Caveat: I am an evangelical Christian. This essay is addressed mainly to my fellow evangelical Christians, especially those struggling to find ways to love and accept people whose gender identities sit outside the norm they are used to (e.g., homosexual, bisexual, transsexual). For this reason, I am using language that evangelical Christians will relate to.
The Story of Max
Max walked into the women’s shower room at the city’s recreation center. When he started taking his clothes off, the several women there quickly dressed and fled.
A few minutes later, just as he was stepping into the shower, two male police officers entered and asked him to get dressed and come with them. When he asked them why, they grabbed him, handcuffed him, and took him out to a squad car stark naked. They booked him for indecent exposure and resisting arrest.
Max is suing the city. You see, Max’s name used to be Maxine. He changed it to Max when he went through several procedures to align his physical body more closely with this trans-gender. But because he had been declared female when he was born, North Carolina’s new gender law (HB2) requires him to use the women’s facilities.
Ethical conundrums for Christians
When I studied ethics as part of my Master’s work, my ethics professor expressed the opinion that advances in medical science would soon confront our society with ethical questions we have never had to deal with before, and that some of them would tear at the very fabric of our society. He was right.
It is no longer possible to argue that gender is strictly a binary equation. It never has been, of course, but advances in medical science have made it impossible to continue pretending it is. One of the challenges of our generation is to figure out what this reality means in a just society in general, and what it means for evangelical Christians in particular.
A little theology
Man was created male and female. With the Fall of Man came a blurring of gender identities, giving rise to other gender variants besides male and female. My theology tells me that these variations do not represent God’s ideal for the human race any more than, say, being born with a birth defect does.*
However, not being God’s ideal does not delegitimize anyone. If it did, we would all be illegitimate. All people, whatever their gender, are stamped with the imago dei, the image of God, and are of infinite value to God, who loves them more than you and I can ever imagine. The Gospel, the “good news,” is that he has already forgiven their every sin, their every condition — past, present and future — just as he has forgiven yours and mine. If you somehow believe that your brokenness is any less than that of, say, the homosexual couple who live across the street from you, then you need to dig out your Bible, dust it off, and read, say, the Gospel of Luke.
The “good news” we Christians are charged with to announce to everyone we encounter — with our words, with our actions, with our attitudes — is this: You are loved and accepted just the way you are. Personally, I find this incredibly good news. Well worth demonstrating to my neighbors.
* My understanding of sexual variants from the historically normative male-female dualism is a work in progress. Looking back on this post two and a half years later, I would write this particular paragraph differently. I am not longer confident in asserting that sexual variants from the historical norm are deviations from God’s norm.
As always, thanks for dropping by. Feel free to leave comments. Even if you disagree with me. Just try to be polite and respectful. Thanks.