These two links should be read back to back. The first one doesn’t pretend to be Christian and offers,
Event director Giuliana Berry ’14 told Campus Reform in an interview on Monday that the workshop was brought to campus to teach students not to automatically judge people who may have engaged in these sorts of activities, but rather to respond with “understanding” and “compassion.”
“People do engage in some of these activities that we believe only for example perverts engage in,” she said. “What the goal is is to increase compassion for people who may engage in activities that are not what you would personally consider normal.”
The second link is written by an ordained Christian minister with whom I am an acquaintance. He writes,
“Here in the absence of words to defend myself, without examples, without models, I began to believe voices in my head – that I was a freak, that I am broken, that there is something wrong with me, that I will never be lovable.”
Hearing those words from anyone ought to give us pause.
The deep-seated pain and hours of tormented anxiety that lead one to devalue one’s own life and to consider oneself unlovable ought to cause our heart to break. It ought to move us to do what we can to protect the vulnerability of one who has felt ostracized from society.
Put these words into the mouth of a transgender individual, however, and all too often our response is less Christ-like.
But what if we were to put these words into the mouth of a pederast or of a necrophiliac or of someone who likes bedding farm animals? Should we then be moved to do what we can to protect the vulnerability of the pederast, necrophiliac or beastie who has felt ostracized from society or should we thank God that they are ostracized from society? Certainly our hearts should break but should they not break because of the affects of sin on image bearers and not because somehow those who God considers perverts are ostracized from civilized society? Sure, we must have compassion on Transgender people but compassion comes in the form of pleading with them to repent of their sin and not in normalizing their sin.
And all of this is said with a full understanding of a condition called Klinefelter syndrome, where the phenotypically male patients have an extra X chromosome, making them XXY, and they are known to exhibit strange behavior. This chromosomal aberration related to gender has serious complications, and it is no surprise that those who insist in wanting the other gender as their own sexual identity will have their own mental and emotional problems too.
Still, having acknowledged that some of these medical abnormalities arise this is hardly reason to want to normalize for society what is clearly aberrant non Klinefelter behavior. Our Christ-like response has to not only consider the feelings of Transgenders but also the mind of God who has made His mind known regarding male and female roles.
My pastoral acquaintance writes,
Many Christians are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with transgender. When the city of Gainesville, Fla., proposed and later passed an ordinance in 2008 guaranteeing freedom from discrimination for transgender individuals, the response of the Christian community was to run a sensationalized media campaign about the dangers of lecherous men using the women’s restroom.
“What if, instead of responding out of our fear or anxiety, we learned to listen to the heart of those who make us uncomfortable?”
Why would one assume that being concerned for the safety of other people was a response driven by fear and anxiety and not one driven by love and compassion for people who are not Transgender? Consider that though gay and transgender youth represent just 5 percent to 7 percent of the nation’s overall youth population, they compose 13 percent to 15 percent of those currently in the juvenile justice system. Apparently there are reasons for the community at large to be concerned about mainstreaming transgendered people.
Secondly, I hope my acquaintance will see that in responding to his article I am listening to the heart of one who makes me uncomfortable. I’m sure I make him uncomfortable in this response. Will he listen to my heart?
My acquaintance writes,
When we refuse to give space for those who struggle with gender identity, when we draw clearly demarcated lines of male and female and demand that everyone fit within those boxes, when we try to ignore the very real questions of so many young people, we force people like Lana to live in invisibility, in a world where death can seem preferable to life, where being loved by another is an unattainable ideal.
Understand that the Lana in question was born a man and is now transgendered. She is in a relationship with another man. The Church used to call that sin. Now we are being asked to “give space,” and to not “draw clearly demarcated lines of male and female and demand that everyone fit within those boxes.” How is it love or loving to allow someone created in the image of God to go on attacking the image of God place upon him by not pleading with compassion that such a person repent?
What of the lack of compassion towards other little boys and girls in society who will grow up seeing Transgenderism in our culture as normal and as one option that they may now choose from? How is it loving to those little boys and girls to allow them to think that there is something healthy and normal about Transgenderism? Are we not at that point causing the little ones to stumble?
And finally, if Transgenderism is mainstreamed is it not I and other Biblical Christians who will be now forced to live lives of invisibility as our convictions about the abnormality of Transgenderism is squelched so that we dare not come out of the closet? As what heretofore was considered sexual perversion comes out of the closet and is mainstreamed what was once mainstreamed (Biblical Christianity) is that which is now the oddity and must be shoved into the closet.
My acquaintance writes,
What does it look like for the church to have a theology of gender that leaves room for those who struggle with gender expectations? What does it look like for the church to have a doctrine of humanity that incorporates not only “standard” XX and XY chromosomal men and women but also those whom we regularly deem anomalies? What does it look like for the church to be a place that welcomes the discussion over gender identity? Are our churches a place where a man or a woman can share their struggles to fit in to cultural expectations of gender norms? What would it look like for the church to stand up to the gender stereotypes in marketing and advertising that help to perpetuate gender roles and cause inner turmoil for those who don’t somehow fit in?
I suspect that if we’re going to get there, we first need to learn to listen. We need to hear what Lana and others like her are saying.
My acquaintance asks all questions in the blockquote immediately above. I wish he had answered his own questions so that we would know what he thinks the answers to those questions are, thus giving us a better idea of both his Theology and anthropology.
Question #1 – Certainly the Church should allow sinners to continue to learn to put off the old man and put on the new man. The early Church had these kinds of people in their churches.
I Corinthians 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
However, clearly note that St. Paul notes that this is what they once were but now that they are in Christ they are no longer that. Former Transgenders may be in the Church and may still struggle with the besetting sin of Transgenderism and the Church may have need to be patient with that and loving through that, but the expectation is that the old man of Transgenderism will be put off and the new man of heterosexuality will be put on.
Question #2 — Here we come up against the doctrine of anthropology and by extension human sexuality. The premise of my acquaintance’s question seems to be the Church is responsible to incorporate what our Fathers called “perversion.” Also, except for the medical oddity that will arise in a very low percentage of cases, God made all people either as XX or XY. It is a very postmodern mindset that thinks that we can create categories that are other then male or female. I see nowhere in the Scripture where such a postmodern move is considered normative. Clearly in the Corinthians 6 passage above the Holy Spirit’s expectation is that Transgenders in order to be incorporated into the Church must repent of their Transgenderism and be washed, justified and sanctified in the Lord Christ.
Question #3 — What kind of discussion does my acquaintance want to have about gender identity. Does he want a discussion where the conclusion could be that God was wrong about these matters and the Church must give up their centuries long objection to such behavior, or does he want a discussion where the Church welcomes those confused about gender identity and holds out the Gospel of Jesus Christ which can deliver them from their alienation from God, self, and others as expressed in Transgenderism?
Question #4 — I would hope our churches are safe places where repenting sinners can share their struggles with their besetting sins. The Church is a hospital where recovering sinners can look for the tonic of grace to help them in their recovery.
Question #5 — It would help to know just exactly what gender roles my acquaintance is protesting against in our marketing and advertising. Is he protesting women being displayed as sex objects? If so, who couldn’t agree with such a protest? Or is he protesting men and women being displayed as men and women? It is hard to address this question until one knows the exact gender misrepresenting that is going on in advertising and marketing.
Still, all in all it sounds as if my acquaintance has been caught up in the postmodern gender bending craze that insists that gender is merely a social construct. If that is the case then I can only offer that it is my conviction that the whole idea of nearly everything being a social construct is itself a social construct.
In closing, I can’t believe it has come to the point where an apologetic has to be provided for this kind of thing inside the Church.