The Sound of Silence: Gender Identity Discourse and the Christian Reformed Church
Written by CS Stearns
It was a chilly fall morning, and a few friends and I were cozied up over steaming mugs of coffee after the school drop off. Though the atmosphere was idyllic and the air warm with the interminglings of fresh coffee and good company, the topic of conversation lingered like a fine layer of acrid smoke. Light chit chat about our lives swiftly turned to concern over the influence of gender politics in the lives of our children.
“Did you know that girls as young as 13 are requesting double mastectomies, and doctors can’t even say no?”
“What if my daughter decides to change her name and pronouns at school? Would anyone even tell me?”
The overarching concern of the conversation was a shared feeling of isolation: Am I the only one who feels this way? And shame: Am I not being “inclusive” because I worry about this?
In an increasingly morally ambiguous culture, the church should be a stalwart, unmoved by the buffeting winds of shifting morals.
Unfortunately, the Christian Reformed Church (CRCNA)’s lack of theological discourse on gender identity has only served to create a culture within the church where discussions critical to the current LGBTQ culture take place in hushed whispers for fear of being seen as non-inclusive or bigoted.
Covid has only complicated matters. With many youth groups, small groups and Bible studies meeting virtually or not at all over the last two years, the opportunity to wrestle and interact with these heavy theological issues has been negatively impacted. This has only increased the feeling of isolation and fear over engagement with these issues.
And where is the church? The CRCNA has taken a cautious and biblically informed approach, with Synod 2022 heavily focused on updating the official stance on biblical sexuality. But while the denomination debates and dithers, record breaking rates of young gender-dysphoric girls are being treated with irreversible testosterone and double mastectomies, and parents who fight this are being silenced and arrested. So far it appears that the CRCNA is so focused on how to care for members of the LGBTQ community that they have failed to acknowledge or wrestle with the dark underbelly of the rainbow movement- an underbelly that preaches an identity based on a feeling instead of an identity firmly rooted in Christ. A movement that uses “affirming care” as a euphemism for permanent pharmaceutical and surgical interventions. It is a movement that sees no issue in housing violent sexual predators in women’s prisons. There are different individuals and grassroots organizations speaking out against this dangerous ideology, making the silence from the CRCNA even more concerning.
Of course, the church has an obligation to minister to the increasing number of people who identify as part of the LGBTQ community, and there have been wrestlings with how to do that well. But the church also has a biblical mandate to care for the “widows and orphans in distress.”(James 1:27) After all, the CRCNA, as an institutional church, has the ability to choose what to speak out about politically. So why the silence on this particular issue, when the lives and safety of women and children are at risk?
We can care for members of the LGBTQ community, and maintain a biblical view of sexuality - one that affirms the intrinsic value and dignity of our bodies as created by God (Pearcey, p.200), and one that also strives to protect vulnerable women and children from irreversible physical and psychological damage from exposure to sexual predators or unnecessary and risky drugs and cosmetic surgeries.
Ultimately though, my fear as a parent and church member is that a focus on creating an inclusive church culture to those under the LGBTQ umbrella not only fails to acknowledge a dark side of inclusion that involves permanent harm to children, but it has created a theological framework that puts personal experience in authority over the Scripture, leading us away from orthodoxy. I pray that as a church, we can wrestle with these issues on a biblical foundation and preserve orthodoxy for the sake of the catechesis of our youth and the mission of the church while also loving our neighbours well.
C.S. Stearns is a pseudonym for a member of a CRC church in Alberta, Canada who is deeply concerned about the effects of gender identity ideology on the lives of vulnerable women and children.
Due to the controversial nature of this topic and the accompanied professional risk, this article has been published under a pseudonym.