The Story Of Max

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

gender_neutral_bathroom_signMax 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.

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6 Responses to The Story Of Max

  1. Heather Spence says:

    yes! that is all.

    Like

  2. Rhys Pollard says:

    Great word Micheal!
    Personally agree with all that you say.
    Our God is a God of Love! (Period)

    Like

  3. exoduswatch says:

    This same logic would then extend to homosexuals who insist “they were born that way”. So God will accept them just the way they are. It is just a birth defect right? Nothing they need to repent of or die too. They just need to embrace easy believism, continue in their homosexual fetish sin and wait for Heaven. How many homosexual Priests and Pastors would give this article a thumbsup. How many liberals would say yay and amen. Friendship with the world is enmity with God

    Without holiness noone will see the Lord
    Take up your cross daily to follow Him
    You must DIE to your fallen self if you wish to be born again.

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    • Michael says:

      Thank you for your comment.

      “So God will accept them just the way they are?” Yes. God accepts you and me just the way we are. That IS the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Anything else would be bad news indeed. The challenge to “Repent and believe the good news,” is not a call to turn away from our sin, something we are incapable of doing; it is a call to turn away from own efforts at righteousness, and simply accept that it’s all grace. No additives required.

      I know this is radical. But it IS the gospel. The Protestant Reformation happened over this very radicalness.

      I know this is offensive. It’s offensive because it forever leaves us with NOTHING of any value to contribute. If we are to be holy, it will have to come from some place other than ourselves. If we are to follow Jesus, the courage and wisdom and desire to do so will have to come from some place other than ourselves. If we are to die to ourselves, that death will have to come from some place other than ourselves. All human effort to do any of these things is ruled out by the gospel, and that is why it offends many people once they understand what it is.

      I know that many churches in America today do not preach this gospel. They are more likely to preach some variation of GRACE + OBEDIENCE or GRACE + TRYING TO BE GOOD. But as soon as we add something — anything — to the gospel, we subvert the good news and turned it into Law, which is very bad news.

      Now, from this foundational starting point, this understanding of what the gospel is really about, we can discuss all kinds of questions that still need answering. Like, doesn’t God expect us to change our lives? Doesn’t God expect us to obey his laws? Doesn’t God want us to reform ourselves (with his help, of course)? These and other questions are valid. But if you don’t get what the gospel is really all about, you will come up with wrong answers to them.

      Again, thank you for the comment and for giving me an opportunity to explore this wonderful, radical gospel a bit further.

      Also, thanks for criticizing my post rather than me personally.

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      • exoduswatch says:

        I appreciate your response and I apologize for the length. I hope this is not too tedious I do think this is an important exploration, particularly in the times we live in today.

        I do agree that when God calls a person to Himself, that person can be in any state. No lost person is too lost for Jesus to wash clean. Amen. That addresses a state of fruitful and true conversion. There are certainly unfruitful and false conversions, I say unfruitful and false only in the sense that we as humans can only perceive what we see on the surface. The parable of the Sower, however, gives us insight into this phenomenon of fruitful/unfruitful gospel preaching/”conversion”. Some of those seeds had a seemingly good start, but all but one of the seed types resulted ultimately in the seed/plant dying or never living in the first place.
        Did God or the Gospel fail? No.

        I believe the seed is the gospel, and the various soil types are people. Again, some of those did initially begin to grow, but then they were either choked out and died, in too shallow of soil, or the seed was eaten by birds, taken away from the soil, before it could even take root.

        So I do agree that God accepts us where we are when we are truly called by Him to the cross. While the previous state of all mankind was a destiny of Hell, Christ, the Lamb that was slain before the foundations of the world, has made a way for us to share His habitation in Heaven and avoid Hell. That is what I would characterize as the Good News. To paraphrase, you don’t have to remain in bondage to sin, you have hope in Jesus Christ to free you from the bondage and pain of sin, and in so being freed you can approach the Father and share in Heaven with God for eternity.

        That is Good News for those that actually want to be free from the bondage and pain of sin. It is Good News in indeed. The whole human race has a shot at going to heaven. Just to have a shot, no matter what else is good news

        What about those that don’t really want to be free from the bondage and pain and dominion of sin in their lives? There are many many people like this. They enjoy much of their sin. Sin is no burden to them. They are willing prisoners. But if given a choice between Heaven and Hell when they die, of course, they would prefer Heaven. They want to enjoy fleshly sin on earth while also planning to be in Heaven when they die

        Is that who the Gospel is for? Is that who the Good News is for? Those that enjoy and revel in their sin?

        Should we say that this person who loves sin is Justified by Christ, but not Sanctified? They will go to heaven, but only have no eternal rewards when they get there? Are these types of people not “living according to the flesh?”
        Shall we tell them “nothing” else is needed as long as they pray an easy believism prayer? Is that loving them into Hell or Heaven?

        You mentioned the definition of “Repent” as not really meaning to turn away from continuing to sin, and that the Protestant Reformation happened over this very radicalness. I would say this differently.

        Christ told the woman at the well, “Go and sin no more”.

        Why would Christ tell her to repent in the traditional definition of repentance and do something that was impossible to do?
        What else could Christ have meant if he didn’t mean to actually go and turn away from sin? Was He speaking frivolously or metaphorically?

        The Protestant Reformation happened primarily over Sola Fida and Sola Scriptura. I would say that “By faith alone”, God/Christ saves us or Justifies us not based on papal indulgences or papal tradition or priestly confession, or a scale weighing good works and bad works.

        At the same time we must understand WHY did God/Christ make a way to save us? He called us to Himself to be conformed to the image of His Son. His sinless Son who is our example and our model to disciple ourselves after

        You mentioned that the Good News, as you have characterized it, is offensive to people, because they bring nothing to the table in terms of works. I agree with this, sort of, but for a different and I believe more profound reason. I believe it is offensive, not only because our “works” do nothing to save us, but because I believe that we don’t “choose to follow Christ” and that we don’t “accept Christ into our heart”.
        The act of justification is not that we “accept/receive” Him.
        I believe he calls/accepts/receives us in justification.

        We were dead in trespasses. Unable to desire anythingelse.

        God then calls us to Life from the tomb of death. Just as Lazarus had no choice in the matter to be resurrected. When God called him back to life, he came to life. It was one sided. All God.

        I believe that is also the act of justification. It takes even more away from us than our works.
        It takes away our will. It takes away our decision. We didn’t choose Him, He chose us while we were yet dead

        So it is not just after the easy believieism/sinners prayer that we have nothing to offer in terms of works to merit salvation, but even prior to the act of justification. It is His Grace and Call that even brings us to a venue or person to then walk through the act of His justification through the Good News.

        So now coming full circle, back to the the Parable of Sower.

        All that being said, I certainly believe that our works/deeds do not save us, to be clear. Only Christ saves us, but if we claim that Christ has saved us and we continue to live according the flesh until our death then what will our eternal destiny be?
        What is this evidence of? I believe it is evidence that Christ never truly called that person, because Christ cannot fail in us.

        That person is unfortunately one of the not good seeds in the parable of the Sower.
        But what man can discern the difference?

        The bible tells us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. The bible tells us to be aware of the fruit that we ourselves and others bear. That the fruit is the key to discerning the true nature of the underlying seed/root.

        The Fruit is a natural by-product of good seed in good soil. It will come about as a matter of course, as a symptom.
        As in the epistle of James, Faith without works is dead. I believe the fruit is works/deeds. Not because those works/deeds are causative of our salvation/justification, but they are symptomatic. As James says, if there are no symptoms of justification/salvation then there is no justification/salvation.

        Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness according to Hebrews, yet in James 2:21 it says Abraham was considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son on the altar.

        Then we have the Sheep and the Goats passage. The Goats stand before Christ fully expecting to be going to Heaven. But then Christ lambastes them for a lack of deeds, before sending them to hell. Likewise He praises the Sheep for their deeds. This passage seems to belabor the “symptoms of salvation”. The deeds/fruit/works
        It may be that since works are tied/symptomatic to/of God’s justification, one cannot truly have one without the other.

        Yet, there is this disturbing group of people called Goats that actually thought they were good to go to heaven.

        Who are these people today? These people that say “Lord Lord”, but continue in sin under a delusion of justification?

        It seems like these are some of the most at risk souls. Souls that believe their eternal destiny is secure, yet continue to live according to the flesh and sin continues to have dominion in their life. Where do they get this?
        Who is fostering this understanding for them?
        Who is not correcting their delusion?
        Who is loving them into Hell instead of Heaven?

        Matthew 7:13
        13“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

        Why is the way so narrow? Why is it so small to find the way that leads to life?
        Sin is what comes naturally to humans. Embracing sin, settling in sin, is certainly not difficult. Believing something is certainly not difficult/narrow.

        What then is the source of the narrowness/smallness/difficulty if not giving up living according to the flesh and dying to your flesh?

        Why does Christ warn us about people claiming Christ is their Lord, but they will go to hell anyway?
        Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you you practice lawlessness!’

        Just like the Goats, these people seem to be most at risk. Souls that believe their eternal destiny is secure. Yet, we see these people condemned for two reasons: 1) They did not do the will of the Father 2) Christ never knew them
        How is this possible, when they call Him Lord and even claim to have done some ministerial deeds in His Name?

        I think it is because they embraced this modern gospel of easy believism. Told that they prayed the sinners prayer and were good to go. But sin continued to have dominion in their life. They continued to walk according to the sin of the flesh. They continued to practice lawlessness (that which is without law) which is by definition, sinfulness
        If these are not who these people are in Matthew 7 and the Goats, then who are they?

        What does this person look like if one of them is alive on earth today?

        To briefly reprise, Why did Jesus say “Go and sin no more”? If this was not a call to repentance then what was it?

        Blessings, Grace, and Mercy to you.

        James 2
        14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. 20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?

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    • Michael says:

      An excellent and well thought out response. I find nothing to disagree with.

      Like

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