On Wednesday, bishops the Church of England released official guidance for churches to celebrate transgender identity with pseudo-baptismal services. “The Church of England welcomes and encourages the unconditional affirmation of trans people, equally with all people, within the body of Christ,” the guidance declares. If a transgender person wishes to join the church, he or she should be baptized, and if already baptized, then the bishops recommend the rite of Affirmation of Baptismal Faith.

In such services, the guidance stresses that the transgender person be referred to by his or her chosen name and chosen pronouns. The bishops defended this by noting that “the giving or adoption of a new name has a long history in Judeo-Christian tradition as may be evidenced from Scripture,” and listed Old Testament readings involving new names (“Sarai” to “Sarah” in Genesis 17, “Jacob” to “Israel” in Genesis 32).

“By its unqualified affirmation of gender transition, and by its encouragement to celebrate transition in the context of baptismal reaffirmation, it flies in the face of the gospel of creation, fall and redeemed identity in Christ,” the pastor declared. “In short, the Guidance is unbiblical, theologically inept and pastorally damaging.”

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