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Preparing For Grace

As the issue of transgenderism specifically continues to assert itself as the brightest flashpoint of the modern cultural battle, Christians more and more must realize that this horrifying trend commands our engagement.

 

An Alarming Trend

Christians today live through a socio-medical experiment of unprecedented proportions, which will predictably lead to unprecedented human disaster. In service to the neo-pagan religion of self-worship, the culture has proclaimed the miraculous fiction that the male and female sexes are interchangeable, fluid, and one can become the other. This fiction has filtered through the minds of perverse psychologists and philosophers to the systems of higher education and media. It is thus grafted into the mainstream culture, so much so that it is included in the educational curriculum for young children.
 
As a result of this inculcation of propaganda, the percentage of Americans who identify with one of the categories of LGBTQ has doubled in the past decade. However, most alarmingly, is that a full 21%—more than one out of five–members of generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2003) include themselves in the LGBTQ community.
 
As the issue of transgenderism specifically continues to assert itself as the brightest flashpoint of the modern cultural battle, Christians more and more must realize that this horrifying trend commands our engagement. This engagement must be both defensive (fighting the implementation of LGBTQ curriculum in schools, refusing to absorb content or support companies that press this worldview) and offensive (publicly proclaiming a biblical counter-narrative that highlights the beauty of God’s created order). And while it is necessary—indeed essential—for Christians to fight biblically in this manner, we must also take a sobering look at the damage already done and be prepared to provide the gracious antidote of the gospel.
 

A Tidal Wave of Devastation

If available statistics are accurate, there are already over 150,000 teenagers and young adults in the United States who identify as transgender. While the number of those who have received medical intervention (hormonal or surgical) would be considerably smaller, these figures represent what could only be called a crisis. These misnomered “gender-affirming care” procedures undermine the fundamental charge of the medical profession to do no harm by altering the development of healthy organs and the functionality of bodily systems, even to the extreme end of genital mutilation—the permanent removal of reproductive organs. Many of these sadistic procedures are being performed on teenagers and other young people, who are being allowed to make decisions to permanently and brutally destroy their bodies through a combination of confusion and coercion.
 
For some, the result will be lifelong infertility. For others, the possibility of ever having a sexual relationship is removed forever.
Surely the mental and emotional damage to come is not difficult to predict. Still, truly the most frightening aspect of all of this is the unknown nature of the consequences that will be felt for generations to come. The reality is that these procedures are experimental; there is no long-term data to indicate what the eventual fallout might be. As Christians, we know how sin devastates lives, families, and nations, so we can warn prophetically of the wrathful whirlwind that will inevitably be reaped. Still, it is one thing to speak of coming devastation and another to practically apply the gospel to those devastated by sin.
 
The inescapable reality is about to crash down upon our culture. Over the ensuing decades, the church will be met with a tidal wave of devastated lives with a brand of ruin that is hence unprecedented. Even as we seek to valiantly fight the battle against transgenderism, the church must simultaneously prepare to be the bearer of good news, the herald of healing, to those seeking some kind of restoration from the destruction sin has wrought upon them. Even now, many “de-transitioners” are revealing the horrors of their stories. It is the distinct role of the church to point these lost and searching souls to the only sure and certain hope of restoration and regeneration in Christ.
 
If we are to be effective ministers of the gospel, we must not be caught by surprise when those who are coming out of transgenderism feel the pain of this great deception. The culture that led them down this path will not have the answers, so how will we as Christians meet the avalanche of brokenness that is set to come our way? When it comes to ministering to “de-transitioners,” the church must be able to address two primary difficulties which we will take in turn: physical brokenness and identity crisis.
 

Physical Brokenness

As mentioned above, a significant portion of the population has been or will be physically damaged on some level by medical procedures aimed at slowing, stopping, or reversing natural human development. As these procedures become more and more accessible to younger and younger people, the crisis will only become more ubiquitous. This particular issue of physical dysfunction, especially acute among transgender people, is that it is largely self-inflicted and impacts one of the most fundamental systems of being human, namely the reproductive system.
 
For many Christians, there is a natural tendency toward spirituality over physicality, an emphasis on the soul over the body, and this dualism will be incredibly tempting for us to stress when ministering to those who have made shipwrecks of their bodies. However, this must be resisted, for the Bible knows no such dualism.
 
Although we acknowledge that “while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6), we also confess that God made the whole person, body and soul, in His image. He created the whole person, body and soul, to ultimately live forever. Jesus rose from the dead in His physical body, and we also will be raised in our physical bodies (1 Corinthians 15:51-55, Philippians 3:21). Therefore, our message to those repenting of transgenderism cannot be one of escape from the body, which de-emphasizes its dignity and glory. Instead, our message is to be one of the total restoration of the whole person in Christ, spiritual and physical.
 

Without Flaw, To A Deadly Environment

An analogy of this can be found in creation. God created the whole world very good. Originally, this universe was without flaw, beautiful in every way, perfectly functional, and without defect. Yet, as we know, as soon as man sinned, all of that changed; the whole world became a hostile, deadly environment. Creation itself bore the scars of man’s sin. It became marred and defective. Yet creation remains good and beautiful, tainted as it may be. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above still proclaims His handiwork (Psalm 19:1). The natural world is still sufficient to bear witness to all that God exists (Romans 1:19-20). So although this physical world is indeed damaged and far fallen from its initial state, it remains good and beautiful and worthy of honor.
 
The same can be said about the crowning jewel of creation, and the only part stamped with God’s own image, man himself. Like the rest of creation, man was originally made flawless, capable of fulfilling all of his responsibilities and doing so perfectly to the glory of God. Yet, the fall into sin dramatically altered this. Now, not only would man be weak and frail in his pursuit of dominion over creation (Genesis 3:16-19), but also “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Man could no longer glorify God in the way he was made to do; he could not serve God with a pure heart; indeed, he had no desire to do so. Man’s fall from this state made him corrupt to the core, an enemy of God. Yet still, despite this degraded position, the image of God remained in man, and the beauty, value, and dignity of every individual were preserved.
 
This affirmation can be seen in God’s covenant that He made with Noah after He had judged the human race by the great global flood: “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth…Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 8:21, 9:6). Although man is evil from the heart out, the imprint of God’s image remains upon him, and therefore he is still preserved, protected, and respected by God and his fellow man.
 
This brings our discussion back around to the “de-transitioner.” When bringing the gospel to those marred by transgenderism, we must relate to them this reality of creation, that although it has been damaged and scarred by sin, it remains glorious and beautiful. So while the one who has undergone damaging body alterations in pursuit of a transgender identity may have the irremovable imprint and effects of that sin carried about in the body, that does not negate the individual’s beauty and dignity as an image-bearer of God. We must be able to communicate that the damage to their bodies does not diminish their nature. And while the consequences of sin may continue to resonate, the eternal destiny of the broken body will be healing if it is found in Christ.
 
Preaching a gospel that does not ignore the physical is not promising miraculous bodily healing in this life. Even after salvation, the effects of sin still dramatically impact the life of the redeemed sinner. Consider King David, who, even after his heartfelt repentance over his sin with Bathsheba, nevertheless experienced profound consequences for it:
Thus says the LORD, “Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of the sun…The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child who is born to you shall die” (2 Samuel 12:11, 13-14).

Repentance was absolutely necessary and sufficient to restore David to communion with God, yet it did not undo the effects of his sin, which plagued him throughout his life. Likewise, with those who repent of transgenderism, there is total reconciliation with God and total spiritual renewal, yet sin’s physical, emotional, and relational consequences still play out.
 
This is particularly true among transgender people regarding sexuality and the possibilities of marriage and childbearing. Marriage and sex are aspects of life that truly are fundamental to being made in the image of God—it is by these that we imitate the creative work of God. Because these hold such a central role in human experience, there is added difficulty for “de-transitioners” who very well may not be able to reproduce or even have a proper marriage. It is here that we must remember both the words of Christ and Paul: “For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it” (Matthew 19:12); “The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided” (1 Corinthians 7:32-34).
 
A eunuch is one who is either unwilling or unable to marry; people who have undergone mutilation in the name of transgenderism to the point where they are no longer able to perform proper sexual functions may be classified as those who have been made eunuchs by men. This is not an ideal state—it is undoubtedly a consequence of sin. Yet, as Jesus and Paul both affirm, this inability can be used by God to raise servants wholly devoted to the work of the church and its ministry without the genuine concerns of domestic life. This is an example of how God turns our sin into a blessing for others, and it ought to be emphasized when ministering to those broken by transgenderism.
 

Restoration In Christ

Although we cannot promise relief from the temporal consequences of sin or undo its damage, we can and must proclaim the one who does reverse all the effects of sin and brings about total restoration. While recognizing that the effects of sin are lifelong, we do not, therefore, preach a gospel of mere resignation and solemnity while we await arrival in heaven; we instead teach that, although it will not be complete until the consummation of all things, our total renewal is a seed-form reality in this life and this is cause for great joy.
 
When a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ, he is immediately given a perfectly restored heart and spirit, one that truly loves God and His law, that trusts Christ and seeks to obey Him. This, of course, has a profound impact on us as this new spirit is shown forth in our manner of life. Paul describes the practical effect this spiritual renewal has:
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions (Romans 6:8-12).
 
However, this inward resurrection is only the beginning. Paul later describes this renewed spirit as merely the “firstfruits” of our comprehensive redemption, with the culmination being found in “the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). Paul gives his definitive word on the subject in his first epistle to the Corinthians:
So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body…Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven…For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 49, 53).

Therefore, the gospel we preach to those physically mutilated by transgenderism must prominently feature the reality of the resurrection, the perfect restoration of our bodies, not as a distant wish but as an absolute rock-solid certainty, the down payment which we have right now in the regeneration of our souls.
 

An Identify Crisis

This leads directly to the second and more foundational issue, which is that of identity. The true undercurrent of the transgender craze is an identity crisis, one so pronounced that it leads individuals to question or deny even the facts of their biology. It is no coincidence that the vast majority of people who identify themselves as transgender are youths battling the rapid changes and rampant insecurities of adolescence and young adulthood. And the transgender movement specifically targets this very demographic. It is not hard to look with scorn, mockery, or even pity at those whose identities are so fragile that they desire to make themselves into the opposite sex. Yet, if Christians would understand the practical implications of the “no neutrality principle”—that identities and worldviews do not happen accidentally but must be actively cultivated—we would clearly see why this is happening and how we must address it.
 
Christians must ask ourselves, what is the identity we seek to cultivate? A favorite passage of Christians is Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Knowing and loving this verse is one thing; it is another thing to live it.
 
What Paul is describing is a wholly Christian identity, one that is completely wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ. So all-encompassing is this identity that he can accurately say that the person he used to be is dead; everything about his life was formerly directed towards himself, his goals, and his reputation, yet now is wholly dedicated to the glory and work of Jesus Christ. He writes elsewhere along similar lines, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).
 
Paul writes as one who had been a leading intellectual of his day, a powerful man whose identity had been in his Jewish heritage and Pharisaical education. Yet no longer; he did not merely say these things but lived out his new identity in Christ, employing all of his skills and efforts to honor his Lord. And he called upon all Christians to abandon those things that had formerly defined them and to instead be wholly engaged in magnifying Jesus Christ: “here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all (Colossians 3:11).
 
The challenge for Christians of every age, particularly our age, is to live this out. For generations, there has been an unhealthy trend of sort of “attaching” a Christian identity to one’s already existing identity—thus the innumerable modifiers: conservative Christian, progressive Christian, American Christian, black Christian, white Christian, gay Christian, and so on. We seek to find ways to preserve who we were before Christ by giving that old man a “Christian” coat of paint.
 
If we are to be effective in proclaiming Christ to the transgender generation, we must repent of all subordination of the Christian identity, and both personally embrace and publicly proclaim that the only acceptable form of human identity is identity in Christ. This means that we must call the sinner to total repentance. Though it may be our temptation to provide some quarter to the transgender identity, to allow for some tiny part of it to remain, we must, with all the graciousness and love of our Lord Himself, call for unconditional repentance because only with that will there be unconditional restoration. Identity must be fully in Christ or fully in the self; there can be no third way.
 
If this prophetic call is to have any power, it must be accompanied by a consistently lived-out example of this identity in Christ. Therefore, Christians must publicly live in a manner worthy of this identity we have been given. Our identity cannot be our job, politics, marriage, family, or even our maleness or femaleness. We are Christians, and so we must live as Christ. We must be those who are constantly putting our sin to death, joyous and content through hardship, self-controlled, courageous, and look to the interests of others above our own.
 
When we live out this Christian identity, we will also find that it will result in another vital element that must be present to effectively reach transgender people: genuine community. There is a common theme in the stories of those who the transgender movement has sucked in: those individuals felt what they thought to be a genuine sense of fellowship with those who drew them in. So much of transgenderism is proving to be rooted in a desire to fit in with a group, to be a part of a community. Now, anyone who has ever abandoned transgenderism knows that the perception of a welcoming, inclusive community is a mask that will be removed as soon as one deviates from queer orthodoxy. Yet, for those captivated by it, this sense of community is real and attractive.
 
Christians, however, are a true community. We bear one another’s burdens, confess our sins to one another, exhort, rebuke, encourage, and sacrifice for one another. And this is no façade but is a true and genuine community because it is rooted in the essential unity of our shared identity in Christ Jesus. Christians must be dedicated to living out this unity, being who we are together in Christ, and always welcoming sinners like us who are seeking to abandon their wicked walk to follow the Lord.


Let Us Be Prepared

It is undeniable that we are currently under the judgment of God; we are given over to flagrant abomination and insane delusion, yet we do not lose heart because we know that this is how our God works. God allows His people to suffer grief and misery in order that they may repent and return to Him, ever learning to trust and obey Him. The church in America has much to repent about, for a strong, faithful church would never have allowed a culture of death to flourish so blatantly on its watch. Yet let us never forget that this judgment is for a season and will not last forever.
 
As we repent and fight back against this beastly enemy, let us all the while be prepared for the mercy that is to follow. After darkness, there is light; after judgment, grace. Christians cannot sit back and wait for a broken world to come crawling back to God—when this regime of wickedness falls, an equally venomous ideology will be ready to take its place unless the church does something about it. When God finally does stay His hand, when His anger subsides and we are standing in the wreckage of judgment, it must be the church that leads the way in reconstruction, for it is only we who have a message and a means of true restoration.
 
Additional Resources:
 
 
Luke Griffo is an elder and member of leadership at Redeemer Church of South Hills in West Mifflin, PA.  Click here for more RCSH Blog posts. 
 
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One Response to “Preparing For Grace”

  1. Curt Day says:

    As noted in the article, there are far fewer people who are going through physical and medical procedures in attempt to change genders. Many others are simply identifying as a different gender. In either case, gender identity is the key issue.

    We also need to distinguish between how we will respond to transgenderism in society and how we will respond to it in our evangelism as well as what we teach to fellow believers about transgenderism. Here we could use our view of the freedom of religion in our nation. We could want people to have a choice, but that doesn’t imply that we want them to choose an unbiblical option. After all, don’t we want people to have the choice to be Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Christian, atheist, or whatever else is there, but we want them to choose to believe in Christ. Of course, if they choose to believe in Christ and become a member of His Church, then other religious options are wiped off the table. That is how I believe we should approach both homosexuality and transgenderism in society.

    We should also note that gender dysphoria is a very real condition. In addition, we are not the only culture that has dealt with transgenderism. For example, some Native American tribes recognized up to 5 different genders. And those whose gender identity was not cisgendered were celebrated in their tribes. And so there were women identifying as men who fought and hunted with the men and men who identifies as women who stayed behind and did the jobs of Native American women. We should note here that transgenderism in those tribe does not always necessarily translate neatly into the models of thought used by the LGBT community.

    Also, we can’t afford to make the same mistake that both the LGBT community and many fellow religiously conservative Christians make about one’s biological sex and one’s gender identity. We can’t afford to conflate the two. That is because while biological sex deals with the physical, gender identity deals with the psychological. Thus we should neither allow for one’s gender identity to deny the reality of one’s biological sex nor can we accept the one’s biological sex is the only factor that determines one’s gender identity. We should also note here that since nature became corrupted because of Adam’s sin, we can’t assume what nature is telling a person on the inside based on what we can observe on the outside.

    Finally, repentance is not never total. We should note that from reading Romans 7 as well as noting what Martin Luther said. Luther said that we can never repent of all of our sins because we will never be aware of all of our sins. So though our identity is always with Christ, we must never forget that we will always need to remember to identify with the Publican from the parable of the two men praying (see Luke 18:9-14). If we don’t keep both identities, we will never have the necessary compassion to minister and evangelize to those from the LGBT community or from any other group.

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