ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHINGS February 15, 2023 Yesterday, I wrote about those who use fear as an intentional tool, usually in an attempt to distract from something else or because their argument is simply not very good. Now let me reiterate what I mentioned yesterday—whenever there is change or a new awareness, it is ok to ask questions. This is not the same as being alarmist, for such folks are usually wanting to avoid a serious conversation by making it about something else.
I raise this today out of a genuine and faithful concern for those who self-identify as transgender, genderqueer or genderfluid. I know those terms might have made a few of you squirm (others scratch your heads), but remember how the word Samaritan made Jesus’ audience squirm. Yet even this discomfort didn’t stop Jesus from attempting to change people’s perspective. Now some will say that was different, but I beg to disagree. It might be different through our modern-day lenses, but when Jesus put the words "good" and "Samaritan" together, it was strange; some might have even thought it to be outlandish. There would have been those in the crowd who would have pointed out how "they (Samaritans) are corrupt and immoral, and to suggest otherwise is only giving permission for them to push their agenda on us." There is nothing worse than the Samaritan agenda (sarcasm). There were probably alarmists who would have stoked people's fears as a way of avoiding the harder conversation Jesus was attempting to create. Jesus obliterated the binaries of us vs. them, us vs. the other, with a single short story.
Though more and more people within our society and even some churches are having healthy conversations around the broader topic of gender, there are still those who are using fear-inducing "what if" scenarios that are anecdotal at best. Such tactics are intended to give the impression that there is some evil Drag Queen zombie movement out there that wants all children to wear glitter make-up and memorize the words to ABBA's Dancing Queen. Sorry for my sarcasm, but some of the conspiracy theories would be comical if they were not so harmful, with even some well-known personalities calling for violence against those who self-identify as transgender, genderqueer or genderfluid. For some of you, this might be unfamiliar language, but talk to 90% of those under the age of 25, and they won’t hesitate in providing definitions and giving complete explanations.
I know this is a longer Etching, yet even with the additional length, it doesn’t even begin the conversation. But let me offer you this important piece of information. Transgender youth are the most bullied and threatened group in any school or social setting, and understandably, they also have the single highest rate of any group when it comes to attempting suicide. Yet those numbers drop dramatically for transgender youth who have supportive families. Small studies seem to indicate the number drops even more if they have a supportive group, especially a faith community. As I have said before, there are young people alive today because of Cypress Creek Christian Church, and I believe Jesus is over the moon to have a church that is not pushing a narrative of hate and violence that is well packaged with beautiful religious language. Instead, Cypress Creek Christian Church has only one agenda, and that is love--Putting Love First In All Things.
As I said earlier, questions are absolutely fine. In fact, it is encouraged. Learning about anything outside of our norm can be challenging at first, but like so often happens, we learn someone else’s story and suddenly find it difficult to hate or fear. So often we hear the same longings that we have: a desire to be loved, accepted and safe.
Holy and Grace-filled God, wherever hate is finding a platform, even when it is well disguised with good religion, let us speak about Jesus and his love for all. Wherever young people are feeling frightened and threatened, may the Body of Christ step into the unholy fray, believing that love—self-giving love—can and will change the world. Amen.