By Adriane Heins
The LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) on Sept. 5 released a paper, “Gender Identity Disorder or Gender Dysphoria in Christian Perspective,” which addresses the issue of gender or sexual identity — specifically in response to questions it has received about the matter of transsexual or transgender individuals.
In a letter to LCMS church workers introducing the paper, Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison explained that the purpose of the document is to “better equip both church workers and laypeople to understand and discuss this issue” and that it is his “prayer that you will read it, learn by heart what our Lord has to say on the matter and discuss it with your peers so that you may stand ready to care for those who come to you struggling with their own understanding of gender and sexuality.”
The document, in general, expounds on the Christian understanding of an “overall moral framework” that “seeks to follow natural law (the objective truth of our bodies) and the revealed truth of Holy Scriptures, even if the truth these sources convey conflicts with societal and professional opinions.”
The paper explains that this “biblical approach to sexual morality, therefore, is not simply grounded in specific Bible passages alone. It is grounded, first, in the truth of our nature as created beings (‘natural law’) as that is understood in Scripture.”
CTCR Executive Director Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer notes, “This report addresses the topic of gender dysphoria, as it is currently identified, from a Christian perspective and on the basis of a theological rationale that is consistent with the Synod’s longstanding position on related questions such as homosexuality in particular and human sexuality in general. It also offers guidance and counsel to pastors for dealing with increasingly frequent and typically very challenging and sensitive cases of pastoral care. We hope and pray that pastors — and all readers of the document — find it helpful.”
The paper comes at a significant time, Harrison believes, since “We have already witnessed men and women, church workers and students, in the LCMS who are confused about their gender and are in need of pastoral care, God’s Word spoken in love and, above all, Christ’s forgiveness. For, as the CTCR has rightly noted, ‘Nothing is more powerful in the life of every person — for all of us fallen people — than the forgiveness that is given through the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus.’”
Download the document here.
Adriane Heins is editor of The Lutheran Witness.
Posted Sept. 5, 2014