Book Review: ‘Transgender’ by Vaughan Roberts

CViE|28 Feb 2019

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This review was first published in the CViE Newsletter Summer 2017.

Transgenderism is the latest topic of discussion and is regularly making headlines and dominating social media.  As Christians, we find ourselves faced with different views and explanations regarding this topic which can be overwhelming.  This little book, written by Vaughan Roberts, Rector at St Ebbes Church in Oxford, covers some important issues and provides the reader with some ‘talking points’.

It starts with introducing the topic and provides us with a list of definitions – particularly helpful as many of the definitions used around the topic of transgenderism are new to the English language.  In the introduction two interesting concepts are covered – the stock response and ‘the iWorld’.  The stock response challenges us on how we think and how we often automatically respond to controversial topics.  It reminds us how we need to think before we speak and to be governed by the Bible.  The ‘iWorld’ is a novel but memorable definition of today’s culture whereby the world is perceived to revolve around the individual and any challenges to individualism are resented.

The bulk of the book is divided into three sections:  Creation, Fall and Rescue.  As the book states, it is important for us to start at creation to understand the topic of transgenderism.  We have all been created by God and our gender is determined by God.  As the psalmist states, we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’.  God has created our identity, however as the book acknowledges in the second section, because of the Fall and sin we try and find our own identity.  Leaving us to lead a life that is bent on proving our own identity, be it pleasure seeking or living as the opposite gender, drawing parallels to the Corinthian church.  However, it is because of the Fall that we all have disordered minds, bodies and hearts.  It is sin that causes us to turn from our Creator and His will for us – it is sin that causes perverse thinking and rebellion against the natural division of gender that He has created.  We cannot save ourselves from these sinful desires but instead we are to look to Jesus, who came to this earth to live as we should have done before the Fall.  All the time we live in this fallen world we will be subject to sin and temptation.  However, God can touch the lives of those who have identified as transgender and can renew their heart and mind, for God is omnipotent.

The last section is entitled ‘Wisdom’ – it gives words of advice regarding how to respond,  personally and at a church level, to those close to us and to the wider community.  It gives some advice on how to approach the subject sensitively and to avoid confrontation.  It reminds us that we are all fallen and that it is not for us to judge.

This little book is a good starting point on the topic of transgenderism and although there may be aspects that you may question, it does provide the reader with enough material to be able to hold an informed discussion on the subject and give a measured response.

Details: ‘Transgender’ by V. Roberts, The Good Book Company, 2016, ISBN 978-178498-195-2 (Bible quotations are NIV).  The book can be obtained from good bookshops and is stocked by the Christian Bookshop, Ossett.

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