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True to Form

In the second issue of our theological resource Primer we covered the doctrine of sin – a topic no-one really wants to talk about. But issue 03 covers a topic everyone is talking about: gender and sexuality. Editor David Shaw introduces us to True to Form.

True to Form primary image

To state the obvious, we have seen profound changes in our culture as the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) movement has won widespread acceptance and has increasingly been accommodated in law and educational policy.

At a more individual level, we all breathe the air of a culture that says our sexuality and gender identity are at once central to our very selves and at the same time permanently fluid. That is profoundly unsettling and the effects of that culture are all around us.

So what does a biblical and pastoral response look like to that culture; its champions, and its casualties? That’s the question Primer issue 03 is trying to answer and I want to sketch out for you what that looks like in some more detail.

Primer 03 open pages and cover

We begin by reflecting on the cultural changes we have seen:

  • Ed Shaw helps us grapple with why those changes have come about and how we can speak most persuasively into the contemporary scene.
  • Next, we’ve done something different with our regular “something old” feature. Normally we reprint a classic Christian text and annotate it to learn from our theological heritage. This time though, we thought it would be helpful to reprint a secular text that has proved incredible influential in today’s culture. And so we have Pete Sanlon introducing us to Michel Foucault and annotating his argument that happiness can only to be found in the immediate experience of pleasure, casting off society’s oppressive expectations.

Primer 03 open pages

Then we turn to the Bible:

  • Alastair Roberts gives us a deep and rich discussion of Genesis 1-2, showing how our creation as male and female is deeply woven into what it means to be human. Towards the end he probes the implications for both the same-sex marriage debate and the transgender movement.
  • Although very little has been written on trangenderism, there have been a host of recent books on homosexuality and so we asked Sam Allberry to fill us in on what’s out there, how the Bible is being handled, and what are the major ongoing points of debate that we need to know about and wrestle with.
  • Because very little has been written about transgenderism we asked Rob Smith to fill out for us a pastoral response, covering more of the biblical data and applying the gospel to the kinds of pastoral situations we face.

Primer 03 open pages

The final two articles help us explore some of the medical and public policy issues around the LGBTQ movement:

  • Peter Saunders from the Christian Medical Fellowship helps us reflect ethically on some FAQs around Gender Dysphoria and sex reassignment surgery.
  • Sharon James from the Christian Institute helps us get up to speed on the current legal situation and what is currently being advocated and taught in schools. She finishes with some invaluable advice on how the church can help young people to navigate these issues.

As in every issue of Primer, we’re trying to equip church leaders and their teams to engage thoughtfully with the big theological issues of the day. Our great prayer is that, taken together, these articles will equip the church to model and to commend God’s way of life to his world.

Primer 01, 02 and 03

Primer issue 03: True to Form will be launched at the FIEC Leaders’ Conference in Hemsby next week. You will also be able to order it from The Good Book Company on launch day – Tuesday 1 November.

David Shaw photo
David Shaw - FIEC Theological Adviser

David is the part-time Theological Adviser for FIEC and part-time Tutor in New Testament and Greek at Oak Hill Theological College. He is married to Jo and they have four children.

Follow David Shaw on Twitter – @_david_shaw