This post started with me writing about how disappointed I was in my fellow Americans. How so many have succumbed to the fear of a virus that is not Ebola (with a 90% fatality rate), hemorrhagic fever (24-88% fatality rate) or even MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome at 41%). Our country saw Ebola on our own shore in 2014 and as deadly as it is we didn’t all suddenly duck and cover. 100,000 people died of MERS in the U.S. and million worldwide in 1969 and we still held Woodstock!
What about this last flu season? Not a peep of worry about the flu in the news or on social media even with between 410,000 and 740,000 hospitalizations and between 24,000 and 62,000 deaths (the flu doesn’t get tracked like we’re tracking Coronavirus). But the Coronavirus had everyone in the country crazy buying toilet paper as if each sheet of the roll was a $100 bill and each $3 bottle of hand sanitizer was filled with Chanel No. 5 perfume. We’ve cancelled school for our children, put millions and millions of people out of work and put businesses out of business permanently.
But then I realized that fear and paranoia wasn’t reserved solely for a virus from China that most people will never get, much less die from—it’s also something many Christians exhibit when it comes to people who are transgender.
In all fairness, there are a couple groups of Christians who don’t lose any sleep over this.
One group simply looks at people, ALL people as God’s creation, doesn’t see in His word or in the teachings of Jesus that God has an issue with it, and welcomes transgender people as friends and family just as they would anybody else.
Another group is so sure that being transgender is an act of willful disobedience to God, a choice to live contrary to His plan for their life that they write the person off as “lost” unless they let Jesus change them and live “the way they were meant to”. Anything less is non-negotiable and they are persona non grata and unwelcome.
But there is a third group that I believe is even more damaging to the cause of Christ as well as destructive to Christians who are transgender.
And that group consists of Christians and churches who while tolerating their transgender friends, still consider their friend “wrong” and sinning for being transgender. Oh, they don’t object to a transgender person participating in group activities, they will smile and give them hugs at church. The church leadership may even let them serve in a position somewhere as long as it fills a need they have and isn’t likely to cause a stir—but beyond that they will distance themselves from “those people (or that person)” because deep down they can’t get past thinking that it’s somehow a sin. They consider their “tolerance” as “grace”.
And before my friends start thinking I’m talking about them, I can’t think of one of you I would put into that category—and if I should I don’t know it. This is something I’ve experienced in years past and I hear from others regularly who think they have true friends, when in fact the friendship or church acceptance is superficial and ultimately conditional on the one who is transgender “realizing their error” and “changing back” (if they’ve transitioned) or ask God to “heal them” if they haven’t transitioned but are dealing with the knowledge that they aren’t the gender their body says they are.
Christians who present the appearance of love and acceptance, yet when push comes to shove think you shouldn’t be transgender are without knowing it the most cruel within the Christian community. Nothing but pain, rejection and resentment not just from the person/church, but (albeit not correctly) toward God—because as Christians we are to REPRESENT the Lord and when we fail people who know we’re Christians, they think God has failed them too. They walk away from the very community they need in order to grow closer to God, because they feel rejected not just by people, but by God. And seldom if ever do those Christian seek to recover the relationships lost with their transgender friends (it’s so much easier that way).
What troubles me the most, and what I pray about are church leaders who KNOW what is right, they KNOW that above all they are to love everyone and to have the humility to accept that they don’t know everything, and that if they don’t understand something to have the grace to fully accept people as Christians when they confess that Jesus is their Lord and Savior. And yet, whether it’s because they think publicly embracing their transgender brothers and sisters in the Lord will alienate them from their peers in the Christian community, or they’re afraid speaking out will offend some people in the church and it will result in less money coming into the church, they say NOTHING. It makes me more sad than anything else.
When a church leader knows what is right to do and doesn’t do it, not only is he accountable to God for it, but he’s guilty of encouraging bigotry within his own congregation by his omission of the truth.
People who are transgender are simply people. Christians who are transgender are simply Christians. Why we insist that others must be the “right kind of Christian” to be fully accepted as a brother or sister in Christ no longer makes sense.
We serve a God that is much bigger that what we believe Him to be. If that were not true, then there wouldn’t be so many denominations just within the Protestant faith (we’re talking TENS of THOUSANDS of denominations) worshiping and serving the same God, each in its own way.
We as a Church needs to stop finding ways to EXCLUDE people, but to INCLUDE people so that they can meet the Lord and we can leave it to Him to determine who lives eternally with Him. We need to get rid of our filters. We need to stop looking at people and deciding for ourselves who is and isn’t worthy of God’s grace and gift of eternal life based on our “Christian checklist”, check 1 Samuel 16:7 if you think I’m wrong.
It doesn’t have to be that hard, but y’all sometimes just can’t help yourselves, and I know you love God too. But you need to stop using your checklist for Christians before allowing them to be a part, a FULL part of your community. Be like Jesus when the criminal that hung with him on a cross asked Jesus to remember him, and Jesus assured him over that acknowledgement of Jesus’ deity was sufficient that he would be with Jesus in Heaven—accept that claiming Christ is enough. Even if they never get baptized, even if they never give money to the church, even if they don’t do the things you do at your church. Put away the checklist and open your heart. Look up the word grace, and thank the Lord that he showed it to you—now do likewise, show grace to people who don’t meet YOUR standards.
Christians who are transgender don’t have to be treated like a virus. We’re not contagious, you don’t need “social distancing” to stay safe from us. We’re just like you, except we deal with issues you can’t begin to understand, nor do you have to—that’s why it’s called GRACE.
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