Statement on Andy Draycott's ETS Presentation
Biola University Talbot School of Theology professor Dr. Andy Draycott gave a presentation at the 2018 Evangelical Theological Society conference. His presentation was exploratory in nature on the topic of transgender identity from an academic perspective, which created some uncertainty regarding his position on the topic. The presentation was based on the theological assumptions outlined below. Dr. Draycott has written a statement apologizing for his lack of clarity and setting forth his convictions about the issue of transgender identity. In summary, Dr. Draycott unequivocally affirms that God has created humans as male and female and that gender dysphoria and transgender identification is a manifestation of human fallenness. Biola and Talbot’s faculty remain faithful to Scripture and also deeply love and tenderly care for all in our communities and churches, including those who experience gender dysphoria.
Draycott’s Statement on Responses to 2018 ETS Presentation
In the light of reports on my presentation at ETS in Denver, I wish to publicly apologize for the lack of clarity with which I expressed my thinking. It was irresponsible and a failure of duty to my audience this year, when discussing a contentious issue, not to clearly state my assumptions at the beginning of my presentation and not to be more clear in the development of my presentation. Many of those assumptions were explored in a paper at ETS in Providence in 2017, which I only obliquely alluded to, compounding my lack of clarity. The following are some of my key assumptions:
- I assume, but was not clear in explicitly affirming, the plain Scriptural teaching on the goodness of created humans as male or female.
- I assume, but did not make clear, that the experience of gender dysphoria or transgender identification are a manifestation of human fallenness. Transgender identity is not a good. It was not my intention to, and I do not, advocate for transgenderism or transgender identity.
- By speaking of Christians, I assume a life of discipleship in submission to Scripture whereby fallenness and sin is respectively acknowledged and repented of within the community of the church, with hope of bodily resurrection in Christ on the last day.
- The burden of the paper was on what it must mean for the church to bear with the transgender identifying or gender dysphoric person who turns to or belongs to Christ. This is a pastoral issue that deserves careful reflection.
- Further background elaboration is required to account for my presentations at ETS. The speculative question I posited was as follows: could there be a theologically responsible hope that gender dysphoria be resolved at the resurrection in favor of the dissonant gender identity claim rather than the sexed body? Key considerations follow. Christians know the goodness of their own body primarily in relation to the goodness of Jesus’ resurrection body as the hope for our own redemption as creatures. Creation doctrine, taught in Scripture and affirmed in resurrection, establishes humans as sexually dimorphic, that is, man and woman. I recognize the reality that gender identity as subjectively experienced can only be objectively discerned and verified according to bodily sex. Fallenness gives rise to experienced dissonances, divergences, and disabilities. Intersex bodily development would be one such instance, as too would be gender dysphoria. The eschatological resolution of these phenomena would present the only way that a transgender identity might hope to be valid. This speculation informed the exploration in my presentation, but was not made explicit to my hearers, for which I apologize. By its nature this eschatological speculation is unverifiable. Recent conversations in response to these speculations show me that this train of thought was wrong. The entertaining of this speculation is at the root of every error that I subsequently committed. Where this speculative question fails, subsequent argument and analogy fail in tow.
I continue to affirm each and every Article of Faith and Theological Distinctive that I have affirmed annually at Biola since my hiring nearly ten years ago. Throughout my project I have leant on:
- The gender complementarity of human persons, created in the image of God, male and female.
- A thorough-going account of the fall and human sin, such that fallenness could affect the very integrity of gender/sex harmony in the human person
- The goodness of the human body, as demonstrated in creation and supremely in the Son’s incarnation and Jesus’ physical resurrection, promising those who are found in him on the last day their own resurrection bodies, which I affirm to be gendered/sexed bodies.
I invited critical feedback at ETS and I am grateful to many conversation partners, including Colin Smothers, for critiquing my presentation as that is the purpose of academic conferencing. I am very grateful for colleagues at Talbot/Biola, and an ETS context, where truth in prayerful submission to God and Scripture is continually sought. I regret that Biola and Talbot’s biblical integrity has been questioned because of my missteps.