Subscribe now

Talking Points: Transgender

By Vaughan Roberts
April 2017 | Review by Simon Arscott
  • Publisher: Good Book Company
  • ISBN: 978-1-78498-195-2
  • Pages: 80
  • Price: 2.99
Buy this book »

Vaughan Roberts’ latest book is a good introduction to a topic that has hit our culture like a juggernaut. At just 64-pages, it is a quick read.

Chapter 1 defines terms. What does ‘transgender’ actually mean? Is it sexual? Chapter 2 looks at why our culture has moved so quickly from a ‘yuk!’ reaction to a ‘yes!’ reaction to transgender. Roberts argues that it’s the consequence of the ‘story’ the West has told itself — that we’re only truly free when we get to define ourselves.

Chapters 3-5 show how the Christian ‘story’ says something very different, using the basic structure of creation, Fall and rescue. Creation means we don’t get to make up our identity, but receive it from God, our bodies being one part of his creation. The Fall means our bodies, minds and hearts are disordered, so we experience things (including transgender feelings) that are wrong. The rescue of Jesus Christ means a hero has come to give us a secure identity now, and later, at his return, a fully restored body, mind and heart.

As we await the end, the Holy Spirit helps us to live obedient lives, which means embracing the sex of our bodies whatever we may feel about them. Chapter 6 concludes the book by answering some practical questions concerning friends, parents and churches. For example, if someone has ‘transitioned’, the author counsels using the name by which the person wants to be called.

Like all of Roberts’ books, it is clear and readable. He writes about the subject pastorally. He’s keen to remind us that this isn’t just about ideas and words, but about real people who need to be loved. Although brief, he engages with the issue more deeply than simply quoting Deuteronomy 22:5, which prohibits cross-dressing.

I have one area of pushback. At one point, Roberts says ‘we shouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed about [same-sex attraction]’ (p.51). He compares transgender feelings to a physical disability (p.60), which we must learn to respond to in a godly way.

I think this is unhelpful. Even if I haven’t chosen a sinful desire, my experience of it is still sinful in a way that having a broken leg is not. The precise cause of our sinful desires may be unknown and unchosen, but that doesn’t take away their sinfulness.

I know that this way of talking is designed to help Christians be honest about what they’re feeling — pastorally, that is wise — but it will not serve us well in the long run if we re-label our sinful desires as neutral circumstances. I’m not just a ‘victim’ of the Fall; I’m culpable.

Despite that caveat, this book is still a helpful entry-point for Christians wanting to get a handle on the subject.

Simon Arscott


Book Reviews

Read our latest book reviews

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Grace Defined and Defended: What a 400-Year-Old Confession Teaches Us about Sin, Salvation, and the Sovereignty of God
Kevin DeYoung

This year sees the anniversary of the Synod of Dort which concluded its deliberations in May 1619. Much has been written about this, mainly from a Reformed perspective which rightly views its findings as worthy of being set alongside other…

See all book reviews
Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Between Life and Death: A Gospel-Centered Guide to End-of-Life Medical Care
Kathryn Butler

Dr Kathryn Butler is a Christ-centred trauma and critical care surgeon with years of experience caring for patients in the intensive care unit. She has observed relatives struggle to reconcile what is happening with their faith, asking questions such as…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? Larry Norman and the perils of Christian rock
Gregory Thornbury

What are we to make of Larry Norman, the controversial pioneer of Christian pop music in the late 1960s and ‘70s? Gregory Alan Thornbury (son of occasional ET contributor John) tells the fascinating story with riveting style and careful accuracy.…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
That Hideous Strength: How the West Was Lost
Melvin Tinker

A book offering to tell us ‘how the West was lost’ has set itself a very ambitious target. Perhaps it needs a few more pages to quite hit that target. But it succeeds admirably in drawing our attention to a…