God and the Transgender Debate: Book Review
The transgender debate is threatening to rip apart our culture. And it is raising a deep divide within the church. How should Christians respond?
I recently picked up a copy of the new book by Andrew Walker entitled God and the Transgender Debate. It has significant endorsements—e.g., Robert George, Rod Dreher, and Albert Mohler—and so I had high expectations, and yet I still found it a valuable read.
Compassion and Truth
Walker approaches the transgender issue with both compassion and truth. For instance, he goes out of his way to remind readers that this is not ultimately about a debate, but about people who are made in the image of God and deserve honor and respect. He presses readers to ask this question:
“Have I actually made an effort to understand the perspective and pain of someone experiencing gender dysphoria?”
As Christians, we must ask ourselves this question so we can approach this issue with both tenderness and gentleness.
And yet Walker firmly believes that Christians must be willing to speak truth, not for the sake of winning an argument, but because truth is what ultimately sets people free. He writes:
If I affirm transgenderism, I am actually doing an unloving thing. I am withholding truth because I value my own reputation or my own friendships or my own comforts more than I value the eternal happiness of the person made in the image of God who stands in front of me (p. 99).
Tough Questions and Issues
One of my favorite parts of the book is when Walker describes how, sadly, some Christians have cut off their transgender kids. In response, he simply says: “This is wrong…There is no justification for abandoning your child—ever.” Amen. Stories of Christian parents turning their transgender kids away are both heartbreaking and contrary to biblical principles.
At the end of the book, Walker offers his thoughts on some of the most pressing questions. For instance, he addresses the common question: “What about people who are born intersex?” In other words, does the existence of people with ambiguity regarding their biological sex imply that gender is not binary, but a spectrum?
Walker provides a few helpful responses. First, intersex is a physical condition (ambiguity regarding biological sex) whereas transgender is a psychological condition (feeling that gender identity does not match biological sex). Thus, comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges.
Second, transgenderism assumes that sex is binary. Walker notes,
“Transgender identities are built on the assumption that biological sex is known and clear—and then rejected. Medical intervention for intersex people is aimed at enabling them to live out the sex and gender that they were both with, but which is physically unclear one way or another. Medical intervention for those identifying as transgender is aimed at the very opposite—at obscuring the sex they were born with.”
Much more could be said about the book. Walker regularly writes on issues of ethics and public policy, but in this book, he writes with a pastor’s heart. His love for both the church and people who wrestle with gender dysphoria is clear.
If you want to know how to relate to someone who is transgender, or you’re simply interested in thinking through how Christians ought to approach the issue, then I am confident you will find this book helpful.
Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, best-selling author, popular speaker, part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit Ministries, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.
 Andrew T. Walker, God and the Transgender Debate (Denmark: The Good Book Company, 2017), 97.