I think most Christians would agree that the topic of homosexuality has been one of the most divisive issues facing Christian Churches over the last several years. Now it appears that transgenderism has become the hot, divisive topic. I feel compelled, albeit, with much trepidation, to step into these turbulent waters, hoping beyond hope to offer an opportunity for consensus and Christian unity.
Let me state clearly, that what I have written here comes from my heart. I am not naïve enough to assume I could write something that would change someone’s firmly held beliefs regarding these two issues. It is okay to have strongly held beliefs on these important issues. I do. But I firmly believe we can express our views in a calmer, less hurtful, more Christ-like manner. It is not my intent to add to the existing division. I pray my words won’t hurt someone or be misconstrued. I am simply attempting to bring a loving, caring, compassionate, Christ-like, and thought-provoking tone to this normally controversial and quarrelsome sociological divide.
In Matthew 9:35-36 it is written, “Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.” Pity is properly defined as “the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of others.” When Jesus looks upon the deep fractures within His Church over these two topics, I believe His heart is once again filled with pity. Jesus always has love in His eyes when He looks at His Church, but I have to wonder if His heart is filled with sorrow when He sees the wounds Christians are inflicting on other Christians.
We all remember the popular letters W.W.J.D. from the 1990s campaign. These letters, as you know, stand for the phrase, “What would Jesus do?” Emulating Jesus has always been the gold standard for Christians. Jesus looked upon the people He met with love and compassion. His words spoke healing and peace to hurting and wounded people. As Christians, we are called to live, act, and speak with the heart of Jesus. We should ask ourselves this question: when I am in a conversation with either those I agree with, or those I disagree with, on the topics of homosexuality and transgenderism, do my words convey Christ-like compassion or do they further inflame the divide?
For many people these topics are merely talking points to discuss and/or argue about. We can’t lose sight of the people who are actually living out these issues in their personal lives. Their lives are often filled with much pain!
As to the issue of homosexuality, the number of Christian men and women who are same sex attracted is not negligible. For most of these individuals, their sexual orientation is a lifelong struggle. This is especially true if they desire to live by Biblical principles.
From a gender perspective, sex assignment at birth usually aligns with a baby’s anatomical sex. However, studies do show that around .02% of babies are born with ambiguous genitals. Intersex people, as they are now called, often face stigmatization and discrimination from birth.
Separate and apart from intersex birth is the issue of gender dysphoria. According to one manual on mental health disorders, gender dysphoria accounts for between .005% and .014% of the population for biological males. The percentage is slightly lower for biological females. According to a recent Pew Research survey 1.6% of U.S. adults identify as transgender or nonbinary. In other words, their identified gender differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. A recent scientific study revealed an increased rate of self-injury and suicide among transgender persons both before and after transition and sex reassignment surgery. It would be an understatement to simply say that life is a trial for these people. Sadly, transgender and gender dysphoric people have, for a long time, been misunderstood and mistreated.
Underlying these two explosive topics, we must understand that there are political agendas at work. This is true for both sides of the aisle. Certainly, there are good and caring Christians in both parties. Do we have to agree on everything? No, certainly not! Both sides of the political chasm can strongly advocate for their respective beliefs and still treat those with opposing views with a Christ-like heart. When advocating for our political positions, let’s never forget that there are real people dealing with real issues and words can cut like a knife.
When it comes to these topics there is rarely a genuine dialog taking place. More often it is a vitriolic diatribe. People are not exchanging ideas, they are shouting at and talking past each other. This reminds me of the lyrics from the song, The Sound of Silence. It seems everyone is talking without speaking and hearing without listening. The words from both sides of the divide are falling like raindrops into a well of silence.
Jesus teaches us to love our enemies. With these two topics, it’s not enemy verses enemy, it is Christian verses Christian. Where is the love of Jesus? Our country and world as a whole are polarized by politics. And when it comes to these issues, Christians seem to see these issues through their respective political eyes rather than through eyes of Jesus.
Jesus commissioned His followers to go out to heal the sick, the lepers, and the possessed. He wanted His followers to have non-judgmental eyes of empathy. He wanted His followers to make the world better. He certainly did not want His followers to bring pain into the world. He wanted us to see the world with His eyes! Rather than merely talking about or taking a side on these issues, I wonder how many of us have attempted to listen to, walk beside, and care for someone struggling with same sex attraction or gender dysphoria? WWJD?
In John chapter 17, Jesus prayed that we would be one, as He and the Father are one. Division within the Church grieves God. Can we as Christians, work together with a spirit of unity to bring Christ-like love, empathy, charity, and civility to these discussions? If we try to see the world with Christ-like eyes, we will make this world a better place for all.
Heavenly Father, Jesus told us in John 13:35 “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Father, I want to be a good disciple. Help me to always speak with words of love! Amen!
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