Adrian Thatcher—God, Sex, and Gender: An Introduction
This book is a great educational resource in which Adrian Thatcher provides readers with complex, comprehensive, and compelling arguments surrounding the theological implications of sex and gender as they have been understood and controverted throughout ancient times and the history of the church. I think the overall value of the topics discussed in the book for me relate to the way they inform the general populace of the critical need to understand the dilemma of sexual minorities and thereby, aid in advancing important dialogues with the church and wider community. As a former Baptist minister, and currently a professor in theology, and an Anglican (Episcopalian) practitioner, Thatcher holds to the veracity of the biblical text, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27). Nevertheless, he asks the question, “How many sexes are there?”  The question is asked in recognition of the fact that there are numerous individuals who are unable to identify with either category. As he phrases it, “There are bisexual, intersex, and transgender or transsexual persons who cannot easily say they identify with the binary (twofold) division of humanity into separate biological sexes.”  Thatcher characterizes them as follows:
Bisexual individuals respond to people of either sex with desire. He comments that, “Christian bisexual people should not find themselves marginalized in churches, or told that their desires are sinful, or fallen, or that they might struggle against themselves for the rest of their lives in order to be acceptable to God. They are acceptable to God already.” 
Intersex individuals are born with ambiguous genitalia. Intersex is, “A general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of male or female. Or a person may be born with genitals that seem to be in-between the usual male and female types.”  Such a person might be born appearing female on the outside, but possess primarily typical male anatomy on the inside of the body, or vice versa. Thatcher maintains that since distinctions of race, class, and sex have no relevancy in Christ, not only are intersex individuals not misfits in the Body of Christ, they are accepted and loved by God.
Transgender or transsexual people “are usually born with typical male or female anatomies but feel as though they’ve been born into the wrong body.”  Thatcher feels this sexual minority group probably suffers the most social ostracism in their personal lives. “They require a social environment where sexual binaries and norms are not felt oppressively. Any theological thought about transgender people . . . must also acknowledge that past theological efforts easily resulted in inflicting more pain upon them, in failing to honor real difference, in reinforcing gender norms and condemning behavior that threatened these.”  Gender reassignment surgery appears to be indicative of the unbearable predicament some transgender people find themselves in. For Thatcher, “Their membership in the Body of Christ ought to be a liberating, transforming experience. Here is a body that is truly androgynous with men and women each performing masculine and feminine roles, in a Body that represents the suprasexual God and the suprasexual Christ.” 
Thatcher has made me realize the intensity of the pain, frustration, and struggles that sexual minorities experience. He has also brought to light how callously insensitive and prejudicial I had been toward this segment of the population as a whole (not specific individuals), and had developed a dismissive attitude regarding their persistent strides for legitimacy as human beings of value. It is humbling to admit that I have lacked compassion and empathy for their dilemma and forgotten that they too are created in the image of God and are to be loved by me as my neighbor. It doesn’t matter whether their condition is the result of anatomical aberrations, neural-chemical imbalances, socio-cultural influences, damaged psyches, victimization, or anything else, my duty is to value them and love them as God does. To love God and neighbor has been a dominant theme throughout our cohort readings. If I do not love God, then I cannot love my neighbor as myself. If I do not love my neighbor as myself I cannot minister in God’s name. It seems that I should have come to this conclusion long ago as an African-American minority having a heritage of enslavement and experiencing institutional discrimination/segregation in which a devaluation of our humanity has caused us to suffer a lot of pain and agony.
After reading Thatcher, I have a better understanding of why some Christian churches and seminaries are embracing those sexual minorities who claim to be orthodox Christians and desire to worship, fellowship, and be discipled in Christian congregations, and learn in Christian educational institutions. But, I don’t see the point of seminaries allowing them to set up special clubs or organizations on campus. If inclusivity is what they want, then why are they showcasing their distinctiveness. Additionally, a caution to churches is that it must seriously evaluate if or under any conditions sexual minorities will be permitted to hold church leadership positions. Unlike Thatcher, I don’t believe that God necessarily wants all sexual minorities to remain as they are, especially if their condition is derived from some psychological or sociological event, and they are actually in some form of spiritual bondage. This means deliverance would have to be consummated prior to any leadership if allowed.
- Adrian Thatcher, God, Sex, and Gender: An Introduction (Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011) 6.
- Ibid., 3.
- Ibid., 252.
- Ibid., 12.
- Ibid., 254.