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Discipleship and the Transgengender Convert: Issues and Proposals

November 20, 2019
By Robert S. Smith
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Jesus’ call to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19) necessarily involves taking the good news to those who identify as transgender. Because the gospel is God’s power to save, we have every reason to expect that some of those to whom we witness will put their trust in Christ and set foot on the path of Christian discipleship. The purpose of this essay is to think through what this may look like and how the issues of baptism, membership, service, leadership, and communion might best be approached.

Understanding Transgender People

Defining Transgender

The term “transgender” has been variously understood over the last fifty years — sometimes more expansively, sometimes more restrictively. Today it is usually regarded as an umbrella term for anyone whose gender identity, expression, or behavior differs from that which is usually associated with their biological sex.[1]

As a way of encompassing all who come under the transgender umbrella, Rogers Brubaker has distinguished between three broad categories: (1) the trans of migration, which involves moving from one of the two gender categories to the other; (2) the trans of between, which involves defining oneself with reference to the two gender categories, but without belonging to either; and (3) the trans of beyond, which involves positioning oneself without reference to the two gender categories.[2]

These distinctions are helpful as they underline the fact that different people claim the label “transgender” in different ways, to different degrees, and for different reasons. The common saying is therefore true: if you’ve met one trans person, you’ve met…one trans person. Pastorally, it is vital not to make unwarranted assumptions about what someone who identifies as transgender means by the term. It is better to allow them to explain their experience, understanding, and choices.

Gender Dysphoria and Gender Deconstruction

It is also conceptually helpful, even if not always practically possible, to distinguish between gender dysphoria (a distressing psychological affliction) and gender deconstruction (a form of social rebellion).

Gender dysphoria is a clinical term that appears in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V, 2013), published by the American Psychiatric Association. It describes the distress normally experienced by those whose psychological or emotional gender identity differs from their biological sex.[3] Most sufferers of gender dysphoria have a binary understanding of gender but either seek to identify with the gender opposed to their sex (the trans of migration) or don’t see themselves as fitting into either gender category (some expressions of the trans of between).

Others, however, wish to banish binary categories altogether, proliferating the number of genders (other expressions of the trans of between), or jettison the whole notion of gender altogether (the trans of beyond). These are the gender deconstructors.

The pastoral relevance of distinguishing between sufferers of gender dysphoria and those engaged in deliberate gender deconstruction should be clear: there is a major ethical difference between an unwanted affliction and active rebellion. However, the line between the two is not always clear and, in many cases, there may be overlap. Furthermore, the same underlying triggers (e.g., sexual trauma or rigid gender stereotypes) can sometimes produce either effect or a combination of both.[4]

Pursuing Psychosomatic Wholeness

Those who identify as transgender often seek to address their gender non-conformity in one or more ways. For some, the transition is purely psychological (i.e., they adopt an internal gender identity that differs from their biology). For others, it is also social (i.e., changes of name, pronouns, dress, and behavior). For others still, it takes a medical form (i.e., cross-sex hormone therapy and sex-reassignment surgery).

For reasons I have elaborated elsewhere,[5] this essay argues from the conviction that God continues to create humankind as male and female, and calls each of us to live in congruence with our embodied sexed identity. That is, God desires my subjective gender identity and social gender expression to align with the objective fact of my biological sex.[6] Importantly, however, this is not God’s first word to those who experience gender dysphoria or identify as transgender. Indeed, His first word to them is the same as His first word to all: to repent of sin, trust in Christ, and to find our rest and identity in Him.

Once a person who identifies as transgender comes to Jesus, following Him will mean recognizing and receiving their embodied sexed identity as a good gift of God and learning to live in conformity with it. Depending on the type of transgender experience the new believer has had (or continues to have), this may be relatively straightforward or extremely complicated. Likewise, depending on what steps they have taken down the path of gender transitioning, some simple changes may be made, whereas others may be extremely difficult, if not impossible — particularly if irreversible surgical steps have been taken.[7] Nevertheless, because God has designed biological sex to reveal gender, inform gender identity, and guide gender expression, embracing and enacting a gender that accords with one’s sex is the God-ordained path to true psychosomatic wholeness.

Transgender People and Baptism

What Is Baptism?

According to the Westminster Larger Catechism,

Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein Christ hath ordained the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, to be a sign and seal of ingrafting into himself, of remission of sins by his blood, and regeneration by his Spirit; of adoption, and resurrection unto everlasting life; and whereby the parties baptized are solemnly admitted into the visible church, and enter into an open and professed engagement to be wholly and only the Lord’s.[8]

While different traditions rely on different confessions and catechisms (and disagree over the mode and subjects of baptism, and whether the term “sacrament” or “ordinance” is to be preferred), there is a striking evangelical unanimity in regard to the nature of baptism.[9] As the New Testament reveals, a two-fold symbolism is involved. The baptismal water signifies the forgiveness of sins and the gift of new birth, and the baptizand’s submission signifies repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus.

Who Should Be Baptized and When?

Leaving to one side the question of whether a case can be made for baptizing the children of believers, given that the act of baptism is a sign of repentance and faith, it would be contradictory to baptize any adult who was evidently unrepentant and unbelieving. This does not mean that a total reformation of life is required before baptism can take place. But it does mean that those who are baptized should declare their allegiance to Christ, commit themselves to “fight under his banner against sin, the world, and the devil,”[10] and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, do all they can to “bear fruits in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8).

It is not the New Testament’s teaching, nor was it normal apostolic practice, that baptism be delayed until converts had undergone a lengthy period of instruction (see Acts 2:38–41; 8:35–38; 10:44–48) or reached a certain point along the path of sanctification. As the Ethiopian eunuch said to Philip only moments after hearing the gospel: “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:36). In his case, the answer was, “nothing whatsoever.” Nevertheless, things may not always be so straightforward. Pastoral wisdom is needed to discern if and when a person is ready to make “an appeal to God for a good conscience” (1 Pet. 3:21) and so receive baptism.

Baptizing Transgender Converts

How does all this help us think about the baptism of those who might be described as “transgender converts”? First, it would be utterly unreasonable to delay the baptism until they had resolved all of their identity issues — particularly as this may not fully happen in this life. But what if a person has previously sought to transition genders? To what extent do they need to have reidentified with their biological sex before they are baptized? For instance, is it biblically faithful and pastorally helpful to baptize someone who identifies as a woman but is biologically male, and to use this person’s preferred female name and pronouns during the baptism?

For some, provided a person has made a genuine profession of Christian faith, the fact that they have not yet returned to living congruently with their biological sex should not prevent them from being baptized. Martin Davie, for example, suggests that while “a transgender person who is a baptised believer” ought to be “willing to accept and live out their true, God given, sexual identity,”[11] “it would be inappropriate to refuse to baptise someone because they have not yet reverted to their true identity.”[12] His reasoning is that this would “demand sanctification as pre-condition for spiritual re-generation rather than look for it as the fruit of such re-generation.”[13]

While Davie’s theological points — that regeneration precedes sanctification and that baptism is a sign of the former, not the latter — are important, they are not decisive. Should we baptize a newly converted adulterer who, while professing Christ, was not yet ready to end his affair, or an embezzler who was unwilling to turn from his life of thievery? These analogies are not perfect, but the point of commonality is this: for repentance to be meaningful and baptism appropriate, some changes need to begin immediately, even if their full outworking takes time.[14]

God, of course, is marvelously merciful and often covers our personal and pastoral follies. In fact, I know two people who identified as a gender contrary to their biology when they were baptized and only later, as part of their Christian growth, returned to living congruently with their embodied sex. Nevertheless, in my view, it is better to resolve such matters from the outset. This reduces the likelihood of the scenario that Davie is forced to contemplate: how to discipline a baptized believer who is “unwilling to contemplate reverting to their true sexual identity.”[15] It also avoids the confusion of someone undergoing public baptism with an identity contrary to their biology, replete with an incongruous name and incompatible pronouns.

For these reasons, I believe it is essential that a transgender convert be fully aware of the way of life into which they are being baptized, and ready to embark on that way. If they are not, I would advise waiting until they are.

Transgender People and Membership

Different Approaches to Membership

The subject of baptism leads naturally to the issue of membership. It is noteworthy that the early Christians “didn’t have explicit membership policies because membership was simply synonymous with being part of a church — grafted as a member into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12).”[16] In short, Christian baptism was all that was required for church membership.

This is still the case in many churches today. Others, however, conceive of membership a little differently — some more broadly, others more narrowly. These contrasting approaches may usefully be described as “high-buffer” and “low-buffer.”[17] The essential difference is that “high-buffer” churches tend to place believing before belonging whereas “low-buffer” churches tend to place belonging before believing. Furthermore, at the top end of “high-buffer” churches, becoming a member usually involves attending membership classes and signing a membership covenant, while at the bottom end of “low-buffer” churches, any regular attender is considered a member.

There are several risks with the “low-buffer” approach. First, it can easily blur the distinction between believers and unbelievers — particularly if it theologically prioritizes belonging over believing. Second, it can make the discipline of erring believers difficult, as expectations for believers are often not clearly communicated. Third, it can sometimes leave new believers feeling like victims of a “bait-and-switch” — having been given the impression that people can not only come to Christ “as they are” (which they can), but also “stay as they are” (which they can’t).

There are also potential dangers with the “high-buffer” approach. Theologically, it can sometimes convey (if not fall prey to) a kind of quasi-legalism or semi-Pelagianism, as if we “get in by grace but stay in by works.”[18] Practically, it can run the risk of drawing lines in the wrong places: suggesting a spiritual divide between members and non-members, when the real differences lie between believers and unbelievers, and obedient believer and disobedient believers.

Membership Requires Genuine Conversion

However membership is approached, two things are required for it to be meaningful. The first is that members must have undergone a genuine conversion. This means that anyone who previously identified as transgender but has now come to place their trust in Christ and has been baptized in His name is a suitable candidate for church membership (Gal. 3:27). The fact that they may continue to battle with gender dysphoria or may still be in the process of reidentifying with their biological sex does not change this one iota. All of God’s people battle with ongoing afflictions and temptations, and all of us are perpetual works in progress.

Membership Involves Informed Commitment

For many churches, membership involves not just a general commitment to Christian discipleship, but a particular commitment to a specific community of God’s people: to encourage, pray for, and gather regularly with other members of the body, to give to the ministry of the church, and to submit to its leadership. This is the second requirement for meaningful membership: informed commitment. Assuming such a commitment is clearly understood and freely accepted, there is no reason why a believer who battles ongoing gender dysphoria should be refused church membership, and every reason why they should be fully welcomed as a valued member of Christ’s body.

Transgender People and Service

Service and Membership

The issue of membership guides the question of service, particularly as involvement in some kind of ministry is often an entailment of church membership and is a normal and healthy part of Christian maturation. Consequently, church members who experience gender dysphoria should, as part of their discipleship, be encouraged to serve the Lord and helped to find ways to build His church.

For those who are not yet members (and perhaps not yet believers), the options will be limited. Still, most churches enlist the assistance of non-members in a variety of ways, such as fixing lights, helping with events, and vacuuming floors. In fact, it’s not uncommon for some who serve in more practical ways (e.g., by mowing lawns) to be unbelievers, especially if they are paid for their work. Along these lines, it may not be impossible for a not-yet-converted transgender-identified person to serve in some appropriate way.[19]

Wherever your church sits on the high-buffer/low-buffer spectrum, my recommendation is that it consistently implement its membership/service policy. That is, churches should not be high-buffer toward transgender people and low-buffer toward all others, or vice versa. As will be explained more fully in the following section, I also recommend that churches have a higher-buffer approach to leadership roles (pastor, elder, teacher, etc.), even if they have a lower-buffer membership and service policy.

Finding Ministry That Fits

In thinking strategically about service, the key question is this: what makes a certain type of ministry a good fit? Assuming growth in maturity and a Christlike attitude, the first consideration is gifting. What abilities are required to fulfill a particular ministry? Does the person who desires to serve in a certain way have the skill to do so effectively? If so, then the way ahead is clear: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Pet. 4:10).

As to what ministry is most suitable for a person who battles gender dysphoria or who has previously rejected the gender identity matching their biological sex, the answer may depend in part on the current state of their identity struggles and where they are in the process of reidentifying with their biological sex. It may also depend on the particular challenges involved in the ministry under consideration and whether the person is ready to take them on. Careful and prayerful thought should be given to discern whether a particular role is helpful both for them and for others.

Sanctification Before Service

Things can get complicated when we get our priorities back-to-front — for example, when we privilege pragmatics over ethics or the demands of the moment over the deeper issues of pastoral care and long-term good. Let me illustrate.

A pastor recently called me to discuss what he should say to a trans woman (that is, a biological male who identifies and dresses as a woman) who had been attending his church for several months and now was wanting to help with the music ministry. After talking through the issues, we agreed that having this person participate in the music ministry would be putting the proverbial cart before the horse. Assuming this person really was a Christian (as they claimed), they first needed to address a major area of confusion and disobedience in their life: their desire to deny and disguise their true sex. This was where the person’s energies (and the church’s pastoral care) needed to be concentrated. Serving on the music team was some way down the track. The other thing we discussed was the effect that undertaking such public ministry would likely have both on the person and on others in the church. Again, we agreed that it would simultaneously affirm the person’s decision to reject their biological sex and confuse others as to the good that God wills for His people.

The point of this pastoral anecdote should be clear: there are times when, for the spiritual health of a member of Christ’s body and the good of the body as a whole, sanctification needs to be prioritized over serving. If a brother or sister is seriously struggling with (or perhaps resisting) some aspect of the call to sanctification, then having them in a public ministry role will most likely be unhelpful. While sanctification and service happily go and grow together, if the latter is getting in the way of the former, then sanctification must take precedence over service.

Transgender People and Leadership

Leadership Essentials

Our discussion of service leads naturally to the issue of leadership, for leadership is a form of service (Luke 22:26–27). Because leaders are entrusted with authority to teach and keep watch over God’s flock (Heb. 13:7, 17), a person’s fitness for leadership needs to be carefully assessed. This is why the Pastoral Epistles highlight the necessity of gospel convictions (1 Tim. 3:9; Tit. 1:9), godly character (1 Tim. 3:2–3, 7; Tit. 1:6–8), and ministry competence (1 Tim. 3:2, 4–5; Titus 1:9). Not all believers fulfill these requirements. But if a believer who faithfully battles gender dysphoria does, then there is no reason why they should not hold the “highest” of church leadership offices.

Different Levels of Leadership

There are, of course, different levels of leadership. There is a difference, for instance, between a small group Bible study leader and a senior pastor. It would, therefore, be inappropriate and unnecessary to insist that the former must have the same degree of maturity and ability as the latter. The basic principle is this: the greater the responsibility entrusted to a person, the greater the care that is needed in assessing their fitness for leadership.

For this reason, Paul insists that a leader “must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil” (1 Tim. 3:6). His reason is that maturity develops slowly, and readiness for leadership takes time to show itself. This is why he says, “Let them also be tested first” (1 Tim. 3:10). This applies to all “who aspire to be overseers,” not just to those who are struggling with identity questions. Nevertheless, the immediate need of someone who is only in the beginning stages of returning to live in harmony with their embodied sex is for God’s people to help them bear their burden (Gal. 6:2), not for them to be burdened with leadership responsibilities.

All Christian leaders struggle daily with sin, the flesh, and the devil and much else besides! Nevertheless, the New Testament requires them to be farther down the road of discipleship than those they are seeking to lead (1 Tim. 4:15–16). They need to have demonstrated progress in life and doctrine, and the kind of personal and spiritual maturity necessary for wise and godly leadership.

Managing ongoing struggles

What I am not saying is that, in order to be ready for leadership, a believer who previously identified as transgender needs to have completely resolved all their identity struggles and completely reversed all transition steps previously taken. As we’ve already acknowledged, some decisions (e.g., surgical ones) cannot be undone. Therefore, the better questions to ask are these: is the person faithfully expressing their God-given sex? And are they responsibly managing whatever gender dysphoria may remain — e.g., in prayerful dependence on God, with the help of His people, and with the assistance of appropriate health professionals?

Many great Christian leaders have battled mental health issues and a host of other moral, spiritual, and physical problems. I personally know a number of very fine pastors who continue to struggle with depression, and several others whose battlefront is same-sex attraction. While relief from such afflictions is granted to some, for many the Lord allows these “thorns in the flesh” to remain, so that His power might be made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).

The point is this: ongoing gender dysphoria does not exclude a person from Christian leadership. Everything hinges on how debilitating its effects are and how well it is being managed. Importantly, no Christian (and especially no leader) should seek to fight such a battle alone. We all need encouragement, assistance, and accountability.

Transgender People and Communion

What Is Communion?

We come, finally, to the meal that Jesus instructed His disciples to share in remembrance of His death until His return (Luke 22:14–20; 1 Cor. 11:23–26). While it goes by many names — Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, the Breaking of Bread, the Agape Feast — evangelicals are generally agreed that it is a symbolic event, “wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to [Christ’s] appointment, his death is shown forth (1 Cor. 11:23–26), and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporeal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace (1 Cor. 10:16).”[20]

Importantly, communion involves not only looking back (in faith) and looking forward (in hope) but also looking around (in love). This is why the Apostle Paul warns that “anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body [that is, the church] eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Cor. 11:29).[21] As a corporate act of participation in the body and blood of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16), communion is not to be approached in an individualistic (let alone selfish) manner (1 Cor. 10:17).

Who Can Participate?

Christians have differed over who should participate in communion. John Wesley, for example, saw it as a “converting ordinance” and so invited unbelievers to partake just as an evangelist might call people forward to receive Christ.[22] Most, however, see it as a meal that is for those who are already believers, provided they “do truly and earnestly repent [of their] sins, and are in love and charity with [their] neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways.”[23]

Consequently, any gender dysphoric Christian (like any other Christian) who meets these conditions should be joyfully welcomed to the Lord’s table and warmly encouraged to express their faith and fellowship in Christ by eating and drinking in “memory of that his precious death, until his coming again.”[24]

Faithfully Shepherding the Sheep

Difficulties would only arise if a gender dysphoric believer adopts or returns to a gender identity contrary to their sex. How might this affect participation in communion and how should such a situation be approached? Again, let me illustrate.

Another pastor called me some time ago to discuss a married, male church member who had started cross-sex hormone therapy and wished to come to church dressed as a woman. We talked through the issues and, over subsequent weeks, a number of delicate conversations took place between the pastor and this member of the flock. After spending many hours listening, sympathizing, praying, and looking at the Scriptures with him, the pastor felt he needed to make clear that his brother was not honoring God, his marriage, or his body. He needed to repent. If not, he would be unable to share with the Lord’s people at the Lord’s table. Mercifully, this was just the jolt he needed. By God’s grace, and with the support of his family and church, repent he did. 

Conclusion

In our current climate, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for all who have struggled or continue to struggle with their gender identity, as it is for all whose bodies have been irreparably damaged by surgery. Jesus alone can make us new (2 Cor. 5:17), and Jesus alone will make us whole (Phil. 3:21).

For all Christians, conversion normally settles the issues of baptism, membership, and communion, even though additional wisdom is required to determine the best forms of service and a person’s suitability for leadership. Complications only arise when a believer starts (or returns to) living inconsistently with their profession. This is so for anyone who strays from the path of discipleship. Whether a believer is giving in to lust or anger, the desire to reject their biological sex, or “is caught in any transgression” (Gal. 6:1a), the remedy is the same: “You who are spiritual should restore him [or her] in a spirit of gentleness” (Gal. 6:1b).

In seeking to minister to those who struggle with their gender identity, great pastoral sensitivity is often needed — particularly in seeking to discern the degree to which someone is gender dysphoric as opposed to gender defiant. Nonetheless, the Lord’s will is clear: we are to welcome our biological sex as His good gift and align our gender conception and expression with that sex. This will not be easy for some and may be a lifelong battle for others, but it is the path to wholeness.

However, it is also important to realize that our heavenly Father does not require us to conform to narrow gender stereotypes — stereotypes that are often more cultural than biblical and, for some, may contribute to their gender confusion. What He does require is that, with the light of His Word, the liberating help of His Spirit, and the loving support of His church, we each embrace and celebrate the good gift of our body and learn to live in harmony with it to the glory of Jesus and for the good of others.

Above all, we must never forget that God is totally committed to patiently working with His children in order to transform each of us into the glorious image of His Son, our brother, the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3:18a). Yes, change is slow and gradual, “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18b). But this ought to make us patient too — both with ourselves and with each other. As Walt Heyer reminds us, “we must never give up on people, no matter how many times they fail or how long recovery takes. We must never underestimate the healing power of prayer and love in the hands of the Lord. We must never give up hope.”[25]

Robert Smith is a Lecturer in Theology and Ethics at Sydney Missionary & Bible College.

Footnotes:

[1] This definition is adapted from that of the American Psychological Association. My reason for not using the APA’s precise wording is because it employs the language of “sex assigned at birth.” In my view, it is preferable to speak of sex being “recognized” or “identified” at birth. This is the case even for children born with intersex conditions. Even though more difficult, the doctor’s task remains the same: to discover or clarify the child’s sex, not to create or impose it.

[2] Rogers Brubaker, Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016), 10.

[3] It replaces “gender identity disorder” in DSM-IV (1994), which saw the incongruence itself as a psychiatric disorder. According to DSM-V, gender dysphoria “is more descriptive than the previous DSM-IV term gender identity disorder and focuses on dysphoria as the clinical problem, not identity per se” (451).

[4] It is also important to realize that those who experience gender dysphoria for inscrutable reasons still have moral choices to make and are responsible for how they manage their affliction.

[5] See Robert S. Smith, “Responding to the Transgender Revolution.” TGC: U.S. Edition (October 12, 2017): https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/responding-to-the-transgender-revolution.

[6] This does not mean conforming to rigid or narrow gender stereotypes — for example, that all men must have beards and love football, or that all women wear dresses and love baking. Provided the distinctions between the sexes are not blurred, the Bible allows (indeed, endorses) a range of different ways of being male or female.

[7] Tragically, there is nothing that can be done for a woman who has undergone a hysterectomy (i.e., removal of the uterus) and little if she has had a double mastectomy (i.e., removal of the breasts), other than receiving silicone implants. Similarly, the only thing that can be done for a man who has undergone a penectomy (i.e., removal of the penis) or an orchiectomy (i.e., removal of the testes) is to receive an artificial phallus or fake testes. While some may choose such cosmetic steps, in my view, no one should feel pressured to do so. Living faithfully has to do with aligning gender identity, expression, and behavior with biological sex — even if a person’s body cannot now be restored to what it once was.

[8] The Westminster Larger Catechism (1648), answer to Question 165.

[9] For example, the Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) speaks of it as “an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be unto the party baptized, a sign of his fellowship with him, in his death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into him (Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12; Gal. 3:27); of remission of sins (Mark 1:4; Acts 22:16); and of giving up into God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4)” (Chapter 29, paragraph 1).

[10] This language is drawn from “The Ministration of Publick Baptism to Such as are of Riper Years,” Book of Common Prayer (1662).

[11] Martin Davie, Transgender Liturgies: Should the Church of England develop liturgical materials to mark gender transition? (London: The Latimer Trust, 2017), 79.

[12] Ibid., 81.

[13] Ibid.

[14] The example of Zacchaeus’s repentance (Luke 19:8) is surely instructive here.

[15] Davie, Transgender Liturgies, 81–82.

[16] Josh Butler, “Guidance for Churches on Membership, Baptism, Communion, Leadership, and Service for Gay and Lesbian People,” The Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender (2018): https://www.centerforfaith.com/resources/pastoral-papers/guidance-for-churches-on-membership-baptism-communion-leadership-and, 8.

[17] Ibid., 7–9.

[18] This, according to E. P. Sanders, was the pattern of religion in Palestinian Judaism (Paul and Palestinian Judaism [London: SCM, 1977]). It has rightly been seen as semi-Pelagian.

[19] Of course, our first concern for every seeker is that they be saved. If being involved in some form of service hinders that or, worse, confuses them (for example, by causing them to think their service is contributing to their salvation), then it is better to have them refrain from serving until they are saved.

[20] A Puritan Catechism (1855), answer to Question 80: “What is the Lord’s Supper?”

[21] For understanding “the body” here as “the church,” see Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 554–555.

[22] See Ole E. Borgen, John Wesley on the Sacraments: A Theological Study (Zurich: United Methodist Church, 1972), 197–98.

[23] “The Order of the Administration of the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion,” Book of Common Prayer (1662).

[24] Ibid.

[25] Walt Heyer, A Transgender’s Faith (2015), 141.

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