I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I hope that this doesn’t cloud your (or my!) reading.
As someone continually involved in conversations about identity and spirituality, I’m always on the look out for resources that will help people wrestle with the tension of being biblically obedient, culturally sensitive, and compassionately faithful to Jesus. As the authors of this little book say in their foreword, “Let’s be a people who take God’s word seriously enough to teach it at every age, and let’s teach it with great intentionality.“. As someone wondering about having children one day, and someone who works with children in the local church, I want to be able to explain complex truths and difficult ideas in simple ways. It was with that latter hat in particular that I wanted to read this book.
Simply put, Gender: a Conversation Guide for Parents and Pastors is not a deep theological treatise on the issue. The foundations are there – with recommendations for further reading (all from the Good Book Company – I’ve reviewed a couple of them, and link below) – but this is a short, practical book. Parents will be equipped by it to talk to their children – but for their own understanding and study I’d recommend digging a little deeper.
This is an immensely practical little book – offering simple and clear foundations, and some helpful suggestions of how to consistently teach children. The suggestions and explanations are divided by age – making this a book that would likely be useful for both new parents wondering about these issues, as well as parents of older children who are starting to ask their own questions. For a nervous parent of teenage children, this book may be less useful – but it could bring the parents up to speed! One of the most helpful observations in this book is the constant emphasis on the ‘why’ of things. This is not a book that tells parents to tell children what to believe – it invites both parents and children into a conversation about the truth, and ‘why’ is just as important as ‘what’, particularly in as contentious and complex a set of conversations as that around gender and identity.
Overall, then, I think this is a helpful little book. I think Seagraves and Leavine offer a helpful blend of biblical foundation, compassion for people, understanding of the learning needs of children, and the present realities of much of Western culture. For example, they include a glossary of terms (without endorsing them!) from Stonewall’s website, as their usage reflects what parents and children are likely to bump up against. I’ll be recommending this little book to parents and pastors, and taking on board some of it’s advice for conversations I have, too.
I’ve actually reviewed the three suggestions at the end of this book for further reading:
- Transgender by Vaughan Roberts – a short primer on some of the key issues.
- God and the Transgender Debate by Andrew T. Walker – a slightly deeper look into some of the questions people ask.
- Is God Anti Gay? by Sam Allberry – a helpful little book for engaging with some of the wider cultural issues.
In addition, I’d recommend a couple of other books:
- A Better Story by Glynn Harrison – a helpful book for understanding our cultural moment and the importance of stories.
- What is the Meaning of Sex by Denny Burk – a conservative and thoughtful look at some of the fundamentals here.
- Mere Sexuality by Todd Wilson – a superb book about the wider questions of sexuality and identity.