To Those Who Struggle with Sexual Identity: We Love You

By Joel A. Hess

There is one group of people who have been left out during the battle between President Obama and Classical Liberal Americans: people truly struggling with their sexual identity. Many rightly complain about the Obama administration’s bizarre fiat forcing fourteen-year-old girls to undress in the presence of eighteen-year-old men. The government claims that their draconian mandate is the result of compassion. Many who agree with allowing anyone to use any bathroom are sincerely concerned for individuals suffering from gender dysphoria.

On the other side, many Americans don’t buy in to the claim that a person can truly be trapped in the wrong body. There is no hard evidence for it, let alone conclusive. Even if there was evidence of it, why would the answer be to change the body? Why not the mind, like every other mind-body disorder. As experts in this field have already pointed out, why don’t we treat transgender people the same way we help people with eating disorders? How can an administration force anyone to comply with something that has no basis in observation, science, or reason? Well, it can if its playbook is from the outdated Communist era.

Yet, don’t be too hasty, dear Christians, in throwing the real victims under the bus as you grow in anger over the Maoist cultural revolution forced upon us by our Fuhrer. The real victims are not the Church, Christianity, or conservatives.  The real victims are those truly confused about their sexual identity. The LGBTQ lobby uses them to achieve their goal of forcing people to accept sex with anyone/anything at anytime and anywhere. May the Church refuse to use them for the opposite goal!

These people are not animals, as the Left wants us all to be. They are human beings. They were made in God’s image. Jesus dearly loves each one just as He loves you and whatever disorder entangles your mind and body.

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Last week, I enjoyed a conversation with the director of a wonderful agency in town that deals with healing sexual abuse victims. She talked about the increasing number of gay and transgender kids. All of them have the same story of abuse, misuse, and dysfunction. Yes, I know that while that is a common denominator of most abnormal sexual desires, it isn’t the case with all. Regardless, these people, like all people, need our patience, our ear, our generosity, our humility, and most importantly JESUS.

The fascists want us to push them away so they can say “See! Christians hate you.” Don’t fall for it. Let us watch how we speak about all of God’s creation. Let us not talk “us” and “them.” This debate is not about the future of America; it’s about the future of human beings; sons and daughters—children, whom God loves. Do not treat them as objects in our war of words and ideas.

Unlike America, Christ’s Church will be around when the dust settles—when people reach the end of their rope, and when neighbors find themselves in a hole and politicians, philosophers, movements, and Hollywood are nowhere to help. May the Church have the reputation of Jesus, of the prodigal Father, of the patient gardener, and of the Groom at the well so they may repent and believe, like all of us messed up fools, the Good News.

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10 thoughts on “To Those Who Struggle with Sexual Identity: We Love You

  1. What often happens is that the liberal media takes common sense objections to transgender bathrooms and spins them on their heads so that those making an argument against transgender bathrooms, for whatever reason, are automatically vilified.

    The only way to avoid being called a “hater” is to simply shut your mouth and keep your opinion to yourself. No matter how kind you are to individual transgender people, the world will call you a hater if you so much as oppose transgender bathrooms for any reason.

    The most difficult part will not simply be to love transgender people and to treat them with kindness (something which most Christians probably already do). The difficult part will be to treat liberals with kindness when they call you a hater. The difficult part will be to turn the other cheek when transgender people intentionally misconstrue your comments because anyone who doesn’t jump on board the revolution train will be lambasted as an enemy of the state.

    There are a few quotes from Kipling’s “If” which we would do well to keep in mind.

    Being hated, don’t give way to hating…

    If you can bear to hear the words you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools…

    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run…

    This is where the rubber is going to meet the road. When everything we say is misconstrued. When we are hated for speaking the truth, no matter how loving our approach. This is where the gospel is going to become oh so practical. This is where we must forgive and continue to love. We will still probably be hated, and there is nothing we can do to avoid this, so we must persevere in the faith and pray for those who persecute us.

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    1. Hear, hear! And, can you believe ths? Because I practice the Golden Rule, and show concern for others in the bathroom debate, I have trans friends who call me transphobic . . . and I am trans . . . and I just keep loving them through the debate.

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      1. In college, I had a gay friend that I was getting to know. I never treated him with any disrespect. When I tried to share the gospel with him, he told me that he was raised in a Christian home and asked whether I believed homosexuality was a sin. When I answered in the affirmative, he stated that we could no longer be friends.

        I’m grateful when I meet people who think differently than me, but are still willing to accept me as a friend. What we so often hear is that we must accept people who are different than us, but any time we make it clear that we do not fully embrace the kind of diversity that they are promoting, we are told that we are intolerant bigots whose opinion must not be tolerated in the public square.

        I have a close friend who is Muslim. We have spoke on religion a couple of times, and it has gotten uncomfortable, but we’re still friends and we still care for each other. I have a coworker (sort of… we don’t really work together, but just in the same building) who is transgender. I’ve gone out of my way to be kind to her and to make small talk with her. When I first spoke to her on the phone, I was expecting to hear a woman’s voice, and heard a man’s voice instead. I didn’t know what to say for about a 3 second awkward pause. Befriending her wasn’t a comfortable thing for me to do at first, but I want to make her feel like she is a normal human being who deserves to be treated with dignity, rather than a social outcast.

        If I say that I respect her as a person, but disagree with the way she is living, I could easily lose my job. To me, that is really scary. It seems that in America we lack the ability really hear people out, to disagree, and to still be civil. I’m not sure any culture anywhere has ever grasped this concept, but I think that is a worthy goal to strive for if we want to live up to the ideals of a free and democratic society. Instead, we seem to be swinging from one extreme to another in a very short period of time.

        While some Christians say things that are just plain mean and bigoted, they do not represent all Christians. Sometimes, I think Christians are duped into believing that the world hates them because their approach to social issues has been insensitive. If the church was just more loving, society would accept us and wouldn’t be so offended. While I agree that all of us, myself included, must work on being kind, loving, and gracious to everyone that we meet, I also think it is foolish to believe that this is somehow going to cause the world to stop saying, “Christians are intolerant bigots!”

        So long as Christians hold to any kind of traditional morality, the world that is running from traditional morality is going to call us bigoted. The Law of God is an offense to fallen man because it tells all of us that we are not good enough. The Gospel of God is an offense to fallen man because it tells us that we must die to ourselves and give up any hope of self-justification. Unless we severely compromise those teachings, the world is always going to hate us. We just need to get comfortable with that idea, rather than trying to curry favor through compromise on the truth.

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    2. Ken, in reply to your 11:06 comment: Thank you for your marvelous attitude and being friends with the various folks you describe. I am glad to report there are many Christians who also display this proper, generous heart.

      If I may gently talk about the trans person “and the way she lives.” I have no idea how she lives. I am reading your words as so many talk about “I don’t approve of that lifestyle.” If I am reading you correctly, I have written about this to demonstrate the difference between one’s being and how one lives. It is here: https://eilerspizza.wordpress.com/2016/04/23/lifestyles-of-the-trans-and-middle-class/

      In short, my lifestyle is that of a Christian, husband and father and grandfather, a writer and gardener and jogger and so forth. My lifestyle has changed ZERO since I have transitioned. Pretty boring. Terribly traditional. Doctrinally LCMS.

      It is vital that we separate doing from being. Yes, we Christians, who hold to God’s Word, get dragged over the coals these days, but we stand firm that, as only one example, promiscuous sex – be it heterosexual or homosexual – is sinful, even as we recognize that all people have inclinations to things that, when they hold them in check, are not sinning. This distinction is keen and vital, and it comes into play with me when people want to dismiss my transitioning as sinning, yet they have no idea about the physical malady that I have, what my attitude is toward all of this, how I am living as this trans person, and how I place myself under God’s Word and prayer on a daily basis. I fear babbling on, so I will leave it at that. Thank you, Ken.

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      1. Hi Gina,

        Thank you for the conversation. I’m glad to hear things from your perspective. It’s always good for us to listen to and try to understand each other as those whom God has created in His image. I’ll try to check out your blog when I have a chance. Thank you again for your interaction and for your kindness and reasonableness.

        Ken

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  2. Thank you for this, Pastor Hess. A friend shared it with me on Facebook.

    I appreciate the themes you drew. I have only one slight critique, which I offer gently, where you wrote, “The real victims are those truly confused about their sexual identity.” Please consider thinking of us with gender dysphoria not as confused but as struggling with our identity. Also, it’s not, or not necessarily, our sexual identity. I have never questioned my sexual identity. Even having lived as a female for the past year I continue to know and tell everyone that I am a heterosexual male, then I add “who is transgender.” If not for the real, physical damage done in the womb, disrupting my endocrine system, I would be cisgender – at peace in both mind and body as a male. But, my disrupted endocrine system left me with hormones that informed me that I am female, and as with many bodily ailments it grew progressively worse until it crushed me in 2013. Yes, it is a confusion of my gender and sex, but not a mental confusion, not a mental illness as so many claim, and not a sex issue for most of us.

    I was an LCMS pastor, last serving in Port Hope, in the Thumb. I know members of yours – one fellow with whom I had grown very close in his visits to Port Hope. The other folks have parents in Harbor Beach, where I served two vacancies for a total of three years.

    I blog about trans issues, and have written much about Christian aspects of being a trans person: eilerspizza.wordpress.com.

    I long to educate in the LCMS. I am a confessional theologian, traditional in practice, and in this unique spot of being transgender. Our folks in the LCMS need to learn the reality of what this all is, that folks like me are not sexual deviants or silly people or freaks, but real people, with a physical condition, who are trying to be whole. As a Christian, I long for them to know that I am the same Christian I always was, that every word I preached and taught I believe 100% the same today. My transitioning has pushed and pulled a lot of people – I knew it would and I fully understand it – and that is why I chose to transition publicly, to use it to educate, to serve my fellow man and honor my Lord Jesus. For me, this is not a faith issue. Indeed, I am pleased to report that my faith in the Lord Jesus has never been stronger.

    Last week, a friend told me he heard an LCMS pastor say, “So, 41% of transgenders attempt suicide. I wish more would.” My friend then talked to the pastor about me, and wound up with a fruitful conversation.

    My point in bringing that up? We Christians so easily forget these two things: I am the chief of sinners, and Christ died for all. A brother pastor taught me to look at every human and say, “That is one for whom Christ died.” This has worked on me to be more caring about my neighbor.

    My desire to educate in the LCMS is the same as the heart of Luther’s: It’s all about the purity of the Gospel. As I like to tell people who want to put a “but” on the Gospel: If I am not saved by God’s grace, through faith in the saving work of Christ, then no one is. Then all are damned.

    If this note of mine is enough, so be it. If you want to extend the conversation, I would be grateful. The Lord be with you as you shepherd the flock of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Peace,
    Gina Eilers

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  3. This is a good statement for the Church,in general, as long as we recognize this mind set as sin and mental illness. And of course,we are all sinners trapped in some sin,in ourselves, but freed by and in Christ.

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    1. Robert, I would like to talk about “mind set as sin and mental illness.”

      Many, including me, experience(d) mental anguish from the battle which is gender dysphoria. I assure you, the basis is not a mental illness but a physical condition. There are many conditions which create gender dysphoria. Mine was a disruption of my endocrine system. I like to compare it to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). We know that when a mother drinks too much, the fetus is adversely affected. Those with FAS have real, physical maladies associated with it. Mine works the same way. My mom was prescribed an artificial estrogen to keep her from miscarrying. The estrogen acted as an endocrine disruptor – something we have learned loads about in recent years, and we find them in pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and plasticisers. Imagine a male fetus receiving excess estrogen: Is it a leap to think that his endocrine system would be feminized? Indeed, I have physical signs which I could only see after I learned about these things, one of them being that I have no Adam’s apple, the result the androgen not processing properly at that stage of my development.

      While I will not say, “I have male DNA but a female brain,” I might not be wrong in saying that. A proper look at my brain can only be done via autopsy. I told my endocrinologist that I’ll pass for now.

      This has been the battle of my life, always believing I should be a male, being a boy who had to grow up to be a man, and having no way to tell anyone what was going on inside of me without knowing I’d be hauled before my priest (I grew up Catholic) and who-knows-what would have happened to me in my family in the 1960s. As a teenager, I KNEW I was going to hell because I was a freak.

      It is not yet known why this condition worsens over the years, but I liken it to a tumor that is slow-growing, which finally reaches a size that makes it impossible to ignore. In 2013, my gender dysphoria left me suicidal and believing I would soon lose my mind if I did not first kill myself, so great was my mental anguish caused by a physical malady that is so strange, do misunderstood by the world, so quick to find people condemning me as a sinner, that I could not imagine that I could find my way out of this mess. I stand now absolutely dazzled that my Lord Jesus has faithfully brought me through this mess, and I love Him more than ever – and I’m even more dogged than ever to keep His Word and doctrine pure, as I did when I was a LCMS pastor.

      I won’t drone on. Here is the link to my blog: https://eilerspizza.wordpress.com/. I have written many essays on trans, being a Christian, and the meeting of the two, if you would be so kind as to investigate a bit more. In the menu, the list begins with my specifically Christian writings.

      I am always available to discuss this. I long to educate in my LCMS and help my fellow Christians to understand people like me. The Lord be with you.

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  4. Joel,

    I think much of what you say, here, is great. However, historically, we need to come to grips with the fact that Christians have been as abusive as fascists and communists of LGBTQ (it keeps growing) people. If we take out pages from a “Communist era” playbook, we would be rounding them up into gulags and mental institutions for reprogramming and punishment. Sadly, there are still people who think that these things can be changed or cured by “Christian” brainwashing programs. So, when you use “communist” or “fascist” to denote behavior concerning gender issues, make sure you are asking right-wing Christians to see Stalin or Hitler, not some noble founder in a powdered wig when they look in a mirror.

    What we are experiencing is the freeing, the democratization of attitudes toward creation in public arenas. this is American individualism, endowed rights, and the Constitution in action. The underpinnings of this openness are in our revolution and find purchase even among the most ardent advocates of the free market. What you are seeing is the ultimate expression of free individuals to choose without the demands of conformity laid on by authoritarian dictums. In other words, believing that gender is in my own mind is as American as apple pie.

    In our pews sit young, unmarried couples who are cohabiting and we commune them, knowing what we know. Don’t deny it, I’ve spoken with enough pastors. There are unrepentant sinners of every ilk worshiping with us and they all receive but, you know, I know of only one person refused openly in an LCMS church because she openly sat in the pews next to her “wife”. True story. I am sure there are more out there from any who are honest. We, as a church, are poor teachers, inconsistent and do not discern in loving ways. Let me state that I have no problem with withholding the sacrament from openly unrepentant sinners, I just have not seen this lovingly or justly applied.

    Personally, most of the people I know having struggles are working with sexual, not gender issues. The openness we have in our society has placed before me the wonderful challenge of openly loving people who are “out.” I take this as God’s challenge to love. I think it is important to stress, to ourselves, that homosexual lust and heterosexual lust is the same sin but then go on to examine ourselves with respect to the fact that those of us who are heterosexual can find a pure context for some of our lust in a spouse. A homosexual person cannot have such comfort. Who wants to go through life being so broken that there is no fit helper in God’s creation for one such as this? Don’t you think that is perceived at some deep level? How easy it is, then, for the Tempter to encourage denial, democracy, choosing for oneself to ignore such authority? How much lighter our crosses are, in this regard!

    So, yes, let us reach out in love, invite them in understanding that we may see obvious couples and that our secret sins may remain hidden but we now sit next to truly bold sinners needing even bolder grace. Remember, we are not Pharisees looking for outward evidence of internal change and seek only that they return, again and again, to the Gospel, not that we see change but they they may be saved. That’s a true acceptance and one that society cannot offer.

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