My Issue With Caitlyn…Is Not Really About Her

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VF_JULY_COVER1433178010If you live under a rock, you most likely haven’t heard of Caitlyn Jenner. She has taken the media by storm following her 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer. I have read quite a few blog posts regarding her transition from Bruce to Caitlyn. Obviously, people want to be first with their response. Even posting this a week out, I feel like this may still be a bit too reactionary for me. So please, read the following with a grain of salt (I’ve never quite understood this saying…).

There have been some really thought-provoking posts about how she should be treated and why Christians should be setting down their stones. However, there are many who still seem eager to pick up their stones.

My issue with Caitlyn is not entirely with her…it’s more with us.

I will be the first to admit that when it comes to the transgender conversation, I am at a loss for words. I don’t know what to say…and so oftentimes, I’m silent. Yes, I agree that we should love her where she is (which, in my opinion means respecting her desire to be considered a female). And that is messy. But Jesus taught us that love was never going to be clean.

Sometimes I wonder what Jesus’s conversations with “the worst of sinners” would’ve been like. Would He have tried to persuade them to follow Him? Would He have asked them to leave their profession? Would He have asked them poignant questions about their choices in life?

The honest answer is, I don’t know.

It’s always been amusing to me that sexuality has always been the issue that Christians seem to wag their fingers at the most. We say things like, “do you not know that the sexually immoral will not inherit the Kingdom of God?” Obviously, that would make them stop in their tracks and turn toward Jesus. We forget the context of what Paul was saying and just say those words to whomever we view as sexually immoral.

It wasn’t too long ago, however, that married people who had sex for other purposes than reproduction were considered sexually immoral.

Paul spoke quite heavily about sexual immorality in his first letter to the Corinthians. Obviously, Christians are quick to turn their when confronting those we deem sexually immoral. But what amuses me about that verse is that we often neglect the other things mentioned.

“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.” (I Corinthians 6.9-10 NLT)

What do we say to the businessman who tithes regularly to the church but has practices that cheat others?

What do we say to those who continuously consume without giving to others?

What do we say about those who work for companies that steal from many?

What do we say about those verbally abusive preachers who go for the shock value each and every Sunday to get their point across?

We are silent.

Those who use the argument that Caitlyn is sexually immoral and deserves our judgment neglect to point out that the person who gives the most to the church might be running a company that takes the most from those less fortunate.

I am only saying that if we draw a line…then let’s draw a clear line and not one so ambiguous.

This much I know: we live in a world where things are not as they should be. For many of those who identify as transgender, they feel like their gender is not as it should be. Christians should be eager to converse with this. There is a common theme that things are not right. Yet we pick up those stones and take a few throws.

Gender is a deeper issue than sex. The unfortunate thing is that most will not see this. I have no idea what it feels like to go your whole life feeling like this body is not right. That something is terribly wrong. I empathize even though I don’t fully understand.

It is so easy for us to simply say, “be a man! You have a penis, now be a man!” But genitals do not determine gender (for more info on this, see Debra Hirsch’s book Redeeming Sex). This is a truth I am learning more and more.

There have been a lot of blogs about all of this. Part of me is saddened by how much we are analyzing her life…but she also is in the unfortunate position of being in the spotlight, and we idolize those in that spotlight (wait, didn’t Paul say something about those who worship idols not inheriting the Kingdom as well???). Sometimes I get tired of hearing how we need to treat things with more grace. I feel like it is just an excuse for not standing up for what you believe in. But I believe in grace…and not cheap grace. I want to stand up for grace.

I pray that God grants the same grace to Caitlyn that He grants to me. Whatever is going through her mind, whatever battles she is fighting, whatever issues she might have — I pray God grants her the same grace He grants me. Many times in my life, I could say that I was a sexually immoral, idol-worshipping, greedy, cheating, thief. God granted me so much grace in those moments…and He still does.

So before we shake our heads at what is going on, can we all just agree that this is more complicated than what it appears? And that life and love is messy? And that grace flows freely? And that we are in need of that same grace…even from our pedestal that we use to look down on our transgender brothers and sisters?

Church should never be the place where someone who is transgender feels even more out of place than he/she does in his/her body. Church should be the place where he/she feels like he/she is part of the body…and then moves toward redemption and restoration…whatever that looks like. God is pretty good at working those things out. So let’s leave it to Him.

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Why I Hope God Doesn’t Have a Plan For Me

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The title is pretty self-explanatory. But it is still not completely accurate.

As Christians, we live our lives hoping that God has a plan for us. We hope that every decision we make is part of “the plan.” We always say, “God has a plan,” “Just wait for God’s plan to reveal itself,” or “God’s plan for your life is not this.” In fact, if I have to hear someone tell me, “God has a plan” one more time, I may just vomit.

Many Christians believe that God has a plan for them because they have had Jeremiah 29.11 stapled on their foreheads since they were babies. But even upon reading the verse, does it deal with specifics or general ideas? “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (NIV). It seems to me that it speaks generally about the plans. It doesn’t say: “Jeremiah, I know the plans I have for you. Here’s what I’m going to do. The first thing, I’m going to get you a wife. Her name will be Lucy. Next, you’ll build a home. But don’t worry about that home for too long, it’ll be destroyed. But after it is destroyed you will have a better home. Oh and you’ll have 167 goats.” No. It doesn’t say that (and not just because it is a completely inaccurate summary of Jeremiah).

Here is my beef with the whole: “God has a plan for you.” What does that mean for free will? There are several routes we could take with the question: Free will causes you to choose against God, Free will is controlled by God to help you make the right decisions, Free will becomes God’s will once you begin to follow Him, etc. So if your free will chooses against God’s specific plan, does that mean that you have chosen against God? If your free will becomes God’s will, then is it free will? If your free will chooses correctly, how many times does it choose incorrectly? Is it possible that there are multiple things that God would have you to do with your life? Is this all too confusing and not really important?

Here is what I mean by hoping that God doesn’t have a plan for me: if there is a specific plan, that means that life could constantly be full of wrong decisions, wrong moves, etc. I do believe that there are things, as Christians, that we should not do: prostitution, drug dealing, idol building, temple destroying, pimping, etc. But if I were to say that my time that I have spent at home is part of God’s plan, I would also have to say that it is the part of the plan that occurs after something really exciting. I have enjoyed my time at home. I have learned many things throughout my time at home, but did God specifically want me home from July 19th, 2011-??? I have no idea. I believe that God had things He wanted to teach me and He has used this time in my life to teach me those things.

All this mess is to say, if God has a specific plan for me, it might be on the sucky side right now. Not because I’m at home. Not because I hate my life. But because there are so many things I want to do, there are so many things I am passionate about doing, and I am not for sure if this is one of them. “If God has a specific plan for me, why haven’t doors opened up?” You reply, “patience.” “How long should one be patient?” “As long as it takes.” “But what happens if you’re so patient that you zone out and miss the doors?” “God will make it known.” “But how do you distinguish between the will of God and emotions?” “They work together.” “Where does logic come into play?” “It can’t be the will of God if it is logical” (okay, maybe people don’t say this, but they imply it).

To me, this takes the fun out of life. I believe that we should stop worrying about the specifics of God’s plan and worry about the general ideas of His plan: to make His Kingdom evident. Whatever passions one may have should be put to that use (you see how prostitution, drug dealing, idol building, temple destroying, and pimping don’t fit into this category?). This is why I hope God does not have a specific plan for me life. I don’t want to worry all my life about screwing it up. Instead, I want to take chances, I want to take risks, learn a lot, fail a lot, learn a lot, fail a lot, learn a lot (that keeps going on), etc. I want to make dangerous choices to serve God. However, sometimes His “specific plan” mentality gets in the way of that.

Am I right? In my opinion, I don’t know. I honestly have no answer to this. Many will respond with Scripture. In advance, I appreciate it. Know that I have read those, as well. So don’t worry about screaming them at me. But let a discussion happen. How much better would life be if we stopped praying for a specific plan to be revealed and instead we began to live every moment making His Kingdom evident…wherever that might take us.