This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series: Transgender (Roberts)
We’re not meant to face our struggles alone. We’re meant to face them within the family of God.
If you’re a Christian who experiences gender dysphoria, remember that this does not define you. You are defined by who you are in Christ. Our goal, aided by the Holy Spirit, is to align our desires and behaviours in line with that identity.
A Christian church should respond by warmly welcoming everyone, just as Jesus did. According to Acts, the first Gentile to become a Christian was a eunuch.
If we meet a transgender person who is not a Christian, our great desire should be that they will come to know the Lord Jesus Christ.
If someone with gender dysphoria is a Christian, let’s know expect immediate spiritual maturity from them. Let us expect and pray, rather, that as they are welcomed into the church family they’ll begin to better understand what the Bible teaches and how that might impact on their own life. We will hope that a person will want to accept their biological sex, and adjust their life accordingly. But, after all, every Christian is a work in progress.
If a child starts to talk about having transgender feelings, don’t panic. Remember that there are many legitimate differences between boys and boys and between girls and girls. Beware of over-rigid stereotypes. But don’t dismiss a child’s concerns either. Encourage discussion. Parent need to actively teach about God and his goodness. They need to model the experience of receiving his grace and forgiveness. Although research shows that such feelings will usually disappear by the time a child reaches adolescence, for some they will not, and the individual will need a ‘robust Christian worldview’ to face life successfully.
If a close family member discloses thoughts about transitioning, or they’ve already decided, then again our first response should be one of love. Then we must listen and seek to understand. Only then will we be in a position to share what the Bible teaches, and perhaps explain why we can’t endorse the action they intend to take.
If we know an acquaintance to be transgender in some way, our reaction will depend on the nature of the relationship. If it’s someone we know well, then we might say something. If not, why say anything? Just because transgender issues seem rather new to us, and can present themselves in rather obvious ways, they don’t belong in a separate category that requires our immediate intervention. Everyone is a broken sinner in need of God’s love and forgiveness.
To treat transgender people with love, wisdom and respect will mean, among other things calling a person by the name they have chosen for themselves. In time, we may have an opportunity to share the good news and explain our own convictions.
At the cultural level, it is right that transgender people should be protected from injustice. But questions remain. Should a church be allowed not to consider a transgender person for employment? Do Christians and others have the right to publicly express concern about the whole transgender thing?
More generally, Christians should note that the distinction between the sexes is being eroded, and the concept of gender fluidity is often promoted (especially in schools). Christian parents and governors should be prepared to express concern.
But most importantly, our culture needs to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Individualism is a false gospel, and not good news at all. It promises freedom, but actually enslaves. The Bible speaks of a God who made us and loves us, who rescues us and offers a glorious future. We don’t have to struggle endlessly, trying to discover who we are. Yes, we are flawed masterpieces, but God is in the business of restoring us to our full glory, in accordance with his own wise and loving purpose for us.
Transgender, by Vaughan Roberts. The Good Book Company, 2016.