Southern Baptists Vote: Are Trans People Part of God's Design?

The Southern Baptist Convention has adopted a resolution urging lawmakers to oppose legal protections for trans individuals and reinforcing biblical concepts of womanly subservience.

BY Parker Marie Molloy

June 12 2014 8:50 AM ET

The Southern Baptist Convention Tuesday adopted a resolution denouncing transgender individuals. At the denomination's annual meeting in Baltimore, representatives of the 16 million-member religious sect overwhelmingly approved language expressing opposition to the existence of trans people.

“[We] affirm God’s good design that gender identity should be determined by biological sex and not by one’s self-perception — a perception which is often influenced by fallen human nature in ways contrary to God’s design,” a portion of the resolution reads.

The resolution also fails to take into account the existence of intersex individuals — that is, people born with atypical chromosomal configurations or ambiguous genitalia. Instead, the statement pushes a scientifically bankrupt idea that one’s sex and one’s gender can be easily categorized as either male or female.

“[We] affirm God’s original design to create two distinct and complementary sexes, male and female,” the resolution continues. “We affirm that male and female designate the fundamental distinction that God has embedded in the very biology of the human race.”

The convention’s adopted language also urges all people, whether they be transgender or cisgender, to embrace gender “roles as ordained by God as part of the created order.” Citing First Corinthians 11:7-9, the resolution offers a biblical justification for the rigid enforcement of stereotypical gender roles: “For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.”

Additionally, the resolution reaffirms a belief in the literal interpretation of Ephesians 5:22-33, which famously tells women to “submit yourself to your own husbands” and “as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”

The document goes on to urge church members to "pray for and support legislative and legal efforts to oppose the Employment Non-Discrimination Act,” asking legislators and judges to “resist and oppose the efforts to treat gender identity as a protected class” and calling on embers to “oppose all efforts by the media and entertainment outlets and public schools to mainstream transgender identity in the eyes of our children,” and to further instill biblical-era gender roles of womanly subservience to men.

GLAAD condemned the resolution. Southern Baptists “want to both welcome people in and yet do not want to recognize them as a full person and probably even more fully as a child of God,” said Ross Murray, who directs the group’s religion efforts. “The Southern Baptist Convention is so much missing out on the opportunity to connect with another part of God’s creation.”

The Southern Baptist Convention’s views may be extreme, but they are shared by a number of individuals in positions of considerable power. U.S. senators Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Tom Coburn, and Mark Pryor are all practicing members of the denomination. 2008 GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle — who once urged citizens to consider “Second Amendment remedies” in the event of unfavorable electoral outcomes, and former Arkansas governor and Fox News personality Mike Huckabee are also members of the church, along with a number of current members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Some prominent members of the church — including Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore — have exited as it has become increasingly socially conservative in recent decades. As its current member rolls indicate, however, the Southern Baptist Convention continues to be a powerful political force in America.

Writing at Patheos, John Shore called the resolution a “childish mess” and proposed his own counter-resolution:

WHEREAS, the Southern Baptist Convention continues to speak and act in ways that are profoundly contrary to the spirit and Gospel of Jesus Christ; and

WHEREAS, the Southern Baptist Convention continues to foster great pain and suffering in this world by codifying its condemnation of entire populations of human beings; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptist Convention is sad beyond expression and a tragically perverted version of Christianity that the march of time cannot soon enough trample into the dust.

Additional reporting by Michael O'Loughlin.

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