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Transgender Theology Professor Leaves Christian College

(UPDATED) Former theology chair and one of CCCU's largest schools agree to part ways.
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Update (Oct. 9): Azusa Pacific University and Adam Ackley have released the following joint statement:

"Dr. Ackley and university leadership have engaged in thoughtful conversations regarding Dr. Ackley's continued employment at APU ...

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Displaying 1–88 of 88 comments

THOMAS F HARKINS JR

October 05, 2013  12:37pm

Zoe Brain, apparently you are well-read in science periodicals, which I don't claim to be. However, are you saying that most people who are trying to "change genders" fall in the categories of the journals' references you rely on? I doubt that seriously. Most such are rejecting the gender that God actually did make them. Again, tough cases do not warrant saying a person should be able to "voluntarily" change how God made him or her to be. And God did make them "male and female," and "for this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined with this wife." That's the way things are SUPPOSED to be. So, we stay with God's model to the fullest extent that we are able, and let God worry about those unfortunate situations where genetics have gone haywire.

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Zoe Brain

October 05, 2013  8:25am

@John Castle - "Surgery and chemicals (i.e. hormones) can manipulate a perception, but it can't change the DNA. " - er... yes it can. A bone marrow transplant does. See Bone marrow-derived cells from male donors can compose endometrial glands in female transplant recipients by Ikoma et al in Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Dec;201(6):608.e1-8 -- These show that a bone-marrow transplant recipient's entire bodies gradually become genetically identical to that of the donor due to cell turnover. Even the brain. Even the reproductive glands. -- That doesn't change the recipient's sex of course, but that;s because DNA doesn't define sex. 1 in 300 men don't have the usual 46,XY genes most males do. Some women too, and rarely the daughters they give birth to as well. The Bible is neither a biology nor astronomy textbook.

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Zoe Brain

October 05, 2013  8:20am

@THOMAS F HARKINS JR - No, there's "nothing in scripture that supports a person having a different "identity" than what they are physically "born" with." However, it happens anyway. For example - "In an isolated village of the southwestern Dominican Republic, 2% of the live births were in the 1970's, guevedoces ...These children appeared to be girls at birth, but at puberty these 'girls' sprout muscles, testes, and a penis. For the rest of their lives they are men in nearly all respects. Their underlying pathology was found to be a deficiency of the enzyme, 5-alpha Reductase." -- The Bible is not a biology textbook. There's nothing in it to support people changing sex like this either. It happens anyway. As for " Surely the "rules" should not be changed simply due to "hard cases" like that. " - surely they should, as is described in Isaiah 56:3-5. It's inhuman, and unChristian, not to.

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THOMAS F HARKINS JR

October 04, 2013  2:22pm

I agree with John Castle that God says, "Male and female created He them." Also. "For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, that they two may become one flesh." Jesus references the Genesis account in answering the question about divorce. There is nothing in scripture that supports a person having a different "identity" than what they are physically "born" with. One writer cites to the exceedingly rare instances where a person is born with both male and female body parts. However, there are a number of unfortunate incidents due to the fallen nature of the world, such as two bodies conjoined to each other. Surely the "rules" should not be changed simply due to "hard cases" like that. I also have to agree with John Castle that CT is getting away from its conservative Christian roots. Another less egregious instance of this is catering to evolutionary "scientists" views on evolution which are contrary to the biblical account. Come back home!

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Rick Dalbey

October 03, 2013  3:49pm

James, I am not countermanding her free decision. She is free to undergo surgery.

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Howard Pepper

October 03, 2013  1:24pm

@ John, Robert and Whom it May Concern: Some people would like to make an issue like this a simple one. Calling this professor's problem a "compulsion" is one way to try to push aside the complex issues. For example, the existence of a largely separate and rare problem does relate and shows how things even biologically are sometimes just not clear. In the biblical-literalist view, God must have erred when the true hermaphrodite condition appears in an infant. Here is part of the Wikipedia article, which I'm sure can be substantiated in medical lit.: "Upon fertilization of the two ova by two sperm cells (one carrying an X and the other carrying a Y chromosome), the two fertilized ova are then fused together resulting in a person having dual genitalial, gonadal (ovotestes) and genetic sex." There can be both XX and XY chromosomes in the same person as well as genitalia neither clearly female nor male. That probably does not pertain in the case discussed here but shows the complexity.

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James Cowles

October 03, 2013  9:57am

@ Rick Dalbey: "So is she or is she not undergoing mutilation to satisfy a compulsion?" Note the quotes I placed around "mutilation", to denote that even though I don't accept your terminology, even if Heather herself accepts that it is mutilation, who are you (or I) to countermand her free decision?

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GREG GLENDENING

October 02, 2013  2:45pm

"Love granddaughter as she is," Carolyn Hax, THE WASHINGTON POST http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/carolyn-hax-dont-try-to -get-a-child-to-conform-to-gender-expectations/2013/09/26/8daeeea8-1a50-11e 3-82ef-a059e54c49d0_story.html

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GREG GLENDENING

October 02, 2013  2:36pm

Blindness has its uses: "...different stories were told of the cause of [Tiresias'] blindness, the most direct being that he was simply blinded by the gods for revealing their secrets. ... In a separate episode, Tiresias was drawn into an argument between Hera and her husband Zeus, on the theme of who has more pleasure in sex...Tiresias replied 'Of ten parts a man enjoys one only.' Hera instantly struck him blind for his impiety. Zeus could do nothing to stop her or reverse her curse, but in recompence [sic] he did give Tiresias the gift of foresight and a lifespan of seven lives." (Wikipedia) I like this: "...the moment ['boys clothes' are on her] body, they're girl's clothes...forcibly applying pink is not going to work. Acceptance is the only answer regardless." (Carolyn Hax) http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/carolyn-hax-dont-try- to-get-a-child-to-conform-to-gender-expectations/2013/09/26/8daeeea8-1a50-1 1e3-82ef-a059e54c49d0_story.html

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John Castle

October 02, 2013  11:33am

It appears that at the foundation that CT has departed from its own theological base in an inerrant view of Scripture. To refer to Prof Ackley as "he/his/him" in the article is to accept Ackley's own perceptions as truth vice the view of Scripture that she is a woman. Have we forgotten that the Enemy is a liar and that He wishes to lead us down the primrose path to live a lie? Genesis is a simple tome, but without its basic description of God's universe the rest of our theology falls apart. "Male and female" He made us. I choose to believe the Biblical record, or I can choose to believe the lie that our culture hands to me through organizations like the APA. Surgery and chemicals (i.e. hormones) can manipulate a perception, but it can't change the DNA. This is an example why I no longer subscribe to CT. They are moving relentlessly left while attempting to be the broad-minded Evangelical, but simply put they are leaving their roots. I'm saddened.

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ROBERT COLVIN

September 30, 2013  2:01pm

Amen, Kerry Potter. But commenters ignore the HEADLINE ISSUE! WHY did Heather Clements resign as a teacher of theology at a conservative Christian college? The 4th parag of the article: the school feared that the college would LOSE FINANCIAL support from donors & churches and LOSE INCOME due to decreased enrollment, if it became known to those FINANCIAL support groups that a senior theology teacher there held a GLBT viewpoint. The school's donor support & student enrollment are mainly from evangelicals who hold a conservative literal interpretation of Scripture. They usually see a GLBT philosophy as against what Scripture teaches. Heather's YouTube video slideshow shows a long history of psychiatric problems, which problems probably influenced her unBiblical transgender stance. Sara Bailey is one of Christianity Today's main editors. Her decision to call Heather a "he" rather than a "she" is surprising, unrealistic & seems a liberal bow to a GLBT humanistic view.

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N Tallman

September 30, 2013  10:20am

Kerry your comments are appreciated. I will add that we should pray for her children and family and everyone involved with this very troubling situation. And pray for Professor Ackley.

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james .

September 29, 2013  10:54pm

It appears that Clements had 2 children and bears all the normal physical evidence to procreate as a female. Clements' choice to be assigned a male identity and to undergo surgery to simulate the physical characteristics of a male is a deviation from the norm. The confusion in identity I believe would be better resolved through ongoing biblical counselling until the believer enters glory and assume the privilege and power as angels.(Mark 12:25) Surgery is more likely a cosmetic solution to resolving this inner problem of confusion in the mind and heart during our temporal existence on earth. This classification of the condition as a disorder or disease may open the door for those(who can afford it) in same sex relationships to plead this diagnosis in order to seek transsexual surgery and continue to violate of God's order in human sexual relationships.

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audrey ruth

September 29, 2013  4:37am

Kerry Potter, I appreciate your balanced and honest and compassionate comments. Clements' story caused me to wonder why she didn't resign from Azusa Pacific University earlier and seek employment at another university which would support her 'progressive' views. Such colleges are much more numerous than those which teach a Biblical worldview.

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Kerry Potter

September 28, 2013  8:16pm

As someone who has suffered from Gender Identity Disorder I can tell you that gender confusion is merely the symptom not the disease. Most gender confusion results from a failure to connect and/or be affirmed by the same sex parent or role model, and there can be many reasons for this. Who gets hurt from sex reasignment - parents, spouses, children, friends, the patient and most of all the Holy Spirit. To say God made a mistake when He made me is to say I am wiser than my Creator and I know what's best for me - Psalms 139:13-16, Romans 9:20. We are not talking about a birth defect, healthy organs are removed and pseudo-sexual organs are fashioned in there place. I am always amazed at how much pro-transexual propaganda is being confused as compassion for people. While I have respect and empathy for Heather, I will not do her the disservice of telling her that it is ok to sin and that God understands - because He doesn't. As the church let us not cheapen grace any further-please.

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Rick Dalbey

September 28, 2013  6:44pm

Slow down James. I did not understand your response. You said "the examples you give are indeed mutilations, and are OBVIOUSLY so" I cited limbs and breasts. So, I thought you were agreeing to the terminology. Then you asked, "what would be the *** CORRESPONDINGLY OBVIOUS *** consequences of transgender reassignment? if Heather Clements wants to take the risk of "mutilation" and if she freely chooses to do so" So is she or is she not undergoing mutilation to satisfy a compulsion? This is not a trick question and I am not trying to twist your words. I am trying to understand what you are saying.

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James Cowles

September 28, 2013  6:18pm

@Rick Dalbey: "OK, so we've determined that mutilate is an accurate and appropriate term." We have not established that, quite the contrary. And it is disingenuous and dishonest of you to suggest otherwise. I explicitly said in my reply the following: "the examples you give are indeed mutilations, and are OBVIOUSLY so ... what would be the *** CORRESPONDINGLY OBVIOUS *** consequences of transgender reassignment?" Rather than reply to my question, you deliberately misrepresented my post. How is such mendacity consistent with Christian principles?

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Rick Dalbey

September 28, 2013  5:14pm

OK, so we've determined that mutilate is an accurate and appropriate term. Now lets address this. I would in no way countermand her free choice to lop off her breasts as I have made clear. Nor would I prohibit her from tattooing her face with Maori ritual face tattoos. Nor would I prohibit her from having sex with the first 50 people she meets. It's all legal. But not appropriate for a professor of theology at a conservative Christian Bible college.

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James Cowles

September 28, 2013  5:03pm

@ Rick Dalbey: "1. To deprive of a limb or an essential part; cripple. 2. To disfigure by damaging irreparably" As in, to cut off both breasts without medical necessity." A couple of points: (1) the examples you give are indeed mutilations, and are OBVIOUSLY so ... what would be the *** CORRESPONDINGLY OBVIOUS *** consequences of transgender reassignment? (2) Even assuming a risk of mutilation, if Heather Clements wants to take the risk of "mutilation" and if she freely chooses to do so, what gives you the authority -- assuming Clements is of sound mind & judgment -- to countermand her free choice? It's Clements' / Ackley's decision, not yours.

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Rick Dalbey

September 28, 2013  4:53pm

Mutilate is a good and appropriate term "Mutilate 1. To deprive of a limb or an essential part; cripple. 2. To disfigure by damaging irreparably" As in, to cut off both breasts without medical necessity.

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James Cowles

September 28, 2013  4:17pm

@ Craig Abernethy ... "I was trying to make the point that surgical "reassignment" is a failure, since its victims cannot function sexually in their desired/"assigned" new gender, and that makes surgical "reassignment" a lie, which is a good reason that it ought to be illegal. Cowles also incredibly asks what the social harm is in irreparably mutilating healthy individuals." Depends on what you mean by "function sexually". Are the gender-reassignment patients unable to achieve erection / orgasm? Do they experience pain during intercourse? Or -- more accurately and to the point -- how do the PATIENTS define "function sexually". I do not know that you are in a position to define that term ON BEHALF OF SOMEONE ELSE. Your use of terms like "mutilate" is therefore prejudicial and tendentious and therefore not worthy of being addressed.

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Craig Abernethy

September 28, 2013  8:46am

In response to Cowles, I never wrote nor do I assume that procreation is the sole purpose of "gender, sex, & marriage." I was trying to make the point that surgical "reassignment" is a failure, since its victims cannot function sexually in their desired/"assigned" new gender, and that makes surgical "reassignment" a lie, which is a good reason that it ought to be illegal. Cowles also incredibly asks what the social harm is in irreparably mutilating healthy individuals. I would have thought that the harm inherent in allowing medical professionals to mutilate those who are so disturbed that they are unaware of their own gender was obvious, but, anyway, it is simply wrong for others to take advantage of severely disturbed people, and if that's not against the law, it jolly well should be.

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WILFRED JABOH

September 27, 2013  10:40pm

(At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. Matt 22:30, NIV) It won't really matter which sex you are. Indeed, in Heaven, the transgender issue will be settled once for all. Why? For the simple reason that if you were born a male, you will be resurrected as a male. The creature will return to their Maker, and He certainly cannot be confused. (He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them "Mankind" when they were created. Gen 5:5) Our God-assigned gender is a blessing. So, on earth, let us love one another - male, female, transgender, even our enemies - for that is God's command. Remember, the playing field is level - we are all sinners in need of God's grace and mercy. On the other hand, we can never twist God's arm, nor His Word. Not even a Prayer Warrior.

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Zoe Brain

September 27, 2013  8:27pm

@Rick Dalby - "She also talks about her permissive Hippy parents who allowed experimentation. David Bowie did it, Boy George did it even Mick Jaegger for a short while. I think this is closer to the truth." -- That would be plausible, except for other parts of his testimony. He describes classic (albeit not acute) Gender Dysphoria. There's also the scars on his arms from cutting to relieve the misery. That goes well beyond mere "unhappiness" and into a quite different territory. I've seen such scars in other FtoM cases. -- Without knowing who he's seen, what he's been diagnosed with, none of us can be sure. But what has been published is consistent with Gender Dysphoria that is sufficiently severe that treatment is indicated as a medical necessity. If we're lucky, surgery won't be needed, and if very lucky, neither will HRT. However, such conditions tend to be progressive, worsening over time.

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Zoe Brain

September 27, 2013  8:14pm

@Marla Carr - " Has the medical community diagnosed this 'distress' she suffered as a mental disease? I rather doubt it. " - The diagnosis in the WHO's ICD-10 manual is F64.0 Transsexuality. In the DSM-IV-TR it's 302.85 Gender Identity Disorder in Adolescents or Adults. This has been moved out of that section in the DSM 5, as we now realise it's a symptom of an underlying congenital anatomical condition, not a psychiatric illness in its own right. Mere gender nonconformance isn't pathological. In that regard it's similar to the distress caused by being a rape victim (that's 995.81). Unlike the latter, we can relieve the symptoms by changing the underlying physical cause. -- However, most importantly, I hope your son gets better, or if not, that his condition can be managed successfully. I also hope that society changes so that those like your son are treated with a bit more compassion, Just simple human decency would be enough.

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Rick Dalbey

September 27, 2013  8:07pm

Zoe, you misunderstand. I have much sympathy and support for victims of pseudohermaphroditism, Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia or Swyer syndrome and certainly don’t regard them as perverts or the other names you suggested. That is not what Heather Clements is claiming in this case. In fact she claims that gender bending was a “popular cultural trend” in the 70s and 80s that she and her friends experimented with. She also talks about her permissive Hippy parents who allowed experimentation. David Bowie did it, Boy George did it even Mick Jaegger for a short while. I think this is closer to the truth. At 47 Heather simply would enjoy changing gender identity. It is her personal preference. She has every right to do that for whatever reason under the sun that compels her. But she must recognize that she disqualifies herself to teach theology at a Christian University.

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Zoe Brain

September 27, 2013  7:58pm

@Rick Dalby wrote "I am not persuaded that this professor is facing a medical crisis" - That's OK, the medical profession is so persuaded, and uninformed opinions are of no importance. You may not be persuaded that the Earth isn't flat and held up by pillars (as described in Psalm 23) for that matter. Many are not. Feel free to hold those views and express them. It is your right to do so. It won't change the facts, nor have any influence on astronomers or geologists who actually work in the area.

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Zoe Brain

September 27, 2013  7:49pm

@Rick Dalby - I fear you misunderstand. "Changing sex is more common than red hair." was taking about a natural change, one without human intervention. In many case, the change is unwanted, and those cases require emergency medical treatment. See for example http://home.vicnet.net.au/%7Eaissg/2010_FamCA_237.pdf . To dismiss those born with a congenital medical condition that makes you feel uncomfortable as engaging in a "fashion statement" is neither rational nor kind, be it a syndrome that causes obvious changes to appearance, or one involving cross-sexed anatomy of the brain. Again, see for example "Male–to–female transsexuals have female neuron numbers in a limbic nucleus. "Kruiver et al J Clin Endocrinol Metab (2000) 85:2034–2041" The present findings of somatostatin neuronal sex differences in the BSTc and its sex reversal in the transsexual brain clearly support the paradigm that in transsexuals sexual differentiation of the brain and genitals may go into opposite directions

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James Cowles

September 27, 2013  7:24pm

@ Craig Abernerhy: "A person born as a man is a man. So called "sexual reassignment surgery" is an obvious failure, since it creates "women" who cannot give birth and "men" who cannot father children." You are assuming that the only point & purpose of gender, sex, & marriage is procreation. If that were true, there would be no point in older people & people with physical impairment marrying & having sexual relations. Also ... I challenge you to address my question to Rick Dalbey (et al.): what real, actual, objective, verifiable, publicly examinable able harm does gender-reassignment surgery do to those who elect NOT to have the surgery? You certainly have a perfect right to form & follow YOUR OWN conscience on this issue, based on YOUR OWN theological / religious beliefs. But what gives you the right / authority to form SOMEONE ELSE'S conscience who does not share those beliefs?

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Rick Dalbey

September 27, 2013  7:23pm

James I’m glad you’ve given up the medical necessity argument. Not much basis there. You ask who is harmed by her sex change? She has every right to get a sex change. She doesn’t hurt me, doesn’t hurt society. Unless gender changes become an extremely popular trend like changing hair color, then we will have lost some of our fundamental sexual identity as persons and compromised our survival as a society. But that is not the issue here. She offended the faith of a conservative Christian Bible school she taught at, or in your words, “honked off Jesus.” GLBTQ expression is expressly forbidden on moral grounds in the old and new testament. Thefore, as a Christian College they have a right to terminate her contract. One who teaches theology in a Christian College bears a heavier weight of scrutiny. Having multiple sex partners as a single person is legal and would certainly not be grounds for termination at a State college. But it might be grounds for termination at a Christian College.

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James Cowles

September 27, 2013  7:12pm

@ Laura C. Steel: "Any condition that causes a person to want to cut off parts of their body does not seem like something to be celebrated." A couple of points ... (1) By whose authority do you determine what is appropriate for SOMEONE ELSE to celebrate? Herewith (2) a specific example ... years ago, when my wife & I were living in Boston & I was in grad school, we had a very close Christian friend who converted to Judaism. He had to undergo circumcision to be fully a part of his new synagogue community. His recuperation from the procedure is, to this day, especially memorable to us because "Glenn" (made-up name) marked it with exuberant celebratory joy. Would you infer from his happiness that he was sick?

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Craig Abernethy

September 27, 2013  5:11pm

Good for Pacific Azusa University! A person born as a woman is a woman. A person born as a man is a man. So called "sexual reassignment surgery" is an obvious failure, since it creates "women" who cannot give birth and "men" who cannot father children. Christians and Christian institutions like churches and universities should not be required to participate in the totally idiotic nonsense about "transgender" issues or sexual "reassignment," which is merely ghastly sexual mutilation of a healthy body and should therefore be illegal. Most adults understand that wishing does *not* make it so. God's will in creation should be respected, not mocked.

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Richard Cameron

September 27, 2013  4:40pm

Maybe if some of the resondents here weren't so sure of their own rightness - and how important it is that they force their rightness on everyone else - maybe, just maybe, we might listen to those who suffer in this unusual way and show them even a smidgeon of the grace of Christ.

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LAURA C STEEL

September 27, 2013  4:31pm

Any condition that causes a person to want to cut off parts of their body does not seem like something to be celebrated. And speaking of the surgeries, this is a solution only for the wealthy. It's not something we will easily be able to export, either as part of our culture or theology. (As representatives of Jesus, we are "exporting", wherever we serve.) As for whether the professor's actions hurt me, no, they don't. But that is not the standard by which Christians evaluate behaviors. Neither is whether something makes a person "happy". The Bible has shockingly little to say about us being happy. There is far more about being obedient, faithful and loving. We will have many more opportunities in the future to be faithful and loving to each other, whatever that looks like.

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MARLA CARR

September 27, 2013  3:45pm

As a mother of a son diagnosed with a mental illness, I'm not at all happy with this professor describing her pre-transgender identity as a "mentally ill" woman. Has the medical community diagnosed this 'distress' she suffered as a mental disease? I rather doubt it. As for her position in a Christian college, if the school's curriculum professes a basis of fundamental Christianity, then how can she expect any different of a response?

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James Cowles

September 27, 2013  3:10pm

One question I think Rick Dalbey, et al., are obligated to answer is this: how does Heather's gender change harm you & the rest of society? What harm is done to others by her change of gender? Please note: "It honks off Jesus" is not a legitimate answer. I'm asking, rather, What overt, observable, objectively real (in the sense of "perceptible & verifiable to any observer"), publicly examinable, measurable, quantifiable harm is done?" Does her gender change cause her to engage in behavior that is harmful, in the foregoing sense, to society or to anyone therein (e.g., molest / abuse kids, traffic in drugs, etc.)? What (objectively verifiable / quantifiable / publicly examinable / etc.) harm?

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James Cowles

September 27, 2013  2:42pm

@ Rick Dalbey: "They have simply rendered the compulsion to change sexual expression as socially acceptable. " Hmm ... I wasn't aware that Christians were in the business of predicating their ethics on the basis / criterion of social acceptability -- or lack thereof. Seems a weak reed to lean on. Sure ... criteria for what constitutes pathological conditions change all the time. There was a time when, using the (pseudo)science of "phrenology", the practitioners thereof tried to diagnose, even predict, sociopathic behavior from the shape of someone's head. Ditto substantiating allegations of cultural inferiority in people of color. Then it was realized that head topography is not a disease. Same thing happened with homosexuality several years ago. This is just an example of the process going the other way. This is also an example of why a lot of conservative Christians don't like science: it changes.

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gordon payne

September 27, 2013  2:37pm

Truth is not a relative. To extol truth is not bigotry. To disparage truth, the same, yesterday, today, forever, by claiming that status for what classical morality of any kind has described or condemned (you know right vs wrong) as perversity, is itself an expression of bigotry. A bigotry against truth, repudiating the past in favor of present pleasure anchored only in some modern minds and there demonstrably immoral because of their advocacy of that which remains condemned, despite the tolerance or forbearance and there to compassion for the condition, even genetically derived. Lest we all be condemned. A condition calling for compassion does not compel acceptance as normal, much less right. Indeed, arguing that is a wrong. Mercy yes, justified, no.

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Rick Dalbey

September 27, 2013  1:41pm

So despite any medical diagnosis, despite no evidence of Swyer syndrome or Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, despite her acknowledgement of her experiments with gender bending being a popular social trend, despite all this you want to leap to a medical defense and compare it to Downs syndrome. Big leap of faith and grasping at straws for justification don't you think. The American Psychiatric Association changed its diagnosis from "Gender Identity Disorder" to "Gender Dysphoria". It's not called a disorder, but it is still in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. They have simply rendered the compulsion to change sexual expression as socially acceptable. That is essentially what you should be arguing. You should be admitting you have no evidence of medical necessity in Heather Clements case (she is not claiming such and neither should you), however it is now socially acceptable to experiment with gender bending for whatever reason.

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James Cowles

September 27, 2013  12:35pm

@ Rick Dalbey: "So after two marriages, giving birth to and raising two children, she decides at 47 to express herself as a man. To claim urgent medical crisis does not seem warranted here." I never postulated that her condition was "urgent" or a "crisis". Those are your terms, not mine. After all, one can also live with a cleft palate condition in most instances. I repeat that a medical comdition is simply that: a medical comdition, period, urgent or not. She may bave grounds for an EEOC wrongful termination lawsuit, "free exercise" clause notwithstanding. "By the way, I think you are being honest by saying your atheism lies in your inability to imagine God." My "inability to imagine God" has nothing to do with my atheism. I was drawing an analogy with your "argument" that, because you cannot understand her dysfunctional-gender dilemma, that THEREFORE the dilemma does not exist. The condition of not understanding exists between our ears, not as an artifact "out there" in the world.

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Rick Dalbey

September 27, 2013  10:53am

James, let me be more explicit. I am not persuaded that this professor is facing a medical crisis, especially not one that compares in magnitude to spina bifida. She has never claimed it. There has been no medical diagnosis, no mention of Swyer syndrome or Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. She did not, as Zoe’s subjects did, sprout a penis at 12. Instead, I hear by her own account that she had very indulgent, permissive Hippy parents and that she experimented with gender bending as a teen. She calls it herself a POPULAR CULTURAL TREND, “Gender bending in the late 1970s and early 1980s was a popular cultural trend”. If I had called it a popular cultural trend I'd be castigated. So after two marriages, giving birth to and raising two children, she decides at 47 to express herself as a man. To claim urgent medical crisis does not seem warranted here. By the way, I think you are being honest by saying your atheism lies in your inability to imagine God. That is better than give false proofs.

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James Cowles

September 27, 2013  8:13am

@Rick Dalbey: "If you are going to accuse a university of teaching explicit bigotry than you have to cite examples. " This response has been answered 3 times already: (1) the "CT" story itself is the story of a university teaching bigotry BY ACTION & EXAMPLE; then (2) I pointed out (1) in one of my responses to you; (3) now this post you are reading. Not all teaching goes on in a classroom. A lot happens in real life. BTW it occurs to me that your responses to Zoe Brain's moderate, rational, & informed posts provide several more "data points" in answer to the question in the "CT" article about why intelligent & educated people tend to shun religion, at least monotheistic religion in general & Christianity in particular, especially the argument that says "I don't understand it & can't imagine it; therefore it can't be real". Try this on for size ... "I don't understand & can't imagine God; therefore God must not exist". Does that hold water?

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Rick Dalbey

September 27, 2013  12:36am

James, do you know the meaning of explicit? "Fully and clearly expressed; leaving nothing implied. b. Fully and clearly defined or formulated: "generalizations that are powerful, precise, and explicit." It is different than implicit. If you are going to accuse a university of teaching explicit bigotry than you have to cite examples. You can't just throw bombs and call them Fascists. I have the feeling you have no interest in dialog, only in demonizing Christians.

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James Cowles

September 26, 2013  11:30pm

@ Rick Dalbey: "I just don't understand why, when you've lived life as a woman most of your life, when you've given birth to children, when you've been married twice that suddenly in your mid 50s ... " Of COURSE you don't understand it, because it has never happened to you. Neither of us understands what it is like to be a 6'2" man herding goats on the steppes or Central Asia, married, with 6 kids & 3 dogs. But our failure to understand does not prove that there are no 6'2" married-with-kids Central Asian goatherds on the planet. Failure of understanding is inside our skulls, not necessarily reflective of what is the case in reality.

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James Cowles

September 26, 2013  11:23pm

@ Rick Dalbey: "So James, Azusa Pacific University is a college "where bigotry is explicitly taught?" The college's own behavior teaches more than any course. Actions speak louder than words. ... "I think it is rather heartbreaking to compare someone born crippled with Spina Bifida to a Theology professor who decided to change sex in her middle age. ... " Almost as heartbreaking as treating a gender dysfunctionality as a sin.

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Rick Dalbey

September 26, 2013  8:05pm

Zoe, your argument is with Dane Gresset (6th commenter). I assumed he knew what he was talking about. Of course, we don't even know that was the issue with this professor. I just don't understand why, when you've lived life as a woman most of your life, when you've given birth to children, when you've been married twice that suddenly in your mid 50s you have to announce to the world that you are a woman. This is so like the entitlement-anything-goes society we live in. This is just the latest trend of the week in a sex-crazed permissive society. "Changing sex is more common than red hair." Yes, it is the fashionable thing to do! I sense a reality TV Show. I'm just not buying it. And now Asuza is being accused of teaching "Explicit Bigotry" and even fascism? Perhaps Moses was persecuting transgendered people, perhaps the Jews have been persecuting gays and lesbians for thousands of years, Perhaps Paul was persecuting Gays and lesbians. Perhaps the Bible is a flawed, evil book. Or not.

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Zoe Brain

September 26, 2013  8:02pm

I should mention my objectivity here is questionable. I have the 3BHSD form of Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH). Like 5ARD, 17BHSD, 45X/46XY MGD and some other syndromes, it can cause a natural sex change, though unlike them, usually before birth. Not always though, as in my own situation. While on a personal level, Christians have been relatively decent towards me - no better or worse than any other group - Christianity itself has not been so kind. I have to struggle not to be prejudiced against it, and being human, I sometimes fail. On the other hand, I'd never fire anyone just for being Christian. Neither would I force one to travel 500 miles interstate to get medical treatment because of my "religious convictions", as I have to every 6 months. It's not a problem caused by individual bigotry, but systemic, institutionalised malice. I hope that by informing people, this will change, Christians as I've said are on the whole pretty decent. Many of them anyway.

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Zoe Brain

September 26, 2013  7:49pm

For those who claim to know God's plan - here's some of His handiwork : Imperato-McGinley J, Guerrero L, Gautier T, Peterson RE. Steroid 5alpha-reductase deficiency in man: an inherited form of male pseudohermaphroditism. Science 1974 Dec 27; 186 (4170): 1213-5 "In an isolated village of the southwestern Dominican Republic, 2% of the live births were in the 1970's, guevedoces (actually male pseudohermaphrodites). These children appeared to be girls at birth, but at puberty these 'girls' sprout muscles, testes, and a penis. For the rest of their lives they are men in nearly all respects. Their underlying pathology was found to be a deficiency of the enzyme, 5-alpha Reductase." -- In your part of the world, changing sex naturally is rare. In some other places, it's more common than having red hair. Those are facts. Such people are treated abominably in the US by Christians, called "Freaks", "Perverts", "Pedophiles", told they're in "Rebellion against God" etc. Those too are facts.

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Zoe Brain

September 26, 2013  7:43pm

@Rick Dalbey - I'm not selling anything, so you don't have to "buy it". You may prefer to believe in casting out demons (as one commenter wrote) . But here's something that might aid understanding : A sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality. by Zhou et al Nature (1995) 378:68–70. " Our study is the first to show a female brain structure in genetically male transsexuals and supports the hypothesis that gender identity develops as a result of an interaction between the developing brain and sex hormones" -- It's a gross over-simplification, but it captures the essence to say "anatomically male brain but superficially female appearance". He's a boy born looking like a girl. That's a pretty heavy cross to bear, and we know now how to fix it, just as we know how to fix other congenital issues. Fixing society so such people are not persecuted, fired from jobs even by so-called "Christian" institutions, denied medical care etc - that's another thing.

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Zoe Brain

September 26, 2013  7:30pm

Dane Gressett - J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Jan;93(1):182-9 " A 46,XY mother who developed as a normal woman underwent spontaneous puberty, reached menarche, menstruated regularly, experienced two unassisted pregnancies, and gave birth to a 46,XY daughter with complete gonadal dysgenesis. " - Chromosomes don't determine sex. It's one thing to use objective facts as an excuse for treating others with cruelty. You know, because it's Reality. But it's another to use scientific assertions that are just plain incorrect to do so. I don't mean to imply that's what you're doing, but I've seen it and experienced it almost universally from those who claim to be Christian when they talk about Intersex and Trans people. It is the norm, the usual state of affairs. Ignorance(quite understandable and pardonable) and malice combined.

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Rick Dalbey

September 26, 2013  4:36pm

So James, Azusa Pacific University is a college "where bigotry is explicitly taught?" You know that for a fact? Can you cite examples of classes where you know bigotry is explicitly taught? The college has a "fascist attitude?" Plus I think it is rather heartbreaking to compare someone born crippled with Spina Bifida to a Theology professor who decided to change sex in her middle age. Besides, who sees those with Downs syndrome or Spina Bifida as inferior? Certainly not me nor the college. You are really reaching here. Read Dane Gresset's comments earlier in this blog (6th comment from the bottom). He dismisses the possibility that she may have the very rare Swyer syndrome, a genetic gender anomaly, and gives reasons why that is an impossibility.

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James Cowles

September 26, 2013  2:23pm

@Rick Dalbey: "You have no respect for the Bible and regard it as an dangerous book." The book itself is not dangerous. What is dangerous is that it is believed with such devotion by people who otherwise know better, e.g., people who would condemn genocide & slavery ... except in those cases where the Bible approves."Again, an evangelical Christian college has a right and a responsibility to withdraw the contract for a professor of theology to teach if she changes her sexual identity." I would agree to the extent that someone in such a position should know better than to continue teaching at a college where bigotry is explicitly taught. "And we have already found that this is not a question of DNA or genetic anomaly ... " Actually, no, "we" (yourself and ... ?) have not found that. The attitude of the college is not essentially different from the fascist attitude that sees handicapped people -- spina bifida, Down's syndrome, etc. -- as inferior. No one would be fired because of those.

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Rick Dalbey

September 26, 2013  1:56pm

James, it would not matter what I say, you would take issue with it. You claim to be an atheist, you have said you celebrate the death of Christianity and all the monotheistic religions. You have no respect for the Bible and regard it as an dangerous book. You love to engage Bible believing Christians, not to arrive at some mutually respectful compromise but to simply attack their position. And Wayne, of course, you could interpret my words that way, but that would be a false conclusion wouldn't it. You know that is not what I am meant and only arrive there by twisting my words. Again, an evangelical Christian college has a right and a responsibility to withdraw the contract for a professor of theology to teach if she changes her sexual identity. And we have already found that this is not a question of DNA or genetic anomaly (Dane Gresset's comments). This is simply a lack or respect for the word of God which prohibits cross-dressing, lesbian expression and gay expression.

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James Cowles

September 26, 2013  12:24pm

@Rick Dalbey ... Your post on slavery could be interpreted to mean that, just as in the case of the civil-rights & abolitionist movements, churches, even conservative evangelical churches, will eventually "convert" to be pro-LGBTQ civil rights? If so, may I please be the first to high-five you?

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James Cowles

September 26, 2013  12:21pm

@Rick Dalbey: "James, the support for slavery in the Americas was largely a political, not religious movement." Your own post gives excellent examples of why, contrary to your initial assertion, religion and politics could NOT be neatly separated in the mid-19th century. The argument IN FAVOR of slavery said that, since Ham, who was believed to be the progenitor of the black race, saw his father, Noah, drunken and naked, God condemned Ham and his descendants to perpetual subjection to the non-black, especially white, races. The abolitionist arguments were similarly founded on biblical interpretation, e.g., "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land and to all the inhabitants thereof". But the salient point to note is that, IN THE BEGINNING, abolitionists, both in England and in the US, were regarded as dangerous hyper-radicals, and were opposed by the church. Even Dr. King, in the 1960s, wrote his letter to mollify opposition from churches. Only later was the church pro-civil-rights.

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Rick Dalbey

September 26, 2013  12:15pm

James, the support for slavery in the Americas was largely a political, not religious movement. Of course Jefferson Davis was a loud supporter of slavery. “[Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God...it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation...it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts - Jefferson Davis, President, Confederate States.” However, he was not a theologian or Christian leader. Most reputable Christian authors, scholars and leaders of the time, John Wesley, Spurgeon, Wilberforce, Finney, Thomas Weld etc., were abolitionists, convinced that the Bible was against enslavement of men. The leader of the great awakening, Charles Finney was an abolitionist and as evangelical faith swept across America support for abolition became so strong it broke the country in half. Christians were adamantly against the instituition, even in the South.

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James Cowles

September 26, 2013  11:19am

@Glenn Frischmann ... "What I can not understand is why the writer of this article questions God" Perhaps because she is unafraid to use the brain & the critical intellect that Christians insist God gave her.

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James Cowles

September 26, 2013  10:40am

@Glenn Frischmann ... "What I can not understand is why the writer of this article questions God?" Perhaps because, unlike many conservative Christians, she declined to self-lobitomize & consequently is unafraid to use the brain & the critical intellect that Christians insist God gave her.

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James Cowles

September 26, 2013  10:36am

@James ... "A man locked up in a woman's body or a woman locked up in a man's body was not God's plan in creation. It is an abnormality ... " Similar abnormalities -- clubfoot, cleft palate, spina bifida, etc. -- Christians are eager to ascribe to the fact that, because of Original Sin, we live in a "fallen world". Why can the same thing not be said of gender dysfunctionality? Why is gender dysfunctionality a heinous SIN while cleft palate is a mere DISEASE?

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Richard Magnus

September 26, 2013  7:03am

Our environment is polluted with "endocrine disrupting" chemicals like BPA, our food is filled with soy, and it's anyone's guess what genetically-modified-food does to us. We find fish and frogs in our rivers that have been mutated in a manner that resembles "intersex" conditions, and scientists attribute this to the pollution. Don't you think this is affecting people, too? That many homosexuals, transgendered, and bisexuals are actually the end result of exposure to toxins? What this means for theology, I'm not sure. But we have to acknowledge that there are huge unanswered questions regarding gender issues today.

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Tony Whittaker

September 26, 2013  4:11am

Glen and others - The whole problem is that our amazingly complex human fertilization and embryo development system does not work perfectly every time. How could it? Sexual identity may be primarily dependent on X and Y chromosomes, but there are many other things going on in the early development of the embryo, including exposure to many hormones. What about the unfortunate people who are born intersexed, ie with physical attributes of both genders. What do you want to say to them? God made you this way, live with it? They too may need to make a gender choice and have surgery. I find it very sad that Christians do not tend to try to understand the experience of people, including other Christians, who have had gender reassignment. I have a web friend, now in her 60s who did that a good few years back. A conservative and active believer, who can also say, incidentally, 'I am a virgin, in both genders.' The number of individuals opting for reassignment is tiny, by the way.

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Glenn Frischmann

September 26, 2013  1:01am

What I can not understand is why the writer of this article questions God? The author consistently refers to Clements/Ackley with male identifiers such as him, his etc. This person was "fearfully and wonderfully made" as a female. A name change, and the elimination/attachment of a few body parts does not change the fact that one is born a male or a female. The gender is assigned by God in the womb of the mother. To subscribe to this persons sin, to accomodate their foolish hedonism is a sin in and of itself and an extreme diservice to the reader. What version of Christs christianity does "Christianity Today" follow? Hopefully not the confused, consenting, weak "christianity" of today. You should be doing what Christ did, calling sin as it was seen and not worrying about offending those of the weak moral heart. You can support the confused sinner without supporting their sin can you not?

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james .

September 25, 2013  11:50pm

Comments by Barbara ge is an attempt to introduce the goddess Mammon in the midst of this important debate and I should quote Jesus rebuke: "Get thee behind me Satan.".

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james .

September 25, 2013  11:27pm

The norm in scripture is male and female. Any deviation from that is the result of the Fall. A man locked up in a woman's body or a woman locked up in a man's body was not God's plan in creation. It is an abnormality, and the Christian who seeks to uphold the truth of scripture in this generation will have to stand against the tide or moral relativism and depravity, just as God's servants in the past had to stand against Pharaoh, or against Caesar and paid dearly for it.

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Jim Ricker

September 25, 2013  9:07pm

Prof. Clements deserves our prayers.

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James Cowles

September 25, 2013  8:12pm

@ Rick Dalbey: "Christians are foolish and worthy of mockery." Since when does it constitute "mockery" to point out that, at one point in the Nation's history, churches, while not the only source of racism, were nevertheless among its most consistent and persistent practitioners -- because they believed that the Bible commanded the subordination of the black race? (The argument was that black people were descended from, Ham, the son of Noah who saw his father naked, and that God punished Ham and his descendants by subordinating them to the white races.) You call that mockery. I call that truth- / fact-telling. Well, all that is in the past. But now history repeats itself with LGBTQ bigotry with Paul's letter to the Romans corresponding to the post-Flood narrative. "The Biblical ban against LGBTQ sexual behavior has stood 3,500 years." If longevity is an index of truth, Hinduism is truer than Christianity, because it is MUCH older, at least 3,500 years.

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Pop Seal

September 25, 2013  8:01pm

Christians are being forced to accept the power of regeneration on the heals of repentance and faith. Biblical definitions of sin are now more clear than ever. As pop culture religion bends to every wind of opinion, the 'real believers' will feel more and more pressure to conform. For me, I've emotionally abandoned much of what passes itself off as Christianity as the wimpy affirmation of emotionally driven feelings. Not long ago we heard about 'tough love', now the big deal is 'unconditional love'. That's modern religion and fuzzy sophistry for you........

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Rick Dalbey

September 25, 2013  4:20pm

Again James, I have to say you are right. It is like you read Paul's mind "The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.” So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe." 1 Cor. 1:18 Secular atheists like yourself have always felt this way. Christians are foolish and worthy of mockery. The Biblical ban against LGBTQ sexual behavior has stood 3,500 years. I expect the Bible to outlast our 20 year experimentation with lawless hedonism.

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James Cowles

September 25, 2013  1:47pm

This story is one more data point answering another "CT" article: why exceptionally intelligent and well-educated people stay away from religious faith in general, at least, monotheistically centered religious faith, and from Christianity in particular. The professor's experience is a living example in answer to this "Why" question. There was a time in this country when a faculty person who married a black person would similarly have lost her / his position. (This would almost certainly have been the case at, e.g., Harvard & Princeton, both of which were originally church-affiliated institutions.) The time will come when anti-LGBTQ bigotry goes the same way as racial bigotry, but not at least until the older generation is gone.

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kerry slattery

September 25, 2013  1:40pm

Wake up Church! As a Sunday Schooler, I had this nagging question since childhood: What happened to those demons that Jesus and the Disciples were regularly dealing with? No sign of them in the churches I grew up in. This is exactly why the church today is powerless in dealing with addictions, sexual sins, divorce, etc. and in regard this sad article: homosexuality and sexual-identity torment. As a missionary, I see people freed from these issues through deliverance (cast out demons) and inner-healing (like Theophostic Prayer Ministry) and discipleship. Yes, Christians can have demons and people can be born with them due to sins of the fathers or due to life trauma/wounds. See: The Bondage Breaker, Neil Anderson; Pigs in the Parlor, Frank Hammond; www.greatbiblestudy.com; www.ellel.org; www.theophostic.com. This is not a simplistic but rather a scriptural approach and it's reality for anyone who experiences it. Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy our lives - you can stop this!

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Rick Dalbey

September 25, 2013  11:04am

Howard, I reject this constant drum beat that the Bible was meant for a different generation, it is only relvant for its time. Complete nonesense. You say, “The Bible reflects the knowledge of its time. It is not a complete explanation nor effective guide for many of the human or societal conditions that may have been unknown or just viewed very differently then.” What a lame excuse. Only moderns can understand gender confusion, and by modern we mean the last 50 years and specifically we mean Northern America? The Bible has no relevance to us so don’t quote it to us? Paul wrote of the sin of lesbian attraction to other women, male homosexuality and effeminate expression quite lucidly and placed its ultimate cause in societies rejection of the knowledge of God. Truer words have never been written and it is extremely relevant today. Why is it so hard to understand Azusa has a right and a responsibility not to hire a gender bending professor of theology to teach its students?

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Howard Pepper

September 25, 2013  10:22am

I realize what many report about as "transgender" people is a major challenge to many others... to either grasp or accept. With compassion for their state as well as the anguish of deep gender "confusion" (not necessarily mental confusion), I WOULD say they probably have more choice in the matter than do the transgendered. They could choose to humbly accept that they can't understand what may actually be going on in transgendered people, and that submission to God, counseling, prayer or other therapeutic approaches just may not be able to "correct" whatever has happened. It could help if the "resisters" would also accept what is quite clear: that the Bible reflects the knowledge of its time. It is not a complete explanation nor effective guide for many of the human or societal conditions that may have been unknown or just viewed very differently then. Our more-developed science and communication now allows for more full awareness; and with that, the need for compassion, patience.

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Rick Dalbey

September 24, 2013  10:39pm

Eric, this is a story about a mature professor of theology at a conservative evangelical college who decides to change sexual identity mid course. After a life as a woman, pregnancy, childbirth and two marriages she felt like she needed to come out as a man. Azusa decided to let the theology professor go. Is that so hard to understand? This is California, home to the most extreme forms of sexual confusion and exhibitionism, and home to a state government and educational system that is determined to encourage and celebrate what we used to call deviancy. It is entirely Azusa's right, responsibility and Evangelical legacy to not renew his/her contract. Again, the Bible is clear on gender issues in the old and new testament and specific about transgender appearance, (not wearing women's clothes, not being effeminate or lesbian). All your excuses to the contrary don't matter in the nation of Israel or the Church of the new testament, believers are asked to conform to a Biblical standard.

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Eric Mapp

September 24, 2013  9:22pm

So this is Christianity at work? Do you concede that we do not know everything about determination of gender? It may be genetic or environmental or a mixture of both or something we do not yet know about. Yet we glibly say that if you have 'male bits' you are male and even if you have the male bits removed you will still be a male. The same applies to persons with 'female bits'. I believe our gender influences how we behave. That is stereotyping but is legitimate. Does the sex chromosome influence our behaviour? No; it influences our physical (and some mental) functions. What, then, does influence our behaviour? When we look at genetic possibilities - xy, xxy, yyx, xxyy - we should begin to see that there are indeed lots of things we don't fully understand. Accept that; it's not difficult. If not, please do not use scripture to support your prejudice.

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Aaron Clark

September 24, 2013  8:50pm

"Xenomelia is the oppressive feeling that one or more limbs of one’s body do not belong to one’s self. We present the results of a thorough examination of the characteristics of the disorder in 15 males with a strong desire for amputation of one or both legs. The feeling of estrangement had been present since early childhood and was limited to a precisely demarcated part of the leg in all individuals. Neurological status examination and neuropsychological testing were normal in all participants, and psychiatric evaluation ruled out the presence of a psychotic disorder." How about loving your neighbor as yourself? If she/he wants to live as a disabled person or an amputee, why would you insist on a physical identity that she/he is saying has been difficult and painful for her/him and is not condemned in the Bible? What craziness!

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Aaron Clark

September 24, 2013  8:49pm

"Chloe knew at 4 she was different and wanted to live as a disabled person.She wanted to wear leg braces like her aunt, hurt in an accident. Aged 9, she caused an accident to stop her own legs from working. Chloe is a Cambridge University educated research scientist is so desperate to live the life of a wheelchair-bound person she is prepared to pay a doctor help her become disabled...In 2010 she even found a doctor overseas willing to help her become disabled by cutting her sciatic and femoral nerves, but she could not afford the £16,000 costs." Chloe is a "BIID" person. How should we, as Christians respond to her, whose condition logically parallels transgenderism?

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Rick Dalbey

September 24, 2013  6:14pm

Tony, I just don't buy it. I really don't. This is just a new age excuse "I'm a man locked in a woman's body." You may feel that way. But maybe you need counseling. Oh, but that's illegal now. The Bible is explicit about women not wearing men's clothes. We've got so many trendy new categories, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Poly Amorous. I have a friend in his 70s, a Christian physician, that can't stop focusing sexually on young children. He refuses to change and says he's waiting for society to normalize it. Our child raising is a travesty, we don't know how to parent, how to guide our children into wholeness. And now the Federal and State education machines have thrown their full weight behind normalizing and even celebrating these Heinz 57 varieties. Children will experiment but that's what parents and society are for. To put the bumpers on the bowling lanes. Not to celebrate these transitory experiments and convince people they are men in women's bodies or vice versa.

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Lisa Gauthier

September 24, 2013  6:10pm

One last thing when speaking about sexual sin... All of us must walk a very fine line in order to obey the Lord's commands about sexual activity. Being born gay is not a sin, having gay sex is. How come divorced people get a pass when they remarry, when in actuality they are committing adultery according to scripture? It's not who we are that makes us sinners, it's our thoughts and actions that do. It seems to me, in today's society, we all face tremendous temptation whether we are straight, gay, bi or transgendered. We need to stop judging one another so harshly when it comes to the subject of sex, and let the Holy Spirit work His will in the hearts of individuals. As Christians, we should remember that second to salvation, God's greatest commandment is for us to love one another -- not judge one another.

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Lisa Gauthier

September 24, 2013  6:03pm

I really don't understand you people. Obviously this person was born with a birth defect. Why would anyone want to go through the horror of taking hormones, having surgery, extensive counseling, etc., if there wasn't a very real physical problem? I doubt any of you would object to a child having plastic surgery to fix a cleft lip, or any other type of surgery where there is a physical defect that medical science can remedy. This situation has nothing to do with SEX, which seems to always be at the top of the list for most Christians these days when it comes to judging others. This has to do with GENDER. Get it now? We are told in the Word of God to love one another. Unless this person has had gay sex, adulterous sex, or has fornicated, than this change in GENDER is not a sin! This is not the first time I have seen so called Christians turn away from someone who is transGENDERED, and I despise the hatred for someone who probably has suffered most of his life!

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Tony Whittaker

September 24, 2013  5:37pm

It was probably a bridge too far for Ackley to have transitioned and stayed in the same job/ministry. But what I find depressing among the Christian community is such a sense of ignorance of what being transgendered actually is, and such certainty that they know that the individual only needed to have done x, or prayed harder, and all would have been well. My lay understanding of transgender issues is that only about 1 in 20,000 people grow up believing themselves to be a person locked in a body of the wrong gender. These are not, say, gay people who think it would be such a lark to swap bodies to they can be attractive to straight people. Gays, almost without exception, have not the slightest interest in adopting a different body. Many Christians struggle on for years, as Ackley obviously did, with prayer, trying, this therapy, that medication. And likely a fair lot of resultant depression too. Could you convince yourself, force yourself, pray yourself out of, being (say) American?

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Virga Days

September 24, 2013  4:42pm

Dane Gressett, I never implied such thing. It was merely a reaction to the faulty assumption that one's DNA determines a persons sex or gender.

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Sarah Smith

September 24, 2013  4:38pm

One thing to make note of while reading this is that CT did not write this piece. It is a wire story. The gender of the pronouns and the name usage is not CT's but belongs to the Religious News Service. One cannot fairly assume that CT would have written this article using the same terminology. I have a feeling based on having read the body of CT's work that they would not have selected these wordings if they wrote this item themselves. They cannot simply go in and change the wording of the piece. My understanding is that unless they wanted to commit a reporter to go in and cover the story independently they have to keep the article as is and cannot simply change it.

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Dane Gressett

September 24, 2013  3:18pm

Virga Days, You stated many people are born as women but who have XY chromosomes. You imply this could be the case for the lady in the article. But she experienced puberty and bore children (not possible with Swyer Syndrome.) In Swyer Syndrome, the person is born with XY sex chromosomes (male), but due to a gene mutation fails to produce a protein that produces appropriate male (Y) characteristics. He/she will have a uterus but no testes/ovaries. He/She will not be able to get pregnant, will not develop breasts, and will not menstruate either...without hormone therapy. This condition is a very specific genetic mutation that causes a male to take on female characteristics. It is highly rare and abnormal. 1 in 30,000 births. In the article the lady speaks about gender bending exercises and wanting to be like her grand dad and of bearing children. This seems to suggest that her issue is not genetic or truly gender-based, but environmental. That's the science.

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Rick Dalbey

September 24, 2013  2:46pm

Ah, those wonderful Hippy Parents (her words) that thought it was cool for their daughter to experiment with gender-bending as a teenager. When children learn to bowl, we put bumpers on either side of the lane till they learn to throw straight. That is why God entrusted children to us, to raise them up in the way of the Lord. If we do it in bowling, why not in sexual matters? Now when kids experiment, the legal community and the gay community is there to encourage and support their experimental choices. It is sad.

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Virga Days

September 24, 2013  9:41am

S C and DiverCity, You seem to share the common, but faulty assumption that the sex chromosomes in your genome determines a persons gender or sex. While this is the case for most people, there are contradictions which are actually surprisingly common. For example: There are quite some people who were born as woman but have male sex chromosomes (XY). Most of these women discover this as late as their late teens or even never. Virtually all of them opt to keep this a secret from friends and potential partners. Furhtermore, I do not believe there is a single line in the bible that condemns transsexuality (although there is a line about crossdressing).

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DiverCity Jones

September 24, 2013  8:33am

Bravo SC! That was the first thing that hit me as well -- CT has adopted the language of progressivism and thus abandoned the biological notion of chromosomal sex distinctions. What's reality when you can construct one of your own? How utterly pathetic.

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Brian Howell

September 23, 2013  8:20pm

C'mon SC. The most important principle here is DNA? Why? How about loving your neighbor as yourself? If he wants to live as a man, why would you insist on a gender identity that he's saying has been difficult and painful for him? Because of his chromosomes? You don't know Adam, nor do I. He's a theologian, so I'm sure he's familiar with notions of dying to self, and Christocentric living. You may disagree with his theology - I may disagree with his theology - but demanding that he continue to be referred to by a feminine pronoun just seems petty and pharisaical.

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S C

September 23, 2013  6:17pm

Yes, transgender issues are quite complex, but why do you continue to refer to Heather/Adam as "he" ? If she was born a female, that doesn't change at the DNA level. I do believe that a transgendered person can live a chaste life. I also believe that someone who identifies as a homosexual can live a chaste life. If they claim to be Christians, I would say they are required to. But as the professor states, this isn't about sexual misconduct, although it could be, because if it's not about sex then why not continue to live as a chaste female even if it's uncomfortable or painful? She can live as a man, even doing everything medically possible to do so (which I would question if medically altering our bodies for gender identification is pleasing in the eyes of a holy God), but she will still be female. The whole concept of dying to self has been lost here and by those who want to re-identify. As a Christian magazine, your owning the "he" reference for a female is disappointing.

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