In my opinion, the BCO is not the main issue. The issue is not simply women in the pulpit, nor the sexual mutilation of children, nor even the legitimacy of homosexuality (in some form or another). The issue is transgenderism. The issue is men and women giving in to sinful impulses that cross the lines that God drew in creation when he created male and female and assigned them their roles in the world he created.
Transgenderism has just recently replaced racism as the great sin of the modern day. Yes, racism is still in the game, but it has been hijacked by the transgender movement. Like the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement of a few years back, transgenderism is becoming very aggressive to the point of violence. Transgenderism is the new wokism, and the church appears to be staying out of the debate, or in some cases following their lead.
In the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) we have seen a Christian school associated with one of our churches attacked by a brutal transgender murderer, leaving 3 children and 3 adults dead. Shortly after this event a national rally scheduled in Washington D.C. called the “Trans Day of Vengeance” was cancelled, but only because of bad publicity, not because there was any change in the attitude of the potential participants.
The definition of transgenderism is simple. It describes men acting like they are women and women acting like they are men. Whether it is simply a mind-game, a creeping gender role reversal, a change of clothes, a change of name (or personal pronouns), hormone treatment, or surgical mutilation of the body, it all goes back to the same sinful impulse in the hearts of both men and women to be something they were not created to be. God Almighty assigned our sex at birth, and our sex determines our gender roles in the church, and to some extent in society taken as a whole.
When women claim they have a right to the pulpit, whether in preaching, exhorting, or teaching, they are attempting to reverse the gender roles God has ordained in the church. It is a form of what I call creeping transgenderism. It is a subtle form, but it is one nonetheless. Paul said plainly in the context of church worship that “A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness, but I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man but to remain quiet” (1 Tim. 2:11-12).
Overture 15 seeks to change Book of Church Order (BCO) 53 by adding a new section number 7: “No woman shall preach, exhort, or teach at a public worship assembly, including assemblies or chapel services where men are present in any congregation, educational institution, or gathering overseen by the Church or one of its agencies.” This is good as far as it goes, but it needs to be amended to add the prohibition of the public reading of the Scriptures and the public leading in prayer by women in congregational worship services. Afterall, Paul said women are to remain quiet.
But regardless, the main issue here is not simply women in the pulpit, but we must realize that the root cause is incipient transgenderism, that is, women unhappy with their calling and with their role in the church, and the sinful impulse to take on the role of a man. Or maybe, even worse, it is about men who are transferring their headship to the woman by taking on the submissive role of the female.
The second Overture (#12) requests that the PCA petition the United States Government and the 50 State Governments to “Renounce the sin of all medical and surgical sex change procedures in minors by the American healthcare system because they result in irreversible harm.” Again, this is good as far as it goes. However, the Bible forbids any transgenderism, including in adults (see my article Deuteronomy and Transgenderism). Here again, we see the sinful impulse of males and females seeking to transform themselves or their children (or the children of others) into the opposite sex, and vice versa.
If we dive even deeper into the root causes which has necessitated both overtures (#12 and #15), it should be noticed that the need for these overtures arises out of the PCA’s ongoing struggle which is being addressed again this year (overtures #9, #16, #17, #23, #24). This issue is that homosexuals (which includes those who identify as homosexuals, but do not practice it) have no right to the pulpits in the PCA. Homosexuality again is just another form of transgenderism. It is nothing less than men seeking to play the woman in sexual relations. In the bedroom, you be the man and I will play the woman, or at least let me dream about it and go public about it without guilt.
The PCA seems unable to make definitive statements anymore. Maybe, we hesitate because we think it would be unloving toward others to tell them the truth. However, I believe it is better to preach the truth and call men and women to faith and repentance in Christ than make a half-way covenant with sin.
Every year, as we go to General Assembly meetings and to Presbytery meetings, we must recognize that we are engaged in more than simply ecclesiastical and mere academic exercises. When we ask the question about what does the Bible teach on these issues, we are not just voting on changes to the Book of Church Order before we safely go home. Actions have consequences. How we vote will impact our people and our nation. We are voting on issues that have resulted in the shedding of blood in our nation.
As we commissioners make our way to the 50th General Assembly of the PCA, let us make sure that we realize what we are doing. In my opinion, the BCO is not the main issue. The issue is not simply women in the pulpit, nor the sexual mutilation of children, nor even the legitimacy of homosexuality (in some form or another). The issue is transgenderism. The issue is men and women giving in to sinful impulses that cross the lines that God drew in creation when he created male and female and assigned them their roles in the world he created.
Larry E. Ball is a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is now a CPA. He lives in Kingsport, Tenn.