By President Randall A. Bach
The message from the Christian community regarding LGBTQ issues seems to be this: we just need to show Christ’s love to everyone by accepting them exactly as they are. And it’s true. Everyone has something they’re struggling with, and no one is exempt. But no one should ever be loved as they are and then left that way. Hence Christ’s final words to the woman at the well: “Go and sin no more.” –Lisa*
I hope you have read both Parts 1 and 2 of Lisa’s story. If not, please do! My heart ached as I read about the agonizing travails of her family members when their son, brother, husband, and father declared he was now a woman and would make whatever alterations available to become more convincing as a woman.
In The Emperor’s New Clothes, Hans Christian Andersen weaves a tale about a vain emperor who loves to parade about in exquisite, regal clothing. He hires two weavers who claim to make the most beautiful clothing adorned with intricate patterns. In actuality the weavers are con men who convince the emperor they are using a fine fabric invisible to anyone who is either unfit for his position or “hopelessly stupid.” In fact, the weavers are actually only pretending to manufacture the clothes. Thus, no one, not even the emperor nor his ministers can see the alleged “clothes”; nonetheless, they all pretend they can for fear of appearing unfit for their positions. Finally, the weavers report that the suit is finished, and they mime dressing the emperor, who then marches in procession before his subjects. The townsfolk uncomfortably go along with the pretense, not wanting to appear unfit for their positions or stupid. Finally, a young child in the crowd blurts out the fact that the emperor is wearing nothing at all, and the cry is then taken up by others. The emperor realizes the assertion is true, but he continues the procession anyway.**
The townsfolk went along with the delusion even though everyone realized it was not true. The pressure was great since they knew that anyone who stated the obvious would be maligned as incompetent, backward, or ignorant. It took an innocent child not yet indoctrinated in lockstep to blurt out the truth: the emperor was wearing no clothes. Only then did the people muster the courage to join in declaring the obvious instead of compliantly subjecting themselves to manipulative group speak.
What a commentary this nineteenth century tale imparts on twenty-first century mindsets and thought control. Attempts to alter genders require considerable pressure to intimidate people who would state the obvious, the truth, that gender is God-assigned, not human-selected or arranged.
Open Bible Churches’ Official Statement on Human Sexuality states: God created human beings in His own image, distinctly crafted as male and female (Genesis 1:27). Thus, sexuality has been essential to our identity from creation; complementary sexes by divine design. This physical distinction enabled God’s plan for sexual relationship, which is foundational to gender identity. All attempts of whatever sexual nature to blur, confuse, or alter God’s design for sexuality and sexual identity are sin (Deuteronomy 22:5).
That is what we believe, but belief and convictions do not salve our pain when a loved one abandons not only scriptural declarations about sexuality but also that which has been embraced as obvious about gender for centuries. My heart grieves for people like Lisa, who feel like they have experienced the death of a loved one because that loved one angrily asserts the person they once were is no more. Adding to the family’s pain, the new-gendered substitute is manufactured, devoid of authenticity, miserably attempting to sustain an image they have to convince themselves is real – all while angrily insisting that others embrace their illusion, similar to the townspeople ignoring that the emperor had no clothes. Family members are left reeling, wondering, “Where is my son, and what have you done with him?!?”
What to do about such desperateness? We must hold on to our faith in what God says, knowing that He will sustain us. We cannot let go of hope. And no matter how much we feel the hot breath of hatred for not pretending the emperor is wearing beautiful clothes, we must continue to love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT) declares, “Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.”
Let’s lovingly hold to what God says even as we love those who despise us for not submitting to cultural group think and group speak. We may have no control over the decisions our loved ones make, but as Lisa said, “no one should ever be loved as they are and then simply left that way.” If we really care about someone, we should not approve or encourage their harmful behavior – even if going against the crowd means we too may be maligned as incompetent, backward, or ignorant. Neither do we blast people with truth in a way that is hateful or hurtful.
Jesus did not shy away from “sinners.” Instead He befriended them in such a way that most of them, like the Samaritan woman and Zacchaeus, gave up their sinful lifestyles. Let’s make a point of asking for His heart.
*Not her real name.
** Adapted from Wikipedia