LCMS 2019 convention resolution on gender identity

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod holds its triennial convention beginning July 20. Among the proposed resolutions is this one:

I have included the entire text, below, or you may find it here: https://files.lcms.org/wl/?id=KuJNmMBOaTz54nqcyjk0Hbx1eVuOXTmt

I appreciate what is behind this proposal, the desire is to help, to educate, to display compassion. Because I continue to find the leaders of the LCMS have not thoroughly educated themselves regarding gender identity issues, I find this proposal lacking. Thus, if it were ratified by the convention, it would only serve to extend the lack of understanding and the large amount of misunderstanding regarding gender dysphoria and being transgender.

I have placed in italics the text of the proposal. My thoughts are placed between the sections on which I comment.

Page 162: 43 WHEREAS, Our society includes persons who are uncertain whether they are “truly” male or female (this does not
44 include intersex individuals, see excursus in Commission on Theology and Church Relations [CTCR], Gender Identity
45 Disorder or Gender Dysphoria in Christian Perspective), others who present themselves as a member of the opposite sex
Page 162, 2019 Today’s Business, 1st Edition—Proposed Resolutions
34 WHEREAS, In the beginning God created man in his own image, “male and female, he created them” (Gen. 1:27); and
35 WHEREAS, As the Small Catechism (SC) teaches, “I believe that God has made me and all creatures. He has given me
36 my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members …” (SC II, First Article); and
37 WHEREAS, After humanity’s fall into sin, Jesus again affirmed God’s continuing work: that from the beginning he
38 created them “male and female” (Matt. 19:4); and
39 WHEREAS, Gender is now considered by many in our culture as a social construct rather than a physical reality created
40 by God; and

Do not assume that those who suffer gender dysphoria believe that gender is a social construct. Even more, those Christians in the LCMS who suffer gender dysphoria know that the Lord created sex and gender as male and female, and they have no argument that the Lord’s intention was that males be men and females be women. Their trouble is not that they despise that the Lord created them male or female, but that they have a physical condition which does not allow them to be at peace with their birth sex.

In the secular world, many ideas are held that are not in agreement with God’s Word. I know several transgender Christians of the LCMS and none of them believe gender is a social construct. They do not debate the Lord’s intention for males and females. They look forward to their resurrection from the dead on the Last Day, when they will be made whole, with no more conflict with their birth sex.

41 WHEREAS, The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that marriages may be contracted between two persons
42 of the same sex; and
Page 163
1 in dress and physical appearance, and others who participate in hormonal and/or surgical procedures in an attempt to
2 modify their anatomy from male to female or from female to male; and

The CTCR’s definition of intersex is narrow, confined to the genitals and reproductive system. It ignores the many variations of intersex hormonal and chromosomal conditions which cannot be seen with the naked eye.

As there are conditions that are acknowledged as real—for one, autism—yet we do not know what causes them, so there are conditions that cause gender conflict that are real but so far cannot be proven. As with autism, just because the source cannot be absolutely determined does not negate the physical reality of the malady.

The CTCR allows for those to medically and socially address their condition when it can be viewed with the eye. For all others who suffer? The CTCR only allows for confessing as sin their gender identity conflict. Their suffering could be just as physical as the person who has a cancerous tumor, yet the CTCR, and this proposed resolution, makes no provision for them by the church other than spiritual care.

3 WHEREAS, The Christian church is not without fault and has too often failed to minister compassionately to those who
4 experience sexual orientation and gender identity issues, and has too often failed to address the sins of heterosexual
5 members; and
6 WHEREAS, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) parochial schools, congregations, seminaries, the
7 Concordia University System, and individuals in our Synod are experiencing mounting pressure as a result of cultural and
8 legal changes; and
9 WHEREAS, LCMS church workers and laity have asked for guidance in pastoral care for individuals and families
10 struggling with matters of same-sex orientation and gender identity issues; and
11 WHEREAS, The LCMS has produced resources such as the following CTCR reports: Gender
12 Identity Disorder or Gender Dysphoria in Christian Perspective (adopted Sept. 2014); Human Sexuality: A Theological
13 Perspective (adopted September 1981); Response to Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust (adopted April 2012); and The
14 Creator’s Tapestry: Scriptural Perspectives on Man-Woman Relationships in Marriage and the Church (adopted
15 December 2009); therefore be it
16 Resolved, That the LCMS in convention affirm and faithfully confess the biblical truth that God created humanity as
17 male and female; and be it further
18 Resolved, That we regard all those who struggle with sexual orientation and gender identity issues as our neighbors,
19 beloved of God, and therefore condemn acts of abuse committed against them; and be it further
20 Resolved, That pastors and congregations of the Synod be encouraged to minister compassionately to those who
21 experience sexual orientation and gender identity issues through prayer, the proclamation of Law and Gospel, the
22 Sacrament of Holy Baptism, corporate and individual confession and absolution, the proper administration of the Lord’s
23 Supper, the mutual conversation and consolation of the brothers and sisters, and pastoral care; and be it further
24 Resolved, That pastors and congregations of the Synod be encouraged to minister compassionately to the families,
25 friends, and all others impacted by those who struggle with same-sex attraction, those involved in same-sex relationships,
26 and those whose sexual self-understanding is shaped by a distressing conflict between their biological sex and their gender
27 identity through prayer, the proclamation of Law and Gospel, the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, corporate and individual
28 confession and absolution, the proper administration of the Lord’s Supper, the mutual conversation and consolation of the
29 brothers and sisters, and pastoral care; and be it further

Does this mean that the Christian who transitions, if he or she does not confess it as sinning and cease, will have Matthew 18:15ff carried out on them, and that if they do not repent they will be excommunicated?

Matthew 18:15ff wasn’t carried out with my wife and me, when I lived as a transgender woman. The LCMS church that took us in was only threatened with expulsion should we remain members. No one, at that time, called any of us to repent. To calm the storm and save our pastors and congregation, Julie and I resigned our membership.

I have met other LCMS Christians who have been treated similarly, who in their suffering finally transitioned in order to regain their emotional health. Matthew 18:15ff was not utilized; they simply were shown the door.

Is this how the church wants to minister to these people, who love the Lord, who have no desire to offend Him or their fellow Christians, who are only trying to find relief from their suffering?

Pastors have told me, “You wouldn’t tell an anorexic person that it’s okay not to eat.” No, you would not. But, if I were the pastor of an anorexic person who could not find the strength to eat sufficiently, I would not simply proclaim this one’s sin. And I certainly would not kick out of my church this suffering child of God.

Is there no way to extend the same compassion to Christians who reach the point where they need to see if transitioning will help them, to ease their tremendous distress that likely includes their suffering thoughts of killing themselves?

30 Resolved, That church workers and congregations in the Synod be encouraged to utilize the following CTCR reports:
31 Human Sexuality: A Theological Perspective; Response to Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust; The Creator’s Tapestry:
32 Scriptural Perspectives on Man-Woman Relationships in Marriage and the Church; and Gender Identity Disorder or
33 Gender Dysphoria in Christian Perspective; and be it further
34 Resolved, That the CTCR be directed to prioritize the updating of the 1981 study, “Human Sexuality”; and be it finally
35 Resolved, That the Synod in convention direct the Office of National Mission, Concordia Publishing House, the
36 seminaries, and the Concordia University System to continue to provide resources that enable the church to confess the
37 truth boldly and minister compassionately both to those who struggle with sexual orientation and gender identity issues
38 and those who care for them.

Based on my experience with the LCMS when I was transgender, and with those transgender persons who are or were in LCMS congregations, indeed there is a need for education regarding gender identity issues. To this end, I am writing a book, “Ministering to Transgender Christians.”

In this book, I will address what gender dysphoria is, the suffering it causes, theological concerns, and how to provide pastoral care to those who suffer gender conflict. I will introduce a number of LCMS folks who experience gender dysphoria, some of whom have transitioned.

The book is now in the editing process. My hope is to have it published by the end of the summer.

4 thoughts on “LCMS 2019 convention resolution on gender identity

  1. I also have to say, that the way things were handled with you is just so wrong. If I understand what you are saying, no one asked you to repent directly, or talked to you in person, or prayed with you, or asked you to give your side of the story. The only thing that was offered was that the church you went to would either have to reject you or lose their affiliation with the LCMS. That seems neither in accordance with speaking the truth in love, or following Mathew 18:15ff.

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    1. Thank you for your words, Erik.

      Indeed, I’ve read about the higher rate of transgender among those on the autism spectrum. (It seems I wrote on it a couple of years ago, but I’ll be if I can recall the title of the piece on my blog!) The important thing about the connection is the sign of transgender being a physical condition. People need to pay attention to these things!

      As for our church situation, you got it right. When the furor erupted among LCMS leaders over our being welcome in a LCMS congregation, the synod official who met with our pastors and Julie & me never spoke of our sin, never called any of us to repentance (as our pastors never called Julie and me to repent), never mentioned Matthew 18. It was only said that the congregation and pastors were being threatened with expulsion if we were to remain in the congregation. In my memoir, as I write about these events, I quote the synod official, who said, “It’s not theological. It’s political.” Political, indeed!

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