I have good friends that attend a church where a transgender is part of their pastoral staff. Does that go against biblical qualifications for a pastor?
Side note – I was just listening to the Just Thinking podcast as I was driving home from work tonight, and it was an interview that Sam Allberry recently gave. It was a brilliant take on the topic of sexual identity! @James_Fagaragan, if you have a podcaster, I would highly recommend you download the Just Thinking podcasts from November 6th through 8th, titled “Trending Questions: Identity”. I think it will address your question thoroughly and compassionately.
Hello, @James_Fagaragan! This is a very interesting question, and a very complicated one, which depends on how one understands various concepts.
My first instinct is to ask what the ‘biblical qualifications’ are for a pastor. There are varying views on whether or not there is a gender/biological sex requirement for teaching, church leadership or ordination. For churches that see the Bible as restricting certain leadership positions (like teacher) to males, it will probably be a more straightforward no. For the churches who open leadership positions to male and female, depending on their biblical/theological rationale, there could be a bit more gray area. I’d be curious to know the theological rationale (if any) behind the policies of your friend’s church – what qualifies (or disqualifies) one for pastoral service/leadership, etc.
But what I am more curious to know is how this pastor understands their identity as transgender. What does it mean for them to be TG? What has their experience been? How do they relate to God? How do they read the Bible?
I would caution against being too quick to moralise the situation and potentially cut off someone with perhaps a rich faith.
@melaniejoyhart, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us! I’m curious about your link between transgender and spiritual authority. In what way do those in leadership hold spiritual authority? How do you understand that? And what does identifying as TG say to you about the person who identifies as such? What does it mean to you that they are TG?
I’m curious to hear your thoughts!
Also, for the record, here are the links to the podcast @nashdude mentioned!
I have just finished “War of loves”, by David Bennett. Very good reading and challenging for all. I would recommend it as well as Sam Allberry’s material.
In my case, I have learned whatever I would like to say about this matter, I should be very careful to honestly open my ears to the Lord and the people I’m talking with before expressing myself.
I hope this helps a bit.
I would say it does, but I don’t know the exact situation so I can’t say 100% whats going on. You said they are part of pastoral staff so not sure if they are in leadership or just assisting the pastor. In 1 Timothy 3, we see what the Bible says about overseers aka Pastors.
Qualifications for Overseers and Deacons
1 This saying is trustworthy: “If someone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a good work.” 2 The overseer then must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, 3 not a drunkard, not violent, but gentle, not contentious, free from the love of money. 4 He must manage his own household well and keep his children in control without losing his dignity. 5 But if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for the church of God? 6 He must not be a recent convert or he may become arrogant and fall into the punishment that the devil will exact. 7 And he must be well thought of by those outside the faith, so that he may not fall into disgrace and be caught by the devil’s trap.
This passage does bring in the question of marriage. If you are a transgender man and marry a woman how does God see that marriage? These are things that become even more important to think about when in leadership. Will this cause confusion? Is it biblical? Is this a way to get around homosexuality?
We have plenty of people in church that have issues such as liars, adulterers, fornicators, gossipers, and so on. You can be a transgender in the church but to be in leadership is something different I think. There is more required of you and you are held to a higher standard than others. This means you have to be honest with yourself more than anything. And allow God to heal your emotions and your thinking. This can take a long time.
As someone who has struggled with gender identity, I can truly say you feel God made the wrong decision in your gender or that you were dealt with a bad hand in life. But it takes even more strength to ask the question of why you came to that conclusion and what has happened in your life that could have brought you to that type of thinking. Through counseling, I’ve seen how different situations can come about to make you think you were born in the wrong skin/gender.
Only God helped me see I have a purpose and in my gender, there were no mistakes. It’s not a birth defect but a mental and emotional health issue. It doesn’t mean you can’t be healed though, but you have to let God in and be willing to deal with the hurt you went through or are still going through.
Overall I would leave all these decisions between that person and current leadership. Only they know for sure if what they are doing is right or wrong in the sight of God. Pray for your friends to be led by God and stay in continuous prayer for the one who is transgender.