I had an insightful seminary professor whose words planted in my mind and heart seeds that are still sprouting. She once reminded our class, “You can only see from where you stand.” These words have been at the fore of my mind since I heard them, but never have they been as important as on weeks like this.
My only “issue” with Caitlyn Jenner springs from the understanding that perhaps she wasn’t as honest with her ex-wives and children as she could have been. And yet, I can’t judge or cast aspersions because I can’t possibly imagine the complex cacophony of emotions involved with living the vast majority of her life feeling like she was born with the wrong physical body, especially in the era she was raised. I pray that people like Caitlyn find peace in finally becoming (in body) who they have always been in mind and spirit. I also pray for the families who have to cope with the implications of these truths to a degree none of us can really understand.
The bible doesn’t discuss transgender issues, but I’m seeing a lot of comments from folks who are trying to make sense of this from a biblical perspective. Many are confused. I sympathize with that struggle, though I think perhaps some are over-thinking it. We want to believe that God doesn’t make “mistakes.” I’m not sure God did; Caitlyn has always been exactly who she is deep down. It’s just that she has finally developed the courage to express that truth to the world.
In fact, while God may not make mistakes, we know nature does. We do not always know why people are born with bodies contrary to what is typical. My son was born with autism. I developed lupus at the age of fourteen. My best childhood friend died of cancer at the age of seven. Caitlyn Jenner was born in the wrong body. Some people are born with both sets of reproductive organs. Some people are born missing limbs or other body parts. Some people get grey hair in their teenage years. None of this makes any sense in our limited human understanding.
For better and sometimes worse, people go to great lengths to make their outsides match their insides. Children who are born with birth defects have them repaired, if possible. We treat physical and mental illnesses that interfere with our ability to function in the world. People have cosmetic surgery, dye their hair, wear makeup, get tattooed and choose clothes that help them project an image more consistent with who they are in mind and spirit. Yet there is nothing inherently wrong with any of us. We are all just trying to live our best and truest lives.
Christians are not called to judge or look down on anyone; we are called to love. There is no caveat to Christ’s most important two commands: love God and love others as yourself. Period.
I pray that, as we all try to make sense of the world from where we stand, Christians heed this call to love by eschewing the instinct to judge and condemn, instead expressing the compassion within.
I think that trans woman Laverne Cox said it best,
I hope, as I know Caitlyn does, that the love she is receiving can translate into changing hearts and minds about who all trans people are as well as shifting public policies to fully support the lives and well being of all of us. The struggle continues…
Amen and amen.