(pri)DEMON(th): The WELS statement on transgenderism

The WELS Conference of Presidents published a Statement on Human Sexuality, Personhood, Identity, and the Historic Christian Faith in October of 2019. It's quite good; I encourage you to read the whole thing and I'll make a few observations here.

First, this statement is not held to the same standards as a doctrinal statement, so while it is considered pure doctrine and provides guidance for pastors and laity it is not "enforceable" per see. 

Second, the document references similar statements by the ELS and the LCMS. The ELS document is a single paragraph with fourteen Scripture references. It is incredibly concise but provides no specific guidance. The LCMS document spends its first third discussing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defining terms and getting a secular perspective and noting the changes from release IV to 5, where the views on transgenderism started to liberalize. The next third bring Scripture to bear, noting that Jesus grounds sexual morality not only in doctrine but in natural law. The end of the document provides pastoral guidance, noting the proper application of law and gospel depends on whether the sinner recognizes his sin and believes in the Gospel. 

The WELS document is broken into three parts coinciding with the three articles of the Creed: first God the Father (creation), then God the Son (redemption) and finally God the Holy Spirit (sanctification), with some concluding statements to follow. The first article truths dominate the document which makes sense - we are dealing with rebellion against God's created order. Particularly punchy are point 14 which points to the modern Gnosticism of the "authentic Self" being something other than the body God created, and point 15, repeated in full:

"We cannot accept that changing one’s birth sex through hormone therapies or surgeries is right or even possible. While we reject the false ideology of transgender theory as contrary to natural law and Scripture, we retain every sympathy for individuals whose sinful natures are adversely influenced by the powerful voices of their peers and their culture. We pledge to express our love to them in every way possible that remains consistent with our biblical confession."

The final line is a rebuke to the likes of Pastor Novotny in claiming pronouns are adiaphora.

The second article primarily deals with grace, and utilizes the fact that Jesus is both God and man without sin to make the point that anyone claiming "God made me this way" is making God a liar.

The third article then rightly states that one cannot be a Christian and simultaneously under a ruling sin:

"We cannot accept that a Christian with the gift of the Holy Spirit can at the same time purposefully live under the mastery of sin."

In the conclusion, regarding gender dysphoria:

"We recognize the pain of those who experience such gender dysphoria, but we do not believe that affirming this condition is the correct path theologically, morally, or psychologically."

Then there is a statement regarding Lutheran schools, and to me it's the only disappointment in the document:

"We cannot act as if sexual sins are the worst of all possible sins, nor imagine that people do not struggle with these and many other harmful desires." 

While there is a sense where I understand what they are getting at - a Lutheran school that admits members of the community will have a variety of students with a variety of ruling sins - the Bible is clear that sexual sins, and particularly homosexual sins, just hit differently. In Romans 1 Paul is describing sexual deviancy and uses the terminology "God handing over" thrice. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed in a way that, to this day, the land remains barren and salted over. The diseases and complications associated with the homosexual lifestyle go above and beyond any other form of licentiousness. This should make sense in that violating the one-flesh union is really a direct satanic attack on the image of Christ and His bride the Church.

The second statement:

"Lutheran schools will make policies consistent with this confession. However, it must also be recognized that Lutheran schools participate in both kingdoms and need to have policies that safeguard the external integrity of the community, as well as curbs that can serve to forestall certain behaviors becoming more widespread"

The WELS of course holds that a Lutheran school is a form of Church and that teachers have a divine call, no different than the Pastor other than having a limited scope. This statement would argue against that position: the teachers have a tool outside the toolset of law and gospel, therefore they are something other than a minister with a limited use of the keys. I would agree with that conclusion, although that's not what they are saying. What they are saying is that our schools are not for our children but have become "missional" and that is an entirely different problem I will address after we've finished slogging our way through the demonic month of June.