Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Stewards of Love and Compassion

Perhaps like you, I was surprised to learn of the emergence of Caitlyn Jenner as a trans-woman from the person we had known as Bruce Jenner, the decathlon winner in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.  The bold display of Caitlyn on the cover of Vanity Fair has challenged millions to think about men and women who experience a confused or transgender identity.  How should Christians respond to trans-women and trans-men?  How will we respond to transgendered persons who profess Christianity?

Bruce Jenner          Caitlyn Jenner
As a Christian, I have more questions than answers.  I am trying to refrain from forming an opinion of Caitlyn until I have read and studied more.  Therefore, I will not write much more on the subject at this time.  Instead, I will refer you to an article that has been very helpful to me—one I selfishly wish I could have written.

In his blog, Kingdom in the Midst, Marty Duren expresses godly wisdom that suggests he has been spending time with Jesus in the Word of God.  In “For God So Loved Caitlyn Jenner” Duren doesn’t pretend to have all the answers.  But, he points me in the right direction.  Looking in that direction, I can see Jesus looking with His holy, all-seeing eyes upon the multitudes, seeing every possible physical and spiritual condition—all of the “weights and besetting sin” (Hebrews 12: 1) that plague us, in 2015.  According to the Gospel of Mark, When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things (Mark 6: 34).

What did Jesus teach them?   I would like to have listened. Yet, I am thankful for the Gospel accounts that reveal His great heart of compassion toward sinners that He came to rescue.  Indeed, it was Jesus’ compassion from the outset (indeed, from Eternity past) that enabled Him to see the people as “sheep without a shepherd.”

Consistent with a biblical view of Christ, Marty Duren challenges me to exercise compassion toward my neighbor who struggles with gender identity or identity in so many other ways in a society in which boundaries have fallen and truth is relative.  But seeing my neighbors as sheep needing a shepherd is only the beginning.  What if they understand my compassionate approach as judgmental and condescending?  My only hope is to see myself in the mirror of God's Word which reveals my shortcomings.  There, I can realize the infinite gulf across which God reached to rescue me.  Then, in humility, perhaps I can embrace others who are no less in need of God’s salvation and grace than I?

If you choose not to read “For God So Loved Caitlyn Jenner,” consider at least reading Duren’s conclusion:

We have no option but to love those so affected, so afflicted and so decided. There are among the gender confused and the gender reassigned future children of God through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Whatever it is Caitlyn Jenner seeks, no amount of surgery, hormones or editing of a Wikipedia page will bring it.  Joy comes from the One who made us to find joy in Himself.  For God so loved Caitlyn Jenner. And you.  And me.

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