1 Peter 3:15-16 – But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
Debates about transgender people and transgender related issues have taken center stage in American political and social discussions. There are few other current topics which create such divisive and passionate arguments. The arguments can get quite toxic, with hateful cancel culture and insulting on one side, and mockery and disdain on the other side.
As Christians we must get involved in these debates. We can’t shut ourselves off from the world, nor can we ignore people who are suffering. As we get involved, we must do so on two levels. We should passionately stand up for the truth and speak up for our freedoms in the public sphere. We should make reasoned arguments and try to pass just and fair policies and laws. And then on a very different personal level, we also need to show care and compassion to transgender individuals and those sexually addicted to crossdressing who we come across in our families, churches, schools, and neighborhoods. We need to listen carefully to their stories and experiences. We need to point them to Christ. And we need to counsel them, sometimes over years, as they grow in their ability to accept themselves for who they really are, and as they recover from addiction.
I write this post to make fundamentally clear that on both of these levels there is absolutely no room for us as Christians to belittle people for their gender confusion or their addictions. There is absolutely no room for mockery, harassment, or insulting. And more positively, while we strive against illogical transgender ideology, we should also strive for better systems and policies that will keep transgendered people safe, and protect them from mistreatment and discrimination.
I am grateful that many Christians are becoming educated about transgenderism, and I am grateful that many Christians are standing against the deconstruction of sex and beginning to speak out with more courage. However, I lament about how some Christians have responded. Some political commentators, social media gurus, and even church leaders have gone beyond poking holes in transgender ideology and have been mocking people, shaming people, and name-calling. This can take the form of mocking how a transsexual looks, for example insulting a man about how ridiculous he looks in a dress (even if he truly does look ridiculous, what is the good of purposefully insulting a specific person?). Or it can take the form of subtly inferring that transgendered people are mentally insane and not to be trusted (gender confusion doesn’t mean the person can’t function perfectly well in other ways). Or it can take the form of inferring that those with gender dysphoria or crossdressing addiction are sexual deviants with no self-control who all want to prey on innocent women and children.
As Christians we need to speak out about these issues, and speak the truth to individuals who need help. But as we do so, we need to make sure we do everything with love and respect. I’m not saying we should be passive and weak. There is a place for strong argumentation and strong words! But all that we do should be done in love, with the aim of building people up and drawing them closer to Christ, rather than pushing them away.
Showing love to crossdressers as former crossdressers
I have tried to live this out while managing this website, though I know I do so imperfectly. I keep trying to do better. My aim is to respond with love and gentleness to all, both those in support of what I write, and also to those that disagree with my beliefs. Actually, I want to respond with love and grace even to the trolls that come to my site just to insult me and our community. However, since I started this website back in 2011, I have had to ban people occasionally (maybe only about 5-10 in all those years) who refuse to stop name calling or harassing people after repeated warnings. I try to make this a last resort. It’s painful to do it.
It is both easy and hard for our community of ex-crossdressers to show love to those with different views than us. It’s easy in the sense that we know what crossdressers are feeling, and so we can have empathy and compassion. It’s hard though because sometimes our sinful nature distorts us in the very act of recovering from a sinful habit. It can happen that ex-crossdressers feel so much guilt and shame for their past crossdressing, and they have come to hate crossdressing so much and the destruction it caused in their lives, that when they see people still actively crossdressing, they are reminded of all they have done, all they have lost, and they may begin to hate not just their sin but those people. I think this is similar to Amnon in 2 Samuel 13. Amnon was deeply attracted to his sister Tamar, and then he raped her, a terrible evil heinous sin. But when he felt the guilt and shame for what he had done, he hated Tamar. Verse 15 – “Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he loved her.”
We as people who are recovered or are in the process of recovering from crossdressing addiction or gender dysphoria, could easily begin to hate transsexuals or crossdressers that we see in person or online. They remind us of our sin like Tamar reminded Amnon of his sin. For many of us, even seeing a photo of a crossdresser can trigger lust, fantasies, or a new temptation. We may then deeply sin by associating these people with our own sin, and showing anger against them, when in reality we should show them nothing but compassion and love and empathy. We should be on our guard so that this doesn’t happen, and continually ask God to give us hearts of love for those still suffering from confusion or addiction, regardless of what nasty things they might say about us.
In the rest of this post, I’d like us to reflect on some more Bible verses together. Here are passages on speech that builds up rather than mocking speech, to expand on what I was arguing for above.
Ephesians 4:29-31 – Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
James 3:9-10 – With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.
Titus 3:1-2 – Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.
We are to love those in the Church, but also love our enemies. If transgender activists call us bigots, heap abuse on us, and try to get us fired from our jobs for our beliefs, what should our response be? Remember, we want these people to repent and come to Christ. We should have compassion on them. Our goal is not to fight them or remove them from society but to see them experience God’s grace as we have.
Matthew 5:43-47 – You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
1 Peter 2:21-23 – To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
Titus 2:7-8 – In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
When you have to rebuke individual people about their sin in order that they repent and turn to Christ, remember to do this with great care. Remember that many in the LGBT community already wrestle with so much shame to the point of wanting to commit suicide (see this post). Take care how you speak to them.
2 Timothy 4:2 – Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
2 Timothy 2:24-26 – And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.