Personal Writing and Research


Susan Gilchrist



Research into  Personality and Identity and the Attitudes to Gender and Sexually Variant Identities and Behaviour in the Christian Church


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This research involves two separate investigations. The first is a scientific and neurophysiologically based study into the development of personality and identity. A second independently conducted historical, scientific, social and theological investigation has also been carried out with the aim of discovering the reason for the contradiction between science and theology which is found to exist. Because of the adaptations that were needed to survive, and later to preserve its institutions, it is shown that the Christian Church developed a traditional doctrine which medically misdiagnoses gender and sexually variant conditions. By treating these conditions as being derived from the search for reward rather than identity, the wrong methods of management have also been applied. Considerable harm has been done since the management techniques that are needed are almost opposite to each other. Applying the incorrect techniques creates, instead of relieves, any trauma and distress. In place of combatting the scapegoating of gender and sexually variant people in secular society, these changes have led many sections of the Church to collude with it. That still has considerable force in societies where gender differentiation is legally or socially enforced. Today the differing approaches taken in different societies are creating schisms in the Church. A return to a doctrine is needed which removes the contradiction that the traditional one has imposed. Unless that happens the current attempts to welcome transgender and gender and sexually variant people by: “Interpreting the existing law and guidance to permit maximum freedom within it, without changes to the law, or the doctrine of the Church” will not succeed. When the teaching of Jesus is examined in this investigation it is found that the contradiction no longer exists.  This means that the changes to the doctrine which this investigation demands do not depart from the Gospel message, they return to the teaching of Jesus himself.




I take the neuroscientific approach pioneered by Dawkins, Blackmore, Gallese and others…. I include Girard in this category, and I compare the results of the neuroscientific work with the traditional psychodynamic and social learning theories pioneered by Freud, Piaget and others. I also use the increasing neurophysiological understanding of how the brain develops during the first years of life. I then use the research on transgender children to examine how the transition between the contagious and internally created driving forces identified in the neurophysiological studies, which dominate early development and are present from birth, come to be checked and moderated by the restraining forces of cognitive development that only later come into effect. This transition can only occur after the brain has developed a sufficient degree of neural co-ordination for the necessary judgements to be made. It is shown that a rapid advance in neural co-ordination takes place around a median age of two years; when the core concepts of personality and identity coalesce from initially fragmented thought. These concepts only affirm identity and interactions with society: they do not define what they mean. By the age of three years at the latest these core concepts are unchangeably fixed. Mentally associating identity with behaviour only starts to come fully into place around the age of three years, but before the age of four years children do not develop a sufficient theory of mind to make judgements on any inconsistencies that have occurred. This staged process gives rise to different characteristics and conflicts. In identity driven conflicts the characteristics which drive it are determined BEFORE the cognitive analysis can take effect. In a reward driven conflict the sense of identity comes AFTER the cognitive experiences have already occurred. The existence of the early neurophysiological driving forces is denied in Christian doctrine on gender and sexual variation, which presumes that these are reward driven activities, and that gender identity must always be in accord with biological sex. The influence of the same forces is also dismissed by the traditional psychodynamic and social learning theories, because they presume that cognitive processes control all aspects of learning and development at all times of life. The management methods are almost opposite to each other and Christian doctrine medically misdiagnoses these conditions. The results of this research confirm the worldwide scientific consensus which is currently adopted by the great majority of professional medical and psychological institutions who regard both gender and sexually variant identities and behaviour as naturally expected variations of the human condition which are intrinsic to the personality created, that arise very early in development and cannot be changed either by the individual concerned or by the predations of others in subsequent life. However this is new research. I would normally have published it first in peer reviewed academic journals. Instead of this I have used social media because of its immediacy and the harm the current Christian misdiagnoses create. When Freud made the distinction between inversion and perversion he came close to predicting the results of this analysis. However he could only attribute inversion to arrested development. Had the results of modern science been available to him, one wonders what conclusion he would have reached.  


Background and Scope


It is shown that previous attempts to develop a scientific understanding of the early development of personality and self-identity and the efforts to reconcile it with the theology of the Christian Church fail, or give inadequate answers, because the presumption is made that, in some measure, a cognitive continuum guides the processes of learning and development at all times of life. An extended neurophysiological and psychological analysis has been conducted. By challenging and refuting that assumption this investigation offers a radical new approach.


There are two elements to this study. The first is a neurophysiological and psychological investigation into the development of personality and self-identity in early life. The second uses the results of the neurophysiological and psychological analysis to conduct a critique of the teaching of the Christian Church. From the neurophysiological and psychological study it is shown that a moral duality must exist, whereby gender and sexually variant people who express their true attractions and identities in ways that conform to the highest moral standards of their own societies are to be highly regarded, while those who misuse these relationships should be severely condemned for their acts. This conclusion denies the validity of the traditional teaching of the Christian Church which condemns homosexuality, and by implication all gender and sexually variant behaviour, as disordered and invariably sinful lifestyle choices. Therefore one major focus of this investigation is to find out how and why this contradiction occurs.


A major challenge to be faced is that of distinguishing the differences between the teaching of Jesus and that of the early Christian Church. That cannot be achieved by confining any examination to the teachings of the Church. In the neurophysiological and psychological study it is demonstrated that the creation of core gender and sexual identities are identity driven. They are not behaviourally driven. Therefore the duality encountered in gender and sexually variant behaviour is inherent to the condition, and that means that these features are present in all societies at all times. This critique adopts a radical methodology which is only made possible by the results of the neurophysiological and psychological study. The approach which is taken is in the first instance is to conduct a review of first century Greek, Jewish and Roman societies without any reference to Christianity: in it the principle of the duality is applied. Only afterwards are the Christian interpretations assessed. It is demonstrated that, not only was the duality inherent in gender and sexually variant behaviour known to Jesus, it was incorporated into his own teaching.


An extended analysis of the attitudes to gender and sexuality in first century society is conducted. This uses the results of the neurophysiological and psychological study to examine not just Christianity, but also the attitudes to these in Jewish, Roman, Greek, and other societies. It is demonstrated that the teaching of Jesus incorporates the same moral duality as that predicted by the neurophysiological and psychological study. Therefore it is concluded that the source of the contradiction must come from changes in the theology of the Church.


Adaptations and Compromise


The adaptations which Peter, Paul and the early Church had to make to survive and to take the Gospel message to the world are considered.  The approach assumed in standard theology is that the teaching of the Apostles, Peter and Paul, was exactly that which Jesus presented, and that the compromises which were eventually made were those of the later Church. However evidence for the adaptations that were required is already present in their Epistles and Letters because of their pursuit of respectability for Christians and the Church. The nature of this transformation has been the focus of many theological studies: however the major difficulty has been one of determining how it was managed, and how the justification for it could be made. By removing the theological presumptions which have dominated Christianity for the last two thousand years new insights become available in the understanding of biblical texts and in the New Testament accounts.  That is now addressed in this analysis and the interpretation which is presented here is a consequence of the independent examination of first century societies which is conducted in this investigation. It is shown that the statement by Jesus in Matthew 19:12 where he says. “He who is able to receive this, let him receive it” allowed Peter and Paul to move forward with the compromises that were required.   


However this was not just a statement of compromise. It was also the command for the Christian Church to express in full the radical teaching of Jesus on gender and sex as soon as it had the power to do so. Instead of returning to the radical teaching which Jesus had presented: the Church used these opportunities enforce its own power and authority. Today; that has still not happened. It is now time to follow in full this commandment of Jesus by restoring the radical teaching of Jesus on gender and sex to the present day Church.




Great emphasis is also placed by GAFCON and others on restoring the “Godly Authority” of bible texts. (The “Global Anglican Future Conference”, representing the conservative elements in the Church). However the correct understanding depends on the context in which these are placed. It is demonstrated in this analysis that the traditional teaching on marriage and family life remains intact; but it also establishes that other valid loving relationships should not automatically be denied. This study additionally supports the views held by GAFCON and others that the traditional Church teaching on gender complementarity, gender and sexuality and on the silencing of the public ministry of women has Apostolic Authority. However GAFCON assumes that these doctrines accurately represent the teaching of Jesus, while this analysis shows that they are the results of the compromises that were made to ensure the survival of the Church. These attempts at restoration do not return to the teaching of Jesus, they return instead to the compromised Christianity which was presented by the 13th Century Church.


The correct restoration can only be made if the moral duality disclosed in this neurophysiological study and in the teaching of Jesus is used. This demands that the same criteria of use and abuse are applied to all aspects of gender and sex. As with Paul’s statement in Galatians 3:28, this requires that all transgender people, transsexual lesbian, gay, heterosexual and bisexual people who attempt to live their lives in ways that fulfil the love of Christ, and who seek to express their own identities in roles that are true to themselves; must be accepted alike. All sexual behaviour is governed by the purity of intention. There is no automatic condemnation of any same-sex act, and there is no toleration of abusive sex.


Social Consequences


It is important to note that discrimination against gender and sexually variant people is a socially led phenomenon and it would be a mistake to identify its cause with religious belief. The transformation needed to gain acceptability in the Greco/Roman culture brought the Church to collude with these secular demands of society rather than to challenge them. Not only has this consent reinforced the secular prejudices of such discriminatory societies; it gave and it still gives religious legitimacy to them, it reinforces the severity of the penalties that are encountered and it contradicts the results which the neurophysiological and psychological analysis presents. Instead of recognising the moral duality which is inherent in gender and sexual behaviour all of these people, without exception, have been made the scapegoats for abusive sex. Great harm has been done by the medical misdiagnoses that have been and still are being made. The persecution and slaughter of gender and sexually variant people, not only in Christianity but in Islam, Judaism and all other religions, states and cultures which have drawn their teachings from this has been enormous, and repentance is needed for these acts.

Centuries of criminalisation and condemnation have prevented any awareness of the moral duality being observed. Little could happen for as long as that existed, however the changes in society mean that this is no longer the case. This moral duality is now available for everybody to see in the love expressed in same-sex marriage and civil partnerships. It has become easy for an unbiased observer to separate a same-sex relationship given in faithfulness, love and lifetime commitment from a strong heterosexual friendship, and to discriminate between loving and illicit same-sex behaviour, even in the absence of sex. Instead of exploring this new situation many Christians have taken refuge in the traditional doctrines of the Church. It is argued in this analysis that this fervent reliance on its disproved traditional doctrines is destroying not only the credibility of the Church; it is also destroying the credibility of Christianity itself.


The increased openness to the possibility of change which has been evident in the discussions during the Church of England General Synod is welcomed. Many denominations are now allowing same-sex marriages to be conducted in their Churches. There is a considerable momentum towards inclusion, but there is also increasing resistance in many parts of the world. The refusal to accept any possibility of change to its traditional doctrines is an immovable requirement of the Catholic Church. The result of this analysis means that the full acceptance the integrity of the Christian beliefs of gender and sexually variant people, their full involvement in the Christian Churches and their ability to express their lives in ways that are true to their own identities within the love of Christ becomes a matter of right. It is no longer a matter of the toleration of others or the imposition of the traditions of the Church.


This is a radical analysis which challenges many preconceptions. For this reason detailed accounts of it are given in the accompanying papers. A description of the neurophysiological and psychological investigation is also provided and an introduction to this is contained in Chapter 10 of the Sibyls book. One of the features of the traditional teaching of the Christian Church on gender and sexual variation is that it makes presumptions which can be tested by science, neurophysiology and psychology. No doubt this analysis will be accepted by some and challenged by others. However no investigation into Christian attitudes to gender and sexually variant behaviour can ever be complete unless all of the scientific, social and theological arguments are heard.





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Susan Gilchrist  4 February 2017