By Emily Zinos, Coordinator, Ask Me First MN
On December 11th, the St. Paul Seminary and School of Divinity held a symposium entitled, “Man, Woman, and the Order of Creation” at the University of St. Thomas, which included a line-up of speakers impressively positioned to take on the issue of sexual identity in a world confused by gender ideology. I was delighted to join more than 400 attendees, including clergy, parents, students and academics, who were gathered to hear Walt Heyer, Dr. Michelle Cretella, and Dr. Ryan T. Anderson, among others, offer their reflections on an authentic vision of the human person. With a goal of equipping “clergy, religious, pastoral ministers, educators and lay leaders with the pastoral insights and language they need to reach out to those they serve – in love and in truth,” the symposium melded scientific observation of the human body and behavior with a Christian anthropology. There was a lot of information packed into the daylong event and the evening presentations that followed, but I’d like to share my top five takeaways with you here in the hopes that you will also feel prepared to respond in love and truth:
1. Affirming Lies Reinforces Confusion
Walt Heyer started the symposium with a deeply personal account of why he chose to live as a woman for nearly a decade of his life. Dissociating from a body that had been dressed as a girl by his grandmother, sexually abused by an uncle, and beaten by his father, Walt looked to become a woman as a means of escape. He warned that the popular treatment of gender dysphoria ignores the reasons many come to suffer sexual identity confusion in the first place, using puberty blockers, hormones and surgery to treat a condition that would more appropriately be resolved through psychological therapy and patience. For Walt, acceptance of his biological sex wasn’t merely the product of a therapeutic approach, though. His eventual acceptance of a male sexual identity coincided with a spiritual revelation that God’s forgiveness and love were inviting him to start over again as a child of God. We can embody God’s love when we keep open the doors to relationship with those who struggle to accept their sexual identity.
2. The Transgender “Moment” is Rife With Contradictions
Dr. Ryan T. Anderson, William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, spoke with great clarity about the underlying worldview LGBT activists, which he argued uses the psychological struggles of a few to campaign for sweeping changes to laws and policies that reference biological sex. Dr. Anderson made a strong case for interpreting the activism of the transgender movement as a direct attack on the reality and meaning of who we are as men and women with its assumption that a poorly defined “gender identity” alone determines our sex. He went on to detail some of the contradictions that undermine the premises of transgender ideology, asking why it is that gender identity can be determined by feelings, while age, height, or race cannot. He pointed out that gender identity is essentially a belief being used to determine a personal reality, which is in direct opposition to the way belief is meant to function. We are tasked with conforming our beliefs to reality, instead of conforming reality to our beliefs. Gender ideology is a deep misunderstanding of the human person, and it’s only the church that can offer the fullness of truth as an antidote.