Forgive the low-ball comedy in this one. Recently, a pastor was holding a baptismal remembrance ceremony. As the entire church came one by one before him, he would mark their forehead, saying, “Remember your baptism, and be thankful.” One woman came to him in the line and refused him, saying, “No way, pastor…I heard there is a transgender person in my son’s confirmation class. We are a bible-believing church. You can’t let that kid be confirmed!” With great grace, the pastor asked this mom to come back and talk to him about it another time…he continued to help everyone else remember their baptism.
Later, one-on-one, the pastor informed this parent that transgender people have the highest suicide and self-harm rates of anyone. He informed this mom that this kid had already been chased out of another church because of the self-righteous hard hearts, and that this would not happen in our church. When our state of NC had just passed a bill that allows Christian business owners to discriminate against gays and transgender people, we would show this child that this is not us. In our church, we would amaze this kid with the love of God, and the love of this community. Believe it or not, that mom’s heart was changed. She began to see this transgender kid as something more…a child of God. She ended up praying for the child and his family.
And where did these Christians get the idea that they were sharing God’s love by discrimination disguised as protecting themselves? In Acts 8, we get the amazing story of Philip sharing the gospel with a sexual minority. The Ethiopian eunuch would have been castrated as a boy against his will, making him both a victim of abuse and forever incapable of entering the Jerusalem temple to worship God (Deuteronomy 23:1). After leaving Jerusalem where he had come to worship, only to be reminded that his trans-gender nature barred him from the walls of God’s house, the eunuch was drawn by the Isaiah passage that reminded him of himself:
“As a sheep led to slaughter, and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he didn’t open his mouth. In his humiliation justice was taken away from him. Who can tell the story of his descendants because his life was taken from the earth?”
The Holy Spirit drops Philip by the eunuch’s side, just in time to overhear him reading this text. Philip shares the gospel with him, and it turns out that Jesus actually died for transgender people because Jesus believed they are worth it. The eunuch was so elated he asked to be baptized. Philip, who had grown up with the temple holiness codes, didn’t think twice about whether or not this sexual minority belonged to the church. He baptized him at once.
I listened to Against Me! while working on this one this week. They’re not for everyone in my normal audience, but their latest album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, has really opened my eyes to the internal struggle that seems to be common for people experiencing transgender dysphoria. In one song where the band judges idiot Americans, the singer hauntingly says, “While I hope I’m not like them, I’m not so sure.” It’s just as easy for people who are are more open to transgendered people to become judgmental of those who aren’t. The point isn’t to look at other people like they’re idiots for not believing the way you do.
The point is to get out there and love people you don’t understand. And shut up about your religious accommodations.