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Transgender Blasphemy at the ETS

The Evangelical Theological Society meeting recently took place in Denver, CO. This is (as I'm sure most readers know) allegedly quite a conservative society. You have to affirm inerrancy to be a member, though I don't know for sure (you can tell me in the comments) whether you have to be a member to make a presentation.

One of the presenters was Andy Draycott, an associate professor at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. His institution trains a lot of apologists and has a lot of "blue sky" (and deservedly so) in the evangelical community. And a lot of good professors. Draycott (I say unequivocally after this dust-up) is not one of them, for multiple reasons.

Colin Smothers of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood posted on November 19, and Steve Hays at Triablogue posted the link on November 28, alerting people to the contents of Draycott's talk, which Smothers attended.

I have now received a transcript of Draycott's talk. I am assuming, but do not have time to check (I'm trying to devote as much time as possible to book writing), that it simply was transcribed from the audio, which is available to the public for download here. If a reader downloads the audio, feel free to tell me if there is some significant misunderstanding going on, but the contents of the complete transcript I have appear to be simply an attempt to transcribe what Draycott actually said, up to and including the places where he descends into incoherence. They are absolutely damning. I will include quotes below.

At the outset I should say that Talbot has now asked others to pass on statements on social media to the effect that Draycott has apologized and has said that he was only "exploring" the ideas in his presentation but has now concluded that they are a "dead end." He has (says the statement from the school) "unequivocally affirmed" that God created man male and female. Another source reports that he apologized to the entire Talbot faculty the other day and did not defend his presentation. It is quite a coincidence that Draycott quite suddenly decided that these horrific, blasphemous ideas are a "dead end" after discussions with the Dean of Faculty after word got out to the public about the contents of his presentation.

I say unequivocally that no Christian theologian should be "exploring" such ideas. Moreover, Draycott's speculations contain nothing that amounts to a biblical argument, the abuse of Scripture is simply shocking, and the postmodern babble is frequent. He is utterly unqualified to teach at Talbot, though as an associate professor I assume he is already tenured. On the other hand, Talbot presumably can withdraw his tenure, since it is a Christian institution with its own standards. No doubt that is no small part of why he has apologized.

I encourage readers to read not only the quotes I give here but also Smothers's summary. The summary has the advantage of being written in clear English prose.

I will, for the sake of efficiency, juxtapose some summaries from Smothers with quotes from Draycott's presentation.


Draycott set out his thesis at the beginning of his paper in answer to the question, “Should we consider ‘transgender Christians’ as having a good self-understanding?” His answer was an unqualified yes, that “transgender Christians” do have a good self-understanding when they perceive themselves to be gendered opposite their biological sex.


Catholic theologians are ahead. This is just invariably the case for a lot of these matters. And there is some careful Catholic thinking about transgender issues, gender reassignment surgery, even the gender of the soul (a sex of the soul that is tied into commitments to a Catholic metaphysics that don't particularly bind me but I find interesting and I could refer you to some of those papers later if necessary). The question that motivates my research is this: Should the transgender Christian, who understands themselves to be gendered in opposition to their physiological, biological sex be understood to be to have a good understanding of themselves? Or is that necessarily ruled out?

I want to explore the possibility that it could be valid self-understanding. To do that of course, I need to consult the words and experiences of those who do identify as Christian and transgender....So I want to explore some of the ways in which a life in the spirit, as mapped by our account of the church, is intimated in scripture in relation to the conversation around transgender.

Interesting to note that Draycott says expressly that "Catholic theologians are ahead" in affirming transgenderism.


Draycott’s first analogy was adoption. Adoption truly reflects legal and social realities that are not reflected biologically. For example, a person who is adopted has legally and socially recognized parents who are not his biological parents. In the same way, Draycott argues, the church can understand “transgender Christians” to have legal and social identities that are not concomitant with their biological identity. This has consequences for one’s social relationships, including marriage and parenting. For example, Draycott cites Susan Faludi’s memoir, where she writes about when the man she knew to be her father, who “fathered” her, began to identify as a woman. Draycott offered Faludi’s experience as a positive example for how social and legal realities can change due to one’s transition; a father can become a mother and nevertheless still be considered the one who “fathered.”


But firstly, adoption.

Catholic theologian, David Albert Jones, takes it that adoption may be a helpful analogy for us to understand the situation of the transgender Christian. That is, adoption certainly figures as a key for us to understand our theology. That is, we are men and women as those adopted into the family of God, adopted as sons, and that language is the scriptural accounting of our inheritance with Christ. We become family and siblings to one another irrespective of whatever other kinship relationship we may already have biologically to one another. We are siblings in Christ. We are sons in Christ.

Jones takes it that adoption is a way, in the regular experience of adoption, is a way of marking a reality that is socially and legally recognized that is not the reality just given in biology. That is, when one is adopted, one can say, genuinely, “My adoptive parents are my parents. And I belong in this family even if a DNA analysis does not reflect a biological link to this particular family unit.”

There are of course issues in relation to families as transgender questions bear out. Fascinating memoir by journalist Susan Faludi in the dark room about her father transitioning from male to female through surgery. And so that one that she still genuinely understands to be her father, the one who fathered her, is now referred to as she. What's fascinating about that book is that it becomes a reflection on all sorts of questions that I had about identity and more than just the questions of the bodily reconstruction of her father. If we are to understand the transgender Christian now, and I should note this, that to be transgender one does not have to have had any surgical intervention or indeed any medical pharmaceutical intervention but rather understand oneself and present oneself narrowly as the gender opposed to one's physical natal sex.

Draycott goes on to use references to eunuchs in the Bible to defend transgenderism:

In this regard Austin Hartkey points us to verses in Isaiah in relation to the eunuch and we might be able to explore how reference to the eunuch is pertinent and is not pertinent to the situation of the transgender Christian but in holding out to us Isaiah 56:4-5: For thus says the LORD: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. That's what is offered to the eunuch who cannot bear children and therefore can have no inheritance in the land is precisely an inheritance. Precisely a way of belonging apart from the biological fruits in parenting....So it might be possible to revisit here the eunuch of whom Jesus speaks warmly. Those who are involuntary or voluntarily eunuchs in Matthew 19. The eunuch again commanded in Acts 8. If it is the case that the eunuch is precisely the Christian who cannot conform to the expectations of bodily sex life as a kind idealized in the community on the basis of the doctrine of creation. Nevertheless, the eschatological hope for the eunuch and the fact that eunuchs are indeed bound into the life of the church gives us pause again to think about how we may be receiving or not the transgender Christian.

Smothers points out that Draycott suggests that people who decide they are transgender might rightly be counseled to divorce their spouses.


Draycott even went on to suggest that a married person who “transitions” after marriage may need to receive the pastoral counsel to divorce their spouse. No rationale was given for why this was a good.


We know if we read through First Corinthians, which I think has a lot to say to these issues, that if we can recognize that transgender identification (Let's suppose this) may come later in life, may already come with someone entangled in [and] enmeshed in relationships of marriage or parenthood. Nevertheless, it is a call on a recognition of identity that cannot just be gainsaid by those relationships but needs to be worked out in those relationships or even perhaps tragically in the revision, the breaking, of those relationships. We see Paul not only committing singleness to many, which might be an accommodation to the transgender Christian, it may be that divorce becomes a reality, in the experience of gender transition within a marriage. And these things are held out I think as possible pastoral ways of addressing the phenomena of transgender identification.

First Corinthians? First Corinthians implies that it's a "pastoral way of addressing the phenomena of transgender identification" to suggest that the person divorce a spouse? Notice that the "identity" "cannot be gainsaid" but must be "worked out" in the relationships. In other words, the "recognition" of transgender identity is trumps, and the spouse has to accept it.


Draycott’s second analogy was baptism. Baptism, according to the New Testament, portrays a death to one’s old self and resurrection to one’s new self. In the same way, Draycott argues, the church should understand the experience of “transgender Christians” as a kind of dying to or even killing one’s old gendered self and living to one’s new gendered self. Here Draycott cites the experience of Rachel Mann, a male who identifies as a woman and who is ordained in the Anglican church. In Mann’s memoir, he talks about his transition as “killing that young boy, that young man” in order to live as a woman.

Though it's difficult to choose, this one is to my mind the most heinously blasphemous of the things Draycott speculated about. Draycott is here analogizing baptism to transgender insanity, including the desire of the person who calls himself transgender to "kill" his previous self with his normal, biological gender. Baptism. And Smothers's summary is accurate.


Baptism, I think, certainly does too in as much as baptism points us to our death in Christ and being raised to walk in newness of life. That's what I think very poignantly seems a transgender Christian is invited into is a recognition of a death. A death of a life that they have sought, perhaps unsuccessfully, to sustain identifying and complying to the requirements of their sex identity from birth, to now live out a life in the spirit that it recognizes who they are, I might say, “soul-ishly.”

I did a kind of anthropological construction of what this might look like last year. I'm not going over that. But Rachel Mann is instructive on this issue. Rachel mann, she identifies her natal name. She's a priest in the Church of England – Make of that what you will – She recognizes in her memoir that what she does as she transitions from male to female is kill that boy, that young man. And irrespective of that kind of being a personal, individual account. It's clear that there is a death or dying reality that is pointed to in that taking up of the gender identity as one's own identity before Christ in the life of the church....It might be that of course self-conception is a self-recognition of self-understanding. In which case it might be that as a transgender Christian I am called to live out my baptism by dying to that old conformity to self and living in newness without the church being desperately concerned about my genitalia. The church after all is called not to be concerned about my genitalia by setting aside circumcision. And baptism, precisely as a unisex marker of belonging that is not circumcision, means that the first question I ask of my fellow believers I worship with is not about the genitalia. And that's going to be the case as anyone who is transgender wants to [and] desires to worship alongside me as members of the same body of Christ. I think baptism is suggestive for us here.

Utterly despicable. (I note here that when Draycott uses "I" with reference to a person who considers himself transgender, he is not saying that he himself is transgender. He expressly says at the outset that he isn't. This is just a vivid way of expressing what he thinks such people might say.) The person who mutilates himself to appear as the opposite sex is living out his life "soul-ishly" and recognizing who he is "in the spirit." And this is like baptism where we die to our old selves.

Throughout the paper Draycott uses references to "not being desperately concerned about my genitalia" and other dismissive phrases to imply that any Christian group that rejects a fellow Christian's self-identification as the opposite sex is just somehow obsessed with "genitalia." This is the usual left-wing projection. It is, of course, the transgender person who is obsessed with genitalia, to the point of having them cut off. (Dreher has a recent discussion of "Andrea" Long Chu in this regard that is dark, sad, terrifying, and insightful.)

Notice Draycott's further despicable abuse of Scripture here. St. Paul's injunctions not to require circumcision for Gentiles are pressed into service to argue for Christians' accepting and agreeing with other (supposed) Christians when the latter mutilate their genitals to try to make them look like those of the opposite sex. This is theology? This is biblical hermeneutics? Carried out by a professor of biblical and theological studies at Talbot School of Theology.


Disability was the final analogy Draycott offered in order to understand the good of the transgender experience. He spent the first part of this point arguing that, contrary to many opponents of transgender ideology, eating disorders are not good analogies to the transgender experience. If someone misperceives themselves as being too fat to the point of starvation, as in the case of bulimia or anorexia, they are believing something wrong that leads to their death. Draycott argues that since transgenderism does not lead to death or invite ill health — something he asserts and does not substantiate — this analogy is not appropriate.

Here Draycott is so bizarrely incoherent that one has to read a bit to find what he is saying, but Smothers's summary is accurate and also charitable, insofar as he leaves out Draycott's further semi-coherent blasphemy concerning Holy Communion and his weird implication that it's actually the church that is disabled in rejecting the self-identification of transgenders.


The Corinthian church has a disability. It's an eating disorder. And we see it in First Corinthians 11. If we accept the way of thinking about bodies that is hyper individualized and medicalized, then we might think that eating disorders are only experienced by any one person inhabiting their individual body, misperceiving their individual body. I think that's a mistake as we look at the phenomena of eating disorders as might be medically diagnosed and we certainly mistake as you look at the church at Corinth.

Their eating disorder is a social one. It's one by which they claim to be taking the Lord's Supper but in fact despising the poor and needy among them such as some have died. And what they're called to do in participating rightly in the Lord's Supper is to discern the body. And again it's tempting to think that discerning the body in relation to transgender Christians is to kind of scrutinize them with x-ray vision to see if they're conforming to where we think the right hanging out bits are meant to be. But that's not what the discerning the body is about. I think discerning a body is about looking to the fact that I am already a member of you as a believer in Christ. So that I seek to live out reconciliation with you by virtue of the work that Christ has done. So that disability is mapped to the Corinthian church and their eating disorder as a social phenomenon. Just so I think phenomena like eating disorders we should understand as this partly social phenomena in our contemporary day given the pressures we have on how we should think of our individualized medicalized bodies.

And the other reason to raise eating disorders is because it is one of the moves taken by my fellow evangelical colleagues who oppose the veracity of a transgender identification. Such that the analogy would go “Someone who has an eating disorder may understand themselves and look at themselves and see themselves as overweight when in fact they are starving themselves to death.” And because of that misperception, that is, their misunderstanding, is literally killing them. On the same account then, that is precisely what the transgender Christian is doing. They understand themselves to be not gendered not according to the sex of their body. This is a misunderstanding and they are killing the fruitful life they would live by virtue of insisting on that identification.

However and I was glad to see David Jones backing me up, so I have least one other person standing with me. It does not seem to be the case that to identify as the opposite gender – And again I'm just sticking with a gender binary here – is somehow wishing myself death or inviting ill health. That is to understand oneself as a woman or as a man is not a move towards death. And while it's gonna be the case that there are contested accounts of transition among transgender post-surgical and transition among and adaptation amongst transgender people at large and Christians. I wonder if the church would provide the place whereby that transition could be healthy. And that would be a challenge for us.

So it's evidence that a church has a "disability" if its members take Communion while not fully accepting other Christians. Properly "discerning the body" is understanding our interrelatedness as fellow members of the body with transgender Christians, which means accepting their self-identification. Also, according to Draycott's presentation, it's not a "move toward death" for people to identify themselves as the opposite sex and even have surgery to mutilate their bodies. But wait, Dr. Draycott, I thought earlier you said that it was like baptism because one is trying to "kill that boy" that one previously was? Oh, never mind. By the way, if you think transgender surgery "could be healthy" under any circumstances, do read the Dreher piece.


Instead, because disabilities are the result of the Fall, Draycott argues that disabilities should be overcome insofar as it is possible for the Christian. This may include pursuing transgender identities, even surgery, in order to bring the disabled body in line with the right understanding of the mind. Draycott argued this was a pursuit toward eschatological wholeness and resurrection life, when our gender and sex identities will no longer be mismatched. He offered the caveat that the church should not proclaim a kind of transgender prosperity gospel that promises unmitigated peace on the other side of transition.

This is one place where Smothers is trying to make something clearer out of what is mostly babble on Draycott's part, which could actually be regarded as a kind of charity. Draycott seems to be implying, bizarrely (but the whole presentation is bizarre), that the criticism that normal Christians would level against transgender surgery is that it doesn't give you a resurrection body, and that we should accept it despite the fact that it doesn't succeed in providing a resurrection body. This is completely crazy. I don't think any normal Christian is opposing self-mutilation by mentally ill people on the grounds that it doesn't give them a resurrection body. But anyway, here is Draycott:

There's a lot I know that I've raised that could give an issue of conversation, so I'd like to see where that goes. Why is it that Mark Yarhouse is cautious in relation to the transgender Christian? The Christian who experiences gender dysphoria in the main account in his book. Well it is the case that gender reassignment surgery is irreversible. It is certainly, as bottom surgery, medically sterilizing. It is therefore in all sorts of obvious senses a drastic measure. E. Christian Bruegger, who is a Christian bioethicist, opposes gender reassignment surgery and points to the fact that, even were – But she does doesn't grant – even were the possibility that it could be the thing to be done, the church by pursuing (or in his instance, Catholic hospitals pursuing) a gender reassignment surgery are giving scandal to the gospel by denying the categories in which humans are made: male or female.

It seems to me that Yarhouse gives us evidence to suppose that that is not what gender dysphoric or transgender Christians are doing. Not denying male and female as such. Paul reminds us, reminds the Corinthians, that they're not at resurrection yet. So, I wouldn't be surprised if surgical intervention for other transgender Christian's body did not give them a resurrection body just as surgical intervention in my body does not give me a resurrection body. So there is an eschatological hope yet to come and the fullness of what that identity must be, just as I do not know exactly what my resurrection will body will be like. But I still hope longingly for it. And this is going to be the case for the transgender Christian. And Christians are different in the tradition as to the sex-ness of our resurrection bodies or not. I take it that our resurrection bodies will be sexed but I may be wrong.

If the body is good. And we are given the body such as to live out our gifts, our dying to self through our baptism or adoption into Christ family, then the body I think that is most important for us to focus is the body of the church, not the medicalized body of the individual believer. That way I think is just not only difficult for the transgender Christian but difficult for many Christians whose individualized, medicalized bodies do not conform to either the ideations we have about the eschatological resurrection body or frankly just a functioning body as anyone can claim to see.

I think that would allow transgender Christians to get beyond what they, at least in Austin Hartkey’s terms, want to get beyond, which is an apologetic for their existence. To allow us into worshipping spaces together. To pursue what it means to be Christian disciples loving one another in the frailties, the complexities, and even the tragedies of our bodily life.

As far as I can figure out, this jumble (not even a paper but just a semi-coherent presentation) means something like this: Even though transgender surgery is permanent, that doesn't mean it's a denial of male and female. Instead, it's an attempt to pursue mind-body unity. That isn't really going to be achieved, because it doesn't give people their resurrection bodies yet, but it's legitimate for them to pursue it, and we shouldn't oppose their doing so or even be especially cautious about it. And our accepting this will help us to focus on the "body of the church" and will also be good for non-transgender people who are physically non-functioning in some way and might feel left out otherwise. If we reject this we are doing something wrong by forcing transgender Christians to form an "apologetic for their existence."

The references to Mark Yarhouse in Draycott's presentation are repeated and significant. Yarhouse is a very unsound theorist whom I discussed several years ago here. He is regarded as an evangelical expert on transgender issues. And Draycott is right (!) to point out that Yarhouse comes across as actually affirming transgenderism but doing so inconsistently and timidly. So Draycott asks why Yarhouse isn't more on-board with "bottom surgery" and other irreversible biological interventions. Given Yarhouse's approach to the entire issue, which is that Christians should go along with transgenders' self-identification, it's a legitimate question.

Moreover, if we're shocked that Draycott teaches at Talbot, we should note that Yarhouse has this year been invited to give a four-part series (!!) on gender issues in chapel at Biola. Find links here. I simply do not have time to listen to them, but the fact that the first is called "Listening to Sexual Minorities" does not bode well, combined with Yarhouse's previous work. So Yarhouse has opened the door to what Draycott is suggesting, and Yarhouse appears to be fully accepted as a speaker at Biola, though he (unlike Draycott) doesn't teach there.

Draycott's disqualification for teaching at Talbot is quite evident, not only in the horrific content of what he is saying in this presentation but also in his abuse of Scripture, which appears to be almost instinctive, and his apparent lack of a concept of argumentative rigor. At the same time, he is clearly steeped in jargon and freely uses terms like "medicalized body" and sentences like, "That disability is mapped to the Corinthian church and their eating disorder as a social phenomenon." Whatever apologies he has uttered to fellow faculty at his embarrassed institution, it appears to be far too late for this associate professor to become a good scholar, much less a sound biblical scholar.

I also warn the Catholics among us that, according to Draycott, the "Catholic theologians are ahead" on these matters, so you have that to look forward to.

As Smothers also points out, Draycott simply dismisses all practical concerns about the transgender issue, including marriage, even though that is ridiculous. The practical issues show that we cannot agree with the self-identification of people who "identify" contrary to reality without massive, destabilizing ramifications. Moreover, Draycott sometimes says that he's bracketing or not talking about things and then does talk about them, making it pretty clear what direction he is inclined to go on those issues. For example, here he is concerning someone's getting married who has had self-mutilating surgery and regards himself as the opposite sex:

I'm also not talking about marriage. One of the theologians I've learned the most from is Oliver O'Donovan, a British Christian ethicist, who wrote a paper on transsexualism and Christian marriage many years ago recently republished. He’s the target of I think quite a lot of misunderstanding in what he did say and what he didn't say. You can agree or disagree with what he did say. Largely he was discussing marriage and the possibility of marriage for someone who's received gender reassignment surgery, not known as that of the time.

Draycott's ready flow of speech and self-deprecating manner, evident even in a transcript, are likely to garner him some sympathy on purely personal grounds. (This is how he makes the transition to Q & A: "So, at this stage in what you can see is a kind of a direction of thought I am going to pause my speaking and hopefully invite you to speak against, speak to, into this conversation for my benefit or our mutual benefit, I hope.")

The best-case scenario is that he is so befuddled that he has been somehow pulled into these thought patterns merely by being steeped in the culture, including the academic culture of those he is reading. He cites several books that have "been helpful" to him and presumably are affirming of transgender identities. Not only Yarhouse but also Austen Hartkey, Transforming the Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians and Rachel Mann, Dazzling Darkness: Gender, Sexuality, Illness, and God. He says he doesn't "agree with everything in them" but that they are "pretty theologically and biblically sophisticated books that give someone like me access to some of the ways in which trans and the Christians are describing themselves."

But that's the best-case scenario, and even though, if that is the way things are, Draycott is without malice and perhaps without cunning, he is still utterly unsound and lacks a stable natural worldview (much less a stable biblical worldview). He is highly likely to transmit these or other similarly blasphemous ideas to his students, and he lacks the positive qualification of "rightly dividing the word of truth." Such a person should not be teaching and tenured at one of the premier conservative evangelical schools of theology in the country and even in the world.

Comments (34)

Here is Draycott's most recent statement. He apologizes for "lack of clarity" and admits that he was incorrect in speculating that the resurrection body might affirm the opposite-sex identity. He says that this speculation informed his other speculations. Okay, so that's totally insane, not to mention all of the other blasphemous abuses of Scripture committed.

He says that he affirms the goodness of the created order as male and female, but note: In his presentation he said that transgenders who mutilate themselves aren't really denying that!


Moreover, Draycott asserts an all-out falsehood about what he said in the paper. In this statement he asserts:

"Transgender identity is not a good. It was not my intention to, and I do not, advocate for transgenderism or transgender identity."

This is completely false. In the paper, he said,

"I wonder if the church would provide the place whereby that transition could be healthy."


"Should the transgender Christian, who understands themselves to be gendered in opposition to their physiological, biological sex be understood to be to have a good understanding of themselves?... I want to explore the possibility that it could be valid self-understanding."

That is definitely "exploring" the idea that transgender identity, up to and including "transition," could be *healthy* and could reflect a *good self-understanding*.

So now he's just misrepresenting what he actually said.

Not qualified to teach.

This is bad, bordering on insane. Draycott readily admits the 'self-understanding' of the 'transgender Christian' is in 'opposition to their physiological, biological sex', yet wants to 'explore' the possibility that it could be a legitimate self-understanding, biblical categories be damned! Rather than encouraging and perpetuating mental delusion, Draycott ought to make use of his time challenging the stupidity of a culture that seems intent on utter self-destruction, and he ought to be fighting tooth and nail to prevent this seeping into the church. Has he no concept of the noetic effects of sin?

And what if a deluded 'transgender Christian' were after such a 'transition' to decide they want to 'go back'? What if their 'self-understanding' suddenly shifts back in line with their natural physiological, biological state? Encourage yet further mutilation (oh, sorry, 'reassignment')?

I read Smothers' summary via Hays at Triablogue, and I've read the fuller quotes here (thank you, Lydia). Astonishingly, it's even worse than Smothers' summary indicated. There is literally zero substance to any of Draycott's points. This man is not fit to be in any kind of authoritative position in a Christian organisation. It is precisely this kind of postmodern garbage that we need to be keeping out of the church.

Great post Lydia, and I have nothing to add except that the sentence "Catholic theologians are ahead" struck me.... Thanks Draycott for ruining my evening.......... ouh, also this part "...gender of the soul (a sex of the soul that is tied into commitments to a Catholic metaphysics..." is puzzling to me. Not only is there no such thing as "Catholic metaphysics", but if he means by this an account of sex in the framework of thomistic anthropology, than he has to be deeply confused.

Very concerning. Why do you think Christian institutions and people in the US continue to slide down this way? Why do so many in the Church seem to not notice, not care about, or even actively approve of such things?

Very concerning. Why do you think Christian institutions and people in the US continue to slide down this way?

Misplaced pity. They get lectured and virtue-signaled and bullied into believing that they need to be more open to these things in order to show that they care. It's all downhill from there. We've seen it with homosexuality. Now we're seeing it with transgenderism.

Why do so many in the Church seem to not notice

A lot of people just don't know. One has to be pretty plugged-in these days to keep up with the sheer speed of the revolution.

not care about, or even actively approve of such things?

See answer above. Those who care and disapprove (like me and others of my FB friends, for example) are said to be mean, uncharitable, "shooting our own," and other such phrases.

And the misdirected pity spreads. It starts with pity for the people with perversions. Then it moves to pity for the people who defend the confusions of the people with the perversions. Like Draycott. If Draycott is fired, believe me, he will be a huge victim-figure to many. And even if he isn't fired, because the question is even being raised, he will seem like a victim to many.

At this point I'm coming to think that there is no bottom to this. There is nothing, no matter how disgusting, that could not be supported by a person who has some kind of inherited or personal loyalty (e.g., people's loyalty to his institution, loyalty to him personally, etc.) while people sat around saying, "Let's not be too quick to judge," etc.

At this point a nice, clean, Christological heresy would almost come as a relief. Okay, I'm partly joking, but I'm pretty certain Arius would have nothing to do with "exploring" the idea of approving the self-identities of men who wish to cut off all of their male genitalia and be regarded as women, or likening it to baptism.

a sex of the soul that is tied into commitments to a Catholic metaphysics

Yeah, N.S., I have no idea what he thinks he means by that. I'm not a hylemorphist, but it's as far as possible from this nonsense. One tries to imagine what Ed Feser would say about it.

Okay, that's kind of an amusing thought.

At this point I'm coming to think that there is no bottom to this.

Perhaps some "bottom surgery" will help?

Very concerning. Why do you think Christian institutions and people in the US continue to slide down this way?

Misplaced pity. They get lectured and virtue-signaled and bullied into believing that they need to be more open to these things in order to show that they care. It's all downhill from there. We've seen it with homosexuality. Now we're seeing it with transgenderism.

Yes, and yet no.

Draycott certainly is a poor and pitiable fellow.

But there's this further problem. I wondered, early on, whether the guy has simply "gone round the bend" as it were, lost his marbles. Maybe he got hold of a bad set of medicine, maybe he had a bad reaction to Ambien, or has otherwise become mentally ill.

And while this might be true, I don't think this accounts for just how bad the "scholarship" is here. Completely regardless of whatever one's thinking is on transgenderism, there is no way in the world any of this represents worthwhile scholarship on the topic. Even trans people should be disowning this as a wretched piece of nonsense. Gibberish, really. It's not like he is a competent thinker who just got hold of some bad premises and ran with them, the whole piece is incoherent as a presentation.

Which leads us back to Biola and Talbot: no matter what they do to Draycott, and no matter how much he grovels or apologizes or does penance or puts himself in solitary confinement, THEY are responsible for having given him a professorship. That is, they gave a position to someone who is demonstrably not competent, IN A BIG WAY falls short of competence for the position. This isn't a close call. This isn't the sort of thing that they should have been able to miss in doing due diligence and job interview on him. The guy is unable to put together a coherent argument of any sort; he is practically unable to put together a coherent SENTENCE because of the gibberish / newspeak / far liberal code language he can't avoid. Even liberal institutions should be embarrassed to have someone like this teaching - their teachers are supposed to be able to make it all sound at least SORT OF sensible, not like a Martian pretending it knows English when it doesn't. For Biola, it's a major mistake, and indeed should result in heads rolling. I don't mean Draycott's, I mean the people who vetted him and who approved him as a hire. The Board should be busy identifying who was in on the ring of conspirators who wanted to bring aboard someone like this, and first clamp down on them so that they cease to have any further influence, and then work to push them out. Quietly and slowly, if necessary, but firmly all the same. Either that, or they should just shut down now and save us all the grief of watching the institution become a Protestant version of a bad Jesuit college: not Christian even in name anymore, merely "in the Christian tradition". As if "I used to be Christian" is enough to recommend one as reliable.

I'm not a hylemorphist, but it's as far as possible from this nonsense.

I AM a hylemorphist, and yes, it's nonsense. I fear that there IS something sorrier in academia than a Catholic "scholar" who simply doesn't understand even the basics of Catholic philosophy or theology (but imagines he has been taught them when all he was taught is that they are now all obsolete): it is a Protestant "scholar" who not only has never run into the basics of Catholic philosophy and theology, but falsely imagines that he can guess at the content of Catholic metaphysics through the twisted musings of a so-called "Catholic" academic who has never even been taught them to begin with, and rejects even the remote facsimile that he WAS taught. Hoo boy, that's scary.

This is nothing more than caving in to the culture. No one would have said these things and received serious consideration even five years ago. He shouldn't be allowed to speak at an ETS meeting again. A few years ago, the northeast chapter of ETS had Peter Enns speak--a dumpster fire of a theologian if there ever was one. The organization needs to determine which direction it's going to go.

I want to take up one particular, in which First Corinthians is used to support a divorced trans. Obviously, this points to the seventh chapter. Paul sets forth a single principle that guides meanings over the entire chapter as he addresses various issues of celibate or married Christian life. The principle is stated four times with slight variation (vs. 7, 17, 20. 24): "Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called.” The condition of calling means the social location that pertained at one's conversion/baptism--celibate or married, circumcised (Jewish) or not, slave or free. If God saved you in that condition, then it must be a place of safety--remain there! Now, Paul will vary the authority applied to the principle for each application. Sometimes it is ENFORCED (as with "equally-yoked" marriages), with no recourse offered to the Christian. Other times, Paul will ENCOURAGE the principle (as with celibacy), giving Christians the option to choose. Still other times, an EXCEPTION is made in which Paul actually favors a jump to a social-category that did not pertain at one's calling.

In the case of trans-gender (although he was somehow as unconscious of this issue as was Yahweh when His people thought it good to burn their infants alive as sacrifices, leaving the matter entirely unaddressed in Chapter Seven), Paul would clearly have applied the governing principle by ENFORCING it--no surgery, no hormones, no brain-games with the fiction of becoming other than God's never-flawed workmanship. Let the would-be trans remain in that condition in which he/she was graciously called by God through the preached Cross-work of Jesus.

As Lydia noted, amidst the rest of Draycott's speculations, his "I wonder if the church would provide the place whereby that transition could be healthy" maps precisely onto calls for churches to bless same-sex marriages, to make them "healthy". Is it flattery, or a threat, that we have the cultural power to "turn that frown upside-down"?

Per John, Let the would-be trans remain in that condition in which he/she was graciously called by God through the preached Cross-work of Jesus.

In Chapter 12, On the Royal Road of the Holy Cross, Second Book of The Imitation of Christ, Thomas a Kempis warns us rather neatly,

Arrange and order all things to your own ideas and wishes, yet you will still find suffering to endure, whether you will or not; so you will always find the Cross... The Cross always stands ready, and everywhere awaits you. You cannot escape it, wherever you flee; for wherever you go, you bear yourself, and always find yourself. Look up or down, without you or within, and everywhere you will find the Cross... If you cast away one cross, you will certainly find another, and perhaps a heavier.

In the transcript, Draycott suggests that transgenders who aren't welcome in churches in their new identity are in greater danger of carrying out their transition, including surgery, in the assumption that they belong to themselves and can dispose of themselves by a sheer act of will. He implies that *Christian* "transgenders" don't really have to be doing this, but that therefore their transition needs to be accepted by the church so that fellow Christians can teach them to conceptualize it properly in theological terms--so that somehow it isn't thought of as a denial of male and female, as a rebellion against God, or as the right to do whatever one wants to do with one's own body.

This is crazy, psychologically speaking, since the whole transgender agenda is *predicated* upon precisely those rebellious ideas.

I think Draycott is so muddled that he is thinking of it almost as we would think of it if people for some reason were treating a truly medically legitimate surgery (e.g., cleft palate repair or something) in some weird, rebellious way or as an expression of an anti-Christian worldview, but it didn't *have* to be, so we Christians should not reject the surgery but rather show how it fits into a Christian worldview.

But there is simply *no way to do that* with "gender reassignment surgery."

Draycott suggests a trans might opt to divorce, being--after transition--no longer capable as serving the ditched spouse as husband or wife. He offers vague justification for this from First Corinthians. Rather difficult to reconcile with Paul when he writes: "A husband should fulfill his marital responsibility to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband. A wife does not have the right over her own body, but her husband does. In the same way, a husband does not have the right over his own body, but his wife does" (7:3-4).

It's so vague that one can't entirely be certain whom he envisages divorcing whom. But what *is* clear is that the "trans" identity "cannot be gainsaid" (his phrase). So basically if that means you divorce your spouse or your spouse divorces you for mutilating yourself and claiming to be a woman, so be it.

In the Acts of Tecla Paula is against marriage. Period. It does not seem possible to get a clear idea about marriage from Paul.

And in strictly legal terms--there is no reason to think that there is any such thing as changing sex. Pulling skin so as to look like a male organ does not make it so.

Um, the Acts of Thecla has nothing to do with what the real, historical Paul thought.

It might be that the acts of Thecla is not authoritative. I am not aware of the process by which things were included and other things excluded in the cannon.

I am not aware of the process by which things were included and other things excluded in the cannon.

Have you looked carefully? Because, there IS a canon of Christian scriptures, and it was fully settled by the middle of the 5th century. Even if there came to be very modest disagreements about that canon later, nobody in the last 1500 years has seriously argued that the acts of Thecla are in that canon.

Maybe what you mean is that the process by which things got included and other things got excluded look somewhat haphazard, ad hoc, or otherwise less than ideal. Maybe, but that does not establish that there was no such historical process. You are not suggesting that there never came to be a canon of Christian Scriptures, are you? Because that's a historical question, not a theological or theoretical issue.

I am not suggesting anything. I just thought that the acts of Thecla might shed some light on Paul. But if not-then not.

There is no reason to think it's anything but fiction. This has nothing to do with accepting "the process" in some blind way.

Catholic theologian, David Albert Jones


Pardon me. That just reminded me of the first Obama election when Catholic Doug Kmiec burst on the scene and was apparently on a plane of pro-life so high that normal pro-lifers had never heard of him.

when Catholic Doug Kmiec burst on the scene and was apparently on a plane of pro-life so high that normal pro-lifers had never heard of him.

That's a hilarious take on that episode, Scott, which I had forgotten. Thanks (?) for that.


David Albert Jones is a Catholic and a leading ethicist, the head of a bioethics institute in England.

This, of course, means that DAJ suffers from the handicap of being a leading bioethicist. Most bioethics programs and centers have a vast retrograde understanding of ethics and bioethics, so he would have to swim very strongly indeed to be in his position and still have a sound bioethics. It can be done, but it is very, very hard, and apparently he hasn't succeeded.

No, adoption isn't like trading gender "identity". If you want a better analogue, how about "being adopted out of one family and into another because you have a strong sense that you 'don't belong' to the family into which you were born and you somehow have acquired a strong sense that you 'belong' in some other family." A "strong sense", mind you, that you have no basis in evidence to point to, being a wholly interior experience that cannot be connected to any specific cause. Does someone want to argue we should put the power of the state into making sure such adoptions happen? What if the family you "feel" you belong to doesn't feel like adopting you?

By the way, what is it with these people who insist on making their middle names a definitive part of their public persona? David Bentley Hart, David Albert Jones ... maybe it's being named David?

"maybe it's being named David?"

My guess is that it's to differentiate themselves from other "David Hart's" and "David Jones's." If you google the names you'll see there are lots of both.

"I am not aware of the process by which things were included and other things excluded in the cannon."

F.F. Bruce's The Canon of Scripture is a good thorough introduction to the subject.

David Albert Jones is a Catholic and a leading ethicist, the head of a bioethics institute in England

Fair enough. I'm become used to the Catholic dissenter's trick of digging through the slagpile of theologians with zero magisterial authority and holding them up like they are issuing fatwas.

I really wish people in the humanities would study modal logic. The whole transgender movement is an example of what is known as a modal illusion: https://www.iep.utm.edu/mod-illu/

Just because a man might think he is a woman doesn't mean that he is actually referring to himself, but, rather, someone similar to himself, whom he imagines is a woman, but, then loses the ability to distinguish between himself as himself and his imaginary similar self. The logician, Saul Kripke, brought up this problem in 1972 with regards to wehther or not water could be anything other than H2O. Transgenderism is a classic modal illusion. This, of course, means it is delusional thinking. Psychologists have done nothing to help establish a sense of reality for these people. If you are born a man, you are a man. Believing yourself to be a woman does not make it so. If one could reverse time and alter DNA before it combines at conception to change a Y chromosome into an X chromosome, then one could claim to be a woman, but, then again, that is what one would be.

Now, theologians have spread the disease by creating metaphysical illusions.

Since at least the beginning of the 20th-century (I can cite books), when similar issues came up, the Church has always taken the stance of, "You are what you appear to be." Edge cases were decided case-by-case and must have appealed to a physical basis, such as Klinefelter's Syndrome.

This is society leading a retreat from reality, meaning truth. This can not easily happen in the physical sciences because it doesn't matter if you believe that TNT will not explode if you light a match to the fuse sticking out of it. By the time you realize you have been deluding yourself, you will be dead. This whole nonsense could only have been perpetrated by people who deal with the imagination but, specifically, an unconstrained imagination. Scientific imagination must conform to physical realities. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the humanities has spearheaded the Trans movement. Science has walls it bumps into; some in the humanities deny that the walls even exist.

Now, you can only imagine that there are no bullets in a gun in a game of Russian Roulette only five times. That sixth time is a killer. Likewise, the West can only pretend that boys are girls only a few times. The last time will end the society as we know it.

You know who isn't bothered about the arcane question of whether because a boy feels he is a girl he must be a girl or treated like one: China.

China, materialistic, atheistic China has more faith in what is real than we do in the West and that is one reason why they will pull ahead of us - there is no drag on their science by a bunch of humanities experts who are determined to be dilettante scientists, who would flunk the first question in a basic chemistry class: is matter real or a mere mental fiction? Biological matter is real. One can wish it were otherwise, but this is not like the end of the movie, The Man who Shot Liberty Valence:

Ransom Stoddard: You're not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?

Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

The whole Trangender Movement is predicated on printing the legend instead of the fact.

As facts go, Transgenderism is rather like WWE Wrestling meets My Little Pony.

I suppose, theologically, this goes along with the "Modern" notion that Christianity is all about feelings, but God is holding the gun and we might just be on the sixth go-around.

The Chicken

like WWE Wrestling meets My Little Pony

I love that simile. Hits it just right.

"The whole transgender movement is an example of what is known as a modal illusion"

And a sort of neo-Gnosticism on steroids:

"What is effected by Nominalism, as it is appropriated out of Occam's intricate arguments, is an instrument of power over nature justified on the authority of autonomous intellect, whereby the Platonic idea of the transcendent model is presumed a creation by autonomous intellect itself through its signs [i.e., words -- M.M. makes this apparent earlier in the essay], as first divorced from but then in turn imposed upon nature. In the Christian tradition, nature is created and therefore both dependent upon and from its Creator. Hence my epithet of Modernism as an inverted Platonism, in which reality becomes dependent upon autonomous intellect itself. It follows at last from this gnostic assumption that truth itself is that which is decreed by intellect. By the power of autonomous intellect, then, such truth is made universal -- according, of course, to the extent of power exercised by the particular universalizing, autonomous intellect. This is to say that a principle, subjectively authorized, becomes a dogma to be imposed as a limit against rival intellectual subjectivisms, and ideology to be established by force if necessary, providing only that there is a sufficient power for its enforcement."

~~~Marion Montgomery, "Consequences in the Provinces: Ideas Have Consequences 50 Years After," from Steps Towards Restoration: The Consequences of Richard Weaver's Ideas, Ted J. Smith III, ed.

In every generation some new kind of insanity enters into the world. Those of the older generation recognize this new thing as insanity but usually are still stuck in their older insanity that came into the world before that. It is hard to navigate through the mess. So the best thing is to keep your head low so as not to get caught in the cross fire.

When I was blogging, I did a series called Modern Test Acts. Basically it was news items pointing to demand for acceptance of LGBT dogmas as a condition of employment much like the old Test Acts of England where people would have to renounce Catholicism before they could hold a public office.

The only thing I couldn't really nail down is what form it would take. It's starting to look like it's the transgender thing: https://www.dailywire.com/news/39195/high-school-teacher-fired-refusing-use-transgender-hank-berrien

"When I was blogging, I did a series called Modern Test Acts. Basically it was news items pointing to demand for acceptance of LGBT dogmas as a condition of employment much like the old Test Acts of England where people would have to renounce Catholicism before they could hold a public office."

A commenter on Rod Dreher's blog mentioned a question on a job application for the US operations of a major Japanese company. The question was 'are you part of the LGBTQ'? The answers included both yes,no,prefer to not answer *and* also 'no, but Im an ally'. I know this is not for public office, but most of us need jobs and this sort of thing is becoming the new norm. It's a test act for basic employment.

The Peter Vlaming firing is also simply gobsmacking. When push came to shove his fireable offense happened when he tried to prevent a student from being harmed. He also made it clear he would use the students preferred masculine name and also avoid using pronouns to refer to her. Which is exactly what many progressives insist basic decency and politeness require, and still it was not good enough.

Vlaming has made it clear his Christian faith has motivated him in this. It seems to me that the Draycott's of the world damage the credibility of the Vlaming's by seeking to conform Christianity to the ideology named gender. Adherents of that ideology will use anything to accuse an unbeliever of being a simple minded bigot. Draycott just gives them one more bullet so to speak.

If fired for his faith, then he will probably do OK. That is my impression of things. You do not look when you stand up for what is right.

>> The whole transgender movement is an example of what is known as a modal illusion" ... a sort of neo-Gnosticism on steroids ... Nominalism

Hey there Nice. I understand the point of view, but I'm a conservative that eschews the thinking of a strain of conservative thought having to do with "modernity", certainly deterministic theories of decline of the sort that the title of Weaver's book "Ideas Have Consequences" seem to inspire in people. I don't think an abstract idea such as nominalism is as powerful as that. Ultimately, there is a hard to resist tendency to project one's own basic view onto the world outside us and look for a unitary idea to justify it. Such is the power of such views that they suck all the oxygen out of the room to an amazing degree. What I mean by that is that there are scholars at least as smart and far more articulate IMHO who've taken up the challenge of these conservative views of "modernity", but you'll not find them on the average library bookshelf. Even C. S. Lewis wasn't immune from this with the common Weberian phrase about "disenchantment of the world", which he borrowed from the Romantics, and Lewis is just a case in point of how unremarkable it is to have deeply romantic inchoate ideas and highly articulate realism can easily and often do cohabit the same minds.

Here's the best piece I've ever seen about what's wrong with the book, some of which involves its reception, and some not. I think it just nails the issue. https://home.isi.org/limits-ideas-have-consequences

Likewise, the West can only pretend that boys are girls only a few times. The last time will end the society as we know it.

You know who isn't bothered about the arcane question of whether because a boy feels he is a girl he must be a girl or treated like one: China.

China, materialistic, atheistic China has more faith in what is real than we do in the West and that is one reason why they will pull ahead of us - there is no drag on their science by a bunch of humanities experts who are determined to be dilettante scientists, who would flunk the first question in a basic chemistry class: is matter real or a mere mental fiction? Biological matter is real. One can wish it were otherwise, but this is not like the end of the movie, The Man who Shot Liberty Valence:

Substituting fantasy for reality is always an attraction for humanity everywhere, but it has it's limits for all people and places, and for that very reason the truth that transgender operations promote not betterment but depression and death has been an undiscussed open secret that is now breaking through as a fact. As if that wasn't already known intuitively by anyone with a shred of sense. I'm not saying the phenomenon will end, but the idea that it's a good option for the confused is a delusion fit for only the dogmatic.

The Chinese have every bit as much of a tendency to substitute fantasy for reality as we do, and a good bit more. But the grass in greener there through the telescope. Optimism is realism, but pessimism sounds smarter. Just look at the history of the entire region. It's ghastly. My interests lead me to German history a good bit. For all the simplistic explanatory ideas about the rise of the Nazis, most people don't realize how anti-Western Germany had declared itself to be and how toxic a storm of bad ideas it was, and that in a place only recently unified and with little to guide it. Perhaps it would have been a greater wonder if they'd not caused a world-wide meltdown. I'm not sure China is really much better off so large are it's social problems their leaders are hoping to mask by way of militarism.

As bad as things may seem to some, and as deep as our challenges are, it's a fallen world and other nations have their own problems many can't or don't want to see. China's dominance isn't a given in any sense. There's no reason to project a linear course for them (inclining) or us (declining). A societies' political structure is fundamental, so political systems matter, but not to those in thrall to postmodernism, which is at bottom anti-Westernism. Those who've fallen into this shouldn't be lecturing others on the inevitability of Western decline, not the least because it's never clear whether they're gleeful or sad about this supposed fact.

As usual, Victor Davis Hanson provides the context for all this, and puts his finger on why people assume China's domination is in the bag.


The one that pertains to this crowd would no doubt be a flavor of this one: "that China can weld government-run market capitalism to autocratic government to improve on supposedly chaotic Western democratic and republican government and indulgent human rights."

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