“I am Caitlyn”: A Better Response To Bruce Jenner

rs_1024x759-150601094924-1024-2bruce-jenner-caitlyn-vanity-fairThis morning our little staff prayed for Bruce Jenner who is now Caitlyn. One said, “Lord, I am Caitlyn.” This struck me to be so true of myself as well.

Neither of us have struggled through gender disphoria, but I remember what bondage to sexual unwholeness feels like. I do remember the pain. Hiding. Dying emotionally day by day. Wanting to be truly known.

Maybe that’s why I identify with the loneliness Bruce Jenner spoke about in his ABC interview with Diane Sawyer a few weeks ago. And why I want so badly for him to be set free from his prison. But is this the way out?

Those wrestling with both homosexuality and/or gender identity—whether Christian or non-Christian— are suffering a great deal of ridicule, isolation, and depression. High rates of PTSD, suicide and psychiatric disorders are prevalent and undisputed in the gay[i] and transgendered communities[ii] both before and after coming out/completing gender reassignment surgery.

The Christian heart must be broken by their pain. 

But the research does not provide evidence that gender reassignment will unlock the doors to Bruce Jenner’s (aka Caitlyn Jenner’s) self-torment. There is a reason that Johns Hopkins Hospital stopped doing sex reassignment surgery. (Though this is highly disputed by the GLBT community who offers new research to debunk the decision. However, more new research also supports Johns Hopkins decision and the respected medical giant who does have a Sexual Behaviors Unit to help individuals suffering from gender disphoria still does not do the surgery.) Study after study reveals that the path he (she) is on will not yield the results sought. In a study of 324 sex-reassigned persons in Sweden, for example, physicians noted:

“Persons with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behaviour, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population. Our findings suggest that sex reassignment, although alleviating gender dysphoria, may not suffice as treatment for transsexualism, and should inspire improved psychiatric and somatic care after sex reassignment for this patient group.”

Walt Heyer, who suffered through a sex reassignment surgery, is among many with the same story who wish they hadn’t and claim the process “only masked and exacerbated deeper psychological problems.”

I’m sad.

The saddest thing is that I don’t think the Christian community is holding a key to unlock the prison door for those suffering like Bruce Jenner. We have done a terrible job responding to them. Christian comments on Facebook and Twitter make me sick. The most vocal evangelicals—that is those whose voices are heard in the public sector—are either A:) completely affirming (such as Rob Bell/Vicky Beeching) and use anything written by the American Psychological Association as their Bible or B:) hate-fueled and ignorant (such as Westboro Baptist) and use Leviticus as a beating stick for the lost.

I would like to see—and I wonder if you would too— a Christian conversation forming that is beneficial and gets to the root of diminishing the pain and depression of those struggling with SSA and gender disphoria. While there is widespread disagreement on whether the emotional pain is from discrimination—and certainly some of it is—or deeper issues of unwholeness that may contribute to the gender disphoria or homosexual desires they struggle with…there is one thing we must do: figure out how to comfort and heal them. I believe the Bible does contain the key for us to unlock their prison door. We just don’t have it at the ready to use for their freedom.

There is a third response Christians can offer to the current conversation. Dr. Russell Moore of the ERLC (Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission) coined the phrase “convictional kindness”[iv] and applies it liberally to all arguments of sexual choice whether our modern day gender reformation, the tolerance movement or the sexual reformation of the 60s and 70s. He says that the Devil deceives us in two ways:

Allowing us to make our own truth.

(aka Rob Bell or Vicky Beeching)

or

Accusing us for our choices.

(aka Westboro Baptist)

The devil stands on both sides to coach us along. For example, the sexual revolution brought us the pill and abortion.

No one is more pro-choice on the way into the abortion clinic than the Devil,” Dr. Russell Moore said, “and no one is more pro-life on the way out of the abortion clinic than the Devil. Because what he wants to do is deceive on the front-end … he seeks to say on one hand, you’re too good for the Gospel, and the other hand you’re now too bad for the Gospel.”

The devil is an accuser. Let us not speak that language! Instead of throwing more accusations at them, Christians should be asking God to break our own hearts with the pain that gay, lesbian, transgendered and bi-sexual people are facing. Maybe that would create a safe environment where they could hear the saving love of Christ and his hope for their future.

My journey to sexual wholeness did not include gender disphoria or the process of sex reassignment, but it did include loneliness, shame, and a lot of fear of what people would think if they really knew me.

But then God invited me to tell someone. To walk out of the dungeon of secrecy.

To be free.

I was a new person and FREEDOM was my megaphone that called to shout out both God’s grace and his guidelines. (Frankly, my heart was not all that open to his guidelines until I was drenched in his grace. I had to tell my story to find the salvation of Christ’s merciful grace.) When I walked out of my prison door and told my story I actually wanted to pursue sexuality according to God’s design. Will every person struggling with gender disphoria, sexting, porn, erotica, hooking up, and homosexuality find their freedom the same way I did?

No. Not all will.

But some could, if only we were a safer place.

If I know anything as one formerly suffering from Satan’s accusations it is this: men and women struggling to find sexual wholeness need safe places to share their stories and struggles. To be known. Confession is the pathway to both healing and overcoming our sin. (James 5:16) This is the key that unlocks prison doors of all types and sizes and sentences. Our churches should be creating safe environments where those in deep shame, pain, and loneliness can tell their stories and then be comforted in their pain and struggles.

Are you a safe place for those struggling? Is your church actively seeking to create an environment of convictional kindness? The answer will lie in this: do know know the name of one person battling with gender identity and/or homosexuality? There is no question in my mind that he or she is there in your midst. Suffering. Struggling. Trying to find freedom.

Or maybe already has.

But until their stories are known, they will not be.

And that’s the deepest loneliness of all.

Being unknown.

 

This blog is not meant to be a biblical response to the issue of gender, but the way we respond to those suffering with gender disphoria. If you are not familiar with my writing, you may understand my biblical position better with this quote from a former blog: “…in biological sex, we see God’s image. His picture. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27) While we are offered many God-like traits, no others are isolated and esteemed the way that biological sex is in the Genesis account, and this is affirmed in passages in the New Testament that instruct us concerning the complementary roles of men and woman as we are charged to rule over this earth. Our distinct biological sex is his image. We are his statues. We make the lost world see him and think of him and pine for him. For this reason, I embrace the fullness of my womanhood and reject anything that seeks to willfully diminish it or rebel against it.”

RESOURCES

[i] http://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth.htm

[ii] http://articles.latimes.com/2014/jan/28/local/la-me-ln-suicide-attempts-alarming-transgender-20140127

[iii] http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704116404576263383778476752

[iv] http://www.bpnews.net/41340

[v] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2013/03/18/gay-marriage-support-hits-new-high-in-post-abc-poll/

[vi] http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/gender/msm/facts/

[vii] http://www.cdc.gov/msmhealth/mental-health.htm

[viii] http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/gay-people-more-likely-to-have-mental-health-problems-survey-says-9709761.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

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20 Comments

  • I think this is well written.
    I feel as though people in general do what they think will make them happy and a better person.
    I believe there are so many ways to translate what the bible has to say. I do not feel that any one religion has a monopoly on it’s translations. In short those of whom feel holly’er than thow let he or she cast the first stone.
    I think that within the religious community the ones that clam to spread the word of god (mministers, priests and the likes )should really take a close look at themselves before judging others and realize that it takes all different kinds of people to make the world go around .
    I say live and let live

    • There are some difficult to translate passages in Scripture, but there is not any confusion about the fact that homosexuality is a sin. And that gender is a beautiful piece of reflecting God’s image. Some things are more clear than others and this is one of them. I think you hit the nail on the head though. We live in a world where people do what they want to make themselves happy. It’s self-worship which is the core of Paul’s contention with homosexuality as written in Romans. Maybe we need to start thinking about how to get over ourselves.

  • Hi Dannah,

    One of my friends just came out and I have been thinking a lot on this whole issue. Can you explain the treatment of homosexuals in the Old Testament? Specifically Leviticus? I know it must be something to do with context, but I can’t understand it. I just finished reading “God Behaving Badly” by David Lamb and that really cleared up some concerns for me in regards to the Old Testament but he never addressed homosexuality and Leviticus.

    Thanks!

    • Levitucus 18 calls homosexual sex “an abomination” or “destestible.” Leviticus 20 says those have have man on man sex are to be condemned to death. This is part of the Mosaic law. Some people isolate these verses from the rest of the scriptural teaching on sexuality and use it to create hyper-homophobic dialogue. I prefer to use Paul’s teaching in Romans and core, foundation truth in Genesis to have a fuller view of homosexual sin and WHY it isn’t God’s best or intended purpose of sexual desire. This gives reason and understanding to the issue.

      Here is a piece written by Wayne Grudem and John Piper for your continued learning! http://www.wacmm.org/The_Bible_and_Homosexuality__Grudem_and_Piper_.pdf

  • Sigh. Thank you, thank you, thank you. My heart aches for the pain people like Jenner experience for WHATEVER reason. I have no idea what it feels like to have gender confusion.

    As a former RN and constant student of the human body AND biblical truth – I wonder how many in this struggle have genetic mutations. Just as one with brain damage, Downs, etc. did not choose their fate – but were born into a fallen world – perhaps SOME – with gender confusion are also in that category. Others, through the pain of life – tilted in that direction for who knows why.

    All I can say is, “But by the grace of God – go I as well!”. So, love and compassion come first – not judgement and condemnation. We don’t need to water down the truth of God’s Word – but we do need to let HIS Spirit do the convicting, redemption and renewal. Our job is to love the broken sinners – no matter what their sin – that would be EVERYONE – as Jesus would. WWJD – so trite – but I do wonder – What does Jesus have to say to Caitlyn? I so wish, I could listen in. Let’s pray they have a conversation soon!

  • Dannah, thank you for your thoughtful response. While I firmly believe in God’s standard for sexual purity, I have been disappointed with Christians giving one another a pat on the back after posting graceless and unloving comments on social media. As you point out, many if not all of us struggle with some sort of hidden sin. To run the LGBT community into the ground with judgemental comments does nothing to reach out to those that Christ came to redeem. “Convictional kindness” is an appropriate response. Following the example of Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well, it holds the line while extending a hand of grace and love.

  • Hi Dannah,
    God is the ultimate judge. Christ likeness is our guide. I’m with you on your points. However, many times followers tell us how we’re to act towards sinners in our service to God and talk about all sinners as though they will accept our love, are willing to listen to us, will embrace our care for them, and repent of their sin. Many times not the case. Many times they will curse us, seek to destroy us, walk away, and demand a following & greater acceptance of their sin. I learned this the hard way but I still love the sinner and hate the sin. I know the spiritual warfare. I know the enemy wants us to give up, fight the battle our way, and join his troop. I know Christ, his desire for our life, and obedience not perfection is His call on followers. With all being said, please do remind believers that this battle is spiritual; that truly seeking and knowing God’s will & having His wisdom is very important; that sinners may not respond well to our love & even hate our guts; that our compassion and care for sinners does not equate to accepting or comforting their sin; and know that things may get worse but that God is still in control. On my job there’s tremendous support, encouragement, celebration, promoting and embracing these sinful life styles and the ugly dare of anyone saying otherwise. Even some ‘Christian’s’ have joined in its full support (Romans 1) and place guilt on those who chose Christ all the way. It’s rough! Anyway, please note those followers who are doing right by sinners. Please speak an encouraging word to us who try to serve Christ His way & really Love Him and people as commanded. Love is the greatest command. So cool! So Christ! PS May you continue in Christ, be encouraged as well, have healing, and know for sure that you are truly Loved My Sista because of Christ. Peace! And Thanks so much for your post. 🙂

  • Thank you for this article. It is very well written. I, too, am concerned for Caitlyn Jenner’s well being at the hands and voices of the critics. It is hard for me to understand how one human being can be so callous and heartless by judging another. Since the ‘religious’ are the hardest to judge, I wonder what gives them the right to do so. My God, as I know Him, tells me not to judge but to love all mankind. Therefore, I do not judge or put unkind names on anyone.

    It is my hope that Ms. Jenner keeps herself close to the wonderful family she has and survives the awfulness of all critics. She must continue to stand tall and be proud of the wonderful person she has always been. My blessings and prayers go out to her and her loved ones.

    • Kathie, if your God is the God of the Bible and rooted in salvation of Jesus Christ, he actually does encourage you to judge. “The spiritual man discerns all things.” I Corinthians 2:15. These things include decisions, actions, sins, and substances. We are to take care what we choose to see if it is in alignment with God’s created purpose. You can judge something someone chooses and still act compassionately though. That’s something we all need to work on, wouldn’t you agree. I just don’t think that we have to choose between compassion and conviction. Often, they must reside together.

  • For all of you willing to call out homosexuality based on Leviticus, are you eating shell fish, are your children totally obedient and not worthy of being stoned to death?. I know several transgendered people and they are living full loving lives. One is studying to be a Rabbi. Yes, there are those who commit suicide and do not find the release. However, what is the fundamental/evangelical community
    doing to contribute to those statistics? Many commit suicide because they are not accepted in society, or welcomed in our churches.

    • Deborh, Leviticus is the Mosiac law which we are now free from. Nothing in there is the underpinning for my teaching on homosexuality and transgenderism. The fuller context of Scripture, though, does state clearly that homosexuality is sin. And God created gender to reflect his image. It’s a difficult and tender subject for us as Christians and we’ve gotten so much of it wrong. We’ve lacked love in how we’ve taught. I’m so sorry about that.

  • Dannah,

    Thank you so much for shedding a light on this very controversial topic since many well-meaning Christians have a difficult time trying to explain homosexuality. I’m really glad you made this post because lots of people that were my friends in middle school have professed to be gay/lesbian etc. and I’ve been very confused as to how I should approach them with God’s word without bringing hurtful condemnation.
    I wanted to know, practically, how could I reach out to help my friends who are gay but are very stubborn to even consider Christ because of the hate they have received specifically from Christians?

    • Esther, I think I would start by apologizing. Tell them that you have noticed some Christians have been unloving and you want to tell them that you would stand in the way of those verbal stones anytime you could. This is what Christ did with the adulterous woman. He did not let religious people hurl stones. He stood in they way. The harder thing is that he also didn’t accept or affirm her sinful lifestyle. He said, “Go, and sin no more.” You’ll have to pray that the love you extend opens up a door for them to hear your heart and wait for God’s timing to encourage them to “sin no more.” But watch for the open heart before you say it.

      • Dannah,
        You just perfectly summed up my beliefs on this. That was very well written, and thank you also for responding to people’s comments, you are wonderful at it. (I didn’t write that just so you would respond to this comment.)

  • I agree with lots of these points…..we live in a society where people do whatever they want to make themselves happy, without regard to the negative consequences on society as a whole (even if they think there is no specific negative consequence towards anyone else). I also agree that there have been a wide spectrum of reactions, many of which I personally think are wrong and unhelpful. I do want to just throw in my two cents on the whole…..Christ will make them happy and whole and solve their pain thought process. In the past 5 years, I had a husband, cheat on me and abandon me….among many other things……and move to another city and remarry three months after the divorce was final and he and his new wife are leaders in their church and proclaim Christ in just about every sentence. They are oftentimes affirmed by others even when others know the truth because this is our messed up world. I am holding onto Christ with everything I have but that does not take away the pain or the depression. Sometimes we have to just follow God’s word and work out our relationship with Christ just because we are supposed to and just because it is the right thing to do…..it won’t always take away pain and I don’t think we should sell it to others that way. Just my two cents.

    • CCJ, I’m so sorry for your terrible pain. I’m sad that your husband is able to run from his marriage and have affirmation from a Church body for remarrying and so quickly. That’s wrong. Someone should have held his feet to the fire in godly accountability. Rest assured, Christ’s healing on this one is going to take a long time but he will bring it. I have seen it many times with friends and sisters in Christ in similar situations. I don’t think my blog said “Christ will make them happy and whole and solve their pain” but maybe you are referring the over-all simplistic view some Christian’s verbalize. It’s not that easy. Christ is the answer, but their may still be pain or things to work through slowly. I agree.

  • Dannah,

    Thanks for posting this. However, the times I’ve tried to have a conversation with a GLBT person they accuse me of being backwards, ignorant, and etc… How can I have a conversation without having a “i’m right you are wrong” debate?

    Vivian

    • I think the key is always humility. What we believe is by faith. So many times in these last few months I just want to jump on the acceptance band wagon because it would be so easy. But we have a faith in a God who we sense and are aware of, but cannot prove. Everything we believe is rooted in this faith of what is not seen. We have to be humble. You can just humbly say, “I know this is difficult. It’s hard for me, too. Here’s what the Bible says and I’m trying to think through it. Let’s keep open hearts to each others ideas.” And ask God to open their hearts in humility, too!nn1

    • Most don’t respond well to simply being told what to do. There usually needs to be a level of trust and confidence that the person giving you rules cares about you as a person and has your best interest in mind. As sinners, we need to be told how to live a holy and pure life. But the cool thing about God is that it’s not His rules that He says leads us to confessing that we need Him, need a Savior. It’s His kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). His kindness is both intertwined and directly related to His grace. The only thing humans truly deserve is death but God graciously provided us a way of escape through Jesus Christ (Romans 3:23). With that act, He proved that He cares us us – as people! When you’re drenched, covered, consumed, enraptured in that kind of grace (and love, and kindness, and mercy, and patience, and forgiveness, and care), it makes it a bit easier to see the rules and guidelines God gives as things that aren’t trying to keep us from having fun but things that will lead us to truly LIVE life as He intended for us to live. Definitely read through and study to book of Romans for further insight, especially chapters 4-8. Happy studying 🙂
      (posted by Dannah’s team)

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