Anglican Diocese of Armidale

The Anglican Diocese of Armidale exists to glorify God by introducing people to Jesus and helping them home to heaven.


In Focus

A matter of gender

Monday, October 29, 2018

Dr John Whitehall is Professor of Paediatrics at Western Sydney University. He recently wrote an article in Quadrant entitled “Experimenting on Gender Dysphoric Kids”. He begins by noting that “Paediatricians with a total of 931 years' experience reported only 12 cases of gender confusion, meaning just one genuine case might be expected every 76 years. Now, each year in Australia, hundreds are presenting for treatment which the ascendant orthodoxy decrees must be provided.”


While not an expert in Gender Dysphoria such a proliferation of those seeking treatment for it demands reflection and more so when children as young as six are involved and parental

Involvement is jeopardised by legislation.


The Christian world view has historically always held body and person together. This has been important from both a creation and salvation perspective. In creation God declared our embodied persons very good and He speaks of our bodies as His temple. In marriage God declared that two people become one flesh. In life He calls on us to care for the physical needs of all people and any mistreatment/misuse of the body He warned would inevitably damage one’s person. In salvation the incarnation highlighted that Jesus Christ became fully human like us, revealing himself in bodily and knowable form. History records that in the flesh His deity dwelt and He bore our sins in his body on the cross, making peace through His blood shed and rising bodily from the grave. There is no doubt in the Christian world view that the body is integral to person and that it has dignity and honour.


Gender Philosophy has moved away from the Christian worldview of embodied persons. For example, trans-activists argue that there is no connection between the body and gender identity. To quote, “It doesn’t matter what living skeleton you’ve been born in, it is what you feel that defines you.” As one author put it, “This is a devastatingly reductive view of the body. Young people are absorbing the idea that the physical body is not part of the authentic self.” Such a view of the separation of body and person is not dissimilar to the Gnostic philosophy of the first century that reduced the body to something evil and separate from the authentic self. As a result, what you do to, or with, the body does not matter, bringing with it significant moral implications and often a truck load of pain and confusion.


The Christian world view does not deny issues of confusion in all areas of life, including that of gender. The effect of sin has led to distortions in all of us that require careful thought and sensitive pastoral concern. The difference is in how the Christian and the non-Christian lives with the confusion and distortion.


Put far too simplistically, as space does not permit more, the Christian accepts by faith the body and gender God assigns at birth. Where confusion exists the Christian trusts God to help in coming to terms with the body/person distortions. By contrast Gender Philosophy encourages a person to trust their feelings. The treatment is not to help the person change inner feelings of gender identity to match their body but to change their bodies to match their feelings. I believe the latter approach is dangerous as feelings are fickle and when applied to children it is nothing short of abuse. Of course, to deny gender philosophy brings serious emotional reactions that need to be handled sensitively. 


In a popular TED talk, cardiologist Paula Johnson says, “every cell has a sex - and what that means is that men and women are different down to the cellular and molecular level. It means that we’re different across all our organs, from our brains to our hearts, our lungs and our joints.” So if that is the case one must ask if it is healthy for a person to deny the body assigned at birth and why someone would want to deny their natal beginnings. Something is broken in our humanity and I don’t believe the search for a solution is to be found in puberty blockers, hormone administration or surgical intrusion but in the God who made us and more than this… He loves us.