I’m struck at how we Christians, ALL of us Christians if asked would be pretty quick to say “yes”, that we unconditionally love and accept our Christian brothers and sisters. Maybe you’re reading this and are thinking to yourself “well I certainly do!” As a casual observer of what is generally known as the (American) Christian right and the Christian left, in particular from the viewpoint of a Christian who is transgender – I think we all (and I am a BIG part of that “we”) have quite a bit more work to do in getting the “conditions” out of our “unconditional”. I think one way we get tripped up is by confusing love and acceptance with AGREEMENT.
If you’re new to my site – just so you don’t think I’m trying to pull a fast one on you and you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m transgender AND I’m conservative. If you think being transgender puts you in a minority, add Christian and conservative to that. Picture in your mind a tiny island of fine sand about 20 feet wide in the middle of the blue Pacific Ocean with one little palm tree on it – there you go, welcome to my world (or should I say island.)
I can tell you from personal experience, the REALITY is that conservative Christians have been very loving and accepting of me. Now I will add that I don’t go to church and walk up to every stranger I see and give them a big hug saying “good morning, I’m Laurie and I’m transgender!” Nor does the Pastor at my church stand up on the platform Sunday morning and say “look at all the diversity we have in the room with white and black, deaf and handicapped, gay and transgender, aren’t we wonderful?” It’s BECAUSE it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t get pointed out. We just ARE diverse.
As I work on growing my social media footprint, on Twitter (@TransHearts) I follow several Christians who are themselves transgender or advocates for those that are. All of them universally liberal and I have to say it’s often hard to read because when they use the word “extreme”, they almost never talk about those putting Christians to death in other parts of the world, or where it is ILLEGAL to be gay or transgender, or even where Christianity is banned, rather they bash the “EXTREME” evangelical Christians. The words they use, if used against them they would consider it hate speech. It’s really appalling. But let me add, I know of Christian bloggers on the web, CONSERVATIVE Christian bloggers who bash shall we say LESS than conservative Christian churches, not to mention anything related to someone who is gay or transgender. In fact, among the conservative Christian “commentators” it is fair to say for most of them the assumption is if you’re gay or transgender, that fact alone means you’re NOT a Christian, and that’s equally appalling.
Because we don’t all AGREE on everything shouldn’t stop us from showing LOVE toward one another and perhaps a little humility that we don’t have ALL the answers. Would EVERYBODY at my church jump for joy if it was announced that there are gay members of our church (I’m told there are – it’s a big church) or that someone who is transgender serves on one of the volunteer teams? There are probably a few who would get their feathers ruffled. In ANY group there are always a few. Is it my job to shake my finger at them and tell them “shame on you” for not loving people the way I think you should love people? Rather, it’s my job to show Christ, to make it evident that He is the Lord of MY life, that His Spirit is within ME and that I love THEM. And if down the road they learn I’m transgender, well it just rocks their world – it makes them re-think what they always THOUGHT they knew about people who are transgender. I will never see anyone change what they think by shaming them, on the other hand I HAVE seen hearts and minds changed by just loving people and trying to be a disciple of Jesus. In fact I have a friend who recently told me she has rather enjoyed telling her church friends from her former city that she has a friend (me) who is a Christian, conservative AND transgender. Apparently the general response is something in the neighborhood of “shut up!” or “get out of town!” A PERSON is not a stereotype, a person is an individual and we need to start treating each other as individuals and not members of a larger group that we think we have nailed down to a tee.
I wish my Christian family on the left would stop “casting stones” so it would be easier to love them (it’s difficult to embrace someone when they’re throwing rocks at you), and I wish my Christian family on the right would take more time to understand people and welcome them as the individual person they are, even if they don’t agree with everything about them (you’ll never get the chance to demonstrate that until they feel like they ARE welcomed.)
Unconditional is a BIG word. We toss it around far too easily because we seem to feel justified in our mind in whatever “conditions” we might apply to someone. Well, we don’t get to do that. In English the use of “un” preceding a word means NOT, the opposite of. When we speak of Unconditional love and unconditional acceptance, we either need to demonstrate it or stop using the words. Which do you think our Father in Heaven prefers that we do?