It was a privilege to be present to hear Sam Allberry from RZIM ministries on Transgender at Smithton Free this evening. Sam is a Christian pastor from Berkshire , England who has a same sex attraction. He works for RZIM and remains a Parish minister who has to respond to difficult questions from hurting people as part of his pastoral ministry.
He described Gender Dysphoria as; when someone's mind is convinced that their gender is different to their God given identity in their body. Its a much bigger issue now than it was 10 years ago, the BBC website carries a story on transgender on a daily basis. In the West it seems to be a matter of social justice, 'who do we think we are not to accept how someone identifies themselves' increasingly it is a matter Christians will have to deal with.
There is a false response/ things to avoid.
1) ignorance- we cannot ignore the issue it is becoming more widespread we need to ask ourselves are we ready and willing to engage the issue and more importantly the people.
2) Mock it, we can't react like that our response as Christians is to come alongside.
3) Outrage- culture war/them v us- or to condemn it outright- we are called to love.
4) Panic- Jesus is still LORD and the Gospel is still good news.
Then how do we respond with the Gospel?
There are at least three areas where we as Christians should have a unique understanding.
1) We have a unique understanding of Human brokenness, we know that the creation is fallen because of the fall. No-one has an entirely straight forward view of their own body. Also we are all out of sync, with God, with each other and even with ourselves.We know that life since the fall is messy and painful and we of all people should be able to talk about messiness.We of all people should be compassionate.
2) Identity, our Christian worldview tells us that are confused, that the noetic effects of the fall means that our thinking is dark and futile. Not just transgender people, all of us are confused. We don't know ourselves well enough, it is only as we know God and He reveals who we are that we can see anything of our real selves, Sam made a very interesting point for our culture, A girl in his congregation suffers with anorexia, she is painfully thin but her mind tells us that she is obese. It would not be loving to tell her that if you think like that it must be true'.
3) We have a unique hope- We all have problems we see in our bodies, pain for example we must realise though that the issues we have with our bodies will not be solved by them. Indeed most gender reassignments do not bring lasting satisfaction. This is merely the groaning of our bodies because they are in need of redemption. If you are hoping that your body will bring you fulfillment you are heading for disappointments
Our only hope of wholeness lies in the broken body of Jesus. There has never been a greater body dysphoria than the one in Jesus on the cross when the One without Sin became Sin for us.
Sam also said during the Q and A time, 'Our first responsibility when we are confronted with someone's brokenness that is not our own is to listen really, really well.
I am thankful for Sam's ministry to reach out with the Gospel as a broken person to broken people.