Same-sex attracted Christians are now caught between two competing orthodoxies

By Revd Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal

Like many people, I find writing painful. It forces us to organise our thoughts. We think in words, ultimately. Many of us delude ourselves. We imagine we are articulate and clear thinkers.

For me, writing is like waking up with the fogginess of a hangover.

Yet some events compel us to wake up, think and write.

For me, the irruption of Queer Theory and gender ideology everywhere, all at once, engulfing every institution from the state to the church to the charities that were supposed to keep gay and lesbian people safe, was one such event. As soon as I dared raise a few questions about this, as many others (mainly women) also did, I quickly realised that we faced a deeply authoritarian, often violent crusade.

Gender ideology is a system that not only requires faith from its believers, but mute obedience from everyone else. It seeks not only to silence dissent politically, but a big part of its activism is also centred around queer theory and therefore around redefining words and meanings to change perceived heteronormative power structures. It robs those who oppose it from their vocabulary: woman, man, sex, gay, lesbian. Queer is not a sexuality, it’s an activist identity, a badge of sophistry. If a woman is anyone that identifies as such, then of course lesbians can come with penises, homegrown or otherwise surgically attached, although some of the latter are also to be considered gay men if they claim to be so. Only bigots would dare think otherwise. And if they disagree publicly, such bigots are no better than fascists and should be silenced accordingly.

Trans activists took offence at some of my social media activity a few years ago and mass reported me to both Anglican Archbishops, the Bishops of London, Southwark, my own Archdeacon, Churchwardens and PCC, accusing me of the most lurid misconduct, from making trans identified people feel unsafe to wishing for their extermination. They also accused me of taking “a suspicious interest in the genitalia of trans kids” – the sick spin they put on my being opposed to paediatric transition. I received death threats displaying such an intimate knowledge of my personal life and location that I had no choice but to report them to the police. The thing is, when Christian organisations such as Inclusive Church received complaints too, they behaved in much the same way. They too wrote to my Wardens, PCC and Archdeacon demanding an immediate retraction and public apology, without even the courtesy of asking for an explanation or response.

They just forwarded the Tweets and articles that someone, somewhere, deemed transphobic and demanded they be withdrawn. They didn’t even provide any reason why they were deemed offensive. Just as you can lose your place in Stonewall’s ‘Diversity Champions’ scheme for failing to implement new diktats (over which member companies and institutions have no say), Inclusive Church will strike you off their charts if you do not endorse their new-found embracing of ‘gender identity’ (among many other campaigning fronts that were introduced by them without any consultation from its member parishes).

“There’s hardly a lesbian or gay kid in sight! This is a new closet!”

Gender ideology moved from the fringes of American academia to social media, then – predictably – into schools. I have ministered in parishes working with schools for the whole of my ordained life. As an openly gay priest, I have talked to many gay and lesbian pupils through the years, but I am no longer able to do so. This is not because schools have suddenly become more conservative and hostile – they have never been more liberal – but because same-sex attracted students now seek shelter in new-fangled ‘identities’ oblivious to gender theory’s inherent homophobia. There’s hardly a lesbian or gay kid in sight! Many trans and non-binary teens, demiboys and demigirls, or genderqueer or genderfluid folks, are reluctant to acknowledge their own sex, never mind their sexual orientation. I have seen gender non-conforming boys and girls being socially transitioned in primary school. This is a new closet! It is worse than the old closet because gender ideology has no coherence, and therefore proves far more damaging than conventional bullying. ‘Gender is fluid,’ we’re told, so men in dresses get to keep their genitalia intact, but we are also to believe that even young kids can be sure of their innate, immutable gender identity and therefore put on a path to barbaric ‘gender affirming’ hormonal and surgical treatments as soon as they hit sixteen, or socially transitioned from toddlerhood if Stonewall’s ‘studies’ are to be given any credence.

We’re told that such a gender identity or innate self-perception of one’s own gender can override a person’s sex, and that some boys are, in a very real sense, girls; some girls, boys; while some people are neither, and that questioning this doctrine is close to blasphemy and should see you defrocked. Indeed, activists will complain of ‘conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy’ – a serious charge – if you speak against this. We’re expected to believe that there were generations of this new class of transgender child, and they were – miraculously – able to survive before the invention of synthetic hormones and on-tap surgery, but now may be driven to suicide if not allowed to become their ‘true selves’. Yes, we are told they will likely kill themselves if this kind of ‘affirmation’ is delayed, whereas the truth is that the overwhelming majority of teenagers who experience dysphoria grow out of it if allowed to experience puberty. There is no ‘wrong puberty’, and the modern treatments for simple old-fashioned gender non-conformity are highly experimental and have no real proven clinical efficacy. There is no other field of medicine where such invasive interventions are offered to teenagers with such a poor evidence base. Most shocking of all is that people are not only falling for this scam, they’re fighting for it because they see it as the next frontier in human rights. Most LGBTQIA+ Christian organisations have adopted a form of progressive orthodoxy one cannot deviate from. Same-sex attracted Christians are now caught between two competing orthodoxies, one that sees them as sinners, the other as bigots. This is why an alternative is needed so we can support each other as gay, lesbian and bisexual Christians.

The names and the trials of the women who stood up against this ideology in secular society are now the stuff of legend. The clear opposition of the Roman Catholic church to gender ideology is also well known. The Church of England, in contrast, has been captured by stealth. For all its protestations, its Board of Education blithely takes the existence of trans children for granted. ‘Valuing All God’s Children’ is allegedly an anti-bullying document (and of course gender non-conforming children should not be bullied) but a quick look at its lexicon and recommendations will make you wonder if you’re not reading something drafted directly by Stonewall. After decades of painful campaigning and dialogue, the Church of England still refuses to bless same-sex couples, unless of course one of the would-be spouses – through a mystical change of substance – identifies as a member of the opposite sex.

There is another reason I keep riding this issue. Gender ideology isn’t merely destroying faith in educational and church elites when it comes to sexuality’ it is destroying faith tout court and endangering gay and lesbian youth. If you grow up with discomfort about your sexual orientation it is all too easy to conclude that you may have a gender identity at odds with your own body and believe that it needs medical and surgical correction. After all, if your school, your church, your peers take the existence of such a reality for granted, why doubt it? Again, trans identifying students should never be bullied, but constraining all of their peers to share in their pretence and feign a disbelief what their eyes can see and ears can hear, is also a form of bullying and a failure of safeguarding. It destroys social cohesion, as even adult workplaces and acquaintances parrot this orthodoxy as required. It turns schools into miniature surveillance states where pupils and teachers are increasingly looking over their shoulder for fear of being reported. And it encourages the spread of the trans social contagion like nothing else I know.

“Referrals to Gender Identity ‘Development’ Services have risen to several thousand a year. The overwhelming majority of these are gay and lesbian teens”

Some will be tempted to dismiss this as alarmism. There has, after all, been a recent and encouraging outbreak of common sense among our leaders. Sex offenders will no longer be able to change their gender or names at will; trans ‘women’ have been barred from female hospital wards and prisons, NHS literature is being scrutinised and even the Prime Minister dared declare that we should not be bullied into confessing that anyone can be any sex they want to be; yet minors still seek to transition in their thousands. Referrals to Gender Identity ‘Development’ Services – what a chilling moniker – have risen from a handful a year barely a decade ago, to several thousand a year. And it shows no sign of abating. The overwhelming majority of these are gay and lesbian (and/or autistic) teens who now believe themselves to be transgender. The church should protect feminine boys and masculine girls, not collude in teaching them that they are essentially at odds with their bodies. Christianity is about the reality of incarnation, the body, or it is nothing at all.

Revd Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal is the Vicar, St Luke’s Church, Battersea, LONDON, UK, in the Church of England (Anglican) diocese of Southwark.

© 2023, LGB Christians/Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal