“When things break their way, their prayers are answered. When things don’t work out, they blame gay and trans people for pissing off the deity.”

Owen Strachan
Owen Strachan is a theologian who presumes to offer
 a great deal of medical advice

HFNY (Happy New Year) from Witherspoon Institute’s pseudo-intellectual blog. Owen Strachan — an associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary — offers 2,000 words of anti-LGBT gibberish as pretentious prose. It is part book review and part essay. It is all nonsense.

That once-harmless word, transitioning, has of late acquired great psychosocial baggage. It now speaks of an individual’s claiming a new “gender identity,” which may well involve significant physical alteration.

The “transgender” phenomenon has become a national sensation, but we are shockingly ill-equipped for the conversation.

The simple fact is that Strachan and like-minded individuals are unqualified for “the conversation.” Who empowered or invited them to weigh in on the medical condition of other individuals? Strachan’s conversation really means voicing opinions about a controversy that he has manufactured. How does a medical condition and its treatment become controversial for people who are otherwise unaffected?

The opinions that Strachan is desperate to share — with a patina of profundity — are not based on medical science. When your god is the author of medical treatment then you have “transitioned” from faith to superstition. My advice for Strachan is to mind his own business.

In supreme ignorance, Strachan provides a wealth of material for me to work with. Eventually we get to this:

The transgender phenomenon signifies a new ontology. This new ontology has considerable resonance with ancient paganism, a worldview that deifies the natural order, removes the self from religious and spiritual constraints, and sexualizes humanity.

Transgender people do not constitute a phenomenon. Nor are they a metaphysical concept. Nor do they express a common worldview. Nor does this have anything to do with religion or spirituality. It is not transgender people but Mr. Strachan who is compelled to sexualize gender identity. Again, Strachan should simply mind his own business.

The underlying ideology of Strachan’s profound ignorance is well known. If someone suffers from depression, PTSD, ADHD or any other psychiatric condition — including gender dysphoria — it is the handiwork of Satan. It makes as much sense as assigning responsibility for arthritis to the Devil. Or does Strachan believe that as well? Did I mention superstition?

Mr. Strachan has found endless ways to express his disapproval of LGBT people:

We are fulfilled when we deny all creational differences (and thus divine design) and embrace our raw, native, animal desires. Transgender ideology results in a deeply disordered anthropology.

Back up. People transition in order to mitigate the severe effects of gender dysphoria. There is no such thing as “transgender ideology.” That makes about as much sense as claiming that people with acid reflux are part of a Nexium ideology. The existence of transgender people expresses nothing about culture or society.

The editor of Witherspoon’s outlet is Ryan T. Anderson. He has stated that his god made everyone heterosexual and cisgender. Presumably Mr. Strachan embraces what really is an ideology — and a falsehood.

A Needful New Book

Andrew Walker, Director of Policy Studies for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, understands this essential truth; he spots the theological lie. In his important new book, God and the Transgender Debate: What Does the Bible Actually Say About Gender Identity?, Walker takes a deep and compassionate look at a very difficult subject, handling it with great sensitivity and biblical conviction.

No one with gender dysphoria gives a crap about what the Bible supposedly says about a medical condition. When the Bible was written people believed that all illnesses were caused by demons. Apparently Strachan has not entirely dismissed that concept. The only debate that is relevant is among scientists and clinicians.

Have a helping of pompous rubbish while you are at it:

Walker analyzes the philosophy behind the LGBTQ movement, rightly identifying it as fundamentally centered in the autonomous self. He straightforwardly lodges major concerns about a self-directed hermeneutic: “it turns out the self is not such a good place to look to for authority, knowledge, and trustworthiness.”

Hermeneutics is the theory and methodology of interpretation, especially the interpretation of biblical texts, wisdom literature, and philosophical texts. Wikipedia

The “philosophy” of LGBT people is simply to achieve the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. Laws, in this country, must have a secular purpose. Yet all too often we fall victim to laws that exist to promote and protect conservative Christianity. As the Supreme Court held in Obergefell v. Hodges, such laws are unconstitutional. Their continued existence form a realization coupled with motivation rather than a philosophy. We address the danger of inequality pragmatically rather than philosophically.

Theology: We all struggle:

Walker works hard to show that such experiences do not locate the “transgender” individual as a separate class of misfit humanity, but unveil the painful fallenness that we all encounter:

Gender dysphoria is a deep, painful struggle, causing pain, anguish, and tears. But it is not the only struggle. The whole world struggles. . . The good news of the gospel is that those groans have been heard and those groans need not last.

Step one is to minimize the condition. Step two is to authoritatively state that we are all in God’s hands and God can cure. Except that there is no evidence that anyone has ever been cured of anything through faith-healing. Walker and Strachan need to visit the pediatric cancer wing of a hospital. Desperate parents have prayed to exhaustion. Their kids still suffer and die.

The sanctimonious set is rather simplistic. When things break their way, their prayers are answered. When things don’t work out, they blame gay and trans people for pissing off the deity. Yet they persist:

Walker wisely cautions against embracing any bodily changes and drastic measures in handling gender dysphoria.

Andrew Walker is a PhD candidate in Christian ethics at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He doesn’t have the training and experience to make recommendations about treating a medical condition. Strachan is not in a position to approve of Walker’s approach. It is just quackery. The danger is that a parent might believe this bullshit more than they believe the counsel of experienced clinicians.

Then comes the obligatory pseudo-sensitivity:

God and the Transgender Debate emphasizes the need for compassion in many places. Walker is right to emphasize the need for love in addressing fellow sinners who experience gender dysphoria.

In no way is spreading religious nonsense compassionate. This is bigotry — not love. These people desperately need an enemy acting at the behest of Satan. Their credibility related to gay conversion therapy continues to diminish. The energy previously devoted to gay people is moving on to transgender people. It creates a real danger for trans folks. It relegates gender dysphoria to choice (along with sexual orientation).

Mr. Strachan also has a book. It is titled: The Grand Design: Male and Female He Made Them. That says it all. What more do you need to know? There is one more passage that I found quite interesting:

A few years ago, I was in Washington, DC, to interview Robby George for a book I wrote on Chuck Colson. It so happened that the eminent Princetonian was meeting with Dr. Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins University. This was right when McHugh took his virtuous stand against fuzzy thinking—and harmful medical practice—in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. McHugh had plunged into the eye of the cultural storm surrounding transgenderism, but he was cheerful, and he and Professor George laughed a good deal as they caught up.

McHugh, an orthodox Catholic zealot, picked the wrong outlet. Instead of The Wall Street Journal he should publish a peer-reviewed article in a respected academic journal. That is something that McHugh has never done. Robert P. George is also an orthodox Catholic zealot and probably an Opus Deist. The opinions of these two have nothing whatsoever to do with medical science. They are trying to conform their world to their religious beliefs. The fact that McHugh amuses Robby George says a great deal about the immorality and ignorance of a smart, well educated person. George places his faith above reason.

The bottom line is that no matter how flowery the language is — no matter how holy the authors claim to be — those who insist that gender identity and sexual orientation are matters of choice are religious crackpots. They provide a seemingly endless source of ignorance and bigotry through the marginalization of LGBT people. They do violence to LGBT people — particularly children (and their parents).

If anyone needs to get down on their knees and pray, it is these people. They should pray for forgiveness. As their guy supposedly said: “They know not what they do.”

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.