Teacher is dismissed for “misgendering” student
Two recent stories from the United Kingdom (UK) involving teachers caught my eye; both of them illustrate the liberal agenda in public schools and the intolerance of the “LGBT community.”
The first is the story of Joshua Sutcliffe, Christian pastor and math teacher in Oxford, England. His “crime”? He “misgendered” a student! Expect to see that word, “misgendering” in the future. (You will soon find “misgender” as a verb in the dictionary: the word means to address a transgendered person contrary to his/her preferred gender). Mr. Sutcliffe addressed a group of students, one of whom is a biological girl who identifies as a boy, with the encouraging remark, “Well done, girls.” For such “gross misconduct” the teacher faced disciplinary action from the school after the aggrieved student complained that her preferred pronoun (“he,” or perhaps “they”—or even “ze” or “zir”) was not used.1
Appearing on the ITV show, “Good Morning” with his lawyer, Andrea Williams, from the Christian Legal Centre, Mr. Sutcliffe attempted to explain his position to Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, something I would not recommend. Sutcliffe said that he had been calling the student by her preferred name (Ben instead of Betty, let’s say), but on the day in question, he had praised the group of girls, which included the girl who identified as a boy (it is complicated even to describe these things!). Immediately, when the student became angry, Sutcliffe apologized for his “slip of the tongue.” The TV presenters’ hostility to the Christian position was clear throughout the interview. Willoughby quoted from the school’s three-day investigation:
The investigation concluded that the misgendering of the pupil and the avoidance of using gendered pronouns contravenes the school’s code of conduct with regard to demonstrating an awareness of sexual and cultural diversity of students, and the use of insensitive comments towards young people, and the use of religious comments in math lessons, demonstrate a failure to comply with school policy.
Citing the suicide rate of transgendered children, Schofield referenced the remark of one parent of a gender-confused child to her husband: “You can support your daughter or you can bury your son” (the child in question was a boy [son] who identified as a girl [daughter]). Williams responded rightly that the suicide rate in children who have “transitioned” (through hormonal therapy or surgery) to their “preferred gender” is just as high as those who have not, and that it is kinder and more compassionate to help children to live in the body in which they were created, instead of allowing them to live in confusion. Attempting to trap Williams, Schofield cited the guidelines of Church of England Schools that “[their 4,700 schools] should not require children to wear uniforms that create difficulty for trans pupils,” arguing that Williams is in conflict with her own church. In the same interview, Schofield snapped, “It doesn’t seem very Christian to me for you to be so intransigent,” called the views of Sutcliffe and Williams “utterly abhorrent,” and ended the interview with the comment, “Well, we’ll get back to the show and back to 2017 and not medieval Britain in just a moment.”2
Teacher says, “God loves you” to a lesbian student—she is reported as a terrorist threat!
In July 2016, Svetlana Powell, a teacher in Bristol, England, was dismissed from the T2 Apprenticeship Academy, and reported to the British government’s counter-terrorism strategy group, Prevent, for being a “radicalisation threat.” What did she do? Did she make terrorist threats; did she advocate violence; did she advocate overthrowing the government? No, she expressed her belief that homosexuality is against God’s will, and she told a lesbian student that God loved her! While we would question telling an unbeliever that God loves him/her (for God loves only elect, believing sinners), it hardly constitutes a fireable offence—never mind a terrorist threat—to speak about God’s love! In modern multicultural, “tolerant” Britain, however, it does.
According to reports, Mrs. Powell answered a student’s question about faith and evolution, which led to further questions, one of which was about the teacher’s personal views on homosexuality. Mrs. Powell gave her view that homosexuality is “against God’s will” (that is, sin), adding that God loves everyone unconditionally. When asked whether the lesbian student would “go to hell,” Mrs. Powell responded that God loved her, had provided a way of salvation for everyone, and that in the way of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ anyone can go to heaven. After the discussion ended, five students reported Mrs. Powell to the Academy manager. After her disciplinary hearing, the teacher was dismissed. It should be noted that the student who initiated the conversation and the complaint against the teacher was a professing Christian.
The treatment of Mrs. Powell stands in stark contrast to the treatment of another teacher, “an outspoken left-wing atheist,” called Andrew Spargo, who, according to students’ complaints, spent a lot of his lessons railing against the British establishment and mocking Christianity. On one occasion, Mr. Spargo is alleged to have shown the students a sketch of a naked woman. The atheist teacher was not reported to “Prevent” as a radicalism threat. Instead, Mr. Spargo received a reprimand and an extension of his probation period.3
Radical, outspoken, anti-government atheistic views are acceptable in modern Britain, but Christianity is borderline terrorism!
Church of Scotland’s “pastoral care” for “trans” people
At the 2016 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland (CofS), the following motion was proposed from the floor and approved:
Instruct the Council (Mission and Discipleship Council) working with the Church and Society Council and others, where appropriate, to promote congregational learning and awareness of the issues transgender and gender non-conforming people experience, in order to better facilitate pastoral care to and inclusion of transgender and gender non-conforming people at a local level.4
The fruit of that resolution is the distribution in February 2018 to all CofS congregations of a publication, “Diverse Gender Identities and Pastoral Care,” sponsored by Scottish Trans (the Scottish Trans Alliance). The booklet does not contain “any academic essays” or “debates on theological positions.” Instead, it allows “transgendered people” to speak, allowing them to indoctrinate the reader without any attempt to correct the claims with the truth of God’s Word. Iona’s story is representative:
When I went to [university] I met lots of new people, people who had more progressive or affirming understandings of the Bible. I started reading Queer Theology and Trans Theology, which opened up new ways to think about God. I grew up thinking about God as He—Father and Son—but I learnt that God encompasses the genders of all people. God is beyond our understanding of gender. I am trying to think about God in the broadest way I can. God is in everyone and in everything and God is love, so I can’t just think about God as narrowly as I was first taught. This journey has definitely enriched my faith; it hasn’t transformed my faith but it has enriched it.
Iona is allowed to spout her heresy and even blaspheme God—her position is closer to pantheistic paganism than Christianity. But who would dare question her experience? The booklet closes the section on Iona with these thought-provoking questions: “How has what Christian culture says about transgender people affected Iona’s journey?” “What are the possible advantages and risks of someone telling their family?” “Does learning about diverse interpretations of the Bible have a place in pastoral care?” There are no questions about the Bible, for what does the CofS care about the Bible?
Another individual, Jo, is also given a platform to twist the Scriptures:
When I read the two creation stories in Genesis, I see that ‘male and female created he them.’ I know that these people read that as ‘male, and separate to that, female’ but the Hebrew is much more ambiguous than that. Perhaps it is ‘male together with female.’ It might mean that the first being was androgyne. Indeed the work of Jung would suggest that we all have female and male energy in us. Trans people are part of God’s creation. It says in Isaiah that I named you in the womb. God’s word is full of texts that talk about the mercy and compassion of the creator…. We even have the passages in Matthew (19:12) where Jesus directly talks about eunuchs. That is me. He is talking about me. I am a eunuch. Look at the beautiful story of Phillip and the eunuch in Acts (). Even the passages in the Old Testament refer to specific cultural contexts that aren’t around anymore.
There is nothing ambiguous about the Hebrew—“and” means and. Jesus is crystal clear in, a passage Jo does not quote, although it is in the same chapter as the passage about eunuchs. A “trans person” is not a eunuch—a eunuch is a castrated male! In the context of , a eunuch is one who voluntarily abstains from marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven!
Another contributor to the publication is Kaden, who writes,
I am an 18-year-old demi-boy, which basically means I mostly identify as a boy, but that there is a bit of me that could be a third gender, but isn’t: it is feminine, I suppose, but not in a girly way. I don’t really know; it is just a thing. I’m definitely non-binary which is under the umbrella term of trans.
Kaden is afforded the opportunity to misinterpret and misapply the Scriptures:
I believe that God created us all, so that means He created me to be this way. It’s like what 1 Corinthians 10, verse 13 says—God won’t test you more than you can handle. He is not going to make a trans person and then condemn them to be a sinner. That’s not the act of a loving God. God loves all of us just as we are. It doesn’t matter how you present, so long as you’re happy. That’s what He wants; He wants us to be happy people.
Suffice to say thatdoes not teach that God “won’t test you more than you can handle” and, therefore, you should just try to be happy; rather, it teaches that God provides a way of escape from any trial (temptation), which way of escape is repentance from sin. In addition, God does not want us to be happy, but to be holy, part of which is self-denial and bearing the cross.
Another member of the CofS is Brian, who is secretly “Judith,” dressing up as a woman at home, but going to church (in a rural community) as Brian. He writes,
I have struggled over the years with my faith—what does God think about Judith and what does the Bible say about gender dysphoric people like me, but I have come to terms with it. I can’t find anything in the Bible that says that transgender people aren’t welcome. I think that our traditional translations of the Bible are from a time where views were limited. I am comfortable with God and feel personally that God is comfortable with Judith. If God didn’t want me to be doing it, then I wouldn’t be doing it. I don’t see God as saying ‘Don’t be like this.’ I see God saying get out there and help others do what you have done: to accept themselves and be confident.
Brian’s opinions about Judith are just that—opinions, with no basis in the Word of God. Transgender people are welcome if they repent, which is the case with all sinners. The only sin that excludes from the church is impenitence.
Andrew, who “transitioned” to his current gender in his 50’s, writes,
We live in a very binary world; even our theology is binary. But now I think I align myself more with Queer Theology. For example, in Queer Theology we would look at the story of Jesus and the woman at the well and we would note that she was an outcast, a Samaritan, and we would see that the parable is actually about Jesus reaching out to the outcast of that society. Transgender people are the outcasts of our modern society. That parable is about us.
Andrew fails to notice that the Samaritan woman was living in adultery, a sin that Jesus was not afraid to expose: “Thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband” (). Therefore, the Samaritan repented, something that Andrew, who wants the Bible updated to reflect his understanding of God, does not do.
It is a sign of the apostasy of the Church of Scotland, as if further proof were necessary, that such a booklet can be distributed with minimal controversy in a church founded by the great John Knox!