Vianvi Podcast Book Review #22 0F 2017 by Viga Boland, author and book reviewer
When a non-fiction book soars to the top of Amazon charts within a few days of being published, you can’t help but ask “why”? Is it all about the marketing? Or is it, in fact, that when the topic of a book raises so many questions for which the answers are varied and controversial, intelligent readers want to learn as much as they can about the subject? That, without doubt, accounts for the success, and deservedly so, that Cheryl B. Evans is having with her second book, WHAT DOES GOD THINK?
The topic of WHAT DOES GOD THINK?, like Cheryl’s first book, I PROMISED NOT TO TELL, is gender and transgender people, and few subjects today are as hot as this one. What with parents suing a Christian school for allowing a boy to wear a dress in class, or President Trump banning Transgender people from the military, one would have to be living on a remote island to not be aware of all the issues and concerns…religious, scientific, political, cultural and otherwise surrounding transgender people. Cheryl B. Evans book, WHAT DOES GOD THINK?, is not only cleverly titled, but it’s timely, and for those who follow the teachings of the Bible…and even those who don’t…it is of great interest and importance.
Just to update those who haven’t read Cheryl’s first book, I PROMISED NOT TO TELL,, Cheryl’s son was a biological female at birth, but as early as 4 years of age, Jordan indicated he felt more like a boy and wanted to identify as one. As Cheryl and her husband watched Jordan grow, it became obvious this identity was critical to their son’s mental health. They did what they had to do to help him, and then, of course, the religious backlash started. As Cheryl writes in her introduction to WHAT DOES GOD THINK? :
“Our home, which was so often filled with laughter, became void of it. The closeness between my children gave way to emptiness as they distanced themselves from one another.”
It was only natural then, that this writer and mother, felt the need to explore the entire topic of transgender people and the bible more deeply. She has done a remarkable job of that in WHAT DOES GOD THINK?. This non-fiction book is short, well-researched and easy to read. Cheryl begins her examination of gender dysphoria by looking at the age-old debate of whether our genders are the result of nature or nurturing. For the uninformed, she clarifies any confusion on the words, “sex” and “gender”. Then she adds power to her argument that gender is determined by nature and is not nurtured by sharing a fascinating story of a couple, who gave birth to twin boys: their story ultimately proved nurturing had nothing to do with gender identification.
The author then moves into examining scientific arguments for the naturalness, if you wish, of gender identity. As she writes:
“At any time during the gestational period, the delicate chemicals in the developing brain can get disturbed, leaving the door open for a possible disconnect to develop between the gender determined by sex and chromosomes and the gender one self-identifies with in their brain.”
This being the case, and for those who believe that God determines our DNA, it is easy to extrapolate from that belief that God knew such variations could occur. It is then, as Cheryl quotes from Ecclesiastes 11:5: “As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the maker of all things.” Amen!
It is Chapter 4 in WHAT DOES GOD THINK? that Cheryl directly addresses the religious speculation that a transgender child is “not of God”. She addresses the Christian belief that God made only two sexes, male and female, but brings in the scientific proof offered in the previous chapter that there are “intersex” babies, ie.. those born without simple XX or XY chromosones, or obvious sexual characteristics. Cheryl goes on to point out that several sections in the Bible contradict the same stories in other sections of the good book. So how can one say the Bible is the one and only authority on some subjects? But it is the Bible’s scripture on which so many people choose to base all their beliefs and by which they choose to live their lives. As Cheryl rightly points out, these beliefs are passed on, generation after generation and we are expected to accept and follow them with “blind faith”. Cheryl urges her readers instead to study the bible, but to think for ourselves about what we read there, and thereby live with true faith and not just blind faith.
There is so much great reading in WHAT DOES GOD THINK?, and it is so well presented, it would be easy to keep on telling you about this book. But the purpose of a review is to give you an idea of what to expect and let you make the decision to buy it. If you truly care about people, of all genders, races and cultures, and if you believe you have an open mind, you will want to read WHAT DOES GOD THINK?. Of course, in reply to that title question, non-believers might answer this question with another question: “How can any of us possibly know what God thinks about a subject like this, or anything for that matter?” This is true.
But that’s just all the more reason to pick up this superb, second book by Cheryl B. Evans. By doing so, you will also read in the remaining chapters about how incredibly hard it is for transgender people to live in a society that is so judgemental and refuses to think outside the box. Or rather, for far too many people, to think for themselves and beyond the Bible. Doing so will not, as many sadly believe, prevent you from entering the pearly gates of heaven. In fact, what might help you get there is leaving any judgement to God.
If you are still having doubts by the time you finish reading WHAT DOES GOD THINK? consider this closing by statement Cheryl B. Evans:
“Is it not more peaceful to live in a world where we invite everyone to the assembly? Where everyone is welcome to the table? To choose that kind of world is to choose God.”
Can I have a “Hallelujah”? Well done, Cheryl!
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