We are all Bruce Jenner

By Joel Hess

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Time and time again Bruce Jenner has been talking about being uncomfortable in his own skin. He felt like he was living a lie. He even believed himself to be trapped inside his body; a body that even achieved remarkable success in the Olympics! Jenner believes he is a woman but mistakenly born with a man’s body.

Sadly, many Christians foolishly dismiss Jenner’s feelings. Too quickly they just write him off as just another person trying to find an excuse to be perverted. Oddly enough, he says he is still attracted to women. So then, is that ok?

The proper Christian response is to believe and accept Jenner’s feelings, or anyone who speaks like him. It definitely sounds like he has struggled with this his whole life, a struggle he didn’t want. In other words, he isn’t lying or acting on a selfish sinful whim, per se.

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Even more so, Christians more than anyone should understand and sympathize with Jenner’s struggle! We get it! For we know that we are all just like him! Sin, Adam’s sin and our sin, has messed this place up! Sin not only brought death into the world but also brought disfigurement, disease, deterioration, and confusion. Talk to any 13 year old and you will witness a confused disfunctioning soul, seemingly detached from his body, wanting to be free!

Sure we may not feel messed up in the same way Jenner does. But until we die there will be a disconnect between our soul and body, our dreams and our vocation, in our marriage, and in our body. Every repentant Christian confesses, “Something is really wrong with me!”

So, even celibate St. Paul cries out with Jenner, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Romans 7)

Plastic surgery!? An obviously photoshopped front cover on Vanity Fair?! A new vocabulary! New laws? The Supreme Court!

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Sadly as Jenner pursues freedom from his body, he is led by “yes” men into further slavery. The world is not really like the T.V. shows. Our true self will still escape us no matter what we do or who surrounds us! He will go to sleep alone with his thoughts, his past, his fears, his secret knowledge that nothing has really changed.

So then, who will rescue me from this BODY that is subject to death?

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25)

We have the cure for our confusion and our disconnect between body and soul. We are left between our memory of Eden, a residual yet distant memory of a perfect body and a perfect relationship to God, and our present state of sin: our soul entrapped in death.

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The cure is not Dr. Oz, but the Son of God who truly did transform in the womb of Mary. Christ took on Bruce’s flesh and mine and all of the world’s, no matter how confused we all are!

He perfected our gene pool, our bodies, doing what is right in His: loving God and loving His neighbor. He reattached the Image of God to humanity in Himself! He is indeed the Son of Man, the second Adam.

In baptism we undergo a surgery of sorts, but it isn’t superficial. We are reborn in the name of Jesus. We come out of the waters as who we truly are! With a new name! We are clean, forgiven, and given life that will not decay. Yet we hold on to this promise by faith, clinging to forgiveness and hope in the future!

But, brothers and sisters and all you who feel like a stranger in your own body, a glorious day is coming! In an instant and at the snap of a finger, The Son of Man will descend. The dead will rise. You will rise. Physically. But with no disconnect or inner struggle!

Your true self. Glorious. Complete. Whole. Free. Breakfast of Champions.

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29 thoughts on “We are all Bruce Jenner

  1. Bruce Jenner is not the typical illustration for what you could have described as our disconnect between who we are and who we would like to be. God created Jenner as a man, not a woman, and it is gross and perverse to want to change into the opposite gender. Surgery may take away his male organs, a dress may make Jenner feel better…..but he remains a biological male. The Jenner example is a poor one for you to use in this article. The promotion of sexual “redefinition” in our society is evidence of the continuing moral decay of this society.

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  2. This is one of the better articles on this site and an exceptional response regarding this topic because of Joel’s higher than normal sensitivity, exceptional pastoral care response, and just plain honest and loving. I want to thank you for helping me find words regarding this subject and helping me better couch my responses to this sinful and broken world.

    Thanks and see many of you in a few weeks in Convention.

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  3. “In baptism we undergo a surgery of sorts, but it isn’t superficial. We are reborn in the name of Jesus. We come out of the waters as who we truly are! With a new name! We are clean, forgiven, and given life that will not decay. Yet we hold on to this promise by faith, clinging to forgiveness and hope in the future!

    But, brothers and sisters and all you who feel like a stranger in your own body, a glorious day is coming! In an instant and at the snap of a finger, The Son of Man will descend. The dead will rise. You will rise. Physically. But with no disconnect or inner struggle!”

    I don’t think it was your intent, but this article is dangerously incomplete at best or an invitation to suicide at worst. Basically the message was (1) It’s not abnormal to feel messed up; (2) Christ offers salvation from your struggles; (3) it’s all a promise at the future resurrection; (4) the Christian faith offers no hope that your disconnect can be healed during this life; and (5) so remember your baptism.

    The article also regrettably implies that in a battle between the Spirit and the flesh, the flesh prevails.

    Finally, I agree with John that the Jenner example is a poor example for this article.

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  4. yes to 1-5 except 4. It is possible that God would heal someone like Jenner of his discomfort with himself, but its all entirely possible that Jenner like plenty of Christians might have to struggle the rest of their life, living in hope for the future.

    Jenner is a perfect example of the effects of sin in the world. extreme and grotesque perhaps, but that makes it all the more exemplary.

    i believe i made this quite clear.

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  5. sorry, but we don’t indulge in our delusions to the point of irreversible mutilative surgery, dangerous hormone ingestion, a “mangina” fooling nobody, even the very mutilated body that insists on closing it up like any other wound, and the use of the courts and “third estate” to ram the queer agenda down our collective throat. Bad analogy, no beer for you.

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      1. I respectfully disagree. I can’t think of anything more poignant right now than a pastor addressing this challenge in such a manner that is respectful to the LGQBT Community and the issue of sin.

        Let me ask you this, which example would you use then to address sin that is current and on the forefront of people’s minds?

        I

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  6. I’m not using Jenner as an analogy but as an epitome, example par excellence! indeed we hopefully are not like him in turning to plastic surgery and whatever superficial rationalizing mechanism we invent to justify ourselves before God. i make that ridiculously clear! But we are EXACTLY like him in our sinful state outside of Christ. Even as a born again child of God, that old lying Adam needs to be daily drowned in our baptism until he is buried 6 feet under.

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  7. Jenner looked within himself for a solution. He perceived that the problem was to be sorted out by his inner self – bring the woman he perceived inside to the surface. Part of original sin is determining for oneself whether one ought to obey God and not eat the fruit. Looking inward to exercise one’s will rather than outward to find what one truly needs and desires is Jenner’s problem and the problem of all sinful mankind.

    I like what you’ve said, Joel. That we are transformed by God, not by ourselves. That we are rescued by God, not left to figure it all out and conform. That we can be re-created, daily die to sin and rise each morning.

    It doesn’t change the world, but it changes us. Doesn’t make our troubles disappear or temptations leave, but we have hope: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” As we dwell in him, we overcome, as well.

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  8. @patoneal76: I respectully disagree with your respectful disagreement. Sins vary in kind and degree despite all being equally damning. While Mr Jenner is a timely personification of antinomianism and godless autonomy, he appears to be one given over thereto a la Romans 1. He thus is less an example than a tocsin.

    As for repecting our New American Heroes, this is not a congregation or ministry, but a forum for frank discussion. There is neither need nor call for PC here.

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  9. What’s missing in this discussion is the moral and ethical role of medical science, which also is a gift from God. I’m NOT speaking specifically about Jenner; I neither understand nor care about his personal condition. However, where physical or psychological disability, disease or condition can be medically treated, it is not sinful for a person to seek such treatment.

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    1. Secualr mnedicine has no ethical role; its input is descriptive rather than prescriptive. Mental illness, per se, is a myth in that a mind (a nonphysical entity) can’t be sick (a physical ailment with objective findings). Let us also avoid mislabeling sin as sickness.

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      1. I disagree with everything you said. I will limit my response to this: Let us also avoid mislabeling sickness as sin.

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  10. Great article. How lost does a person feel in this world? How confused? Many of us will not be scheduling surgery anytime soon, but we are hopeless and directionless apart from Christ. Even in Christ, though, our fallen nature will always wrestle with the Spirit until they put the tag on our toe. Again, great article, however misunderstood it may be.

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  11. @jean & patoneal76: medicine is a discipline limited to the physical realm; disease is caused by discrete phenomena detectable by physical means (eg chemistry, diagnostic imaging). Mind and brain are not synonyms; brains can be sick (ie afflicted by physical means eg trauma, infection, tumor, dysmetabolic conditions, etc). A mind has no physicality and hence is beyond objective diagnosis. A mind can no more be sick than a space can be wise or an opinion be obese. This is not to deny the interaction of mens and corpus, but they are still distinct entities.

    The medical profession and mental health establishment are highly seculazrized in that it is fundamentally humanistic. Fore example, present to a psychiatrist claiming to be Napoleon and your delusion will be treated with a major tranquilizer (aka antipsychotic med), possibly against your will depending upon what side of the bed a judge woke up on than morning; on the other hand, present as a male claiming to be a woman and you become a New American Hero whose delusion will be treated with irreversible mutilative surgery, dangerous hormones, court-mandated privilege, and lionization by the third estate. Both patients are delusional, but one gets the sugar while the other gets the s**t – strictly on PC grounds, which can hardly be labeled as objective science. MRI’s, immunoflourescence, and serum chemistries are based upon objective science, while DSM-5 is mere opinion masquerading as such.

    Thus psychiatry and psychology can provide no moral guidance, as they are based upon human opinion apart from Scripture; ie these disciplines can describe behavior, but can’t prescribe conduct. For example, their exculaptory diagnoses such as ADDHD for brats and sexual addiction for cads (to borrow from Kathryn Joyce), lame politically motivated attempts to stay the executioner’s sword with kakamamie insanity pleas, and condemning parents for corporally disciplining their children. You call that science, I’ll call it quackery. If you have evidnce to the contrary, I would like to see it.

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    1. Ok, so you are arguing using Left/Right kingdom language. In that case, all institutions, education, and service is secular outside of the church. Hence Luther’s Theology on Vocation.

      I’m still waiting for you to answer my first question, Kirk, that is, which example would you use to demonstrate that we live in a sinful fallen and most, if not all, seek some form of salvation outside of the saving works of Christ?

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      1. We need no other examples than every non-Christian, including the former lives of those of us raised in unbelief, who find more examples when they visit family members’ graves. My point on Mr Jenner has more to do with the fact that his is not a private matter but a (DV) fama clamosa cum political hot potato. I hhave no unbelieving family member or colleague whose autonomy has sunk to the level of mutilation trumpeted across the media and part of a movement demanding acceptance with the backing of the state. The difference is one of degree and aggravation.

        As for kingdom talk, you missed the point; ie neither medicine nor mental health flummery is competent to address spiritual issues, and are, when attempting to do so, counterfeit religions. This differs from the proper function of the kingdom of the left hand which can indeed exercise its functions iaw God’s revealed will (eg preventing encroachment and enforcing contracts).

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    2. As human beings we are always both material and non-material. At no point are we merely a spirit any more that we are only a physical body. The mind is somewhere in this being and the being is wholly corrupted in sin. To that extent, even our reason is corrupt.

      There is truth in what you say that it can be arbitrary as to which delusions ought to be treated and which should be left. For example, we tolerate an incredible amount of sociopathy in the business world as long as it benefits society. But bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, chemical depression are not the crises of being that come with gender issues. Medication can stabilize and shut off the voices because they treat the disease that resides in the body. But the solution to gender conflict goes beyond as it is not an issue of chemistry and chromosomes. In this, contemporary society is mistaken and they only offer to break the body to form a completely broken being. The necessary healing is not within the scope of medicine.

      This is where Joel’s analogy comes in. The healing of our sinful selves cannot come from within or from any efforts of mankind. Such deeper healing can only come from God. What we need to be mindful of is that, while we have the assurance of healing in our Baptism, those with gender issues cannot be solidly assured that God will alter them and erase the confusion. They can pray, they can survive, but they must realize that it may be God’s will that they face the temptations and challenges of their inclinations, that there may be no miraculous “cure” for this aspect of their lives. I cannot imagine what that would be like and cannot know how I would act in such a situation. All any of us can do is deal with the temptations that God allows us to endure knowing that, as long as we rely on Him, we will have the strength we need.

      How do we go about countering the world’s accommodation, how does God work through us to strengthen those with gender confusion when the world is ready to simply let them give in? Our way seems to lack peace and resolution, through human eyes. Bearing a cross is not an appealing offer. Bruce Jenner is still suffering but he’s being thrown into the fire because he doesn’t feel it. That should move us to pity and sorrow. Someone God loves and desires to be in heaven is lost.

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      1. In a recent edition of The federalist you could read how many trannies are having second thoughts; even Renee Richards has publicly stated he would not have chosen reassignment if he knew then what he knows now. You are right that this is a situation beyond the pale of medicine; indeed, courts and media have onlyu exacerbated the problem. However, the God who didn’t remove Paul’s thorn in the flesh makes no promises re: gender confusion or any other malady in this life; he does promise grace. I personally know Christan homosexuals who remain celebate out of obedience to God who are rather upset at all the soft-soaping of LGTB in the church, and see it as adding to their burden. These folks seem to get short shrift.

        As for Mr Jenner, he’s not so much “being thrown into the fir” as gleefully cannonballing into it – THAT’S the truly sad part.

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      2. Addendum: psychotropics don’t normalze brain function, and may indeed prolong the very symptoms for which the medicine was prescribed. They treat no ‘disease” because there are no diseases; disease is what is objectively diagnosed via physical means, while behavior is what you do and what is subjectively obseved (eg, disturbed vs disturbing). Psych meds (aka “skittles,” “crazy glue”) are handed out like candy because “mother’s little helper” is all the secular world can do for the spiritually broken, and the church doesn’t give a rip about cure of souls.

        Gender is what words and languages have; we have sex. The equivocation is nought but newspeak.

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  12. “But the solution to gender conflict goes beyond as it is not an issue of chemistry and chromosomes….The necessary healing is not within the scope of medicine.”

    How do you know? Are you saying that medical research as learned everything there is to know about this topic?

    “This is where Joel’s analogy comes in. The healing of our sinful selves cannot come from within or from any efforts of mankind.”

    Now you’re implying that a person suffering from or seeking treatment for gender confusion is in the realm of sinning. Just what is the sin?

    “Bruce Jenner is still suffering but he’s being thrown into the fire because he doesn’t feel it. That should move us to pity and sorrow. Someone God loves and desires to be in heaven is lost.”

    So, if Jenner doesn’t suffer in his gender confusion he’s commiting a mortal sin? He needs to feel the suffering and can’t look for means of releaving the suffering without subjecting himself to eternal damnation?

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    1. Yes: denying the obvious significance of that organ between your legs obscured by your beer gut and acting as if God mistakenly assigned your sex is sinning; mutilating your body iaw your delusion is sinning; going to court, senate, and media to force others to accept your delusion is sinning. Of course, one could stop stinning and repent, but that would be most politically incorrect.

      Mr Jenner may indeed be suffering from his delusion; so did other impenitents like Cain, Esau, and Judas. Read The Federalist article on how all is not well in tranny land, and co nsider that the solution that the world proffers is rather an exacerbation and aggravation of sin; “the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”

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    2. Our gender is part of the way we are made: “male and female he created them.” (Gen 1:27) Gender has intent: “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen 1:27) “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him…Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” (Gen 2: 18, 24-25) It is part of His plan for us, here. We are also told this will change: “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” That which is male and female is plain in all of God’s creation, it is not hidden issue with an unknown purpose.

      By your questions, I can only assume you either do not know of our accept original sin. (Gen 3; Romans 5:19) There is no such thing as a “mortal sin”in some special category. We are all sinful, owing to original sin, and the wages of sin is death – period. (Romans 6:23) Our fallen state condemns us. That fallen state is of the whole person, the whole human being. It leaves our bodies, our reason, our souls completely corrupt. Gender confusion is a product of our sinful nature, not part of God’s design. When we act from within ourselves, our reason, to thwart God’s design, that is sin. There is no medical knowledge of or cure for sin.

      We do not enter and leave the “realm of sinning.” Sin is by thought, word, and deed – if you’ve considered something, you’ve sinned, even if you haven’t done it (Matt 5:28) To view sin as something actualized and not part of our natural state misses the point. No one can avoid sinful thoughts. If you need proof of original sin, it is there. If you would gauge it, the 2nd use of the Law is advised (lex semper accusat) – the Commandments are a mirror of our sin. They show us all the ways that we fail to love God and love our neighbors.

      The only relief from sin, the only salvation, and the only pardon is in Christ. We all sin and we all face temptation. When we rely on ourselves, we fail. Only in turning to Christ can we be saved. But why turn to Christ, if you have not sinned and are not sinning? If we don’t need to be rescued from sin, what’s the point?

      Perhaps I am harsh in my judgement and I can accept that Bruce Jenner is a Christian persisting in his sin. He’d be forgiven and saved by faith, in spite of an imperfect confession – so, I will apologize, keeping that in mind. But, it would be better if he confronted his sin (as should we all!), according to God’s law and repented of his inclinations to daily sin against God by denying the way he was made.

      My experience is that one who persists in sin, does not resist temptation and seek God’s help in doing so, is rarely one who also accepts his sinfulness and need for Christ. That is why I assume the worst, that he is lost. I can hope for the best, that he is not, but will operate as if he is.

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      1. I don’t think it is quite right to claim that, “there is no such thing as ‘mortal sin’ in some special category”, as this is not really the complete understanding of the reformers. I am assuming that this is an effort to maintain the orthodox teaching on original sin based on your preceding statement. However, in the Smalcald Articles Luther discusses how the Holy Spirit can be driven from “holy men” and faith is cast out.

        Also, Gerhard and Chemnitz both use the language of venial and mortal sin in their work, and both emphasize with Luther a perilous danger for those who resist the Holy Spirit rather than seeking through the Spirit to mortify the flesh. We ought to be very careful to discount the impact of willful unrepentance, and I am speaking not about Bruce Jenner or anyone else but primarily with an eye toward the sin crouching at my own door.

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      2. Also…

        “But since we speak of such faith as is not an idle thought, but of that which liberates from death and produces a new life in hearts, [which is such a new light, life, and force in the heart as to renew our heart, mind, and spirit, makes new men of us and new creatures,] and is the work of the Holy Ghost; this does not coexist with mortal sin [for how can light and darkness coexist?], but as long as it is present, produces good fruits, as we will say after a while.”

        AP IV; paragraph 64

        There are other places the confessions use the category of mortal sin. We just have to teach it properly not as a list of certain sins but having to do with not struggling (with the aid of the Spirit) to mortify the flesh, willful entering into sin, the unrepentant resistance of the Spirit, etc.

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  13. This is one of the greatest–and I believe truest–articles I’ve read on this subject. We are, and always will be, discontent in these bodies so long as we are in the world. I think it would be false of Jenner or anyone to say that now that he has had the surgery he is content, he is happy and things are “as they should be.”
    A great and humble reminder of our humanity and the universal struggle of us all.
    Thank you for sharing.

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