This summer Pullman Regional Hospital in eastern Washington State announced they might offer transgender surgeries and asked the public for feedback. They got hundreds of responses.
On the one side there was the editorial staff of The Daily Evergreen, a student paper at the nearby Washington State University. In a June 14 editorial they argued for the surgeries, but against the public consultation.
“The public is not qualified to make decisions on a ‘very complex procedure’….These decisions should be left to trained medical professionals and based on the availability of resources and the needs of the patient.”
Among those on the other side was Christ Church pastor Douglas Wilson. In an open letter also posted to his church website he explained the Christian position in a manner so clear it’s of benefit to both Christians and non-Christians alike.
These surgeries, he wrote, would be, “misguided, unethical, and wrong” and involve “complexities that we are manifestly not prepared for.”
1) Objective vs. subjective
First, the surgery involves the removal of “a perfectly healthy functional organ, doing so in an irreversible way.” It is “objective damage for the sake of a subjective desire.” What happens if the patient’s feelings change? Such subjective feelings do. But meanwhile the objective damage can’t be undone.
2) Genital mutilation only for some?
If parents can request this surgery for a son or daughter, how would the hospital respond, Wilson asks, if a couple from the Middle East brought their daughter in for a clitectomy? This is more commonly called “female circumcision” but it bears no resemblance to male circumcision; it isn’t simply a snip of skin that is cut, but a good portion of a woman’s external genitals that are removed. It is often done for the specific purpose of reducing or eliminating a woman’s pleasure during sex.
“If you refuse because it is ‘genital mutilation,’ how would you justify this refusal? ….Why is Pullman Regional endorsing the subjective reasoning of someone who is sexually confused while rejecting the subjective reasoning of a culture that is sexually repressed?”
3) Amputation only for some?
And what if someone were to ask for the amputation of an arm or leg? This is already happening – there is a group who called themselves “transabled” and though they are able-bodied, they “identify” as being amputees and want the assistance of doctors to cut off limbs, or perhaps become blind. Wilson asks:
“If you are willing to remove healthy organs or limbs for some patients but not others, what standard are you using to discount one subjective preference while endorsing another?”
And in a letter full of memorable illustrations there is one that stands out: “Would you be willing to supply the music department with castrati?” Wilson is referring to boys who, in centuries past, were castrated so as to prevent them going through puberty and to preserve their pre-pubescent voices.
“It is easy to retort with an indignant ‘of course not!’ But why not? ….It seems bizarre to us that there was a time when choral music had such a high value that they were willing to sacrifice sex organs for the sake of purity of voice….. And in just the same way, subsequent generations will stare at us in disbelief…. We want to cater to a profound emotional, psychological, and spiritual confusion.
A non-Christian might be able to offer up many of these same arguments, but they couldn’t do so while glorifying God. That’s a final lesson we can learn from Wilson’s letter. When God’s truth is denied – when a biblical doctrine the likes of “God made them male and female (Mark 10:6) is attacked – then let us sally forth to defend it as Christians. And Wilson does, making it clear that his insight on this issue comes straight from God’s Word.
You can read his letter (and it is well worth a read) here.