“Boys with long hair? Girls that shave? The world’s gone to pot. No one knows whose is who’s whose these days.” – The Monkees
A New England prep school in the mid-90s granted me my first glimpse of transgenderism. A classmate of mine, who had the previous three years been known as a young woman, arrived the Fall of our Senior year with a boy’s haircut and asked to be known as “Alex”. While our relationship never grew past the acquaintance stage, we had sat at the same tables and eaten with mutual friends. Being an unbeliever at the time, this was not a big deal to me, just as those who came out as gay and lesbian weren’t a big deal. They were intelligent, talented people who treated me nicely.
Now western society is agog with the transitioning of Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn Jenner. This time it is a big deal to me. I believe in Christ and His Word. There is male and female, and one’s physical composition and DNA play a vital role in determining whether one is male or female. Despite the mantra we have been taught since childhood, you can not be anything you want to be. I grieve for Bruce/Caitlyn, for transgender people who struggle with understanding who they are. I grieve for myself, for the struggle of remaining sin and the influence of the world around me. What is our only comfort in life and death?
“People are people, so just throw your hands up.” – Toby Mac
The mental stamina needed to understand the redefinition of terms and protocol when dealing with this brave new world is taxing. Transgender vs. transsexual vs. Transylvania, and cisgender? It is understandable to me, then, to see many in society shrugging their shoulders, giving praise along with the rest of the crowd, and moving on. I read from conservatives that I am doing no favors in calling Bruce/Caitlyn “she”, yet I find myself slipping up and thinking it anyway. Transgender activists insist that to be respectful one must use the preferred pronouns of the transgendered person and not refer to them by their former name. In writing this article, proper pronoun protocols have not been followed from either viewpoint. Fear of possible backlash for that reason alone makes this can’t-we-all-get-along writer want to run for the hills and hide in a cave. It would be so much easier, I think, to go along.
“For the LORD sees not as mans sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7
Capitulating to cultural norms of attractiveness is one aspect that seems to characterize those who have transitioned. It is not enough that the transgender woman thinks he is a woman; society must think so as well. Pedicure/manicures, long hair (as in past the shoulder), and make-up seem almost a necessity. For transgender men, facial hair is important, along with a short male style haircut. “Passing” for the gender you believe to be is a source of anxiety. The standard is the approval of humanity. Yet to pass yourselves off as a male or female implicitly admits that you are deceiving the public whose approval you crave. Deception is wrong. Your truth is not God’s truth.
Christians are also not to seek the approval of men. Yet do we not fall into this same trap, even in Christian circles? What about our appearance would we wish to change, not because the Bible says to change, but to find favor with those around us? What about being a “real” man or “real” woman in Christian society? As the saying goes, “you will know they are Christians by their t-shirts.” “Godly” men grow beards, smoke pipes, and would never take a ballet class. “Godly” women wear long skirts, long hair, keep themselves “attractive” to those around them, and decorate their homes impeccably.
Culture has affected Christians greatly. God’s Word does not have much to say about the appearance of men and women, except that our clothing be modest and that we present ourselves as the men and women that we are. If men wish to grow beards and women wear long skirts, that is permissible. If men wish to shave and women not, that is permissible as well. We have great liberty in our outward appearance, but that outward appearance ought to reflect the truth of the Spirit indwelling us and sanctifying us.
“For you formed my inward parts….My frame was not hidden from you.” – Psalm 139: 13,15
God knows Bruce /Caitlyn Jenner better than anyone else, even Jenner himself. God knows each of us more intimately than we know ourselves. Our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked; God’s Word never fails. Transgender people and Christians alike need to turn to Him and repent of our sin. Following Christ is hard and involves denying self, yet His Truth is ultimately more beautiful and freeing than any truth we create for ourselves. May we cling to Him and His righteousness alone.