It seems like the internet is blowing up. The recent news surrounding Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner has led to a frenzy of social media sharing, insensitive jokes, and heated debates.
I’ve tried to steer clear of it.
To begin with, what happens with celebrities has ceased to shock me, and it doesn’t really interest me at all. Jenner is a man whom I pity, he is confused, selfish, and lost. I can only hope that he will one day be surprised by the joy of knowing Jesus and finally see that his love is the only thing that can fill that emptiness that seems to burn within him.
But Jenner is one among many with celebrity status, and most of them are pitiable; as those who have gained the whole world in fame, status, money…etc..and have lost their souls.
It’s not gender issues that I want to discuss. And not even Jenner, but the notions that have circled around him that have so blatantly revealed the backward state of our collective minds.
Jenner has been mentioned by many as courageous and heroic for his decision to undergo transgender surgery.
But there is nothing heroic about Jenner’s decision. Gender issues aside, he made a decision for himself, to fulfill his own happiness (or at least what he believes will bring him happiness, as deceived as he may be), nothing about his decision was for anyone but himself.
The morality of his decision aside, it wasn’t heroic, it was intrinsically self-motivated.
If you support his decision, fine (that’s a different debate), but don’t call it heroic. It isn’t.
Our notion of heroics seems to be defined by selfishness, and this idea of pursuing self-fulfillment has become the icon of our definition of courage.
Ginny Owens song The Land of the Grey is so very on point on this topic,
There’s a young Mother with three children
Got a stable income and a faithful husband, too.
She’s searching for her life’s meaning,
So she says to her shrink, “I’m leaving home soon!”
Just decided she couldn’t take it anymore,
Didn’t look back, she just snuck out the back door-
What is wrong with this picture?
We applaud this behavior
Admire how she breaks away
Oh, it’s so clearly cloudy, in the land of the Grey.
There’s a young senator, gifted politician,
So consumed by pursuing his career.
Use to care about what people wanted,
But know he’s learned how to say what they want to hear.
A million lies and scandals bear his name,
But you’ll never see him hide his face in shame-
What is wrong with this picture?
We applaud this behavior
He’s a hero if he makes mistakes
Oh, it’s so clearly cloudy, in the land of the Grey.
What’s wrong? What’s right? Absolute confusion.
What’s black? What’s white? Everything looks hazy.
Such scenarios bring me to only one conclusion-
Maybe we’ve all gone crazy.
Three little kids praying moma come home,
And a little town feels violated and betrayed.
Meanwhile, two very unhappy people
Try to excuse the messes they’ve made.
But you’ll never hear it stated quiet that way,
We can handle it here in the land of the grey
Ginny Owens, The Land of the Grey
We have it so backward. Pursuing self-fulfillment or personal happiness isn’t heroic nor courageous.
Courage is laying down your desires for the sake of another. Heroes are the ones who lay down their lives with no expectation of repayment. They are the parents who stay, despite the difficulty. They are the people who work with integrity despite the temptations and pressures to do otherwise. They are the people who fight injustice and cruelty and seek no recognition.
And I can only hope that Jenner one day sees that his decision was neither heroic nor courageous, but that there is one who was courageous on his behalf, because Jesus gave everything up for the sake of Jenner, and me, and you; he let himself bleed so that we could know him instead of confusion; so that our loneliness could be replaced with his presence; so that the wretchedness we try to flee from within ourselves would be taken on him and replaced instead with his perfection.
We don’t need to find ourselves to be happy, we need only lose ourselves for the sake of the one who made us, and in so doing we’ll find that being a living sacrifice is more beautiful than self-fulfillment ever could be.
(Sorry if this comment ends up posting more than once; I was having issues with WordPress.)
Lydia, this is going to sound harsh, but I can’t not say something.
When a person tells you their pronouns and their name, and you don’t use them, that is an act of violence. This post is an act of violence. A small one, maybe, but the kind of violence that contributes to the culture in which trans people are victims of a much-higher-than-average rate of physical violence.
Are we not fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God? When something is wrong with our brains and our bodies that causes us pain, do we not seek medical solutions to that without being called selfish? Is it only certain kinds of people who have the right to feel at home in their own skin?
What Caitlyn did is brave. We all, every single one of us, have many identities, and that isn’t wrong or selfish. You and I are both white cisgender married women. We are both college graduates. You are a mother. I could go on, I’m sure. These are all very real identities, and acknowledging that is not selfish, and it does not make us failures as Christians.
Caitlyn’s gender identity happened to be one that differed from what people assumed her gender to be based on the body she had, so she took surgical steps to make what was always true on the inside obvious on the outside. And in doing so, she is providing hope and inspiration to others who struggle because people make incorrect assumptions about their gender identity based on the kind of body they have, people who may be considering trying to end their lives (because the suicide rate among trans people is tragically high).
We are each of us individuals, loved by God. I’m not saying that means we can do whatever we want, because we all have sinful impulses of some sort that we need God’s help to refrain from acting on. But I also don’t think God wants us to forsake who we are. God wants us to be like Christ, not turn ourselves into perfect carbon copies. If that’s what God wanted, humanity wouldn’t have been created.
I don’t know if I’m being clear about this part of what I want to say. I think the best way to sum it up is that I take issue with interpretations of dying to ourselves that sound like we’re supposed to suppress our individuality, suppress everything about ourselves that isn’t literally Jesus, which would mean suppressing basically everything about ourselves. Jesus’ disciples had identities: some were fishermen, at least one was a Zealot, James and John were brothers. Jesus didn’t ask them to abandon those identities, just to prioritize how he wanted them to use them over how they wanted to use them.
I think declaring our identity in Christ simultaneously with other identities can be a very powerful witness. You will probably think this is me being selfish, or a sign that my faith is weak, or something like that, but if I hadn’t been shown that it was possible to be a Christian and a feminist, I would’ve stopped being a Christian. The patriarchy is a type of structural sin that hurts us all, and saying I’m a feminist doesn’t make me less of a Christian.
I think I’m getting off topic, and this is also much longer than I meant it to be.
I doubt what I’m saying here is going to change your mind, but my hope is that maybe you’ll at least reconsider about the pronouns. I have friends who are trans, and I’ve seen firsthand what being misgendered does to them, because it is an act of violence, and it hurts them. Maybe consider finding a way to express thoughts like these in a less violent way?
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Thank you for your comment, Sarah, while I disagree with you, I appreciate the overall tone of respect you used.
I know you have a sensitivity on this issue and that it comes from a place of compassion for individuals within the QUILTBAG community. I appreciate that you care so much for individuals and that you seek to empathize with them.
I do however think you are misguided, and that while you are compassionate, your approach to these issues, while thoughtful, is actually more harmful than helpful for individuals who are in the midst of gender confusion. While you may think you are being loving by encouraging individuals to embrace gender confusion, you are actually hurting them, encouraging them to further loneliness, confusion, and emptiness and further distancing them from the God who loves them.
I have intentionally addressed Jenner with the male pronoun, because no amount of physical mutilation, makeup, or stereotypical female clothing will remove the gender he was given when he was fearfully and wonderfully made. I refuse to address him as female, because he is not female, and if I were to address him as female I would be accepting (and condoning) his decision to mutilate his body in hopes of finding happiness. Jenner will find happiness only when he embraces the full spectrum of his identity in Christ, as a man and as one who was made to live under the authority and love of the God who made him.
Violence against individuals based on their choices is absolutely wrong we can certainly agree on that. But the intentional use of a pronoun isn’t violence, and in fact calling it such marginalizes the instances of actual violence. By calling my post an act of violence you belittle the instances in which transgender individuals are bullied, ridiculed, insulted or beaten. Let’s be certain the terms we use are correct so that we can maintain a level of accuracy and protect individuals from actual violence.
The suicide rate among transgender individuals is alarmingly high and it is so tragic, and it doesn’t decrease when individuals undergo surgery in hopes of having “their outside reflect their inside”, at the heart of the loneliness and tragedy of those with gender confusion is an ache for their Creator misdirected, and no amount of outward change will take that away, only Christ can.
Jesus doesn’t call us to “Suppress ourselves”, he actually calls us to “die to ourselves”, which is much harder. Jesus disciples did have other identities, and if you remember they left those identities gladly to follow Jesus, without even putting away their nets or boats, they gladly laid down who they WERE for the sake of being ONE with Christ. If we aren’t willing to submit our identities (and die to the sinful aspects of them for his sake), then we aren’t willing to do what it takes to follow him.
If you feel it necessary to have Christ AND something else, perhaps that’s an indication that Christ isn’t enough, in which case, at some point you may have to admit, that what you follow isn’t Christianity at all, but rather your own picking of ideas in which you are the final authority as to what fits your philosophical paradigm, I’m sorry, but that isn’t following Christ, that’s simply attaching his name to your own religion. Jesus tells us to count the cost of what it means to follow him, death to self, death to the world, and submission to him as our authority aren’t easy, and there is no room for any “and” philosophies next to his name.
Thanks again for your comment, I always appreciate your input, even as we disagree.
I used the word violence intentionally, because misgendering is a microaggression, which is a form of emotional, mental, and spiritual violence. And people would not feel so justified in the physical violence they commit if the emotional and mental climate created by microaggressions did not exist. They are part of the same system of oppression.
Pronouns are important because not all trans people can afford, or even necessarily want, surgery. Our gender is not determined by the kind of body we have. I don’t have the citation handy, but there’s actually research showing that trans people’s brain chemistry, pre-transition, is more similar to that of cis people of the gender with which they identify than with cis people with the same kind of body they have. Trans people are not confused in the sense of being wrong, it’s just that they happen to be born in bodies that are different from the ones our culture generally associates with that particular gender, and it can take a while to sort all that out.
For the sake of honesty, I should probably mention that something I’ve figured out during the last year or so is that I fall under the QUILTBAG umbrella. It’s not just that these are my friends and family and members of an oppressed group, though that’s more than enough to give me reason to make extra effort to love them and fight for them, it’s that these are my people, my tribe. That’s all the detail I want to go into in this public forum, but, like I said, honesty and all that.
I think perhaps we mean different things by “Christian and __.” When I say it, I’m using terminology as a way to express that whatever it is, in my case usually feminism, is a part of my Christianity. The two are not separate. We know that God cares deeply about the oppressed on an individual and a systemic level, so identifying as part of a movement and philosophy that seeks to do just that does not lessen my commit to Christ, but rather helps me direct it.
Honestly, I literally do not understand what people mean when they talk about Christ being everything. I suppose to you that means I’m not a Christian, but I’ll try to explain: we were created human, created to live on this earth and be a part of it, to eat and sleep and laugh and be in community. We need those things, and pursuing them isn’t wrong, isn’t saying that Christ is insufficient. Very few people are called to live in solitude, away from the rest of humanity. We’re here to be salt for the earth, we’re here to be a part of things. Christ is our center and our guide and our light, yes, absolutely. But when people get on their high horses and start talking about how “those people” clearly aren’t dying to themselves and letting Christ be their everything, I first am confused, and then think about the verse “judge not lest you be judged.” We cannot know what is in another person’s heart, not entirely, and especially not a stranger–only God can know that.
As for the disciples, yes they dropped their nets, but they didn’t cease to be fishermen, nor did they stop fishing for the rest of their lives. For a specific part of their lives, they left their nets, and what happened in those years was entirely transformative, because they were with Jesus. But they still needed to eat and make a living. They did not stop being fishermen, it’s just that that was less important than being Jesus’ disciples. That’s what I mean when I talk about us having other identities: we don’t stop having those identities, it’s just that we lay them at Christ’s feet and use them in his service.
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I think your comment that you “do not understand what people mean when they talk about Christ being everything” is illuminating, and honestly heart-breaking. Essentially, if any aspect of what you recognize as your identity were stripped from you, would you be crushed or would you be able to look to Christ and say, you’re enough? If your answer is, “no” then that part of your identity is an idol.
I think the fisherman are a poor example to begin with, since fishing is not sinful. The things that fall under the QUILTBAG umbrella are, and as such they are an aspect of identity that in Christ must die. Aspects of our identity that do not live up to his holy and pure standard must be given up in submission to him. In no way am I saying that that is an easy thing to do, nor am I saying that it is a worse sin than any other sin. I must die to the sinful aspects of my identity as well. Christ died to forgive our sins, and he died to free us from them as well.
I think it is important to distinguish judgement and discernment, I am seeking to speak the truth in an effort to bring those who are misguided to the truth and freedom of Christ. In order to speak what is true, I have to discern right from wrong (based on the mandates given by God). I’m not judging based on my own ideas of what I think is right, I’m trying to reiterate what God has said in hopes that people will see their sin for what it is, and their desperate need for a savior. Likewise, when I am acting in sin I need others to illuminate my sin to me so that I can repent and reunite with my God.
I sincerely hope that as you navigate what sounds like a confusing chapter of your life that you find truth and comfort in Christ alone.
I doubt this is what you mean, but here’s how it sounds to me when you say “if any aspect of what you recognize as your identity were stripped from you, would you be crushed or would you be able to look to Christ and say, you’re enough? If your answer is, “no” then that part of your identity is an idol”: if Mark died in a car crash on his way home from work on Monday, meaning that I was no longer a wife (currently part of my identity), it would be idolatrous for me to be crushed and grief-stricken, and idolatrous for me to seek comfort from friends and family as I learned to cope with the loss. Like I said, I don’t think that’s what you actually mean, but that’s what follows logically from the way you’re phrasing this. It’s this disconnect between the way people describe Christ being sufficient and whatever it is that is actually meant that I have difficulty understanding. Of course I would lean on Christ if something happened that stripped me of part of my identity in a painful way, but I would also grieve and hurt and rely on friends and family and things like books that I find comforting during such a painful time; surely you don’t mean to suggest that that’s idolatrous.
When you were talking about identity and dying to self, you weren’t differentiating between sinful and non-sinful identities, so in that context the fishermen were a great example. If you’re going to talk about how we need to deal with sinful identities, rather than all identities, it’s important to say that explicitly, because otherwise it will sound as though you mean all identities.
Sorry, but as soon as you move from “this is what I have discerned is God’s path form my life” to “what I have discerned to be right and wrong is a standard that should be applied to everyone,” you are passing judgment. None of us are perfect conduits for God’s will, and that means that it is perfectly possible for faithful Christians to disagree on what is and is not sin; Christians have been doing this ever since the members of the early church argued about whether Gentile followers of Jesus had to convert to Judaism in order to be fully faithful. The bible is “God-breathed, and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness,” but it’s also complex. God did not dictate it word-for-word; instead, specific (though sometimes unknown) people were inspired by God and wrote it at specific times and in specific places and cultures. Add to that that most of us do not read it in the original language, and that leaves a lot of room for interpretation, especially on the complex issues of gender and sexuality. Interpretation involves making a judgment of what a passage means and how it applies to our lives now. To then declare that the interpretation you adhere to is the definitive one, and anyone who goes against it is sinning, is to pass judgment.
This period in my life is not so much confusing as it is illuminating. I am finding words that describe things I have always felt, and that is something that is very helpful for me. I don’t know if you would consider my search for truth and comfort as being “in Christ alone,” but, since I believe that all truth is God’s truth, and that there is that of God in everyone, I see God in all the places where I find truth and comfort.
I hope you don’t mind, but the next few days are very busy for me, so I’m going to go ahead and bow out of this discussion now.
Although you said that your post was not about gender issues, you seemed to focus on Caitlyn’s decision to be authentic with others about her gender as unheroic. I agree with you that there are other issues than gender identity at play, such as attention-seeking personality traits. However, I think it is important to not discount the significance of this moment for people in the LGBT community, who have historically been marginalized, and who may benefit from the national discussion about gender identity issues that was brought about by Caitlyn’s announcement.
My initial reaction when I hear a person speak out against LGBT lifestyles is that the person has not spent time in community with LGBT individuals. I have some close friends who identify as transgender and it breaks my heart to hear about how much persecution they have had to endure because of their decisions to share their authentic gender identities with others. Attacking identity issues has detrimental consequences, as has been shown by the failure of Exodus International and the inefficacy of conversion therapy more generally.
I am convinced that feelings of intolerance begin to go away when we spend time in community with others who are different than ourselves. Namely, community erodes that basic narcissism that desires the “other” to be a reflection of the “self”. Once this narcissism is gone, we can start to value and affirm the differences in others and work together as a healthy and functioning “church” body.
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Thank you for your comment.
Your assumption that I haven’t spent time in the community of LGBT individuals is misguided, I have also had friends among the spectrum. I agree that the persecution they receive is heart wrenching, it is wrong for them to be belittled, insulted or persecuted as a result of their confusion.
Fleshing out the truth of identity issues is not synonymous with “attacking” them though. I’d be careful to not supersede the boundaries of what constitutes an attack lest you belittle the actual injustice inflicted on those of the LGBT community.
Likewise, love and tolerance are not cohesive. In fact, they are mutually exclusive in this case. If an action is harmful, it is my responsibility in love to call it harmful. If a child decides they have the ability to fly, loving them cannot mean I tolerate actions they take to fulfill what they believe exists within them, to love them is to prevent them from harming themselves.
To love someone within the LGBT community means to speak with honesty, truth, and grace, undergirded by the death and resurrection of Christ, anything less isn’t loving and only results in further harm.
Further, part of my objection with Jenner is that I DON’T want him to be a reflection of myself. I am female, he is male, the distinctions of our genders are one of the many necessary components to a church body.
But above all a church body can only be healthy and functioning if it is founded on and submitted to truth, and the death and resurrection of Christ. Condoning the lifestyles of the LGBT community is neither loving to them nor healthy for them or the church body as a whole.
Thank you again for your comment.
Thank you for the thoughtful response. This has been an interesting post and I’ve enjoyed reading the diversity of perspectives on the topic. I thought I should clarify my comment about narcissism, particularly in light of another commenter conflating the term with “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” from DSM-5.
I was using the term “narcissism” colloquially, similar to how the word “anxiety” is often used without strict reference to “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” from DSM-5. I did not intend for the term to be directed towards you personally. Rather, I was proposing the idea that everyone is born with a basic narcissism (i.e. selfishness) that goes away through repeated experiences with others, particularly others that are most different from ourselves (in terms of worldview, culture, values, etc.). It was clever of you to use a literal interpretation of my comment in your response (that you don’t want Caitlyn to be a reflection of your own gender). Although I’m sure you also recognize that the “reflection” was about more than just gender labels; similar to how the phrase, “All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full,” is about more than just water. (As a side note, I used the word “reflection” somewhat ironically, as it alludes to the Greek god Narcissis staring at his own reflection in the water.)
This defense of my use of the word “narcissism” is probably overkill, but I thought it would help to prevent against further misinterpretations of my original post. For what it is worth, I would encourage you (i.e. inspire you with courage) to be quick to love people in the LGBT community and slow to communicate “truth”, especially considering the diversity of perspectives on this issue from Bible-believing Christians.
P.S. Considering that your original post was about courage, I would highly recommend, “The Courage to Be” by Paul Tillich, one of the great theologians of the 20th century.
P.S. I realized that I’m probably using the word “love” differently than you are using it. (In fact, C.S. Lewis wrote an entire book about different ways that the word “love” is often used). So I will amend my post using more specific terms:
“For what it is worth, I would encourage you to be quick to show patience, kindness, and compassion toward people in the LGBT community and slow to communicate “truth”, especially considering the diversity of perspectives on this issue among Bible-believing Christians.”
Thank you for your recommendation. I appreciate the feedback. I’m going to assume your comments are given out of a spirit of charity with a genuine desire to see me love people better. I appreciate your concern and will certainly continue to assess myself and my actions to try and fulfill the calling of following Christ, thank you for challenging me to pursue loving people well.
I do think it’s safe to say we do not agree on the definitions of the words “Love” nor “truth”, you seem to think them mutually exclusive, I think they are inseparable (and I think if you were to read Lewis’ book The Four Loves–which I assume is the book you’re referencing, you would find that it doesn’t apply well to your comment, though it is a wonderful book). It is precisely because of the diversity of perspectives among people who call themselves “christians” that I have chosen to write on this topic.
Once again, thank you for your concern and desire to see people love well, I am certainly taking it to heart and will seek to scrutinize my words and actions to ensure that they fall under Christ’s command to love God and one another, and to speak truth in love.
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I agree with you that the four loves described in Lewis’ book are not relevant to the difference in usage of the term in this conservation, although the book is helpful in illustrating my point that the word “love” has become such a general term that it is often misinterpreted in casual conversation. Also, I’d agree with you that it is a good book. I read it in college with a few other guys in my dorm. : )
Thanks Lyds for this perspective and truth in a world that has lost sight of it in the most dangerous way. Thanks for your vulnerability and honest voice on a topic, no only relevant, but touchy. You’re an amazing woman!
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Oh thank you Jyndia. I don’t know what I’d do without your encouragement!
Okay- so now I have some time to percolate on more thoughts. Living in Portland, loving several people who identify themselves in the LGBT community AND loving Jesus, this has been a personal journey of self growth for myself. In my opinion, the only thing that Caitlyn Jenner did that was especially unique to her, was rip open Pandora’s box and force people to emotional react to her decisions.
I think its important to note that no where, in this post, do you deny loving anyone who identifies as LGBT. Correct me if I am wrong, but what you are primarily responding to is America’s reaction to whether Caitlyn should be exalted as brave, courageous and heroic for her decisions? As well as to address what is the motivation behind her decisions?
I have a patient, currently, who is transgender and though I do not understand, nor identify with their decision to go from a female gender to trans, I love them anyways and treat them no different than I would anyone else. And that essentially is what I am getting from you in this post. It has nothing to do with how Caitlyn or anyone else is treated, but you are responding to America’s response which is so deeply embedded in the “gray”. This issue of respecting Caitlyn or any other person identifying with another gender is a non-issue in this post.
Lastly the idea of surrendering to self (even so dramatically as saying “death to self”) is completely biblical and has EVERYTHING to do with following Jesus. Our identity is found in Christ and not of ourselves or this world. That does not mean we are not individual persons with individual interests or characteristics that make us unique. It means that our hope, foundation and identity is found in one thing. This identity has nothing to do with being a feminist. It is hard truth and completely gospel. “In Him there is no sin” (1 John 3:4-10).
I appreciate your commitment to truth, regardless the popularity in doing so.
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Thank you for your comment, Jyndia,
Your personal experience on this topic is valuable, and I so appreciate you chiming in.
And thank you for seeing the purpose of this post. While I do not agree with Jenner’s decision my point is to address the collective American mindset that labels a personal decision chosen for personal happiness as “heroic or brave”.
I address in the beginning that jokes made at the expense of Jenner were insensitive. Our response shouldn’t be to label Jenner a hero nor should we belittle or mock him. Our response ought to be one where we love him, and loving him means speaking truth graciously. This post wasn’t directed to speak to Jenner though, it was directed in an effort to bring light to the muddied waters that label personal happiness as heroic, Jenner was merely a relevant example.
And your last paragraph is so perfectly put. Well said.
Thanks again for chiming in!
What if I said, even though you identify with being a Christian, based on your judgement of calling another person selfish, confused and lost.. Someone you have never met or had a single conversation with.. Someone you have judged without ever sitting across a table from them.. By offering judgement under these circumstances, I will not call you a Christian since you seem to also be lost and confused when it comes to what Jesus has called His followers to do. That would be pretty ridiculous right? The point being, it is none of your business to shout to the world whether or not you approve of his/her decision. That’s between Bruce/Caitlyn and God. If you want to argue accountability, I would argue that Caitlyn, proclaiming to be a Christ follower herself, has a network of Christ followers that fill that role.
None of us are in the land of gray or black or white. We are all on earth in community with one another. Shaming someone to a different poetic world is something Jesus never did and never called us to do.
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Firstly, this post doesn’t claim to make any argument regarding my opinions of what Jenner decided to do with his body, my point was to address the collective response to his decision. Jenner’s faith wasn’t the point at all, I was simply stating that I hoped that he came to know Christ and found the fulfillment he so desperately desires in him.
And no, you are correct in asserting that Jesus didn’t shame people to a poetic world, he actually condemned those who don’t follow him to hell. That’s a much harsher judgment, and I gladly leave that discernment to him who knows the heart. But he did give us very clear directives of what is right and what is wrong, and he commands those of us who claim to follow him to share that truth with the world. If you prefer I don’t use poetic statements, let me put it simply,
God requires we follow his standard of purity and holiness if we claim to follow him, Jesus died so that we can not only be forgiven for our sin, but freed from it. To paint something like transgenderism as anything but sin is to re-crucify Christ, and as his hands and feet and voice in this world we are called to make that clear because we desire to love and save the lost.
Those are a lot of very big statements with no biblical references. No where does the Bible say that any particular son re-crucifies Christ. … In reference to Jesus condemning others to hell, John 3:17 says that Jesus did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. I never recall Jesus ever condemning anyone to hell. In fact the only people I can recall Hin publicly exposing their sins were those judging others, the religious leaders… But what do I know, I am just a pastor with a Biblical Theology degree.
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To mention your degree is a logical fallacy of appealing to your own authority, whatever your education may be, it is irrelevant to the cogency of your argument, either your point is sound or it isn’t, the level of education has no bearing. But you are right, those are weighty things I mentioned, I had assumed that they were common knowledge so I didn’t think it was necessary to reference them, that was my mistake.
As to re-crucifying Christ: (Hebrews 6:1-7)
1Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2and of instruction about washings,a the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3And this we will do if God permits. 4For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. 7For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.
Also, re-crucification is alluded to later in Hebrews 10, specifically verses 26-31:
26For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God
Both of these passages are also referring to hell being the eternal consequence for those who do not submit to Jesus as Lord and savior.
Jesus did come in his first appearance to seek and save the lost, to die and resurrect, and he also promises to return again, and that return promises final judgement, where he will condemn those who have rejected him to an eternal hell.
If you want specific instances where Jesus himself condemns people to hell, they can be found in the following passages:
Matthew 23:29-33 (though the entire passage implies that these religious people who miss the gospel, and focus on being “good” people instead. They miss the point of the purity of God’s law and add to his law their own statutes instead of living by faith and submission to God, and he promises they will be condemned):
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves, that you are [x]sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how [y]will you escape the [z]sentence of [aa]hell?
And, John 5:21-31
21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
Also in the story in Luke 16:19-31 where Jesus allegorically uses Lazarus and the Rich Man’s deaths and afterlives to illustrate that there are no second chances after this life, the decisions we make now, will have consequences on our eternal souls.
And this doesn’t include the book of Revelation, which allegorically displays Jesus coming judgment when he returns a second time, and his final reign where he condemns unbelievers to hell, and brings about a new heaven and earth where he reigns for eternity.
Jesus speaks about hell as a very real place, one that he warns will be the destiny of any who do not believe and submit to him. And because of that truth, it is the responsibility of all who call themselves followers of Christ to speak the truth in love for the sake of the souls of those who do not know him. If we do not rightly identify sin to a world that is steeped in it, then they won’t recognize their great need for a savior. I need Jesus, they need Jesus, and because of the grace that God has given me, it is my responsibility to tell them that.
This is my last comment so feel free to get the last word in if you want. I won’t be responding after this. I will say:
1. Jesus always stood for and fought for unity. Your blog is not championing restoration or unity in any way. If your heart for Bruce/Caitlyn was truly for unity and for restoration, instead of calling out sin over social media, you would encourage private and relational conversation with those who know and love her best.
2. The reason why I mentioned my degree is to let you know that I spent and still spend so much time not only pouring over and memorizing Scripture, but I also spent a ton of time learning the context of these Scriptures. You don’t have to recognize my degree, I’m just letting you know that because of years of education, I can confidently say that you took these scriptures out of context. For example, you stated, “To paint something like transgenderism as anything but sin is to re-crucify Christ” your scriptural backing was Hebrews 6:1-7… This scripture is saying that it is impossible for people who have been transformed by the love and grace of Christ to be saved again. This scripture is in relation to people who had been trying over and over and over, even after Jesus was crucified, to continue to save themselves through sacrificing and upholding the law that had already been fulfilled. This verse is saying that it is impossible, once you already have already repented and been transformed by a relationship with Christ, to “renew to repentance” (HCSB) because that would be like “recrucifying the Son of God” which is also impossible. So it’s actually the opposite nature and does not have anything at all to do with the topic at hand. Similar responses would follow to every other scripture quoted but I honestly just don’t have the time and energy to lay it all out for you.
3. The beauty of community with Jesus is that all of these things are all not essential salvation pieces. The only thing required for salvation is to have a relationship with Christ and recognize Him as the Son of God who died and rose again for your sins… For all your sins. Whatever you struggle with time and time again, whether it’s gossip, judgemental hypocrisy, homosexuality, pride, greed, etc… Those are all covered by the blood, those are all things to work out between you and Christ and hopefully a community of those that love you… So Bruce or Caitlyn or whoever you want to call him/her… She’s covered. She’s loved. She’s not in a land of gray or black or purple, she’s right here, right along side us, working things out, unfortunately she’s got an entire world watching her while she does it, all feeling entitled to shout their opinions about her every move. But she’s loved, so so loved.
I’m so glad that we can all agree and disagree on 95% of scriptures and just all still be unified by the essentials of Jesus at the cross. Heaven is going to be a riot haha when we all get there and see people we devoutly disagreed with… People from all nations and vastly different view points… All loved by Christ. It’s gonna be wild.
Since by your closing reply it sounds as if you won’t take the time to read this I just wanted to clarify for anyone that does what I meant when I said “re-crucify” Christ. I was loosely referencing what John Piper explains much better (because I did a pretty poor job of explaining, I’ll just quote him to clear up the confusion)
“One [reason this apostasy re-crucified Christ] is that Christ was crucified the first time to make his people pure and holy. That’s why he shed his blood. Hebrews 13:12 says, “Jesus also suffered outside the gate that He might sanctify the people through His own blood.” He died to sanctify us. He died to make us pure and holy and devoted to him (see Hebrews 9:14; Titus 2:14). So when we turn our backs on purity and holiness and devotion, which his cross was designed to bring about, we say yes to the impurity and worldliness and unbelief that nailed him there in the first place. Which means we crucify him again.”
John Piper http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/when-is-saving-repentance-impossible
Anyway, hopefully that clarifies better what I so poorly communicated.
Wow, what a great post! I appears to have struck a nerve. But interestingly enough, most of the comments are NOT about the post, but about a tangential idea that surrounds the idea of the gender change of Bruce/Caitlin Jenner. The post was NOT a post about condemning the QUILT BAG community. It was not a textual criticism about how God is both all loving (wants to save everyone) and just (condemns those who choose their own sin over God’s design).
According to the comments provided by the various readers, it is very apparent that their own personal experience in the QUILT BAG community is incompatible with the author’s views, and therefore has warranted not only attacks on the ideas in the post, but on the author herself! Not only is it a fallacy to condemn the author (rather than the idea), but it is downright judgmental, insincere and not in the “spirit of unity”. In the area of internet writing we must criticize the idea, not the author of the idea – for as meganmilem has rightfully pointed out, we should not judge a person we have “never met or had a single conversation with”. Ironically, these commenters have done exactly that: they have criticize the author for being judgement, but they have render their judgement in return. They have asked for unity, but have provided more reasons for division. There was no inquiry about “where do you get your biblical support for this?”. The comments merely provided terse anecdotal evidence and assertions on how their experience is so compelling there must be no possible way that QUILT BAG people can be anything but heroes – and surely God would never condemn them. They also excuse away the scripture provided by the author (in the comments) stating it was “taken out of context” or the scripture is “complicated”. Yet, the critics fail to provide any context; moreover, if scripture is so complicated then they can NOT say for certain what is does or does not mean, and can therefore have no way to invalidate the authors (or any other) perspective. Others seem to be so impassioned they have resorted to judging the authors personal relationship with Christ, saying he would have been “mad at this post” (see facebook), or inferring that the author is “narcissist” (incorrect definition of narcissism by the way, if we are going by the DSM-V. A nacrissit is a “rules don’t apply to me” kind of person, not a “everyone should be like me” kind of person. Even so, the author is female, and is actually advocating Jenner be NOT like her), because she (also assuming) has never spent time in the QUILT BAG community.
This post was about criticizing the fact that our media labels a person who selfishly pursues his own desire a “hero”. And it was done with the intent of redirecting Jenner (and others like him) back to a true source of contentment: God himself. The post never makes fun of, dehumanizes or belittles the QUILT BAG community. I agree with the author, Jenner’s act was not heroic because Jenner is an individual who considers his sex change the commemorating experience of his life: “My whole life has been getting me ready for this,” he says in the clip, later adding, “It made me who I am.” (People Magazine). His own statement about his gender change does not sound like he did this for anyone but himself and it certainly does not sound like he is conforming to the identity of Christ. It is an unbiblical idea that God would ever affirm the deliberate destruction of ones “fearfully and wonderfully made” self in favor of a more acceptable form of the self. God is not arbitrary and has intentionally created diversity within the human race (male and female) with the intent of providing each a unique (and equally important role) in a marital covenant for the purpose of displacing the love Christ has for the church. The roles are not reversible, just was we cannot save Christ. Nor is the design subject to mutilation as a transgender individual/advocate would like.
Regarding the person with QUILT BAG tendencies: who is a true hero? According to a Christian worldview, the true heros are the people that STRUGGLE with their sin and REJECT and REPENT from it- not embrace it. I too have friends who struggle with any number of QUILT BAG issues, but some of them have choose to repent and chose Jesus over their own sin. To you (and you know who you are), I say you are the hero. But you will never be published in the mainstream media, you will never be embraced by the QUILT BAG community simply because you go against their agenda – you go against their being – you are not popular to them because you are choosing to not be of this world for the sake of the next. For the QUILT BAG community, sexual identity is their identity and it is something they feel so strongly about that they must overstate any criticism against them, calling it “violence” or a “hate crime”. Ironically, my experience with this community is that they are quick to resort to dehumanizing tactics and even actual violence to those that protest against them (just go to a gay pride protest and you can see Christian protesters being physical beat (actual violence – should we call it “macroviolence”?) by members of the QUILT BAG community. I am in no way saying such parades or protesters do anything but cause more problems, yet, my point stands that these people are not just out to “love” everyone as the media so often displays.
A note on community: some comments have focused on the notion of Christian community and how we are all members of the same family, under the same God and we should not judge. It seems some have mistaken the purpose for the effect. The effect of Christian love is community, but the purpose is to unify a sinful people with a holy God. Yes, Jesus calls us to live in community, but not at the cost of mistaking compassion for compromise. He desires “they [the church] may be one as we are one” (John 17:11), but he also says “I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Mathew 10:34). Yes he wants us to live without conflict, but he recognizes that gospel is offensive because it demands you die to yourself – you give up your identity in favor of his – you submit to his will instead of your own flesh. This is precisely why Jesus was crucified. He said something people didn’t like, kind of like the author in this post.
A note on judgement: the author respectfully provided a list of scriptures for you benefit, but I would like to add one thing. If we take the entire scripture (as one of our commenters rightfully suggested), scripture never provides us a standalone ultimatum “not to judge”. What it tells us is not to judge through the lens of hypocrisy. People love to quote Mathew 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged” and never finish the rest of the verse. They do this because it then they can hijack this verse to go ahead and judge people that they consider judgmental (this is the self refuting nature of calling someone judgmental, fyi). The verse continues to say, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will sear clearly to take the speck out of your brothers eye.” (v. 5). This makes sense of why you would “then be judged” for “judging another” – it is because you are criticizing a person for their sin (i.e. speck) while you are committing a greater sin (i.e. plank). For some reason, out culture simply cannot reconcile the fact that we can both love a person and disagree with them about something in their life. Yet, this is is exactly what God calls us to do, “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” (James 5:20). I agree, we are not the ultimate “judge” in the sense of ontologically assigning someone to heaven or hell – this is God’s domain and exactly what scripture refers to when it says, “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12). By judgement, this verse is not talking about disagreeing with someone and telling them they are living a life of sin. Here, “judge” is talking about “slandering” (v. 11) another person, criticism them with the devious attempt to hurt them, undermine them or belittle their character. This is entirely different then lovingly telling a brother they are in sin and redirecting them to the source of truth.
I agree, Sarah, the bible is complex. But it is not complex because it is hard to understand or because it was written in another culture or a different language (even the most liberal scholars would agree, especially those in Europe), it is complex because the human heart is in rebellion to God and this makes it hard to accept. Brothers and sisters, read the scripture, attempt to see it for what it is, do not try to explain away verses or assuage them into something they are not so they better fit your religious and philosophical system. For this would be creating God in your own image.
If you choose to critique anyone on the internet again: please follow the first rule of logic (the principle of charity) and seek to understand a the point of the author, and understand that view in its strongest, most persuasive form before subjecting the view to evaluation.
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I’ve provided an explanation for my use of the word “narcissism” in a comment above.
Thank you for your comment! I’m thankful to have another come alongside and defend (and even clarify better than I have) what I was trying to communicate.
I have nothing to add as I feel you very well illustrated the inconsistencies within the comments you addressed. Thank you again!
Great post Lydia! I always love reading your thoughts as they genuinely stem from honoring Christ in a world that is fixed on chasing their own passions and ideologies. Your boldness in the face of much opposition is admirable, refreshing, and so necessary in our culture that demands adoption of the most ‘progressive’ of viewpoints.
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Thank you for your comment Brad! It is certainly helpful to hear at a time when truth is so scorned and my own resolve feels burdened under the weight of scrutiny. It is also encouraging to know there are more who follow Christ with passion and a desire for truth, despite the sacrifice it requires and its unpopularity. Thank you again for taking the time to give such a kind comment!