April 28, 2015

Jesus, the Church, & Sex Changes

If you haven't been to the grocery store, turned on your TV, or you've been hiding in a cave in the mountains of South Dakota for awhile, then you might not have heard the news:

Bruce Jenner wants to be a woman.

That's correct. The once-great Olympic decathlete said in an interview with Diane Sawyer on 20/20 that he started trying on dresses when he was young. Along with that, he very emotionally shared that he was sorry that he had drug his wives (plural) through his years of confusion, that he was a Republican, and yes, even a Christian. If you choose to watch the interview, know this ahead of time: you can't watch it and remain indifferent. It will provoke you toward some sort of emotion and/or conviction; disgust, pity, sympathy, confusion, anger, brokenness. Just not apathy or indifference. You have to care about this on some level. We have to care enough to feel something. But that's also where the danger lies in all of this. Our feelings. We need to know what to think first before we allow our feelings to run away with us. We need to ask: Does God's Word have truth that guides what I should think and how I should feel about someone thinking and feeling they need to become the opposite sex? And if so, how does that affect my response to this issue?

First off, I would highly encourage you to read Dr. Russell Moore's blogpost: What Should the Church Say to Bruce Jenner? I believe he addresses this issue not only theologically, but compassionately, gracefully, and with a bold, but loving response as our aim.

Second, while my flesh is tempted to joke around about this in a hundred different ways, I believe the Spirit of God is whispering, "Don't go there." There are times when we are so uncomfortable with a situation or circumstance that our only reflex to cope with it is to make light of it. To turn it into a joke. I exhort you to consider, this is not a joke. This is about someone - like it or not - who has walked through a life of inner torment and conflict. Let's not make light of that.

Finally, what do the scriptures say? First of all, beginning in the beginning, "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:27) God created Adam. He created Eve. And through the divine miracle of procreation and childbirth - the mandate to "be fruitful and multiply" - God has created every single other human being to ever enter this world. He created. He creates. He does not, however, make mistakes. God has never created a woman He intended to be a man. Or vice versa. Not in any way trying to be offensive or sarcastic, we have to look at this issue throughout creation. God didn't create a cat that He meant to be a dog. Or a fish that He meant to be a bird. God is perfectly intentional. To my knowledge, we are the only species in creation with this struggle. 

At the very heart of the origin of it all is sin - the rebellion rooted in the idea that God has withheld something from me (or from us) that we deserve. Some people are tormented with the thought that they were put here to take other peoples lives. There are others who fight a battle with the temptation to shroud their whole life in a web of lies. We hope that these people choose to lay their torment and temptations down at the feet of Jesus. In parallel, there are people (like Bruce Jenner) who struggle with the idea that they feel like they are supposed to be something or someone other than what and who God created them to be. And to acknowledge this head on, these are some of the strongest, most paralyzing feelings known to mankind. But that in no way makes it right to act upon them. Our feelings lie to us all the time. Our feelings deceive us. This is why we need to be guided in truth. And so it honestly all begins with whether or not we choose to surrender to, submit to, and listen to the Holy Spirit (&) whether or not we allow the Spirit to "guide us into all truth". Do we believe God's Word is truth? If so, we seek to put sin to death the instant it rears it's head in our hearts.

I also believe it is imperative to mention that, for some, there can be deep emotional, mental, and psychological issues involved. It's a luxury that most of us have no idea what this feels like - to have your mind at war with you every single day. It has to be an exhausting battle to fight.

So what is my response to someone paralyzed by transgender thoughts?
God created you and loves you. I love you and care about you. I'm praying that through the power of the Spirit of God, He will overwhelm you with the peace and joy of knowing that you are who you were created to be.

But allow me to close with this dose of perspective.

On Saturday, a devastating earthquake hit Nepal. The death toll has reached 3,000. Sadly, I believe that number will continue climbing. Thousands are now homeless, broken, hungry, injured, mourning, searching, waiting, and wondering...what to do next. There is an opportunity - another opportunity - for the people of God to take the Kingdom of God to those in desperate need. Through our gifts, our voice, possibly even our time, we can make a difference. I say all of that to say this: Bruce Jenner no longer belongs on the front page.

Matthew 25:31-46

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