Last night I watched some reality, BRAVO style with Bruce Jenner AKA Caitlyn. I can’t imagine going through 6 decades of life feeling like you should be somebody else–a REALLY DIFFERENT somebody else. Nor can I imagine a 65 year-old man doing a sultry Vanity Fair portrait shoot in skimpy and sexy attire to exploit the mystique of transgenderism. Although meant to improve the image of the trans community, all it’s done is pander to the well-worn belief that women are little more than eye candy.
With his professionally done hair, makeup and wardrobe, Bruce can easily pass for a woman. I do find the lips odd (is that botox?), and the voice is a giveaway. But sure, he could easily be a she. Is that it? As long as someone can pass the smell test (and afford the surgery) he/she can become a she/he? I was stunned when during the show last night Jenner’s mother Esther asked the trans counselor, “When the Bible says a man should not wear a woman’s clothes, how would you interpret that?” (Deut. 22:5) One online magazine described it as “an especially cringe-worthy moment”. I guess they meant that she would suggest a very old Bible has something to say about such a sensitively modern issue.
I think it does. Society’s trend marketers work overtime to persuade citizens of both how right their beliefs are, and how important it is that their hearers agree. Which is why listening to what God has to say on the issues of our time is so urgent. Because society’s so unimaginatively out of step with God. Since rebellion grows native in human hearts, clashing with God is instinctive.
Dictionary.com first defines trangendered as noting or relating to a person whose gender identity does not correspond to that person’s biological sex assigned at birth. Notice the passive verb: “assigned”. Let’s recite together: a passive verb is “…a verb, which expresses the effect of the action of some agent.” Action done by whom? What agent? Who is so misguided as to assign a person’s biological sex willy-nilly at birth? Did an evil obstetrician–or clueless parents, decide that Joe or Bruce was to be a male, and Hannah or Summer was to be a female?
“From the beginning, God made them male and female” (Matt.19:4). Dictionary.com’s second definition provides a bit more cover for trans advocates. It says, “…noting or relating to a person who does not conform to societal gender norms or roles.” In other words, by this definition society’s to blame for artificially imposing a gender that may be unwanted. Apparently the genitalia, the voice, the body hair, etc., are all unconvincing. The transgendered person’s wishes are legitimate since gender is nothing more than a social construct.
It’s hard to get that from the Bible, from God’s voice. True, there’s no direct prohibition of switching genders, but it seems clear that God created people to EITHER be a man or a woman, a girl or boy–that they are not interchangeable. (This is what John Piper has been arguing for years. Saying, for example, that if a church violates scripture and appoints a woman as a church elder, it’s saying that men and women are not only equal–which they are, but identical; interchangeable. He believed–and it’s been borne out, that sooner or later this initial step will lead to accepting homosexuality as God-sanctioned. After all, if men and women are the same–are identical, then they’re interchangeable.)
Transgendered people give detractors nearly the same argument as those attracted to their own sex: “This is what I want and that’s all that matters.” Those with a religious framework might say it this way: “This is how I was born so it must mean that this is what God wants.” We’re just beginning to see the chaos that will come from this when it comes to basic life like public restrooms, completing official forms (M or F?), etc.
In the defining issue of the day–homosexuality, the church admittedly has poorly executed God’s demand to love neighbor as self. Sadly, with this new and prominent issue of switching genders, it may be more of the same. Ridicule–in its many forms–by God’s people will bring shame on the name of Christ–and may unnecessarily chase people from Jesus.
On the other hand, we can and should, lovingly echo God’s words. And…, help the transgendered community understand that they are not alone: we are ALL seduced by cravings. For we are all sinners. Thanks to sin, we prefer our wants to His. Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts (1 John 5:21). In other words, a man desiring to be a woman, is a variation on a married woman wanting to be with a different man, or a poor street kid running drugs because he wants money. Or a candidate selling his soul to special interests because he wants political office so badly. Or the single guy who sleeps with his girlfriend because his hormones are racing. Or the a bar patron drinking himself into oblivion because he wants to forget his troubles. Or a hunter who trespasses because he wants a trophy buck so badly. Or a mother who abandons her three children because she wants some peace and quiet. In a thousand ways every person who wants to please God–or doesn’t, is fair game to godless cravings. Becoming a gender other than God made me to be, is among the many.
Parents, what will you do with a child you think is struggling with this? Horror on your face won’t help. If you catch a child cross-dressing, start with a little love. Initially ask more questions than you give answers. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Establish rapport so your son or daughter is convinced Mom or Dad still loves me–doesn’t think I’m a freak. Then begin to expose your child to the God who made him male, made her female. There is no faith apart from obedience (1 John 5:3-4) but faith is not just about laws of do’s and don’ts. It’s about a relationship with a God who’s just, who’s merciful, who’s gracious, who’s loving, who’s perfect, who’s everywhere, who knows all things, who is kind, who understands–even this. But who thinks and speaks, for our good. Make that, for our best.