The position any Christian transgender person is in when it comes to finding a loving and healthy place to worship is a challenging task. All too often we are challenged to justify ourselves to the church. I once again experienced the pain of rejection this weekend and had the stark reality be ever so glaring that Christianity and being transgender are just too difficult for some people within the Christian church to face.
I am often asked through my Facebook page and have often been called out here on how I can defend or justify being a Christian and being Transgender. Many, many people see these two identities as being in conflict with each other. Back in July of 2012, when I first started writing, I spelled out some of my beliefs in a post called The Bible, Being Transgender and Me.
With recent developments with the Southern Baptist Convention, Focus on the Family’s continued opposition and a myriad of other religious organizations speaking and acting against the transgender community, including the Wheaton church I grew up in, I have been pressed recently for more on why I stand where I do in regards to how being transgender and being Christian are not mutually exclusive for me.
From the Council of Nicaea to modern day pre and post tribulationist, man has been debating scripture and trying to define Christian beliefs for thousands of years. Do you believe in full immersion baptism or christening? When does life begin – at conception or at birth? Though many have settled the question of whether women are allowed to be ordained, it is still being debated in many religious circles. And let's not forget that marriage equality is also among the latest in the ongoing debate over what the scriptures say about certain ‘hot’ topics.
However, I learned a long time ago, in the same church that turned it's back on me, that being Christian is more than a set of rules. It is more than a list of dos and don’ts.
For me, it comes down to more than just learning and quoting scriptures. Even the demons can do that. The question of how I justify or defend taking the steps to transition my life and live authentically as the person I know God wants me to be is also about being in a relationship. And that should be true for every single person that calls themselves a Christian. 1 John 4:1 calls all Christians to test the spirits and to know that they are from God. One can only do that through a close personal relationship with God.
I have learned that in the relationship I have with God, he reveals himself and his will for my life not only through what he reveals to me through the scriptures but also through speaking to me through the Holy Spirit that lives with in me.
There are several examples throughout scripture that speak to how the Holy Spirit speaks to us and reveals God’s plan for us. But many times these passages get forgotten when man starts using scripture against others. One of the passages that comes to mind is found in 1Corinthians chapter 2 beginning with verse 9. “However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him. These are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.”
I truly believe that the Spirit does not reveal the entire will of God to all people. Each person that has found salvation in Christ is given a unique look into what God’s will is for that person.
So the Southern Baptist convention has condemned me and my community. So what!? My salvation is not dependent on their approval. Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” My relationship with Christ and with my Heavenly Father is not subject to the opinions of a group of misguided and flawed humans but subject to the Holy Spirit that guides me everyday.
One of the key problems that now exists is that too many people focus on the differences. People on both sides of the great divide that exists between many in the Christian transgender community and many in the church is the failure to recognize that we are all one in Christ.
We won’t find a solution to the division in the continued discourse of words. The solution is found in one place – our relationship with God.
At the time the curtain that separated us from the Holy of holies was torn, the moment Christ died on the cross, we became united with him. His grace and mercy was no longer only accessible through the high priest. This closeness with God became accessible to each and every one of us, not just the Southern Baptists, not just the Roman Catholic Church, not just Pentecostals.
Since Christ has taken down the wall of separation, we become one in Christ, that makes us all family – brothers and sisters with one Heavenly Father. We are family not because our ethnicities, denominations, gender identity or sexual orientation. We are family because we believe and love the same God.
Transition is a personal journey just as is our individual relationship with God. And for me, they go hand in hand. I could not have gone through the journey to transitioning my life without a whole lot of prayer and guidance from God.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 sums it up. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
When we recognize that each person that proclaims a salvation in Christ has a unique relationship in God and that God has a unique plan for each one of us, the sooner we will no longer have to justify our journey.
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