that they are siblings. In these cases the change in what is known would automatically void the marriage. That did not happen to those marriages where one spouse transitioned because there was no change in sex as far as the law was concerned.

    • What happened in law if, say, the husband transitioned? I suspect the answer is nothing (unless the wife decided to divorce).

      Actually that’s incorrect. Prior to the introduction of same-sex marriages, if a husband wanted a Gender Recognition Certificate, the couple had to divorce. A GRC would not be issued — and therefore the husband could not legally transition — while the marriage existed.

      (The couple could then apply for a civil partnership, and some did.)

      (The husband could have surgery, of course, and could live as a woman, without the marriage having to be dissolved, but legally would still be regarded as a man.)

      However I don’t see what bearing any of that has on the theology of marriage. I think we’re clearly at a point where the law and theology have absolutely zero relationship to each other.

      • I stand corrected. However, that only applied (quick google…) as a result of the Gender Recognition Act which came into effect in 2005. In retrospect, that would seem to be a very significant change in the law when one’s identity in law shifted from one’s sex to one’s ‘gender’ (as ill-defined as that is). Prior to that, those who transitioned remained the same sex.

        I agree that this does not affect our theology of marriage or, indeed, our theological anthropology. However, it is part of the context in which we consider these, and it is the context from which most of our church members acquire their views.

        • The concept of personhood comes into play, and it seems to involve one or more legal fictions.
          As you will know, a limited company is a legal person -a legal fiction.
          If M in a M+F marriage becomes T (m+f) T becomes a new (legal) person, a legal fiction and F ceases to exist -again a legal fiction. (I don’t know whether at law M ceases to exist- akin, a legal fiction, to a death is it not?).
          If F divorced T, (as in the person she married no longer existed) would the CoE apply, extend, a legal fiction of death to M to marry F to M2.
          It takes little to see this happening in real lives.

  17. ….”Love that is commanded is not love”…

    David, in view of the dominical and greatest commandment, I know this was a momentary madness – we all have them – but clear it up and dont leave it as your considered opinion.

    • I would prefer to use the term ‘exhorted’.

      God does not compel free will. God invites us into action.

      Moreover, far from wanting to dominate us, God longs to engage, to share, to exchange freely-given love. It is collaboration. The amazing thing about God is that we get invited to share… to share in God… to be joined in God… to share even consciousness and awareness with God. This is the contemplative experience.

      I am God’s and God is mine. That’s how relationships work.

      The whole idea of ‘headship’ is rather lost, in the ultimate giving, and sharing, and love.

      When Jesus *gave* himself to us on the cross, that was love freely given.

      Yes, I believe in God’s sovereign love. But to misuse, or use casually, the concept of ownership would be to demean the nature of the love and the givenness and the sharing of God.

      We love God because we choose to, not because we are ordered to.

      We are not a conquered nation, forced into submission.

      We are the true loves of God, we are God’s delight and desire, we are tenderly precious to God. And God tenderly exhorts us to freely give ourselves and give our love, so that you and God can joyfully open up to each other.

      It’s deeply beautiful.

      And when we open up to each other, then we find that security and trust, and then I find that, joyfully, I am God’s, and God is my… beloved.

      Love does not own people. That is ugly. If that was the case, it would be a scary model for the way some fundamentalist Christian males think they ‘own’ their wives, and rule them.

      We need to change our mindsets, and try to better understand He, who being in very nature God… took the very nature of a servant… humbled himself, and became obedient to death.

      And yes, we kneel before Jesus as our God, in our relationship and lives in action, because we choose to offer love. It is a choice. We are not ‘owned’ to do that. We want to serve God because we love God.

      And Jesus in turn kneels, in love, like when He washed people’s feets. He serves us still. Service is part of the eternal reality of love. Love serves.

      Loving God with all our hearts and souls and everything else is not a commandment to love but an exhortation, an imperative for our own best wholeness and eternal becoming. The so-called ‘greatest commandment’ is a commandment to take seriously the need to love.

      But the love itself is freely given. And I can’t get over that love and its beauty, its intimacy, its fidelity, its tenderness.

      With Jesus we have a friend and a lover who happens to be God. One problem we have, as human beings, is all kinds of cultural ideas of the nature and person of God. We enshrine God in hierarchical structures like our human societal structures. Some even enshrine marriage that way. Or we suppose God is a conqueror, who seeks to destroy all but the obedient.

      It’s the other way round, I think. God is a gentle God, who invites and exhorts us to open our hearts, and to reciprocate the incredibly tender love God has for us. And God would hate to compel that. That wouldn’t be love at all. God invites us to share, to open, to grow in serving one another is relationship. Not ownership. Givenness.

      That’s what God sees in us I think. What God plans for us. God is a gentle lover of our souls, and treads so carefully and attentively, and waits on us, and probably really aches with longing and desire for us to open up to this wonderful love.

      God is a lover, and we are God’s beloved.

      It is true freedom and dignity and respect.

      • I’m not saying you are wrong in what you assert, Susannah – but how can you so confidently assert things about the nature of God? Why should people believe you when you do so? What is your basis for asserting things?

        • I trust God, Christopher. My relationship with God gives me trust and confidence. That loving relationship is the basis of my faith, my life, my growth, my opening up to love, my capacity to share love with others when God shares love with me: it’s the basis for everything, because of who I find God to be.

          I think it comes through encounter.

          Should I expect people to believe me? I don’t think so. But if they choose to, if they catch something resonant in my narrative, if it rings true with their own intuition about God, then that is up to them. I hope they do.

          (PS: I’m not promising to engage in a long exchange over this. I’ve stated my view. It goes into the mix, with David’s, with yours, with Simon’s and anyone else. I’m not out to have some grand debate. Not here, anyway. )

          Thanks for your questions.

          • ok I thought that was probably the case. I mean – it is an awesome thing to pronounce what God is like, also anything that comes from within us can sometimes be a truth about us rather than about God.

            Just 2 brief yes/no questions:
            (1) Do you think that when views go into the mix, winners ever emerge (i.e. views that are coherent and supported by the balance of evidence)?

            (2) Have you noticed what I have noticed – that people often withdraw from debating matters at a very early stage, which can easily be understood as a desire to control when debate begins and ends, and what is said within it? (At least I have encountered this very frequently among revisionists, and also among others.)

          • Replying to (1)

            Um… I think coherent views may be more persuasive than incoherent ones.

            What is meant by the balance of evidence in the context of faith? Obviously there may be different kinds of evidence one can draw on. But bear in mind, in the end faith is not proof but trust.

            Replying to (2):

            There is a further possibility – that people may simply not want to expend time on endless debates when they have other things they need to do.

            In other words, not about controlling, but about setting time limits because of… time!

          • But there isn’t any time limit! I always say – it matters not to me if you take 3 years to reply. One person once did take a year.

            What is serious is the idea that it can be *assumed* that debates will be endless. Where evidence is brought to bear, debates can end up being quite quick. If they start being endless, that may very well be because participants are looking at things from a less illuminating angle.

            You seem to assume all debates are endless, when the truth is quite different – many are, but many are not.

          • This one isn’t, at any rate 😉

            I have said what I wanted to say.

            There can never be a pre-supposition that someone will want to debate with you.

            Sometimes I just want to talk about the wonderful God. I may not be seeking debate.

            When the Psalmist wrote psalms, was he seeking debate? Or was he simply extolling God?

            The key things for me are encounter – trust – response. I’m not trying to produce evidence in a court of law. I’m loving someone.

            Same with my wife: do I believe she exists? Yes. Does that equal faith? No. To have faith in someone you love, is to have trust, and everything I know about her through very personal encounter and relationship tells me I can trust in her and have faith in her.

            That’s how I relate to God.

            It’s a love relationship, not a parliamentary debate.

            God bless you Christopher.

          • Susannah, I certainly think that is not right. There are factual and relational dimensions that coexist. You see them as mutually exclusive alternatives. That is certainly wrong, There is no possible world where that could be the case.

            It is also unjust. People can then say ‘I know I am right, and no-one can challenge me.’. Which is a kind of dictatorship. Therefore, if people are making claims, those claims have to be able to be tested for how true they are. To prevent that dictatorship.

        • Hello Susannah…

          you write: “The whole idea of ‘headship’ is rather lost, in the ultimate giving, and sharing, and love”

          Nah – Jesus is always the head of the Church – which is why we must be at pains not to lose connection with him, as the Church has always been wont to do. Jesus is never not the head – we are never the head: Eph1v22; Eph5v23; 1Cor11v3; Col1v18; Col2v10

          A few bold statements in this thread from commentators that contradict clear statements in the Bible.

          • I was probably thinking of ‘headship’ in terms of what some people understand the Bible to mean by ‘headship’ in marriage, Simon, which I regard as patriarchal and totally unacceptable. It’s a bit of a Pauline nonsense, though you can’t blame Paul, with his upbringing and culture.

            Of course, because Jesus is God, he will always be ‘head’ in that God status. I wouldn’t want it otherwise. He is my beloved and I trust him as my God.

            But in terms of relationship, the exchange of love is never forced or imposed. It’s freely given, and that’s a beautiful thing. I suspect Jesus wants me (and you) more than we want Jesus. And he does not want to ‘Lord it’ over us in human terms. He wants us to be free to choose to love, and explore, and grow. He wants to serve us as much as we serve Him.

            In the household of God, we are family, we share, like the Holy Trinity shares, in all eternity. We are not bondslaves, living under compulsion and command. We are precious and valued free family members (because yes, that price was paid).

            Jesus is my Lord because Jesus is God, but I am pretty sure that in relationship terms, Jesus does not think in terms of hierarchy and command, but in terms of fondness, shared joy, shared kindnesses, tenderness, and this amazing wide open space… to open to love.

            The 1st Century concept of male headship in marriage is a despicable concept (though it may have been a cultural necessity), and not one I would apply to my relationship to Jesus. He affords us far more dignity than that.

            To your final statement, Simon, it is possible to contradict clear statements of the Bible. I contradict the Eve made from Adam statement. I contradict the Noah narrative (but not its value). I contradict the way Jephthah treated his daughter, and the way the Israelites treated the children of the Canaanites. I contradict the view of man-man sexuality presented in the Bible (in my view pretty clearly) because it’s clearly a cultural artefact and not a living token of love and tender fidelity. And yes, continuing from those precedents, I contradict the headship of a man over a woman: it’s non-viable and appalling really, in the world we live in today. Ugh!

            But when I relate to Jesus, do I feel He is God (and therefore has all the power of love as God)? Yes, of course I do. Just not in the way humans tend to think of power.

            God wants a real relationship with us. And a real relationship of love does not come from dominating one another. It comes from trust, and two-way giving to each other, and freedom from possession, and simply wanting each other and caring about each other.

            Simon, as I said elsewhere, I don’t want to debate all this. But I just wanted to say that, no, I don’t agree with the concept of ownership in love. I believe in the freedom to love, by choice, by tenderness.

            We are talking about indescribably precious things here. God isn’t an academic subject. God isn’t a theological debate. God is a person: a person who has known us in all eternity, borne us with hope, loved us, longed for us.

            And the most thrilling thing for God, perhaps, is when a person makes a free choice to take the risk of relationship… finds the courage to engage… and to embark on a love relationship with Jesus. I think this thrills and delights God, with sparkling eyes so to speak, as much as it may thrill us.

            In all that, there is dignity through and through. An emancipation, if you like, as God chooses to welcome, and to love, and to share even consciousness with us. It is a deep mystery.

            But then again, God is God, and God is a God who dares to take the risks of love. Dares to surrender power. Dares to risk hurt.

            That’s what love does.

            God bless you, Simon.

          • Susannah,
            God’s Ownership.
            Apologies for butting in, but as I contributed to the point of God’s ownership of us, it is unsurprising but revealing to see the entirely foreseeable responses.
            BUT and this is a big but, as I’ve only skimmed some of the comments that this stimulated, those who have bristled or queried it have overlooked the marriage of ownership with GOD’s GOODNESS. They are not to be separated.
            It is wonderful marvellous Good News that I belong to God, our Triune God, that I known and was chosen before the foundation of the world
            Again I don’t buy the open theology, process theology, you espouse that bring forth statements that God “risks”. That God “dares” to risk, “dares” to hurt. This idea is also obliquely referenced in a modern song -Reckless love, I think it is called What a puny god, who is neither omnipotent, nor omniscient, not in control, who doesn’t know the beginning from the end, the end from the beginning.
            But many books have been on this, and I don’t propose to again look up the subject out to set off a lengthy thread.
            You mention psalms, but what do you do with the rest of the Bible?
            Do you have a personal God who would dare to contradict you and your life, the way you live it? Is there anything in your life, sin, which would hurt him, dishonour him? How would you know?
            Blessing in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.

            Like you, I don’t propose to get involved in extended comments.

          • Susannah
            If I may….supposing Eve is taken from Adam’s side; she is the first trans woman.
            I fnd scripture endlessly delightful and playful.
            Blessings.

    • but clear it up and dont leave it as your considered opinion

      Actually if you think about it, love which is commanded is the best kind of love. What merit is there, after all, in loving somebody lovable? In loving somebody you actually, well, like? Even sinners love people who are lovable.

      But to love someone you can’t stand, someone irritating, someone you would really, really like to see suffer from now until the end of eternity — to love, in fact, your enemy — not because you find them lovable, not because you want to, but because you know that you are commanded to love them even though every fibre of you hates their very guts…

      Is that not the absolute most noble — not to mention the hardest — kind of love?

    • Simon Context is all. That commandment, as you know, is spoken from within a relationship already established in love – an extraordinary mutual covenant freely entered into between God and his people. Without that context the image is of a God with a need to command his creation to love him. Insecure? God has no need of our love or to offer his own to us. It is all gift. I think the Methodist Covenant prayer captures the mix of radical, obedient submission offered in a context of a life saturated with love, devotion and worship.
      ‘I am no longer my own but yours … I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
      to your pleasure and disposal … glorious and blessed God, you are mine and I am yours. So be it. And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.’
      Does that clear it up? If not please let’s accept our differences in a spirit of mutual respect – we all have them..
      So I am with Susannah on this one …
      And as to my madness – I am with Paul – ‘if we are mad it’s for God’ (2Cor 5.13).
      Does the clear it up at all?
      If not let’s agree to differ in mutual respect ….

      • Without that context the image is of a God with a need to command his creation to love him. Insecure? God has no need of our love or to offer his own to us.

        No it isn’t. The image is of a God who commands His creation to love Him, yes, but there’s no sense of ‘need’ there. That’s entirely your own invention and not present in the text at all.

        I was going to give you the benefit of the doubt and wonder if maybe you’d mistyped and meant to write, ‘Love that is compelled is not love’, which would of course be true. But no, you’ve doubled down on the error.

        God commands us to love, and we are free to obey or to disobey, or in other words, we are entirely free to choose whether or not to sin.

      • David, we should never just simply agrfee to disagree, or agree to differ. To do so would be to assume that we have done all the thinking we are ever going rto do on the topic, so our position is fixed.

        That is so far from the truth that it is very rare for us even to have done 50% of the thinking that we would need to do on a given topic.

        Even worse, we live in a world where everyone’s view is accorded respect, even when a ‘view’ can be anything from a hard-won research conclusion to a mere preference or wish. Those who have done years of research are brought down to the same level as those who have done none!

        And worst of all, agreeing to disagree means that every ‘view’ on the planet (however uneducated and incoherent) automatically gets accorded respect.

        So, for these 3 reasons and more, No, No, No.

        • Christopher You have completely misunderstood my comment to Simon. OK. It happens. But in passing this is an example of what a lot of these discussions turn on – there is your (or anyone’s) reading of the text in front of us and there is what I (or any author) actually meant by what I wrote. Interpretation is all. Yes, yes, yes.

          • Interpretation is not all. Quite the reverse. ‘Interpretation’ (so called) is massively beloved by those who want to make the text say anything they want it to say.

            What an ill-defined word for anyone to rely on. Hamlet is given pink hair and put into the setting of the Cuban Missile Crisis. ‘It’s my interpretation.’ Of what? Of the author’s intent?? ‘It’s my valid interpretation.’ For that sort of viewpoint, all interpretations are valid, and invalid/non-valid ones do not exist.

            It would be a travesty to say that the interpretation of a random person in the street were of equal value to that of an NT commentary writer. However I would be so happy if you thought that. For in that case I will myself receive equal top billing at the next astrophysics conference, for my ‘stardust’ interpretation of reality.

          • Christopher When, like me, you read a passage in the bible and need some help understanding what it means, what is your response? I will go to a commentary. There I can study the text in its original language, set it in the context of wider biblical themes and trace how the passage has been understood down through Jewish and Christian history. I may also discuss it with friends. It is possible I heard someone preach on this a while back and can look up my notes. In these ways I am seek to understand the passage better, apply its teaching to my own life and so, I trust, live in deeper, more obedient faithfulness, to my God. I assume you do something similar?
            My question is this: What word do you give to the process I have described?

          • So, David, after your careful process with the text where you claim ‘context is all’ and where you also claim ‘interpretation is all’ what have we ended up with? A definitive statement that the text doesnt say what we think it says in plain English (or Greek) and that ‘the greatest commandment is this” you shall love the Lord you God…” does in fact, not command us to love God.

            And then you ask for mutual respect and agreeing to disagree, which I am struggling with when in fact you have subverted and negated the greatest dominical commandment and made it definitely not say what it does say.

          • Christopher
            There is nothing without interpretation. No text homes to us unmediated by culture and context. And, in scripture, the work of translation.

          • Simon, I have acknowledged elsewhere that ‘all important’ might say it better than just ‘all’ in my earlier comments.
            But more seriously here you accuse me here of having ‘subverted and negated the greatest dominical commandment and made it definitely not say what it does say’. Frankly this insults the heart of my faith and ministry. I said nothing of the sort actually. Please go back and read what I wrote. I did not deny the commandment. I made an important point about the context in which it was first given and who it was spoken too – as you know very well as a bible teacher.
            But your very serious misreading/misinterpreting here illustrates very well, as I suggested Christopher’s comments also do, how difficult we find the journey from original authorial intent to what we actually hear said and claim to understand by it. It is as true on threads like these as it is in scripture itself.

          • I call it fuller and less imperfect understanding.

            Of course it can accurately be called interpretation too. But the word interpretation has another meaning too in popular parlance, which is the idea that the way anyone expert or not sees a passage is their own valid interpretation.

            The innocuous meaning of the word is then used to smuggle in the senseless meaning. That is why I avoid the word ‘interpretation’.

          • Christopher Thanks for clarifying why you want to ban the use of the ‘interpretation’. I note that Ian Paul has no problem with the word – he writes very regularly on this subject so perhaps you need to take it up with him. But do you really think that by banning the word you solve the problem? Is someone speaking of ‘fuller and less imperfect understanding’ really any less prone to choose a meaning that is misguided or self serving? I doubt it.
            All interpretation is incomplete and needs constantly, prayerfully re-testing. John Stott use to insist the issue is not ‘are we being biblical?’ but ‘are we being biblical enough?’ We may be utterly sincere but hopelessly wrong. We may be driven by selfish motivation. That is true for us all – including you and I.
            So after acknowledging all that, and for those who can remember it, I think my original point still stands.

          • OK I think John Stott is right. S’s suggestion of ‘research’ is better than my suggestion. Ian’s use of ‘interpretation’ is also fine as long as it is understood from the start that we are using ‘interpretation’ as the academy uses it rather than as a dishonest way of smuggling in all our preferred perspectives. That also addresses Penny’s point.

          • Not that I ever ‘banned’ it – but I do think that there are 2 categories of words that have to be used only with caution or not at all if one wants to be thought a clear and not obfuscatory thinker: (a) intrinsically unclear words like ‘trans’, and (b) words that have been hijacked by interest groups. People have cottoned on to the fact that to control the culture you have to control the language. Gentler souls like us who are appalled by the idea of controlling things in one’s own self-interest (or that of one’s peergroup) customarily point out that truth (coherence, correspondence to reality) has the ultimate power to control the ways we can justifiably look at things.

          • David
            I love you in Christ
            I have always liked you since I first met n began reading you in 1992/3
            I have always respected you and especially your graciousness and push for unity
            But I have no idea why you question the great commandment as not being a command. Just can’t make head nor tail of it. It’s plain to me and not a matter of interpretation. But maybe we are at odds over semantics and ‘interpretation’.
            Sorry if I was too brusque
            The greatest commandment to love God is to my mind the greatest gift

            Pax

            Si

          • You cannot order love.

            You can only offer love, and exhort and encourage people to open to that love.

            We love because God first loves us.

            We open to love, through exhortation and the givenness of God, and in the sharing and exchange of love – its flow, its joy, its sacrifice – that love becomes an imperative of our own free will and choice and heartfelt giving.

            Even when we’d rather step aside from it.

            Not my will, but yours, be done…

          • Simon Thank you for your gracious response which I only want to say is mutual, even when we are disagreeing. As to the business of love and commandment Susannah says it for me below. I would put it this way. The command to love always follows the free assent to love – as it does in the marriage service. The promises follow the free assent of commitment to each-other. They do not precede it. Love fulfils the law. Not the other way round – which would be precisely the kind of pharisaic legalism Jesus so fiercely opposed. This love is far more than a feeling of course. It engages my will and life at every level. There is no diminishing of the utter seriousness and demands of living by God’s commandments. I seek to keep the commandments as an obedient response of love to love. I think the same happens at baptism. Our response is invited – ‘do you turn to Christ’? It is not demanded or forced – ‘I command you to follow Christ’.
            I would agree that love without commandment is easily indulgent and unreliable. The commandments give shape to lives lived in divine love and will. But commandments without love are coercive and Godless.
            Do this make any more sense to you? Thank you again my brother.

          • “You cannot order love.” (Susannah)
            “The command to love always follows the free assent to love – as it does in the marriage service. ” (David R.)

            How do these fit with John 13.34? The language there is pretty unambiguous, as it is in Matt 5.44. Love is commanded. So, love is ordered. In the latter case, there is no “free assent” from the loved one.

            Perhaps the problem is the view of love which elevates romantic love, based on feelings (the deficiency of which Kierkegaard saw). I’m not sure there is much in 1 Cor 13.4-7 which cannot be commanded.

          • David Thank you. Your quoting of John 13.34 is very to the point. Jesus calls us to love ‘as I have loved you’. That is the key is it not? We are to love as he loves us, not to love because he commands it. So what kind of love do we meet in Jesus? How is it expressed? At the last supper (as elsewhere) he explicitly models and contrasts the way he expresses power and authority (and therefore command/ordering) from the over -bearing ‘Lordship’ of worldly powers. ‘I am among you as one who serves’. Those who serve do not usually unilaterally command others.

          • Jesus calls us to love ‘as I have loved you’. That is the key is it not? We are to love as he loves us, not to love because he commands it.

            No, that doesn’t make sense at all. He commands us to love in the way that he has loved us. The latter part defines the manner in which we are to love.

            It’s as if I were to command someone I have authority over to perform a task in the way that I have showed them. They are to do it because I have commanded them, and because I have authority.

            Jesus commands us to love, and the way we are to love is in the way he loved us. But it’s still a command.

            It’s not a compulsion — we are entirely free to disobey Jesus’s command (which is sin). So the love with which we obey is not forced, which seems to be your main concern. If is freely given. But it is also commanded by one who has complete authority over us.

          • Those who serve do not usually unilaterally command others.

            Yes, they do. Generals do it all the time. They serve their country and they command others.

          • David (R),

            You seem to be taking ‘as’ to mean ‘because’. I have always taken “love as I have loved you” not to mean “love because I have loved you” but “love in the way that I have loved you”. It gives the manner of loving not the reason for loving. I suspect that this is how one should read the word kathos which is translated as ‘as’ (Strong gives the meaning ‘according to the manner in which’). It fits with the word ‘commandment’, a word used in the NT for the commandments in the OT. The context bears out the interpretation as the manner of loving. Jesus has just washed the feet of the disciples, and then says this, John 13.13-15:

            ‘You call me “Teacher” and “Lord”, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.’

            The new commandment is to follow the example of Jesus in his action.

            Carson comments thus:

            ‘The new commandment is not ‘new’ because nothing like it had ever been said before. The Mosaic covenant had mandated two love commandments [as discussed]…
            Its newness is bound up not only with the new standard (‘As I have loved you’) but with the new order it both mandates and exemplifies.’

          • Christopher
            As I said, every translation is an interpretation. Some ‘better’ than others.
            I yield to no one in my admiration for the Academy but to state that interpretation is the task only of Biblical scholars….
            Who would you choose?
            Here are some of mine:
            Ken Stone, Mark Jordan, Louise Lawrence, Dale Martin, Derryn Guest, Patrick Cheng, Elisabeth Stuart, Linn Marie Tonstad, Chris Greenough, Katie Edwards, Gerard Loughlin, Robert Goss, Hugh Pyper, Thomas Bohache, Susannah Cornwall, Karen O’Donnell, Cheryl Exum, Meredith Warren, Caroline Blyth, Jonathan Tallon, Shiloh Project……

          • S – Jesus’s example of service at the last supper was very specific. Army general do not usually wash their soldiers feet.

          • David – thanks. ‘love in the way that I have loved you’ is how I read it too. But I think manner and reason are one in Christ.

          • Jesus’s example of service at the last supper was very specific. Army general do not usually wash their soldiers feet.

            Nevertheless, it points out that serving and ordering are not mutually exclusive. So you can’t claim that the very fact that Jesus served proves that he didn’t also have the authority to order.

            But I think manner and reason are one in Christ.

            I see no reason to think that. Why do you think that?

          • David,

            you still seem to be avoiding the issue of Jesus issuing a commandment to love. From that chapter, Jesus says that he is their and, by extension, our Teacher and Master/Lord (kurios). Does not that give him the right to command?

            That Jesus is Lord is the shortest and most fundamental Christian confession.

          • David – ‘ you still seem to be avoiding the issue of Jesus issuing a commandment to love’. Actually this is is precisely what I have been exploring throughout this discussion. If you look back you will find me saying that I believe that the whole meaning of authority, ‘will’, commandment is redefined by the nature and character of divine love. Love fulfils law. I do not deny the place of commandment but insist that obedience to commandments is a response of love to love. Unless that is so it simply coercive.
            The issue for me is not whether Jesus has authority – of course he does – but how he chooses to exercise it (this is also a response to S).
            The whole concern for me here is the belief that the understanding of commandment and authority is defined by our understanding of God who is love. Yes Jesus is Lord. But he also he makes very clear his Lordship is not as the world exercises it.
            Really value this discussion with you and others here David – but not sure I have any more I can add or express another way. But to be clear I am not arguing love instead of commandment. I am arguing that divine love must be allowed to significant interpret what authority/commandment means for us and for Christ.

          • I do not deny the place of commandment but insist that obedience to commandments is a response of love to love. Unless that is so it simply coercive.

            Rubbish. Utter, utter rubbish. Total nonsense.

            It’s not coercive at all to recognise and obey a legitimate authority, like God. It’s only coercive if you are forced to obey, and neither God nor Jesus forces us to obey. We are free to sin, which is what makes our obedience also free.

            But make no mistake it is a command and one we ought to obey (though nothing forces us to).

  18. Reading some of the comments on this thread, I struggle to avoid the conclusion that Western Culture, as a civilisation and worldview, has the dust of death on it. The anarchic weirdness of the Theatre of the Absurd -it turns out- was eerily prophetic.

    • John, I agree but perhaps we should remember that outside of this tiny bubble there is a real world out there of ordinary people going to work to produce the real necessities of our physical lives on this planet, who then go home to pretty normal family lives. Only a vanishingly small proportion of them will give much thought to this Theatre of the Absurd stuff. Some will be led astray, others confused, the rest will shake their heads sadly…

      Of course we Christians should be the first people to reassure and explain to them how God’s creation reality remains unchanged, and that it will continue to serve them well – all the more so if they observe his intention for how that should be done. So it’s more than regrettable that our own church has been so deeply infected with uncertainty and irrationality that it has nothing to offer but its own disarray in response.

  19. The real world of ordinary people includes trans people, gay and bi people, intersex people, celibate people and married people. Many of them alive because of IVF, penicillin, surgery. Can you explain how some unnatural interventions are part of God’s creation reality whilst others aren’t. How should ‘what’ be done?

    • Can you explain how some unnatural interventions are part of God’s creation reality whilst others aren’t.

      We live in a fallen world which is very very far from God’s original intention (and so the very fact that something is a certain way, cannot be used as evidence that it ought to be that way: just because someone is a certain way doesn’t mean, in a fallen, corrupted world, that ‘God made them’ that way — God doesn’t give people cystic fibrosis, for example). By our actions and interventions, we can both make it closer to the way God intended it (by curing diseases and disorders, where we can), and we can corrupt it further and make it worse (by mutilating people).

      We ought to do the things which do the former, and avoid doing things which do the latter.

      Into which category certain actions fall is not always obvious, hence these discussions.

      But this is clearly not news to you, as you have your own list of interventions which ought to be done, and those which not to be done (such as ‘conversion therapy’, whatever you rightly or wrongly include under that term).

      • S
        You are very certain that gender confirmation surgery is ‘mutiltation’ and corrupting God’s intentions.
        Some in the 19thC were equally certain that anasthesia during childbirth was corrupting God’s intentions, since, according to Gen 3, God mandates her suffering. Our attitudes changed. Why?
        What is surgery on intersex infants? Is that mutilation?

        • You are very certain that gender confirmation surgery is ‘mutiltation’ and corrupting God’s intentions

          I didn’t write that, at least not in the bit you’re responding to.

          I wrote:

          ‘Into which category certain actions fall is not always obvious, hence these discussions.’

          And that is the point at issue in this discussion, isn’t it?

          Here’s an interesting one. Some people, apparently, are convinced that their ‘true selves’ are disabled, and turn up to doctors asking to have their perfectly-healthy hand amputated so that their body can more accurately match their mental image of themselves.

          Should that surgery be performed? Would it be healing or mutilation? Does it matter whether the person reports themselves to be happier afterwards?

        • Penny,
          please don’t come out with that old canard about anasthesia in childbirth. A moment with google found an article from Anasthesia, 1980, Volume 35, pp 896-907. The summary at the start is as follows:

          Some of the arguments used to oppose the introduction of inhalation anaesthesia-especially in obstetrics- are considered. These arguments were mainly based upon a desire to retain the sensation of pain, either as a factor necessary for survival or as a diagnostic aid: moral arguments were also adduced but religious opposition is no more than a myth of historiography. The opposition to anaesthesia lasted for less than 15 years and is seen as essentially a reflection of contemporary views on the role of pain.

          (my emphasis)

    • Penelope, I’m guessing your comment here is addressed to me, so I’d like to offer a response which tells you where I’m coming from. I know you’ve heard it all before, but there you go!

      I’m not sure what you mean by ‘unnatural’ interventions. I’d take the view that our interventions should be aimed at making sick people whole again insofar as we are able. ‘Whole’ implies restoring them to the original working design of a human being as God clearly intended. We all know that often only so much is possible; and that’s a sadness of course. But the Christian hope is ultimately pure optimism: despite the present unequal distribution of sorrow and suffering, an unimaginably better future awaits everyone who puts their faith in God’s redemptive power and love. Somehow we must be patient – but he’s there for us all the way.

      On the other hand the ‘transgender’ issue is the current obsession of a socio-political movement which has little to do with restoration to wholeness and everything to do with an ideology about sexual identity as a way of challenging the efficacy of normal heterosexual family life. A primary strategy of those making this challenge has been the sowing of confusion through misuse of language. The nebulous word ‘gender’ is constantly employed in order to avoid the specific scientific word ‘sex’; until this kind of linguistic dissembling ends and we return to accurate use of normal, well defined language, these debates will get nowhere.

      And it’s more than concerning when a church with many well educated people among its leadership gets taken up with this dissembling. Over a long period the Church of England has failed to operate a rational, open and honest process of establishing (or reaffirming) sound theological and ethical approaches to issues of family and sexuality. At its very heart is the Christian understanding of marriage – get the right and the rest becomes far more straightforward to navigate. Instead it has almost childishly embarked on ad hoc activities and pronouncements which have landed it in an embarrassing state of confusion. Debates go round and round with no sensible conclusion. It should at least be waiting till LLF has done its work, whereupon we will know whether it actually has anything sound and logical to offer or not.

      • Hello Don

        Yes you, and John and ‘S’.
        Transgender people would argue that gender confirmation surgery or, indeed, social transition does make them whole. See Susannah’s comments, here and elsewhere. People who are not trans, like you and I, may not be able to understand that, but there we are. I see no theological or scriptural objection to being trans, apart from the command not to cross dress, and we all ignore that (well we women, at any rate).

        Being transgender is not confusion and has nothing to do with sexual identity. Until recently the CoE seemed to have a fairly settled policy: trans people were allowed to marry and allowed to become priests.

        The problem with waiting until LLF has done its work (although there are a number of very good people on kits working groups) is that it has already been criticised as a flawed process particularly by trans and intersex participants. My fear is that the resulting theological guidance will also be flawed.

        • Transgender people would argue that gender confirmation surgery or, indeed, social transition does make them whole.

          Yes, but people are not necessary the best guide as to their own interests. People with anorexia would argue that they need to lose weight.

          I see no theological or scriptural objection to being trans, apart from the command not to cross dress, and we all ignore that (well we women, at any rate).

          What bothers me is that I haven’t seen a coherent ontology for what being ‘trans’ means. For instance, is someone’e male-ness or female-ness a part of their essential nature which may or may not correspond with the sex of their body, but which the person themselves can perceive as ‘gender identity’? Or is there no such thing as an essential sex, and ‘gender identity’ is entirely up to the person concerned to decide? These positions are both mutually exclusive — if one is true the other cannot be — and yet both are pushed by the lobby.

          I can’t support something which is not logically coherent.

          If a logically coherent ontology could be presented then it would be possible to decide whether it makes sense or not.

          Until recently the CoE seemed to have a fairly settled policy: trans people were allowed to marry and allowed to become priests.

          But was that a considered policy which had been decided upon after a thorough interrogation of the ontological ramifications? Or was it simply the position into which the church had drifted, without any actual consideration of the implications, in an attempt to keep up with the changing law in this area? (hint: it very much looks like the latter).

    • This article for its reference to religious objections cites a BMJ article about Sir James Young Simpson. That sounds like a good source, except, of course, that this is not an historical journal. The only reference to religious objections is this:

      He immediately became an enthusiastic supporter and publicist of its use, vigorously countering the arguments of those who suggested God had ordained that women should suffer during childbirth.

      There is no citation for this from sources contemporary to Sir James. Perhaps this is what the article I cite is part of the ‘myth of historiography’. This:
      https://www.anesthesiahistoryjournal.org/article/S2352-4529(17)30141-X/pdf
      is an article (unfortunately needing a subscription to read in full) about the history of pain in childbirth. In this context, the most important sentence is from the highlights:

      Evidence of opposition to relief of labor pain from religious leaders is scarce.

      So, it might well be that there were a few people who objected, but it was not widespread. Interestingly, Sir James himself is cited in the part of the article one can read for free:

      “But does the word ‘sorrow’ (‘in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children’) really mean physical and bodily pain, as is taken for granted who maintain the improper and irreligious character of any means to assuage and annul the sufferings of childbirth.”

      [For some the curse of Gen. 3 is different. I was aware growing up that my mother and her sister referred to menstruation as ‘the curse’.]

      This could open up a whole new line of discussion, which I think is not really relevant. There is a very significant difference between pain relief used during a natural process and the radical surgery of a perfectly healthy body which transition entails, and which can be harmful to the physical health of the subject.

      I am not aware that clitorodectomy is performed for reasons based on a Christian understanding of the body. But it seems to be similar to transition surgery in that it is making a radical change to a healthy body to make it conform to a shape it should have according to some view of gender (rather than sex, a large clitoris is probably no impediment to childbirth).

      In any case, I’m not really sure

      • Thanks David, that’s interesting.

        My comment about clitorodectomies was to point out that such surgeries are rarely opposed by Christians (nor are many unnecessary intersex surgeries) and yet, it is sometimes Christians who object to the ‘mutilation’ of gender confirmation surgery.

        • I suspect that most Christians are unaware at all of such a surgical procedure, I don’t think was not until you raised it. I would think that most Christians abhor FGM which is somewhat analous.

          BTW here is a link to the article I found:

          https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1365-2044.1980.tb03951.x

          I did not read it all this morning. This paragraph towards the end is interesting:

          “It is almost certain that Simpson’s pamphlet Answer to the Religious Objections. . . was written to forestall objections which, in the event, did not arise, and that its publication has subsequently been mis-interpreted by other commentators as evidence for a non-existent opposition. Personal reservations about anaesthesia upon religious grounds were certainly felt, but the lack of evidence either for theological opposition to an- aesthesia from the institutional churches or of any widely held (or expressed) opposition on the part of individuals-is too significant to be dis- counted. It must be concluded that there never was any formal ‘conflict’ between religion and science at this point, and that the whole episode is no more than an artifact of historiography.”

          (This is has been taken from the PDF by OCR in my browser, so has some oddities).

          The last comment suggests to me that the authors consider that the idea of a religious objection was promoted later by those seeking to create conflict between religion and science.

  20. Penelope Cowell Doe wrote, “Until recently the CoE seemed to have a fairly settled policy: trans people were allowed to marry and allowed to become priests.” Ian Paul referred “to a decision made 15 years ago, in 2004” – the earliest date I’ve encountered – encountering it here first in this post. What is intended by “Until recently” – from when until when? Where are any formal enunciations of such a “fairly settled policy” to be conveniently read online? Where are the details of the “decision made 15 years ago, in 2004” to be found?

    With an eye to Prudence Dailey’s question, is there anything historically relevant with respect to impediments to matrimony or grounds for recognition of nullity?

    • David,
      My comment below was to David Runcorn, above, in his dialogue with Christopher, Simon and S, (not in that order), but has ended up here. It’s hard to join in with comments in the way they are cascaded, but I thought I’d done so. Evidently not.

  21. Apologies for butting in David, but it seems that there is a contradiction in what you have written in connection with authorial intent. There is your intent in writing which you then seem to turn on its head by saying that reader interpretation is all. Yes, yes, yes.
    If so, why are you seeking to make yourself clear, clear-up misunderstandings.
    How do judges interpret legislation, and wills and testamentary dispositions? By having a system of canons of construction, to seek the intention of parliament or the testator.
    How do I or anyone who visits this blog and chain of comments, who doesn’t know you personally work out your set of beliefs, if they are not enumerated of well defined, with reasonable, sufficient precision?
    Not merely by looking at your individual comments, but by taking them altogether as one overarching system of beliefs, I suggest.
    You’ll may be aware of this from DA Carson, which seems to be applicable in regard to your comments:
    ” I have never read a deconstructionist who would be pleased if a reviewer misinterpreted his or her work: thus in practice deconstructionists implicitly link their own texts with their own intentions…
    “My point then, is that in the real world for all the difficulties there are in communicating from person to person and from culture to culture we still expect people to say what they mean (and if we don’t we chide them for it), and we expect mature people to understand what others say and represent it fairly.
    “The understanding is doubtless never absolutely exhaustive and perfect, but that does not mean the only alternative is to dissociate text from speaker, and then locate all meaning in the reader or hearer.
    “True meaning of the text and even of the thoughts of the author who wrote it is possible, even if perfect and exhaustive knowledge is not…”
    Cited in “The New Evidence that demands a verdict” Josh McDowell.

    And, David, you will be aware of this essay, which is on point, that of meaning and interpretation ( particularly the first and fourth “bleat”) from CS Lewis: https://lewisonbiblicalcriticism.blogspot.com/2005/06/modern-theology-and-biblical-criticism.html
    Penelope somewhere in these lengthy comments said that language is plastic, but that is pointless if it does not communicated meaning that can not be understood, unless used for the purpose of deliberate obfuscation.

    • Geoff Thanks for this. I agree this needs clarifying. And perhaps I should have said ‘all important’ not just ‘all’. I think you are saying, with Carson, that whatever meaning was intended by the original speaker or author, our work of interpretation will always be incomplete. If so I agree. But our reader interpretation remains ‘all important’ because, in our always incomplete understanding, it is where we must start from isn’t it? Not sure where I heard this quote but I like it – ‘My confidence is not in the certainty of being right, but rather on the grace and mercy of God, before whom I have sought truth as best I can.’ Brief and rather response. Thanks again.

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