Recently there was an article that came my way that challenged me in the way I think about how Christ followers should react to people that are transgendered. The article can be found HERE and relates how Korn guitarist and devoted Christian, Brian Welch, prayed for a young person who is transgendered. He made this post on social media:
If you have never witnessed the kind of ministry Brian does at his concerts, here he is with Todd White (Todd wears the Yay God T-shirt) ministering to fans before a concert:
Here is another one:
Also, here is Brian’s testimony:
According to the article, after Brian posted this picture with the transgendered person, he received a lot of flak from religious people. Brian stated that the person in the picture told him that transgendered people need prayers. The scorn and the anger that came Brian’s way was tremendous and quite frankly evil.
I posted this article on Twitter and Facebook, and my friend Christine asked me what I thought of it. Unfortunately, I saw her post asking me this late at night before I went to bed, and all I could think about through the night is what did I think of this.
To start with, issues of sexuality and gender identity make all of us nervous because they are deeply personal. Our sexuality touches the inner spaces of intimacy of who we are as human beings. Sexuality is also affected by cultural norms and customs. Sometimes there is tension between these norms and the individual’s identity. Gender identity and expression reflect who we are as humans. I dress and act like a guy because 1) I am a guy and 2) because, in our culture, this is the way guys dress. Others may have something inside of them that drives them to act and think differently about their sexual identity and gender. This may become so extreme that the person truly believes that they are not the sex their biology has determined. These people try to relieve their suffering by staying in their biological gender, by dressing and acting like the other gender or going through surgical and medical procedures to change their bodies to reflect the opposite gender.
In all of the above cases, people are trying to change on the outside, what is hurting on the inside. To want to change gender means that there is something inside that person who desperately needs to be loved and accepted. There is an inner confusion between what they think and feel and what they are. How are Christ followers to deal with that?
I look at how Jesus treated lepers for my example. I don’t think that transgendered people have a physical disease like leprosy, but I do think there is an example of how Jesus dealt with them and how the religious people dealt with them. The religious people according to their religious system called them unclean and shunned them to the edges of society. They were not loved or cared for and were rejected. Jesus went straight to them. He loved them, and he healed them. There was no expectation other than to accept His love and His grace. With transgendered folks, the religious people, in the name of religion reject and condemn those who are primarily hurting and broken. That is NOT what Jesus would do.
Transgendered people will never find fullness and wholeness in a surgical procedure or wearing different clothes. Their pain will always be there unless it is dealt with and healed – and that real healing can only come through Jesus. This is true for all humanity. When we have hurts and pain in our lives, covering it up with money, food, job, or whatever, will never take that pain away. If we treat transgendered people like condemned lepers, how will they ever hear about the love, grace, and healing of Jesus that has permeated our lives and healed our wounds? In fact, the name of Jesus might come to mean something ugly and repulsive because those with religious agendas find their way of life distasteful. In the end, Brian is right; we need to pray for transgendered people and love them for whom God created them to be. We are not to love them for whom we want them to be, what kind of cultural norm we want them to adhere to, or what kind of lifestyle we want them to lead. We are to love them with the unconditional love Jesus had for humanity so that the wounds can be healed, and lives can be reconciled to God. If someone’s lifestyle makes us uncomfortable, then they might just be the ones God is calling us to befriend and love in the name of Jesus.