Many of you have read the recent blog about a church leader who is revealing that he is transgender. If not, this is the link: paulstonewilliams.com. In this blog, a highly successful, talented, and respected author and minister in the Christian Churches discusses the issues of transgender (dysphoria) and his lifetime of dealing with this situation. Briefly, transgender is when a person with a male body identifies as a female (or vice versa). It is not the same as homosexuality, although it has been associated with gay identity in the now common designation LGBT. All of these, Lesbian, Gay (men), Bisexual, and Transgender claim to be “sexual minorities” that are fighting for recognition and rights in both mainstream society and the political/legal arena. As many of you know, this has been divisive in many churches and families.
The author of this blog is a person I have known for a long time. I don’t want to overstate the depth of our relationship, not because I am afraid to do so but out of honesty. He is a person whom I have worked with on writing assignments for Christian Standard, and he was a guest lecturer at my college last year.
My friends and colleagues have been discussing this blog since it came out last week. I have shared my initial reaction several times:
I don’t know what to think.
I have not moved very far from this. However, I would like to share a couple of observations.
1. Paul is correct in stating that the Bible does not address his situation directly. It neither condemns nor commends transgender orientation. Yet I’m not sure this means that the Bible has nothing to say about this. I will have to think more about this, but biblical silence is a hermeneutical issue that has been misused in the past, so I don’t want to eliminate biblical teaching from this discussion.
2. Although Paul does not push this angle, I have been told before that as a straight man, “You can’t possibly know how I feel.” That may be true, but it deserves a little push back. If a person has felt wrongly gendered when it comes to body for all of his or her conscious life, then that person cannot possibly know how I feel either. It goes both ways, and judgmentalism can be a two way street.
3. I see this blog as a type of “confession” in the sense that confession means acknowledgement. We have long been told that confession is good for the soul, and I believe that. However, I wonder about the very public nature of confession by blogging. For whom is this good? I think that question is legitimate and needs to be asked. I can’t help but think there is more to come here.
4. I believe that God is gracious and loving, but right now, I am in no position to know or understand what God thinks about this. I do believe that God knows all the secrets of my heart, and some of them are not pretty. He knows them and still loves me. I just don’t want to put myself in the position of seeming to speak for God in this.
That’s about all the further I have come on thinking this through. I know that LGBT realities will have a great impact on the church and its leaders in the coming years, and that we cannot ignore these issues.