What I'm Reading: 008 -- Transgender
What I’m Reading by Matt Schuler
008: Transgender by Vaughan Roberts
I’m not sure there is a book I’ve read recently which I’ve highlighted more than Transgender by Vaughan Roberts. It’s a short book. You can read it in a single sitting. Roberts writes, “we need to begin by remembering that we are not simply talking about ‘issues’ here, but people: precious individuals, each created and loved by God.” This book helps me love people better by teaching me things I didn’t know before I read it.
Roberts aims to give an introduction to many of the questions surrounding the transgender issue in an accessible way that holds every question up to God’s Word “the big story of the Bible: the story of creation, fall, redemption and eternity.”
We shouldn’t as Christians shy away from the discussions, but we should step in and engage. When we do, Roberts writes, “it’s vitally important that we do so with great sensitivity and compassion.”
Roberts compares culture’s deeply held belief that individualism offers freedom to what’s found in God’s Word. “True freedom, according to Scripture, is found not in asserting our radical independence and trying to be who we’re not made to be. True freedom is found in embracing and being who we are.” So then, “the Bible brings great news to our culture with its identity crisis. And great news for people who are trying to work out who they are. It’s wonderfully freeing to know that we live in a world made by a loving God, where identity is not something we’ve somehow got to create for ourselves. Our identity is a given. We’re human beings, made in the image of God.”
Walking through Creation, Fall, and Rescue, Roberts structures the book in a way that acknowledges the past, gives us a sense of reality in the present and hope for the future. He’s careful of not adding to or subtracting from God’s Word and pushing it “further than it goes.”
Our fall from God has broken our identity in him. “The Bible’s insight that we are all both created and broken is vital for understanding not just transgender questions but every kind of human affliction — physical or psychological. We have all been profoundly impacted by the fall.” As Christians, we should be the first to understand that everyone is broken, and so we should have humility and compassion for others who may have different struggles or temptations than us.
The good news, Roberts writes is that God’s Word gives us hope. “The gospel offers forgiveness, a fresh start in life, a new strength for genuine change, and a new family to belong to. It is a message for everyone — including those who struggle with all kinds of questions about their identity.” God fixes our broken identity, and claims us as His own. He promises us that the struggles we face now will not continue forever, but he will make all things new.
Roberts finishes the book with a profound statement I want to share in it’s fullness, “But the most important thing that our culture needs to hear is the gospel of Jesus Christ. They need to hear that the ‘freedom’ offered by individualism is not a freedom at all. It has left people feeling very, very lost.
“As we have seen, the Bible gives a very, very different view. It speaks of a God who made us and loves us—a God who has rescued us and given us a glorious future. It tells us we’re not alone in the universe. We’re not lost. We don’t desperately have to try and discover who we are and fight for who we are—it’s a wonderful given. Sadly, the identity that we’ve been given at creation has been flawed and broken because of our sin, but God has committed to putting it right and we can live today as part of a wonderful story. Jesus the rescuer has come already. He has died, he has risen, he has sent his Spirit and made possible the transformation that we all need as broken people. We are broken physically, broken psychologically, broken in our hearts—but if we have trusted in Christ, God has begun that transformation in us which will continue until completion, when at last we’ll be put back together—body and soul perfectly integrated for the glory of God.”