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Year in Review: The battle over God’s design for men and women continues

Issues over marriage and sexuality continued to divide church and state in 2022


Detransitioned teen Chloe Cole and U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (right) appear at a news conference to announce legislation that would protect children from transgender medical procedures. Getty Images/Photo by Drew Angerer

Year in Review: The battle over God’s design for men and women continues

Here’s a review of the top stories from 2022 associated with marriage, family, and sexuality:

A year of reckoning for Southern Baptists

The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, had a tumultuous year. In May, a scathing 200-plus page report by the independent research firm Guidepost Solutions revealed what many Southern Baptists feared: Their leadership mishandled more than 700 sexual abuse claims between 2000 and 2019. The report also included a new sexual abuse allegation against former SBC President Johnny Hunt. In July, Southern Baptists elected a new president and swiftly approved measures to prevent abuse within the church. But strife continues. By December, a group of pastors announced Hunt had been rehabilitated. In a harsh rebuke, SBC President Bart Barber said, “I would permanently ‘defrock’ Johnny Hunt if I had the authority to do so.”

Continental divide over trans treatments

Children seeking a sex change in 2022 may have gotten different guidance depending on where they lived. A 9-year-old in the United States could get a prescription for puberty blockers and eventually cross-sex hormones. The World Professional Association of Transgender Health released its latest guidelines in the fall and eliminated age restrictions for children wishing to receive such treatments. But a child in Sweden would have to wait until age 18 after the Swedish government banned cross-sex hormones for most teens, citing risks. And a child in the United Kingdom may be refused—at least temporarily. In March, a scathing report from an independent research firm called out the U.K.’s lone pediatric gender clinic for “inadequate” care and many other problems. The clinic then announced it would close. Meanwhile, research continues to chip away at the notion that transgender treatments benefit kids struggling with gender identity. A New York Times investigation found adolescents developed dangerously brittle bones after being treated with puberty blockers. An in-depth study by Reuters found that gender dysphoria diagnoses nearly tripled in the United States over the last five years, with many girls opting for transgender treatment. A U.S. study in February concluded that cross-sex hormone treatments reduced depression and suicidal thoughts in teens. But it was unpublished after a journalist looking into the data noticed no statistically significant improvement in the treated teens.

Denominations wrestle with LGBTQ+ issues

Hundreds of conservative congregations left the United Methodist Church this year, which failed to stay united because of a growing divide over same-sex marriage and the ordination of homosexual clergy. Anglican churches, meanwhile, did not disband but remained deeply divided over same-sex marriage. Shortly before a global reunion of Anglican leaders kicked off in August, a group of pro-LGBTQ bishops removed language rejecting the marriage of homosexuals from their denomination’s directive. Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, ultimately agreed to watered-down language that reads, “Legitimizing or blessing of same-sex unions cannot be advised.”

Florida says, “Don’t say gay”

When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the “Parental Rights in Education” bill into law earlier this year, it touched off a nationwide debate about when children should learn about sexual orientation and gender identity in the public schools. The law bars school staff or third parties from teaching lessons about LGBT topics until fourth grade, and supporters say this helps parents decide when to introduce the subject. Critics, including the Walt Disney Company, said this hurts LGBTQ youth. Inspired by DeSantis, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill in October that would prohibit federal funding for any “sexually oriented” materials intended to teach children under age 10.

… And the bizarre

Apple introduced pregnant man emojis in January. The Nirvana baby from the iconic Nevermind album (now a grown man) sued the band twice, alleging child exploitation, but judges dismissed his case both times. And this will be confusing: A biologically female swimmer claiming to be a male named Iszac Henig defeated Lia Thomas, a biologically male swimmer claiming to be female, at a college swim meet in February. The NCAA considered both athletes to be “women.”


Juliana Chan Erikson

Juliana is a correspondent and a member of WORLD's investigative unit, the Caleb Team. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Juliana resides in the Washington, D.C., metro area with her husband and 3 children.

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