Embodied: Transgender Identities, the Church, and What the Bible Has to Say

by Preston Sprinkle

Paperback, 2021

Status

Available

Call number

261.83576

SELECT gtw_rank, gtw_work, gtw_genre FROM genre_to_work WHERE gtw_work IN ( 26007556 )

Publication

David C Cook (2021), 288 pages

Description

Compassionate, biblical, and thought-provoking, Embodied is an accessible guide for Christians who want help navigating issues related to the transgender conversation. Preston Sprinkle draws on Scripture as well as real-life stories of individuals struggling with gender dysphoria to help readers understand the complexities and emotions of this highly relevant topic. With careful research and an engaging style, Embodied explores: What it means to be transgender, nonbinary, and gender-queer, and how these identities relate to being male or female Why most stereotypes about what it means to be a man and woman come from the culture and not the Bible What the Bible says about humans created in God's image as male and female, and how this relates to transgender experiences Moral questions surrounding medical interventions such as sex reassignment surgery Which pronouns to use and how to navigate the bathroom debate Why more and more teens are questioning their gender   Written for Christian leaders, pastors, and parents, Embodied fills the great need for Christians to speak into the confusing and emotionally charged questions surrounding the transgender conversation.  … (more)

Language

Original language

English

Physical description

288 p.; 8.25 inches

ISBN

0830781226 / 9780830781225

Media reviews

Personal Review
Preston Sprinkle’s book, Embodied, published in 2021, is an excellent work on transgender identitities, the role of the church, and what the Bible teaches on this subject. As a theologian, Sprinkle takes deep theological concepts and successfully applies them to the changing world of
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transgenderism. Embodied is Sprinkle’s attempt to help believers and the church think more deeply and love more widely through a topic that frequently is void of both. Sprinkle states that gender identity is one of the most emotional and confusing topics in the church today, and one of the most important to address with compassion and biblical truth. The primary audience of Embodied is non-trans* Christians, but the hope is that trans* Christians can also use the content to better understand the relationship between their faith and gender identity. Embodied is divided into 12 chapters with one interlude, a conclusion, and an appendix on Suicidality and Trans* People. Forty-two pages of extensive endnotes that contain detailed references per chapter complete the book. The book’s preface establishes a compassionate tone as Sprinkle introduces personal acquaintances and friends who have struggled with gender dysphoria and trans* identity. Although Sprinkle initially questions his qualifications to write such a book on transgenderism he notes that over time his collective experience with the topic and theological background make him worthy of the task. Admittedly, he calls his book a “fragile attempt” to address the importance of this growing and contentious topic acknowledging the likelihood that differing opinions would emerge. In the opening chapter entitled, “People,” Sprinkle introduces the readers to personal stories of people who have experienced gender dysphoria and often the negative reactions by others to their delicate situation. Sprinkle reminds the readers that these diverse people, like others, are also made in the image of God and are only malleable through love, relationship, and reminders that God loves them. Unfortunately, in our contemporary culture, two polarizing trends have emerged. The first is the culture warrior who is relentless in their pursuit to eradicate all things transgender, without concern for the people involved. The second is what Sprinkle describes as “the lover, not the thinker” or the individual who loves people and accepts all behaviors without discernment. Neither position embodies the kingdom or how true love is defined, as love and kindness is a hallmark of Christian discipleship. Chapters 2 and 3 of Embodied explains basic terms and definitions relative to the transgender conversation and “what it means to be transgender.” For example, Sprinkle emphasizes that the term, “transgender” is an umbrella term for the multitude of ways that people experience or express their gender identities differently from people who concur with their biological sex. Other terms such as non-binary, gender dysphoria, cisgender, intersex, gender identity, gender roles, and trans (stylizing it as trans*) are defined and discussed. As one begins to understand the various definitions and positions, Sprinkle encourages the reader to be cautious not to reject a concept simply because you don’t know what it’s like to experience it. In fact, Sprinkle repeats the idea in Embodied that “If you’ve met one transgender person, you’ve met … one trangender person.” Sprinkle encourages the reader to “smash exaggerated stereotypes” by befriending actual trans* people and understanding their plight. In chapters 4-6, Sprinkle answers difficult questions and inserts Biblical principles into the transgender conversation. For example, the question, “Does the Bible address when someone experiences incongruence between their biological sex and gender?” is posited. Sprinkle answers by concluding that the Bible has a very high view of our sexed embodiment and considers biological sex to be a significant part of human identity. Additional Biblical answers are discussed that lead to the conclusion that God is more interested in people’s hearts than their outward appearance. Ultimately, the question becomes, “Does God accept trans* people as they are?” Unfortunately, the church has not loved the trans* community well and Sprinkle suggests that acceptance is the first step of discipleship. Furthermore, he reminds the reader that accepting people doesn’t mean that believing such people have a flawless view of God, the world, humanity, or themselves. In chapter 7-9, Embodied shifts the focus of the text to biological issues which include intersex and biological sex to brain discrepancies. That is, one’s gender dysphoria suggests their biological sex is different from the sex of their brain. The question, “Do brains come in male and female types?” is asked. Sprinkle states that some have claimed that transgender persons have “the anatomy of one sex,” but “the emotional awareness of the opposite sex.” Despite various theories the bible and science offer evidence to suggest that our biological sex determines who we are. Nevertheless, Sprinkle reminds the reader that we can get the Bible right, but if we get love wrong then we are wrong. The final chapters of Embodied discusses additional contemporary dilemmas for individuals, families, churches, and societies regarding transgenderism. Sprinkle proposes various Christian responses to questions, but reminds the reader “the manner in which we speak about these things is just as important as what we say.” Other topics such as the use of personal pronouns, bathroom use among trans*, and sleeping spaces conclude the book. The appendix details the relationship between suicide and trans* people. At the end, Sprinkle claims that we are all a community of radical misfits and require grace and truth. We need a radically biblical community that affirms bodies, rejects stereotypes, pursues truth with humility and lavishes grace on everyone who fails. Embodied is full of experiential and biblical content about the rapidly emerging sexual issue of transgenderism. The book also feels very pastoral and relational and is full of practice advice for dealing with everyday encounters. My only criticism of Embodied is that it stops short of giving stronger advice to church leaders who are struggling with many of the issues raised in the book. For example, Sprinkle states that if our posture and tone don’t communicate love, the content of our ideas will be powerless. This advice is admirable, but, at some point those ideas must become painful truths and must be communicated. What does that look like? Perhaps a second edition of Embodied would include more pastoral advice for how a trans* could become an active member of a local church. Overall Sprinkle’s content in his book, Embodied, is well presented and thus, highly recommended and worthy of a five star rating.
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