‘You can’t cut against the grain of Creation,’ seminary prof says on gender issues
August 5th, 2020 / By: Rob Collingsworth / comments
The Texas Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee of the SBTC held a virtual presentation on Tuesday, August 4, entitled “What Does the Bible Actually Say About Gender Identity?” Led by Andrew Walker, associate professor of Christian ethics and apologetics at Southern Seminary in Louisville, the presentation was open to current members of the TERLC as well as lawmakers across the state.
Committee chairman Nathan Loudin, pastor of Millwood Baptist Church in Austin, opened by thanking the lawmakers who were present. “Having spent some time engaging and testifying with different issues at the Capitol, you find out really quickly the issues are complex, difficult and often very bipartisan,” he said. “We thank you for being there, for doing the wrestling for us and for serving our state and especially the Lord in this manner.”
Gender issues have become increasingly polarizing in recent years, leading to significant religious liberty implications for churches, faith-based non-profits and Christian colleges and universities.
“I came of age in my career right when marriage was undergoing its redefinition, and I remember that debate happening and thinking to myself that if we get marriage wrong as a society, we’re going to get society wrong,” Walker said. “Because you can’t tinker with these basic cornerstone institutions and expect society to flourish.
“We have moved to a time in which we have denatured ourselves, and what I mean by that is that we have made it impossible to concretely identify what is a man or what is a woman,” he said. “The problem with the trans or gender-identity movement is it makes having that stable concept—necessary for a stable, purposeful social order—it makes it impossible.
“And so we find ourselves unable to identify what is a man or a woman based on anything other than mere choice or stereotype. We can’t go down this path very long, because it so cuts against the grain of Creation,” he added. “And you can’t go against the grain of Creation that long without nature striking back.”
Walker said that a correct approach to gender must be grounded in reality, giving five axioms regarding how God has constructed reality as the premise for the presentation. He made clear at the outset that while there can be many worldviews, there is only one reality.
“Christian reality is reality itself. And when we’re talking about gender issues, I don’t want us to see this from a sectarian perspective that is only persuasive and intelligible if we have Bible verses,” Walker said, “though we have Bible verses.
“Someone does not need to be a Christian in order to agree with the propositions about what a male and female really is, because what we believe about male and female is not exclusive only to a Christian epistemology—it’s exclusive to reality as it is.”
His five axioms build on each other from broad to narrow, and include that 1) God created, 2) God created humanity, 3) God created humanity in his image, 4) God created humanity male and female, and 5) God created male and female for one another.
“When we talk about gender I want us to see this as a creational issue, not just a Christian issue,” Walker said. “When we’re painting a portrait of what Christians believe, we believe what we do about created reality because God authors Creation.”
Walker went on to discuss the immutability of male and female complementarity based on anatomy, adding that just because a man or woman has surgery that will change his or her appearance, there exists no surgery that will change one’s chromosomal makeup.
“We want to hold out from Scripture that male and female complementarity are true to our nature, they are true to our bodies,” he said. “Our reproductive anatomy matters in constituting a definition of male and female.”
He also pointed out the change in language between what was once referred to as sex reassignment surgery but is now referred to as gender confirmation surgery, indicating how society has shifted in its views regarding the transgender movement.
Again and again, Walker pointed back to Scripture and creational reality as the basis for how Christians should respond to the transgender movement.
The specific challenges he brought up included public safety in bathrooms, women’s sports, feminism, parental rights, public education and tactics like coercion.
Walker brought up the example of author J.K. Rowling who, though a self-described trans-affirming individual, has come under intense scrutiny in recent months for her comments regarding the movement’s harmful effects on children.
“It’s not enough to stay silent. In order to be properly acceptable in mainstream culture, you now have to be drafted into the cause of believing and saying things that you may not actually think are true,” he said.
Walker also referenced the tension among various proponents within the LGBT community.
“To be gay, lesbian or bisexual assumes there are stable concepts of what it means to be a male or a female, “The transgender movement undercuts that because it says there is no such thing as concrete gender categories, all it is is a matter of caricature and stereotype. And so it does away with the stable concept of homosexuality.”
The presentation ended with a question-and-answer time in which the participants could directly engage Walker with specific questions.
“Fluid gender identity is the most extreme idea to come out of the sexual revolution so far,” SBTC executive director Jim Richards said after the event. “Dr. Walker literally wrote the book on the subject for Southern Baptists, and it was very beneficial for some of our leaders to reap the fruit of his research on biblical sexuality.”